FAMAS

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This article is about the assault rifle. For award-giving body, see FAMAS Award. For other uses, see FAMAS (disambiguation).
FAMAS
FAMAS-F1 vs G2.svg
Schematics of a FAMAS rifles
Type Bullpup assault rifle
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1981–present
Used by See Users
Wars See Conflicts
Production history
Designer Paul Tellie[1]
Designed 1967–1971
Manufacturer Nexter
Unit cost F1: 1500 €
G2: 3000 €
Produced F1: 1975–2000
G2: 1994–2000
Number built F1: 400,000
Variants
  • F1
  • G1
  • G2
  • FAMAS Export
  • FAMAS Civil
  • FAMAS Commando
Specifications
Weight
  • 3.61 kg (7.96 lb) ("FAMAS F1")
  • 3.8 kg (8.4 lb) ("FAMAS G2")
Length
  • 757 mm (29.8 in)
  • 965 mm (38.0 in) with bayonet
Barrel length
  • 488 mm (19.2 in) ("F1/G2")
  • 405 mm (15.9 in) ("G2 Commando")
  • 320 mm (12.6 in) ("G2 SMG")
  • 620 mm (24.4 in) ("G2 Sniper")

Cartridge 5.56×45mm NATO
Action Lever-delayed blowback
Rate of fire
  • 900–1000 rounds/min ("F1")
  • 1000–1100 rounds/min ("G2")
Muzzle velocity
  • 960 m/s (3,100 ft/s) ("F1")
  • 925 m/s (3,030 ft/s) ("G2")
Effective firing range
  • 300 m ("F1")
  • 450 m ("G2")
Maximum firing range 3200 meters
Feed system
  • 25-round detachable box magazine ("F1")
  • 30-round detachable box magazine (STANAG) ("G2")
Sights Rear aperture fitted with tritium night inserts, front post

The FAMAS (French: Fusil d'Assaut de la Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne or "Assault Rifle from the Saint-Étienne Weapon Factory") is a bullpup-styled assault rifle designed and manufactured in France by MAS located in Saint-Étienne, which is now a member of the French government-owned Nexter group. It is the service rifle of the French military.

History[edit]

The first French bullpup rifles were developed between 1946 and 1950 at the AME (Atelier Mécanique de Mulhouse) and MAS, testing rounds such as .30 US Carbine, 7.92×33mm Kurz, 7.65×38mm (Made by Cartoucherie de Valence) and some other intermediate calibers.[citation needed] Since France was engaged in the First Indochina War at the time, and was also the second-largest contributor to NATO, the budgets for new types of weapons were limited and priority was given to the modernization and production of existing service weapons. Nevertheless, approximately forty different 7.62×51mm NATO caliber prototype rifles were developed between 1952 and 1962, most notably the FA-MAS Type 62. However the introduction of the 5.56×45mm cartridge caused the French to rethink their approach, and consequently, the Type 62 was not adopted.[2][3][4][5]

In the 1960s, MAS began to manufacture under license the Heckler & Koch G3 battle rifle and later the HK33 assault rifle as temporary substitutes. At the same time, the French embraced the idea of developing a new 5.56 mm automatic rifle. However, simply adopting HK33 rifle was out of question for many members of the French high command. General Marcel Bigeard, was also against the idea of using German weapons and while visiting the Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne, he asked the engineers to develop a French 5.56 mm automatic rifle, which subsequently led to the adoption of FAMAS.

The FAMAS project began in 1967 under the direction of General Paul Tellié and the first prototype was completed in 1971, with French military evaluation of the rifle beginning in 1972.[1] When production problems delayed the general issue of the new rifles, and with the 1978 Battle of Kolwezi showing the immediate need for a more modern weapon, the French Army began searching for a temporary rifle to fill this need until the FAMAS came into full production. The Heckler & Koch HK33 was considered, and a batch of 1,200 examples were tested, but it was ultimately turned down in favor of the SIG SG 540, built under license by Manurhin, until enough FAMAS rifles were produced to begin general issue. The French military finally accepted the rifle in 1978 as the standard French combat weapon.

After adoption, the FAMAS F1 replaced the aging MAS 49/56 rifle and MAT-49 submachine gun, and approximately 400,000 FAMAS F1 assault rifles were produced, with production now complete. The F1 had many problems and was not completely reliable. For instance, the plastic pieces broke easily and the weapon jammed on occasions because of the poor disposable magazine concept. The first magazines were supposed to be disposables, but the budget of the French army never allowed it. The F1 was followed by the G1 that included several minor improvements such as redesigned grips, and an enlarged trigger guard for utilization with gloves, but it remained conceptual and was never actually produced.

Design details[edit]

Action[edit]

A schematic of the lever-delayed blowback mechanism used in the FAMAS assault rifle.

The FAMAS assault rifle is a bullpup configuration, with the ammunition feed behind the trigger. The receiver housing is made of a special steel alloy, and the rifle furniture is made of fiberglass. The rifle uses a lever-delayed blowback action, an action used on the AA-52 machine gun derived from the prototypes built during Army Technical Department tests having taken place between the First and Second World Wars.

Ergonomics[edit]

Fire mode is controlled by a selector within the trigger guard, with three settings: safe (central position), single shot (to the right), and automatic fire (to the left). Automatic fire can be in three-shot bursts (rafale) or fully automatic; this is determined by another selector, located under the housing and behind the magazine.

The FAMAS G2 weighs 3.8 kg (8.38 lb). The G1 and G2 have a large, grip-length trigger-guard like a Steyr AUG to allow easy access to the trigger when wearing gloves.

Both F1 and G2 models of the FAMAS feature a bipod attached to the upper hand-guard.

The FAMAS-G2 and some F1 sport a "polyvalent hand-guard" which features a standard NATO Accessory Rail, allowing a variety of sights to be mounted, notably red dot sights and night vision units.

  1. Rubber buttpad
  2. Removable stock
  3. Cheek rest. Can be reversed for right or left-handed shooter.
  4. Mobile assembly and ejection port
  5. Pins
  6. Bipod
  7. Handguard
  8. Charging Handle
  9. Grenade launcher sight
  10. Grenade support
  11. Muzzle brake/22 mm rifle grenade launcher
  12. Barrel
  13. Fire control selector: Safety, semi-automatic, automatic
  14. Trigger
  15. Magazine release
  16. Magazine block (safety device)
  17. Serial number
  18. (right): 3-round burst or full automatic selector
    (left): Sling ring

Ammunition[edit]

Soldier of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment using FAMAS Infanterie upgraded with an Aimpoint red dot sight

The FAMAS uses a delayed blowback operating system that functions best with French-specified steel-casing 5.56x45mm ammunition. Using standard brass-casing 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition employed by other armies can create over-pressure and case ruptures in the FAMAS, which can lead to severe malfunctions.[6] Using incorrectly built ammunition also results in approximately two minor injures for every million rounds fired from a FAMAS.[7] As a result, the French military has discreetly banned the use of foreign-produced ammunition in all French-issued FAMAS rifles.[8]

The FAMAS F1 uses a proprietary 25-round magazine. It has a 1 turn in 12 inch (1:12 inch) rifling and functions best with the 55 gr (3.6 g) (M193 type) ammunition. When using the French made 5.56 mm 55 gr (3.6 g) ammo it has a muzzle velocity of 3,150 ft/s (960 m/s).[9]

The FAMAS G2 uses M16-type, NATO-compatible 30-round STANAG magazines.[9] It has a 1 turn in 9 inch (1:9 inch) rifling and functions equally well with both the older 55 gr (3.6 g) (M193 type) ammo and the newer 62 gr (4.0 g) (SS109 type) ammo.[9] When using the French made 5.56 mm 62 gr (4.0 g) ammo it has a muzzle velocity of 3,035 ft/s (925 m/s).[9]

During training with blank ammunition, a plug is added to the muzzle of the FAMAS. This plug is necessary for automatic or semi-automatic blank fire operation, and functions by blocking part of the gas used in a blank bullet.

Rifle grenades[edit]

The FAMAS can use a variety of rifle grenades up to 500 grammes. Notable examples include the antipersonnel APAV40 and the antitank AC58.

Alidade for direct fire of the APAV 40 grenade

The FAMAS features two alidades for aiming rifle grenades with several modes:

  • direct fire at 75 or 100 metres, in anti-vehicle role
  • indirect fire, in anti-personnel role:
    • with the FAMAS inclined by 45°, allowing fire from 120 to 340 metres
    • with the FAMAS inclined by 74°, allowing fire from 60 to 170 metres

In indirect fire mode the grenade support (more exactly named "grenade enforcement ring" in French) is moved forwards or backwards on the barrel which has markings (12/13?). This changes the position of the grenade on the barrel and automatically the volume of the chamber in which the gas expands to push the grenade forward. Each position of the grenade support has a number which is multiplied by a certain fixed number depending on the alidade position, 45° or 75°; this will accurately indicate the firing distance of the grenade.

The FAMAS can also accommodate an external grenade launcher as an add-on module under the hand guard; the US M203 grenade launcher is sometimes used.

FAMAS G2[edit]

The FAMAS G2 was developed c. 1994 to bring the rifle more in compliance with NATO standards by accepting standard NATO magazines and by having tighter rifling that allows for accurate firing of both the older 5.56 mm 55 gr (3.6 g) ammunition, as well as the newer standard 5.56mm NATO 62gr ammo, It also included several other upgrades taken from the G1 model, such as the enlarged trigger guard and improved hand guards made of fiber glass, rather than plastics like on the F1. The French Navy purchased the FAMAS G2 in 1995, and issued it to their Fusiliers Marins and Commandos Marine. The French Army has however held off large scale purchase of the G2 to date, and the FAMAS F1 still remains the primary service rifle of the Army.

Views of different versions of the FAMAS
FAMAS F1 with bayonet 
FAMAS-G2 with bayonet
The G2 features
- a larger trigger guard
- a STANAG magazine
- a small hand-guard protrusion (bump) on the front of fore-stock under the muzzle
- a 1/9 rifling, instead of the 1/12 rifling of the F1 

FAMAS Infanterie[edit]

The FAMAS Infanterie is an improvement of the FAMAS F1, obtained by retrofiting an accessory rail onto the top of the handguard. This allows mounting combat optics, most notably reflex sights or the 4× magnification SCROME J4 scope.

MAS .223[edit]

During the late 1980s, Century Arms imported a very small number of semi-automatic FAMAS rifles into the United States. However, due to poor sales, production and importation ceased and the existing number are not only extremely rare but cost in the range of $10,000 with no spare parts available on the market.

Service[edit]

Improved FAMAS F1 Félin system

The FAMAS first saw service in Chad during Operation Manta and again in desert operations during Operation Desert Storm and in other various peacekeeping missions. Officially, operational conditions proved the weapon to be reliable and trustworthy under combat conditions. The FAMAS is affectionately known by French-speaking troops as le Clairon ("the Bugle") because of its shape. An improved version of the FAMAS F1 is integrated in the Félin system.

Senegal and the United Arab Emirates received a small number of FAMAS F1 rifles from France,[10] though it was unknown when they received them. Djibouti uses this weapon in its military as the standard infantry weapon. The Philippines also received a limited number and is used by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force.[11]

Conflicts[edit]

The FAMAS has been used in the following conflicts:

Future replacement[edit]

The French armed forces are still using F1 series rifles, some produced as early as 1979, and with the closing of the Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Etienne (MAS) factory in 2002, the newest produced rifles were over a decade old in 2015. The French armed forces currently use an estimated 400,000 FAMAS F1 and G1 rifles.[18] The French have also ceased making special steel-case ammunition for the FAMAS.[19] As the FAMAS does not function properly with NATO standard brass-cased ammunition, [20] coupled with the age of the current rifles, the French have sought out a replacement for their standard issue infantry rifle.

In May 2014, the French Ministère de la Défense announced a European Union-wide tender for 90,000 rifles and carbines to be issued service-wide across the French army, navy and air force.[21] As of July 2016, the Ministère de la Défense had selected two rifles for final testing and evaluation: the HK416 and the FN SCAR.[22][23][24]

Gallery[edit]

Users[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Modern Firearms – FAMAS". World.guns.ru. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. ^ http://talks.guns.ru/forums/icons/forum_pictures/004217/4217682.jpg
  3. ^ "French MAS Type 1955". Forgotten Weapons. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "French MAS Type 62". Forgotten Weapons. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "FA-MAS Type 62". Securityarms.com. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  6. ^ L'armée rencontre de sérieuses difficultés avec les munitions du fusil Famas
  7. ^ L'armée rencontre de sérieuses difficultés avec les munitions du fusil Famas
  8. ^ L'armée rencontre de sérieuses difficultés avec les munitions du fusil Famas
  9. ^ a b c d Hogg, Ian V.; Weeks, John S. (2000). Military Small Arms of the 20th Century (7 ed.). Krause Publications. pp. 238–239. ISBN 978-0873418249. 
  10. ^ a b c Kemp, Ian (April–May 2007). "Assault rifles in a 5.56 mm evolution: the fielding of new designs and the upgrade of existing weapons will ensure that 5.56 mm remains the predominant assault rifle calibre". Armada International. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  11. ^ "Famas F-1". Rifles n Guns. 2 January 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c Bishop, Chris. Guns in Combat. Chartwell Books, Inc (1998). ISBN 0-7858-0844-2.
  13. ^ a b c Marchington, James (2004). The Encyclopedia of Handheld Weapons. Lewis International, Inc. ISBN 1-930983-14-X.
  14. ^ http://www.stripes.com/news/french-military-effort-in-afghanistan-earning-respect-of-u-s-troops-1.96007
  15. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/world/africa/france-mali-intervention.html
  16. ^ http://www.france24.com/en/20160418-mali-kidal-deadly-protests-against-french-forces
  17. ^ "LiveLeak.com - ISIS Reportedly Fighting Alongside the Free Syrian Army and Al-Qaeda in Al-Zabadani". liveleak.com. 
  18. ^ France launches FAMAS replacement tender Archived 24 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. – IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, 22 May 2014
  19. ^ http://secretdefense.blogs.liberation.fr/2009/09/24/larmee-a-de-serieuses-difficultes-avec-les-munitions-du-fusil-famas/
  20. ^ http://secretdefense.blogs.liberation.fr/2009/09/24/larmee-a-de-serieuses-difficultes-avec-les-munitions-du-fusil-famas/
  21. ^ "France Launches Program to Replace FAMAS Rifle - The Firearm Blog". The Firearm Blog. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  22. ^ http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/07/18/breaking-france-downselects-famas-rifle-replacement-bids-belgium-germany/
  23. ^ http://www.popularairsoft.com/fn-scar-hk416-selected-finalists-french-army-famas-replacement
  24. ^ http://z-news.xyz/german-machine-for-the-fifth-republic/
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ a b Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (27 January 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  27. ^ "Kopassus & Kopaska – Specijalne Postrojbe Republike Indonezije" (in Croatian). Hrvatski Vojnik Magazine. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  28. ^ "Geeks spot French rifles in PNG coup attempt". Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE. 
  29. ^ "PNG's mutineers trade guns for amnesty". The Australian. 31 January 2012. 
  30. ^ "Vanuatu Daily Newspaper". modestclub.com. 

External links[edit]

Manual[edit]

Preceded by
Fusil MAS-49
French Army rifle
1981–present
Succeeded by