Brazil’s new service rifle: IMBEL IA2

Brazil has chosen the IMBEL IA2 as its new service rifle. The rifle is based on the MD-97 and was previously named the IMBEL MD-97A2.

Photos form Plano Brasil

Like its predecessor, it is based on the FN FAL but uses a rotating bolt instead of a tilting bolt. There will two versions, one chambered in 5.56mm NATO and another in 7.62mm NATO.


I hope this gun is more reliable than the original MD-97.

Post Showing the IA2 (Phone from

[ Many thanks to Rafa for emailing me the photos. ]

UPDATE: ZeRo4BR, a correctional officer in Rio de Janeiro who uses the original MD-97 at work, says in the comments that this is not the rifle selected as the future Brazilian service rifle, but just an upgrade for the existing MD-97s.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Alaskan

    looks like a basic FN FAL with new furniture.
    eh..well it works.Goes BANG until the mag is empty.

    Glad to see other countries able to select a new weapon platform without 300 other departments within getting their hands in the pot…

  • subase

    It sure looks cool.

    And the first picture eerily reminds me of kel tecs RFB.

  • subase

    It’s pretty funny that this rifle actually beat the SCAR or the TAVOR.

    Just goes to show you most of the time, ‘army tests’ are just dog and pony shows.

  • Pete

    Yep…its a tricked out FAL.

  • CharlesA222

    Nice-looking rifle.

  • Rex

    I like it! However, couldn’t they do SOMETHING about that rear sight? Having the rear and front sight be on two “halves” is a bout the dumbest idea in firearms history.

  • Jesse

    Why not just get the FNC? It’s alreay based on the FAL and it’s a proven design.

  • Vitor

    Imbel enginners are a funny and strange bunch, they had a good experience making a high quality FAL and then become addicted to FAL, they can’t see anything but FAL.

    The first MD-97 was a joke, specially considering that the FN already proved with the CAL that putting a rotating bolt into a FAL was not good.

    Well, that the IA2 has modern 556 look…

    • Roadmarker

      As a former Marine and expert weapons operator, I say the FAL 7.62 was probably the best battle rifle ever produced. It’s durability rivaled the AK and it’s gas impingment system blew the AR/M16 platform’s fouling direct gas system out of the water. The need for a 7.62 was demonstrated again in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 5.56 just didn’t have the range or power.
      The only issues with the FAL were it’s weight and accuracy. 2 MOA is considered a very good FAL. 4 MOA is a great AK. So, with a rotating bolt design the IA2 7.62 becomes a very accurate semi-auto sniper rifle accurate out to 1,000 yards. The USMC would “kill” for such a rifle, especially at the price. I say great job Imbel, where can I buy one?
      As for the 5.56 varient, why not? It’s great for short range combat especially in urban areas. With the depedability of the FAL and it’s being produced domestically it too is a win. Don’t worry about your neighbors weapons. They may look tacticool, but when it gets hot give me an IMBEL. They beat the SCAR and HK in numerous tests. Do some research before you complain.

  • Sian

    Not a bad piece of kit. I like:

    The left-side charging handle
    low-profile iron sights
    full-length top rail
    Same platform for 7.62/5.56 – simplifies training and hides the battlerifle within the squad

    Would have been nice to see an improved selector switch while they were in there.

    Is this actually based on the FAL, or is it more a FNC derivative?

  • Luiz

    I hope it is more reliable than the other IMBEL stuff. Argentina is buying AUGs… We are so f****d in a war.

  • PedroCP

    Well that´s quite a surprise, with the presidential elections coming close even the FX program from the airforce has being brushed aside. It´s good to see that even so our military is starting to be taken seriously and that a national solution has being choosen. Now I just hope they actually issue this rifle in decent numbers, as well money so our bases can at least afford to feed all the soldiers…

  • John C.

    Looks like a mix between an FAL and an ACR

  • Stretch

    South American armies haven’t been properly armed since they gave up the Mauser! *mutters into gruel* Damn Whiggery!! *calls for port and cheese*

  • Interesting choice by Brazil. Jury is still out in my mind!

  • Big Daddy

    Although not sexy at all I hope they just work. I would hate to be in combat of some kind and not have a weapon I could rely on. Especially with things heating up around South America, between the nut job in Venezuela, drugs and logging issues who knows when things might explode.

    They do look like FALs.

  • Rusgunnut1

    That rifle looks completely original.

  • Lance

    Same here Steve have pics of the 5.56mm version? Looks like a FAL with more 1913 rails attached.

  • Victor

    Actually the 7.62 version is just an ordinary PARA-FAL.

  • Victor

    Also, I’ve heard that during initial trials, the 5.56 IA2 fired over 3000 rounds without any major overheating of the handguard.

  • Now THAT is extreme!! The IMBEL IA2 556 looks crazy.

  • Tod

    Does the rotating bolt fix the accuracy issues in the tilting bolt?

  • ZeRo4BR

    Hello guys, I’m from Brazil and this is not our new service rifle!!! This is a refurbished version of our actual service rifle FN FAL. Imbel changed furniture, the fixed buttstock and put a shorter barrel.

    • ZeRo4BR, so they are still looking for a new rifle?

  • ZeRo4BR

    Steve, Yes! The MD-97 it’s a joke!!! a piece of shit!!! It’s my service rifle at my work, I’m a correctional officer in Rio de Janeiro. Imbel is trying to improve the rifle… the so-called A2 version but we do not have confidence after the problems with MD-2 and MD-97A1.

    • ZeRo4BR, thanks for the info. I have updated the blog.

  • Redchrome

    The IA2 556 looks a lot like a Robinson XCR to me; at least in general layout of controls (modulo the selector lever).
    The IA2 762 is definitely a refurb’ed FAL.

  • W

    “It’s pretty funny that this rifle actually beat the SCAR or the TAVOR.

    Just goes to show you most of the time, ‘army tests’ are just dog and pony shows.”

    subase, the military never tested the Tavor against other contenders for the title of next rifle (HK 416, XM8, & SCAR). The IDF has fine reports about the performance of the Tavor (consider they are more credible when it comes to firearms expertise than any western army).

    Id like to see the sources of this “test”, considering that this rifle was just introduced.

  • subase

    Actually the news that it’s a refurbished FAL is even better. Looks fantastic, gives DSarms fals a run for their money.

  • W

    In addition Stretch, South American armies have equipped themselves predominantly with FALs, AK’s, & M16s/M4’s (with some units veering towards the Tavor 21 and FNC), and SIGs. I say they are just as well-equipped as they were when they had mausers in the day.

  • MartinFromArgentina

    Brazil has already been making 5.56 FALs
    I have read another comments on this post like ¨they can’t see anything but FAL¨ that really show me the lack of knowlege of south american military industry
    What you have to realize is that a south american nation is not ready to just go and buy hundreads of thousands of scars or xcrs or acrs. How much does it cost a scar? u$s 3000?
    If there was no military industry in brazil it would be another story, there would be no option but to buy new technology, build new factories. Look at venezuela, even with petrodollars, they bought aks, and the rights and technology from IZHMASH to make them there (technology more than 60 years old).
    What we are looking at is just a FAL, good reliable piston operation, excellent ergonomics and controls, big heavy platform for the 7.62. There is no monolithic rail, no lightweight polymers, no interchangeable free floating barrels, lack of good stable iron sights. Just a FAL… with make up. Easy to produce, in fact, they have been doing it for years.
    I am not saying that this is all that they are capable to produce. I admire the brazilian industries like embraer, or taurus, to name a few, true testimony of their capabilities. I´m just saying that from all the options they had
    #1 buy hitech stuff g36s scars arx160s
    #2 buy cheap norincos
    #3 build their own modern assault rifle like mexico´s FX-05 Xiuhcoatl
    #4 build AKs (we all know how good it is, but we also know its limitations)
    #5 do nothing at all (like argentina, with the lower historical budget in defense)
    #6 try to improve what they have been doing, whitout spending a lot of money
    they chose #6
    just my opinion

  • cottage cheese

    Interesting progression of the basic FAL layout. Mostly cosmetic but with good materials and improved ergonomics and of course, the proven FAL guts, it could prove to be a decent idea. Hopefully the rotary bolt (for the 5.56 one) presumably carried over from the MD-97 will not prove to be problematic.

  • subase

    Unfortunately looks like just a furniture upgrade to make it more tacticool.

    If they had an honest too good tender for a new rifle, I’m sure the Brazilians would design some reliable versatile rifles, but seems to me this is just a government payoff and publicity stunt.

  • Vitor

    Martin, I said that Imbel can’t see anything but the FAL, not the whole brazilian industry. Afterall Taurus tried to promote the Tavor, and some colombian troops have adopted the Tavor.

    But it’s quite ridiculous how Imbel took more than 20 years to develop a rifle and how much they struggled to get along with a rotatory bolt. Well, that is what a lack of market and competition can do.

  • Luiz

    Embraer is a great example of what happens when a state-owned company becomes a private company in brazil. By the 80’s, it nearly went to bankruptcy. It is now the 3rd biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world, just behind the mighty Boeing Company and Airbus Industrie. TAKE THAT, BOMBARDIER!

    Just saying…

  • Lance

    the only Colombian troops who adopted the Tavor are Spec Ops for combat in indoor and urba n enviroments. The same for Israel who issue them to troops in the west bank. on the open area near Lebenon they still have M-16A1s.

  • Lance

    Yeah but since there upgrading there current rifles i bet we wont see a new rifle for a while since it cost alot of money for upgrades and the Brazilian army wants there money’s worth in the upgrade.

  • Lance

    agree Steve??

  • MartinFromArgentina

    Vitor, I really wish our departments of defence would have your point of view.
    If at least there would be another major player in the market to compete with, or the ministry would be more exigent.. We would we looking at a whole new rifle here.

  • snmp

    Brazil chose to stay with therir weapon system with new furniture & new name

    * FAL to IMBEL IA2 762=> 308W
    * MD-97 to IMBEL IA2 556 => 223R

    That’s mean many FAL compatible furniture

  • jdun1911

    Modern military staying with the same general design is dictated by logistical and continuity issues. It is a great undertaking for any large size military to retrain its’ warriors to use a completely different small arm weapons.

    You have to re-teach how to properly maintain the weapon in the field. How to clear malfunctions. The general operation of the firearms. Different ergo means different ways to use the firearm. etc. Overall it will take a lot of training time to get everybody aboard.

    Logistical wise it will be a huge mess. You have to retrain armorers to fix the new system. Parts will be hard to come by. New tools are needed. Different type of containers needed to transport the weapons. The list goes on.

    Generally you wan t the new weapon system as close to the original in parts and ergo. This will cut down on the training and spares parts.

  • subase

    I heard from people that should know that the FAL has the best ergonomics of any battle rifle.

    So it seems a no brainer to introduce a 556 version that imitates the FALs ergonomics.

    Hopefully they made some internal differences and improved the weapons reliability too.

  • Tylermar

    Import please it would be a pretty cool FAL platform rifle to have and a question does it except standerd FAL magizines

  • André AP
  • kasho

    Uma excelente arma com design moderno, o 5,56 melhorou muito em vista do MD97 e concerteza irá se destacar em breve.

  • leo
  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys…

    I have been following the events in Rio de Janeiro these past few days, against the drug traffickers in the Favela do Alemão, and I couldn’t tell if these upgrades were already being used by the Spec Ops (Tropa de Elite) or the Military Police…

    I have seen FAL-like rifles, probably the Imbel MD-97, but couldn’t tell if any of these upgrades were already in effect…

    So, you see, the FAL is still in use and works great…I saw some M4s, but most were FAL-IMbel Md97…

    They are looking for a replacement for the FAL? The Mk17 would be a great upgrade! I think they will buy a 7.62, so this could be an alternative!


  • André AP

    Dear friend. First IMBEL will upgrade the rifles
    the stock of reserve strength and the first batches
    go to the Army troops out of Brazil that
    are served at the UN, then, logically, the next
    lots go to the SPEC OPS for Airborne, and then without
    gradually to all infantry and police forces.

  • Rijoenpial

    Thanks for the intel, André… I appreciate it…

  • Artur

    Hey all,

    about IA2 its a Gas-operated, rotating bolt, The weight and lenght I didn’t see but I think you guys can see everything about this new rifle on the Magnum Brazilian Magazine number “111”.

  • Bruno

    Why people don’t like the FAL? It’s a battle rifle. In other words, you pull the trigger and it goes BOOM. One shot, on kill (at least one enemy less).
    Body armor is like paper to it. You can use it as a bat.
    People argue that it’s heavy, but it’s a battle rifle!
    People try to say that in case of war the FAL would fail.
    What country is mad enought to try to invade Brazil?
    Like, you know, all the dedicated border jungle warfare training. It’s a war impossible to win.
    People think that in Brazil there are alligators and monkeys in the streets, that the rainforest covers most of the country, that paramilitary drug dealers are common in the whole country. It’s not. Anyway, if it’s to kill an unamored/lightly armored individual, even a submachine gun can incapacitate/kill.
    About the Police in Rio, you can see a Bren gun in one of the images.

    • Júlio

      Bro, I’m no a weapon specialist or a soldier, but i know about those things.
      The FAL is a real good weapon, but the battlefield has been changed since the last 60 years. In Vietnam the US fought in extensive battlefields, and for that they used a RIFLE, the M16 family. Today, we fight at 300m or smaller ranges, so we need a lighter and more sofisticated assault rifle that can handle close-quarters and attachments ( like EOTech Holo, ACOG and M203 grenade launcher )
      Hope I helped ;D
      OBS: I’m brazilian

  • Pastro

    As an carrer officer of the Brazillian Army I can say we have been looking for a new class of rifles to swap our FALs for a long time. Although we know there are finished projects all over the world, like ACR, SCAR or TAVOR 21, the main objective of producing a new weapon is to power the Brazillian industries up. However, even though IMBEL’s first experience on the MD97 did not suceed, military and civilian tests over de Ia2 rifle resulted in extremely good feedbacks. This Rifle is being presented on the LAAD at Rio de Janeiro and is already on small scale production.
    It is not an improved FAL.

  • Bru Abu

    Guys, some of you are crazy, It is not an improved FAL.!!!!!!
    Its very light!
    it have polymers.

    And the brazillian allways prefer to buy from the local industry, to power it up.

  • Francisco

    They can not see a weapon designed entirely by engineers who already think of Brazil is an improved FAL, Brazil is creating the first military-industrial park in the southern hemisphere and developing their own technologies, the FX-2 for the purchase of warplanes comes with total technology transfer without saying that everyone will be produced by Embraer in Brazil with the exception of some specimens, the 36 fighters will cost on average 10 billion. What’s more the country develops its own tanks and combat vehicles and is one of the few who develop their own submarines and is working on a nuclear submarine and will have all their technology and production line at home, could there around 2020 ~ 2030 block access to any nation in the south of Latin America raising concerns even from England because of the Falklands. In addition has a state which makes chips, the only company in the sector in Latin America, develops radars and satellites, signed against the will of a U.S. agreement with Ukraine to launch their satellites with full technology transfer, of course still in its infancy but we can not forget that it is a BRICS and has surpassed France as an economic power in the near future being 4 or 5 in the world economy ahead of England, is changing the world wake up!

  • Dan
  • FrankDaTank1218

    Why would the 762 version have a lighter, non-solid stock than the 556? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?