St. Etienne FA-MAS

Notes: The FA-MAS F1 (or FAMAS F1) was one of the first bullpup-design rifles issued in large numbers to any army. It was designed in the 1970s because the French military was then equipped with a combination of MAS-49 rifles (a post-World War 2 weapon) and a hodgepodge of foreign weapons, and the French wanted a thoroughly modern weapon that could replace both their rifles and submachineguns.

The magazine of the F1 was designed specifically for it; it is steel with holes drilled in the sides at intervals so that the user can easily determine how much ammunition is left. The barrel is designed to easily use NATO rifle grenades, whether of the BTU variety or requiring a special adapter. The standard FA-MAS F1 is for right-handed shooters, but the extractor and case ejector are reversible, and the receiver is already designed for left or right-handed operation. The barrel of the FA-MAS F1 is of steel, while the receiver is light alloy. The stock itself is of polymer, and is equipped with a rubber recoil pad; early models of the F1 used a neoprene-covered cheekpiece, but late-production F1s (and the newer G2 model) use a removable molded polymer cheekpiece. The cheekpiece is reversible, and covers the unused ejection port (depending whether the FA-MAS is set up for a left- or right-handed shooter). The carrying handle is of high-impact plastic and protects both the sights and the charging handle underneath it. The standard-issue sling is designed to be highly-adjustable, with two sling swivels on the stock and two sling swivels on the front attached to the swivel pins holding the bipod on the rifle. The 19.21-inch barrel is contained for the most part within the foregrip and stock. The exposed section of barrel has a set of raised rings behind the flash suppressor; this aids in securing rifle grenades to the end of the barrel, as the FA-MAS was designed from the start to use a wide variety of rifle grenades. (The FA-MAS is issued with special one-round magazines designed to contain a ballistite cartridge, when one is required for firing older rifle grenades.)

There are several variants of the F1, including an export/police version that fires only on semiautomatic, a civilian model with a longer barrel and chambered for .222 Remington ammunition to comply with French law, a training model that fires .22 Long Rifle ammunition, and a short-barreled Commando version (see below). In addition to French use, the F1 is used by Djibouti, Gabon, the United Arab Emirates, and Senegal. The most common nickname given to the FA-MAS by its soldiers is "Le Clarion" (the Bugle), due to its unusual shape.

One of the most unusual versions of the FA-MAS F1 is the Commando; this variant was designed in the early 1980s for use by special operations units. The main difference between it and the standard F1 is the barrel, shortened by 83mm to 405mm. The Commando was not produced or adopted in large numbers; the standard F1 is already so compact as to render a smaller version rather superfluous, and the Commando also loses the ability to fire rifle grenades. Whether it was actually produced, issued, or used is unknown.

The FA-MAS G2 was originally designed for the export market, but it was adopted by the French military as its new assault rifle was adopted in the summer of 1997. Mechanically, the G2 is the same as the earlier F1, but the barrel’s rifling is optimized to strike a balance between what is needed for the newer 5.56mm NATO SS-109 ammunition and older M-193 ammunition. In addition, the G2 uses standard US/NATO magazines instead of the proprietary 25-round magazines of the earlier version; it cannot even accept the F1’s 25-round magazine. The trigger guard is redesigned to allow even fingerless mittens, and the selector lever is inside this trigger guard in front of the trigger. The carrying handle can mount all NATO/US optics. The G2 can mount a bayonet either on top of or below the barrel, so that it can be used whether or not a grenade launcher is fitted. The ability to use most 40mm grenade launchers is also new; the F1 could only use rifle grenades. (Before the G2, there was a G1, which was an intermediate design that was essentially an F1 with the large trigger guard of the G2.)

The G2 also has, in the same manner as the F1, a short version; in fact, there are two short versions, the G2 Commando with a 15.94-inch barrel and the G2 Submachinegun with a 12.6-inch barrel. As with the F1 Commando, the G2 Commando cannot fire rifle grenades, and also does not have a bipod or a bayonet lug. The G2 Submachinegun also loses those features, but gains a compact muzzle brake/flash suppressor. A further variant of the G2 is the G2 Sniper, with a 24.41-inch heavy barrel, the carrying handle moved to the side of the receiver (and reversible) and replaced with a MIL-STD-1913 rail, and a more robust folding bipod. It is intended more as a designated marksman weapon rather than as an actual sniper rifle, and the cost of any scope is not included below. All three of these versions are in quite limited issue, generally used only by special operations units.

An experimental enhanced version called the FELIN was in limited production starting in 2000. The FELIN is used primarily to test new optics or other devices. The most notable differences between the FELIN and the standard G2 is that the carrying handle is replaced with a flat Picatinny rail optics mount, the weapon has electronics to feed information to a helmet-mounted sight, and an experimental IFF device is included. As of 2006, the FELIN is still being used only in weapons trials and it is not intended to ever be an issue weapon. (The FELIN will be covered in an entry to be added in the future, when I can acquire more information.)

Two other limited-production versions of FA-MAS G2 were introduced in 2000, though they too are officially considered testbed weapons, and it is unknown if any have seen operational or combat testing. They are, however, considered more likely to see service, either as the weapons they are as newer versions of the FA-MAS incorporating their improvements. The first of these versions is the Low-Profile FA-MAS; this is very much like the standard G2, but incorporates numerous improvements including a new bipod which is not only lighter (it actually looks rather spindly, but is said to be stronger than a standard F1/G2 bipod),but can be adjusted to a limited extent for height and cant. What gives the rifle its "Low-Profile" moniker is its redesigned carrying handle and upper receiver; it is less than half the height of a standard FA-MAS carrying handle, and topped with a MIL-STD-1913 rail for the primary optics and is also equipped with folding backup sights. The Low-Profile FA-MAS also has folding grenade sights on the side of the carrying handle (these sights may be moved for left- or right-handed shooters), for use when rifle grenades are being fired or a grenade launcher is mounted.

The Upgraded FA-MAS builds on the Low-Profile FA-MAS. The carrying handle is eliminated completely, with a MIL-STD-1913 rail being mounted directly on a slow raised block atop the receiver. The Upgraded FA-MAS is equipped with an optical sight that gives the shooter 4x magnification with an illuminated reticule, a small reflex-type sight, and a laser aiming module able to function in IR or visible beam mode. Along with these are the same backup iron sights and grenade sights as the Low-Profile FA-MAS. (Weight stats below for the Low-Profile FA-MAS and Upgraded FA-MAS are estimates only.)

Twilight 2000 Notes: For the most part, this was the weapon that the forces of the above countries’ militaries went to war with. In addition, an emergency order was made by Luxembourg shortly after the Twilight War started (though given the size of Luxembourg’s military, this was still a very small order); when the French made their unsuccessful invasion of Luxembourg, those F1s were used against French troops. In addition, examples of the F1 were sometimes found in the hands of captured or killed troops of Iraq’s Republican Guard, though when or if the French sold those weapons to the Iraqis is unknown. The FA-MAS Commando was used exclusively by French special operations units, including the Foreign Legion’s 2nd REP. The G2 was issued to units of the French armed forces in the summer of 1997. Most of the G2s that were issued were given to units that were headed for the "Dead Zone" on the Franco-German border. The FELIN does not exist in the Twilight 2000 world.

Merc 2000 Notes: As France became more and more involved in world politics and peacekeeping missions, the FA-MAS became familiar all over the globe. In particular, the interests of US civilians was piqued by the unusual look of the FA-MAS, and bought many of the Civilian or Export/Police versions. The FELIN is found in larger numbers and is undergoing extensive field and combat testing by French special ops units.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

FA-MAS F1

5.56mm NATO

3.61 kg

25

$1210

FA-MAS Export/Police

5.56mm NATO

3.61 kg

10, 25

$638

FA-MAS Civil

.222 Remington

3.72 kg

10, 25

$599

FA-MAS Trainer

.22 Long Rifle

3.61 kg

25

$697

FA-MAS F1 Commando

5.56mm NATO

3.43 kg

25

$727

FA-MAS G2

5.56mm NATO

3.59 kg

20, 30

$1210

FA-MAS G2 Commando

5.56mm NATO

3.28 kg

20, 30

$725

FA-MAS G2 Submachinegun

5.56mm NATO

3.12 kg

20, 30

$736

FA-MAS G2 Sniper

5.56mm NATO

3.88 kg

20, 30

$1217

Low-Profile FA-MAS

5.56mm NATO

3.49 kg

20, 30

$1224

Upgraded FA-MAS

5.56mm NATO

3.6 kg

20, 30

$1830

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

FA-MAS F1

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

2

4/12

47

(With Bipod)

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

1

2/6

61

FA-MAS Export/Police

SA

3

1-Nil

5

2

Nil

47

(With Bipod)

SA

3

1-Nil

5

1

Nil

61

FA-MAS Civil

SA

3

1-Nil

5

2

Nil

59

FA-MAS Trainer

3/10

1

Nil

5

1

1/3

36

(With Bipod)

3/10

1

Nil

5

1

1/1

46

FA-MAS F1 Commando

3/10

3

1-Nil

4

2

3/11

36

FA-MAS G2

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

2

4/12

47

(With Bipod)

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

1

2/6

61

FA-MAS G2 Commando

3/10

3

1-Nil

4

2

4/12

36

FA-MAS G2 Submachinegun

3/10

3

1-Nil

4

2

3/9

25

FA-MAS G2 Sniper

SA

3

1-Nil

6

2

Nil

65

(With Bipod)

SA

3

1-Nil

6

1

Nil

85

Low-Profile FA-MAS

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

2

4/12

47

(With Bipod)

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

1

2/6

61

Upgraded FA-MAS

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

2

4/12

47

(With Bipod)

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

1

2/6

61

PAPOP Weapon System

Notes: Similar in concept to the American OICW, the PAPOP is a two-part weapon system consisting of a 5.56N rifle unit and a 35mm grenade launcher. The grenade launcher feeds through a three-round tubular magazine, and grenades can be set to either a standard burst or proximity fused lateral burst pattern, allowing limited capability against targets in foxholes and the like. A special gas ventilation system prevents injury to the user when firing the grenade launcher. In addition, the weapon has a video sight mounted on the business end with a small adjustable LCD screen on the back, allowing a soldier to look around corners and even firing the rifle without exposing himself. Note that the PAPOP does not have the advanced optics that the OICW has. As of 2003, this weapon was still in testing, and was not yet in its final form; by 2008, PAPOP was all but dead as a project. Like US soldiers and the XM-29, French troops tended to the find the PAPOP awkward and clumsy.

Twilight 2000 Notes: Though a few PAPOPs may be floating around here and there, it is largely a nonexistent weapon in the Twilight 2000 World. If any are around at all, the grenade launcher ammunition may be difficult or impossible to find.

Merc 2000 Notes: Though a few of these were combat tested as early as the Second Persian Gulf War, and more in other, less-known conflicts or actions, the PAPOP is still mostly an experimental weapon instead of an issue weapon. Even the French government finds the PAPOP’s price almost prohibitive.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

PAPOP

5.56mm NATO

7 kg

(Rifle) 20, 25, 30; (GL) 3-I

$1625

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

PAPOP (Rifle)

3/10

3

1-Nil

5

1

2/7

35

PAPOP (GL, HE)

SA

C3 B12

Nil

5

2

Nil

(DF) 120, (IF) 730

PAPOP (GL, HEDP)

SA

C3 B12

4C

5

2

Nil

(DF) 120, (IF) 730

PAPOP (GL, HEAT)

SA

C2 B10

35C

5

2

Nil

(DF) 120, (IF) 730