French Army to replace the Famas Rifle

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I first reported rumors that the French would be replacing the FAMAS rifle back in 2009. During a recent meeting with the Commission of Defense, the French CEMAT (Chef d’Etat Major de l’Armée de Terre / Chief of Staff of the Army), General Ract Madoux, confirmed that the French Army would issue a RFP (Request For Proposals) in 2013 for a replacement service rifle for the French Army.

FAMAS G2

The French FAMAS rifle has been a disaster. Its delayed blowback action is powerful enough to rip apart regular NATO brass-cased 5.56x45mm cases and its rifling does not stabilize the modern 5.56mm NATO bullets. The French Army is forced to use steel cased 5.56mm ammunition, thus eliminating the advantages of using the same cartridge as their NATO and EU allies. It that was not bad enough, the ammunition is no longer made in France and has ben to imported. A French journalist told me that China manufactures steel-cased 5.56mm for French military (I will say that another French journalist I spoke to disputes that ammunition is imported from China).

The manufacturer of the FAMAS, the state-owned Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Etienne (MAS), has been developing firearms since 1777 and is well known for developing the first smokeless power military rifle, the Lebel Model 1886. Sadly this organization no longer has the technical capability to develop a new rifle, which is why France is looking beyond her borders for a new rifle.

I have compiled a list of potential contenders for a new French service rifle, along with their pros and cons.

Rifles from Neighboring Countries

H&K 416 (Germany)

+ The H&K416 has good reputation, the AR-15 is well known system, Used by Norway, Turkey, USMC and French Army Special Forces. Also available in 7.62x51mm (H&K417).

- Expensive(?).

FN SCAR Mk.16 (Belgium)

+ Modern rifle. Used by French Special Forces and Special Police Teams (including those responsible for protection of the President). Available in a PDW configuration and a 7.62mx51mm configuration (Mk. 17).

- New unproven rifle. Dropped by USSOCOM.

FN2000 (Belgium)

+ Bullpup (like the FAMAS).

- Adoption has not been widespread. Used by Libya (really bad PR).

SIG 550 (Switzerland)

+ Long service history and has aged well. Many variants. Used by Switzerland, German GSG and French Special Forces.

- Non-standard polymer magazine (although there are variants that use AR-15 magazines).

SIG 516 (Switzerland)

+ Proven AR-15 design. PDW and 7.62mm variants available.

- Not (yet) adopted by a military or paramilitary organization. Not an HK416.

Beretta ARX (Italy)

+ Modern modular design. Has been adopted by the Italian Army.

- A new and not yet proven weapon.

Rifles From Other European Countries

CZ 805 BREN A2 (Czech Republic)

+ Modern design. To become the next service rifle of the Czech Army.

- Unproven. Proprietary magazine.

HS VHS (Croatia)

+ Bullpup.

- Unproven. Not a lot of space for mounting FÉLIN (French Future Solider) accessories. Looks to similar to the ill-fated FAMAS.

Steyr AUG A3

+ Bullpup. Seen combat. Adopted by a number of countries and police forces.

- The Australians seem to be spending more time developing this gun than Steyr are. Propriety magazine (although a NATO model with an AR-15 magazine is available, although I do not know if anyone has adopted it).

Rifle From Non European Countries

Remington ACR (USA)

+ The latest magnesium-alloy model is an excellent modern rifle.

- Unproven. Not adopted by any military or para-military organizations. Non-European design (So is the AR-15, but that is now made and used all over the world).

Colt Canada C7 (Canada)

+ A proven battle tested design. Used by Royal Netherlands Army, British SAS and New Zealand SAS.

- Not a very exciting rifle compared to the above models. Not European.

Tavor (Israel)

+ Bullpup (like FAMAS). Limited use in combat.

- Not a lot of space for mounting FÉLIN accessories. France is unlikely buy rifles from Israel for political reasons.

UPDATE: I have posted a followup here.

[ Many thanks to Clairon for information. ]

Related

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.


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  • Nater

    I’d go with a SCAR, 416, or the Sig 550. I think the whole bullpup concept seems to have been a dead end.

    People see them in their favorite, corny sci-fi serials and they think “Uhhhh…this funny gun with the hangy down thing in the back must be the future!” and then they say “The US is backwards because it doesn’t use this fantastic rifle of the future!”. The traditional rifle layout is definitely a better way than the bullpup.

    • Joe Schmoe

      RE: Nater -

      Because you can fit a 15 inch barrel into a 25 inch weapon right?

      Tavor CTAR-21 = Barrel 15 in/Length 25 in
      M4A1 = Barrel 14.5 in/Length 33 in
      HK416 = Barrel 14.5 in/Length 35.4 in

      • noob

        Joe, thanks for your info on the micro-tavor’s internals on the previous
        http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2011/11/21/honduras-to-buy-tavor-tar-21-assault-rifles/
        post.

        Got one more question about modularity – can you tell me where the serial number is located? as in, which part is the legally serialised “firearm” on the Tavor, equivalent to the lower receiver of the AR15?

        Is it the metal chassis inside the Tavor’s plastic stock?

        I think that the tavor would be a fine choice for france, from the specs on paper. They might need more rail on top for their FELIN sights but that can be arranged.

      • Joe Schmoe

        RE: Noob –

        Here’s your answer, look on the right:

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Tavor-latrun-exhibition-1.jpg

        P.S. – Note: The rifle pictured is an older model.

      • Doug

        I agree that bullpups are not a dead end. I also think the Tavor would be a fine choise. But I agree with Steve in that France won’t choose it due to political relations with Israel, which is too bad.

      • Nater

        The bullpup design probably works great, if you’re not a human being. Anyone that knows anything about ergonomics will tell you (unless they’ve been paid to do otherwise) that the bullpup design is ridiculous.

        Bullpup advantages:

        -Long barrel in shorter overall length.

        Bullpup disadvantages:

        -Majority of the weight of the rifle isn’t between the user’s hands, where it should be.

        -Weight is biased rearwards, amplifying muzzle rise.

        -Complicated fire control.

        -Little forearm for mounting lights and lasers. No real possibility of a rail mounted grenade launcher.

        -Slower to reload.

        -Harder to prone out with.

        -Ejection is complicated by the need to eject down or forward to have any real chance of ambidextrous usage.

        Seems a bit unbalanced, just like the rifle itself. All those downsides for a longer barrel. Logic would dictate developing cartridges that work better from short barrels than compromising the rifle’s inherent design to make it shorter.

      • Joe Schmoe

        RE: Nater -

        (= are my additions and comments)

        Bullpup advantages:

        -Long barrel in shorter overall length.

        =Better balance/weight distribution

        Bullpup disadvantages:

        -Majority of the weight of the rifle isn’t between the user’s hands, where it should be.
        =On the M4 the majority of the weight is far in front of the users hands leading to tiring much quicker and reduced accuracy over long periods.

        -Weight is biased rearwards, amplifying muzzle rise.
        =Not an issue with small rounds like the 5.56mm. The Tavors design also pushes the recoil directly in the shoulder.

        -Complicated fire control.
        =(Tavor) Same exact as the M4A1, it’s even better since the charging handle is forward now.

        -Little forearm for mounting lights and lasers. No real possibility of a rail mounted grenade launcher.
        =Sights have integrated laser (MARS, MEPRO, etc), a soldier likes to minimize weight and there is still plenty of room to mount a laser, light and a foregrip if you want.

        -Slower to reload.
        =Not true. Reload can even be faster since your hand is naturally guided to your shoulder.

        -Harder to prone out with.
        =Same as any other weapon, no difference in prone.

        -Ejection is complicated by the need to eject down or forward to have any real chance of ambidextrous usage.
        =Erm, no. You can actually switch the ejection port (and charging handle) side depending on which hand you shoot with, try that with most carbines.

        Seems a bit unbalanced, just like the rifle itself. All those downsides for a longer barrel. Logic would dictate developing cartridges that work better from short barrels than compromising the rifle’s inherent design to make it shorter.

        =In your opinion, the facts speak otherwise. And it’s not just a longer barrel, regardless of barrel length the bullpup design is far smaller than conventional designs.

    • Indoman

      While what Nater says has some good points, the benefits outweighed the bad.
      +Shorter rifle, easy to fit in an APC, tanks or helicopters. Comfortable and many support ambidextrous shooters.
      -Some soldiers are trained using carbine style rifles, my first instinct when using the Australian F88 during an exercise with the ADF had me trying to shove the magazine into the forward pistol grip.

      • S O

        …and French soldiers are trained to shove it into the buttstock…how does that look with a conventional layout rifle? ;)

        Bullpubs can have ambidextrous handling including reversible of F2000-style case ejection. Such a combination is ceteris paribus superior to the conventional layout.

        Folding buttstocks are on the other hand a decent partial substitute for bullpub shortness.

      • Burst

        It’s hard to take the ‘training’ argument very seriously. Most soldiers begin their careers unaware of how to use any rifle. Learning a new one, while grueling, is under the purview of the job.

        Given a few months, you could, for example, train the French military to dual-wield tactical bananas- useless, but they’d be pros at it.

      • greasyjohn

        Don’t speak so soon Burst. I think tactical bananas could be lethal traps, as seen in the documentary series Looney Tunes.

      • Kevin

        Re the Bullpup vs conventional debate, one of th emost reasoned piece I have read over the years is from Anthony Williams (occasional comenter here, btw) :
        http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/miltech.htm

        Scroll down to

        The Assault Rifles group of articles:
        Assault Rifles and their Ammunition: History and Prospects AMENDED APRIL 2011
        The Next Generation / Biting the Bullet: The Case for a New NATO Rifle and Machine Gun Cartridge AMENDED APRIL 2011
        Why bullpups? AMENDED JULY 2010
        Future Infantry Small Arms AMENDED APRIL 2011

        FWIW.
        In any case, I seriously doubt the next french rifle will be a bullpup, mostly because, during the last decade+, new or improved rifle research has been pushed by the US army, with the US army in mind, and the US civilian market as a commercial secondary target : M16 type controls with conventional layout, M16-compatible modularity & accessories, body-armor compatibility, 5.56,… so this is where the advances have been made, design-wise. IE, much efforts to ‘polish’ or ‘re-invent’ the M16, M4,… and not so much to explore other venues, since that was where the demand was.

        OTS, I don’t see any bullpup “mature” enough to compare.
        And, also, I predict much gnashing of teeth and buyer’s remorse, afterward, when the new “toy” will show its own flaws, and not turn out to be the Uber Super Rifle it was hyped to be (whatever it will be).

    • jdun1911

      Bullpup is a dead end. Not even French commando use them. In fact every first rate military country that have bullpup as their standard weapon, their Special Force use a conventional design.

      • Joe Schmoe

        RE: Jdun1911 –

        Erm… Do you consider the Israeli’s, for example, to have a first rate military? Because their special forces do use the Tavor and Micro-Tavor bullpups.

        How about China, India and countless other countries who’s SF adopted bullpup designs?

      • Lance

        Compared to some opinions here a Piston AR works just fine so dose DI versions I doubt the French will go with a AR-15 design or a Belgian SCAR the F2000 or a G2 FAMAS would be better since they have simular ergonomics like the current FAMAS has and so cheaper to train troops with.

    • Nater

      British mainline forces use the L85A2, British SOF units use the AR.

      Australian mainline forces use the F88 Austeyr, Austalian SOF units use the AR.

      New Zealand mainline forces use the F88 as well, their SOF units use the AR as well.

      French mainline forces use the FAMAS, their SOF units use the AR or the Sig 550.

      Anyone see a pattern here? In countries that deploy bullpups, those who have some degree of choice choose not to use them. The Israelis just started deploying the uTavor, we’ll see if their SOF units are using them in a decade. My money is on “no”.

    • Nater

      You ever even fired a Tavor? I highly doubt it. I certainly haven’t, I’m not nor have ever been in the IDF. I have, however, played around with the previous favorite of the bullpup stroker brigade, the AUG.

      -The majority of the weight on AR is between the users’ hands. The upper receiver, the bolt carrier, and the ammunition. I’m sure you could change this with a really heavy profile barrel and a 203/320, but it’s not inherently true. On any bullpup, it’s behind the hands.

      -ITL MARS IR laser – .4mW

      Insight ATPIAL IR laser – 3.5mW (low), 35mW (high)

      These are not even comparable products, to suggest show either shows dis-ingenuity or ignorance.

      -Apparently you do not know what “fire control” means. It’s not “operating controls”. It’s the mechanisms that fire the weapon when you pull the trigger. When you place the trigger components and the actual operating mechanisms of the rifle a foot apart from each other, you’re going to complicate fire control. Nothing more to be said on that one.

      -Again, you apparently can’t grasp what ambidextrous use means. Being able to change a rifle from left to right isn’t it. If you have a Tavor set up for a righty and he has to shoot lefty around a barricade, he’s going to get brass in the face. Unless you can design a bullpup to eject forward (as FN has done) or out the bottom, you can’t have this level of ambidextrous use without obvious problems. You also get all the spend gases of powder combustion in your face. Shooting a bullpup is worse than shooting a suppressed AR, which anyone will tell you is annoying. Not the biggest issue in the world, but still an undesirable “feature”.

      -Prone. Could just be an AUG issue. I had a failure where the magazine was pushed far enough up to interfere with the operation of the bolt. Which brings up another issue. I don’t think you’re going to be using something like the Beta or the Armatac with a bullpup.

      -Reload. Rapidly reload a bullpup while you’re in the prone position. Enough said.

      These are not “opinions”. These are facts.

      • Joe Schmoe

        You ever even fired a Tavor? I highly doubt it. I certainly haven’t, I’m not nor have ever been in the IDF. I have, however, played around with the previous favorite of the bullpup stroker brigade, the AUG.

        =Yes, I have fired the Tavor.

        -The majority of the weight on AR is between the users’ hands. The upper receiver, the bolt carrier, and the ammunition. I’m sure you could change this with a really heavy profile barrel and a 203/320, but it’s not inherently true. On any bullpup, it’s behind the hands.

        =Which is why it’s better than the traditional layout. Here the weight sits in the users shoulder instead of forward of the hands tiring him out. This is most definitely a plus for the bullpup.

        -ITL MARS IR laser – .4mW

        Insight ATPIAL IR laser – 3.5mW (low), 35mW (high)

        =Meprolight MOR (the new standard sight) – Visible laser 5mW and an IR laser 5mW, all co-sighted with the main sight.
        =These are accessories that can go on both weapons anyways, so why are we talking about them?

        These are not even comparable products, to suggest show either shows dis-ingenuity or ignorance.
        = No one is comparing a huge standalone laser system to an integrated laser sight. But you are kidding yourself if you don’t think that the integrated laser is enough for the effective 300m-450m range of the 5.56. I never had a problem spotting the MARS IR laser through my night scope.

        -Apparently you do not know what “fire control” means. It’s not “operating controls”. It’s the mechanisms that fire the weapon when you pull the trigger. When you place the trigger components and the actual operating mechanisms of the rifle a foot apart from each other, you’re going to complicate fire control. Nothing more to be said on that one.
        =I misunderstood you. But I don’t see how this is a downside. The Tavor has greater reliability than the already great M4A1 (in my experience at least) carbine so this issue is mute. If it works well then it works well.

        -Again, you apparently can’t grasp what ambidextrous use means. Being able to change a rifle from left to right isn’t it. If you have a Tavor set up for a righty and he has to shoot lefty around a barricade, he’s going to get brass in the face. Unless you can design a bullpup to eject forward (as FN has done) or out the bottom, you can’t have this level of ambidextrous use without obvious problems. You also get all the spend gases of powder combustion in your face. Shooting a bullpup is worse than shooting a suppressed AR, which anyone will tell you is annoying. Not the biggest issue in the world, but still an undesirable “feature”.
        = Yes this can be a downside in the one-in-a-million case. The Israelis overcome this in any case by putting the rifle in the chest area instead of all-the-way to the other shoulder, which is nearly just as effective and is much easier to aim with (especially since you are going off-hand). They do it with the M4A1 as well in case you’re wondering.
        =The Tavor is louder (duh? The muzzle is closer) but this point is again mute with proper hearing protection; that’s like saying that a M240 is bad because it’s louder than the SAW.

        -Prone. Could just be an AUG issue. I had a failure where the magazine was pushed far enough up to interfere with the operation of the bolt. Which brings up another issue. I don’t think you’re going to be using something like the Beta or the Armatac with a bullpup.
        =AUG issue, never heard of a case like that with the Tavor.
        =No military (as far as I know) uses a beta mag or similar on their assault rifles, so this point is mute as well.

        -Reload. Rapidly reload a bullpup while you’re in the prone position. Enough said.
        = Just as easy with a regular rifle. In fact, it’s easier since instead of reaching out to the mag-well as in a normal rifle, you just slightly twist the bullpup and reach in.

        =Try it yourself, lie down on the floor and mimic both motions, afterwards try and tell me honestly that it is harder to reload.

        -These are not “opinions”. These are facts.
        = To you at least.

      • Nater

        -You want the weight of the rifle between the hands, which goes back to my original point. It’s a simply issue of human ergonomics. Bullpups don’t conform to them.

        -Because that’s the only use for a laser aiming device…ok.

        -The more complicated something is, the more likely it is to fail. Fire control failures are fight enders. I’d also say that the clunky fire control mechanisms are the reason behind most accuracy complaints with bullpups.

        -Shooting with your weak hand is a pretty commonly practiced technique in the US and can be found in M16 manuals dating back decades. The compromise situation you describe lessens your cover.

        -Reloading a bullpup from any position is more complicated than reloading a traditional rifle because of the location of the magazine. Especially when you have to consider loads of gear hanging off the front of your chest.

      • Nater

        -Oh, and just because something isn’t issued on mass to an entire military doesn’t mean that individual units don’t buy them with discretionary funds.

        -I’m still waiting for some pictures of Israeli SOF fighting with the Tavor instead of the M4.

      • Joe Schmoe

        -I’m still waiting for some pictures of Israeli SOF fighting with the Tavor instead of the M4.
        =I already replied to this above. For an SF unit that only uses Tavor:
        http://youtu.be/V4p_aLYF0Ss

        -You want the weight of the rifle between the hands, which goes back to my original point. It’s a simply issue of human ergonomics. Bullpups don’t conform to them.
        =I really think you should try and find a Tavor somewhere to shoot, the weight balance is far superior to that of the M4A1.

        -Shooting with your weak hand is a pretty commonly practiced technique in the US and can be found in M16 manuals dating back decades. The compromise situation you describe lessens your cover.
        =And you can still do that with the Tavor no problem, the rounds eject forward:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy0FlnXCWxQ

        -Reloading a bullpup from any position is more complicated than reloading a traditional rifle because of the location of the magazine. Especially when you have to consider loads of gear hanging off the front of your chest.
        =Like I said, practice makes perfect and for those that trained originally on a bullpup they have no problems reloading at nearly the same speed, I already posted videos showing this.

        -Because that’s the only use for a laser aiming device…ok.
        =Why are you still hung up about the laser? It’s an accessory and can go on both the Tavor and M4A1 so what’s your point?

        -The more complicated something is, the more likely it is to fail. Fire control failures are fight enders. I’d also say that the clunky fire control mechanisms are the reason behind most accuracy complaints with bullpups.
        = The Tavor has greater reliability than the M4A1, so I don’t really care if the firing mechanism is made of rubber bands as long as it works. The only point you might have so far is the trigger pull, but that just takes getting used to for someone coming from a traditional rifle and for someone that trained on the bullpup from the start it doesn’t affect.

        -Oh, and just because something isn’t issued on mass to an entire military doesn’t mean that individual units don’t buy them with discretionary funds.
        =Sure, another one-in-a-million case. For the one guy running around with a Beta mag let him use a regular rifle. For the 99.9% of the other one’s this point is mute.

  • Paul

    two points; while the tendency to buy European is real (and I’d say it’s VERY unlikely France will buy US weapons) there is a similar cultural affinity with Canada that might lead them toward to C7/C8.

    While the VHS “looking” like the bugle is listed as a negative, in fact choosing another bullpup would have training and familiarity benefits (along with all the many other benefits of a bullpup)

  • trone1993

    AR-15 type rifle was user-friendly weapon and it’s so modular.

    • Doug

      Even though we are allies with France and politically speaking, on fairly good terms with them, the U.S. general public’s opinion of France always seems arrogant and down cast.

      I think that France will choose a rifle that accepts Stanag magazines, but I highly doubt it’ll be a U.S. made rifle.

  • S O

    If any of these at all, I’d put by bet on the F2000 because its sight incorporated much of what the French envisaged in their Félin program.

    So far they looked at FAMAS G2 as FAMAS F1 successor, though.

  • Federico González

    Just to add a necessary correction to the article. The SIG 516 was adopted by Costa Rica since January 2011, assigned mostly to Border Police and special intervention units. So far, I’ve only heard positive comments on its outstanding reliability and function.

  • MarcW

    Don’t newer FAMAS have fluted chambers which allow them to use brass ammo? At least I picked up brass 5.56 casings with fluting marks on a French training ground.

    • RickH

      I thought any high powered cartridge with a delayed blowback action had to have a fluted chamber, as there is no primary extraction.

  • Harald Hansen

    I actually feel a bit sorry for the French if they really have to go abroad to purchase a new service rifle.

    All the options put forward in the article will probably serve them well, although I personally hope they will go for something else than an AR platform. This is purely so I’ll have something new and interesting to read about. Seems like the whole world is falling into using either AKs or ARs. Boring! :)

  • Mike

    The “bad PR” of F2000 due to Libyans having used it is a bit of BS. The general public doesn’t really know this, you could tell them that “American SIGINT ninjas” use it with the same effect, that is “what is that F2000 thing you’re talking about?”. Plus, I like the ergonomics. Yes, I only handled a low-cost replica, but they got the dimensions mostly right.

    • Foetus

      @ Mike : yup, French opinion knows NOTHING about guns. It’s not a part of our culture.
      In fact, I think most of my countrymen don’t even know what a FAMAS is ^^

  • Harald Hansen

    What about the H&K G36, BTW? It’s battle proven and widely used, with both Spain and Germany using it as their standard weapon.

    • 18D

      There are some inherent issues with the G36 that will probably exclude it from being adopted. Eventhough the G36 may look modern, many other designs have made improvements on their weapon systems that make the G36 seem somewhat outdated. It’s a good rifle, don’t get me wrong, but its problems have kept it from gaining widespread acceptance in recent years.

      • Timppa

        I’d be interested to learn more about problems with G36. Could you elaborate a bit?

        Comparing the rifles on the list I think G36 is pretty widely adopted.

      • Doug

        I can’t comment on what a military would pay for the G36′s, but one of it’s biggest problems in the U.S. is cost (for the civilian version SL8).

    • Nater

      I’ve always heard about wandering zero issues because of the polymer chassis heating and causing trunion shift. The optic system is a mess and so is the huge carry handle.

  • Timppa

    I’d put HK G36 on the list too.

  • Joe Schmoe

    I have no doubt that the French are going to buy a European designed weapon, let’s just get that out of the way. While the weapons best suited for the French would be the Tavor, SAR-21, etc, it’s just not going to happen.

    I have almost no doubt that the winner is going to be the FN 2000 or G36, period.

  • http://shootingstuffuk.blogspot.com shooter

    the singaporean sar 21 not being considered? its got a good rep and is a bullpup so re training shouldn’t be an issue.

  • http://www.kaliber.hu gvass

    French Army issue German SIG SP2022 pistols, so I can think about adopting a SIG rifle.

    • SpudGun

      Not sure if the choice of sidearm is a good indicator – Berettas, HKs, Sigs and Glocks are used by a variety of armies worldwide (including the US), without corresponding rifle manufacturers.

  • Whatever

    I really doubt the French will adopt a rifle made by some other country. They could have adopted something already in existence instead of the FAMAS but they didn’t; it had to be French and had to be different.

    • Marsh626

      Yes, the French military has a long history of developing their own guns and intentionally making them different just for the heck of it.

  • http://www.securityarms.com/forums Pierangelo Tendas (PT-The Italian Commie)

    First of all, I see you have completely disregarded the G-36.

    Second, my opinion is that the adoption of the ARX-160 is just as likely as the adoption of the SIG. It is true that the French State issues the SIG SP-2022 pistol, but this is limited to the Police and the Géndarmerie, while the Armed Forces retain the PAMAS-G1 (Beretta M92-FS). Furthermore, it is true that the French State and the French Armed Forces have acquired, during the years, quantities of SIG rifles in 5,56mm and 7,62mm, but those were mostly manufactured under license by the MANURHIN company.

    The manufacture of small arms in France has ceased almost completely in the span of the last 20 years. The barrels of the currently-issued FA-MAS rifles are made here in Italy by Beretta. This would put them in a privileged position over other potential competitors.

    Yet (and the same goes for the UK, which is longtime talking about an SA-80 replacement), this is just another evidence of how shortsighted their anti-small arms policy has been.

  • SpudGun

    My scant knowledge of Europe leads me to believe the following will be the front runners -

    HK 416 – Strong ally in the European Union both politically and financially.

    Beretta ARX-160 – another ally in Europe, in financial trouble so may have to buy from Italy to help prop up their economy.

    FN SCAR – though traditionally rivals, Belgium is a neighbour and has strong economic ties with France.

    Along with local politics and EU economics, NATO compatibility for parts, magazines, ammunition, etc. will also play a major decision.

    As always, this is pure speculation on my part based on the information at hand. However, it is very unlikely that France will buy a non-European manufactured design and definitely won’t buy an American or Israeli rifle.

    • Kevin

      “traditionally rivals, Belgium (…)”

      ???

      You might be thinking of the liguistic divide inside Belgium itself. Apart from that, yeah, your post makes sense, you might want to add Switzerland, which has been a traditional arms-supplier, to the french military, to this day.

      Also, and that might make some heads explode, Israel also has some strong ties to France, historically at least until the late 60′s, and IWI is still a big supplier of 5.56 ammo to France, since the local industry has been left out to dry.
      Only issue would be “world image” re the arab countries, otherwise, the french army tend to appreciate israeli tech (the winner of the OTS missile buy for Afghanistan was actually Rafael’s Spike family, but IIUC the Javelin was pushed down the throat of the decider out of political desire to get closer to the USA). So, probably no Tavor.

      • SpudGun

        @Kevin – Accidentally call a Belgian a Frenchman, especially one from the Flemish end of the country and they will correct you ‘tout smart’. ;)

  • http://gdziewojsko.wordpress.com Pawel K. Malicki

    FN F2000 is used by Slovenia

  • Anton

    I’m thinking the Diemaco would do nicely. It’s just a good rifle from a good design. The Dutch army recently updated them with those rails you see in the picture. Those green barets are the Dutch commandos BTW.

  • Mouse

    The VHS is absolutely nothing like the FAMAS in any way accept for appearance. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

  • Andy from West Haven

    If they stick with a bullpup they will probably go with the FN. It’s silly to think it wouldn’t be considered just because one $h!tty country adopted it.

    And I agree with Mouse regarding the HS bullpup. The only similarity to the FAMAS is appearance.

    But if they do go with an AR I tend to believe that they will buy it from Canada.

    I, myself like bullpups. Though I wouldn’t want one that couldn’t accept quad stack magazines. That will be the battlefield trend in the future. 60 will be the new 30

  • Alex-mac

    It would be quite embarrassing if France backtracked and didn’t get themselves another bullpup. Why has the FN F2000 found it so hard to get traction with any military? (Slovenia doesn’t really count) If not the FN F2000 then how about the oldie but a goodie Steyr Aug? With the Australian upgraded version EF88, the French could demand similar improvements and have themselves a rifle arguably equal to the Tavor but combat proven and made in Austria.

  • Peter Jansen

    The Colombian’s also use the FN F2000, I recently seen a documentary of their special forces carrying them into the jungle, hunting down drug labs.

  • West

    I cant understand why the NATO alliance cannot standardize their weapons/ammo.
    The AR platform has served reliably for decades.
    Why the French (haha) resistance to this weapon system??

    • Levi B

      Just what we need, NATO dictating what small arms we should use.

      • West

        Im not saying that anyone should be ‘dictated’ to.
        Im simply pointing out that it makes sense for a group of allies to standardize their small arms.

      • Colin

        NATO was going to use the same rifles (when it was first set up), thats why everyone got the 762 round. Trouble is, at the time, everyone made their own rifles (and were proud of the home grown designs). So trying to get everyone to use rifle X was impossible.

  • Lew

    Fabrique National is from Herstal which is in Wallonnia* where people speak French. While one would hope that this would not in any way influence any French procurement official I think everyone can agree that it’s always nice to buy things from people who speak your own language. I have a hard time seeing the French buy either a German or an Italian Rifle, if nothing else than out of national chauvenism and the historical antagonism between the three nations.

    *Walloonia also used to be part of France proper until 1814 so really an FN rifle would be semi-domestic ^^

  • Levi B

    Does nobody proofread these posts? Some parts are nearly unreadable.

    • Burst

      It’s not a bug; it’s a feature.

  • NWOshooter

    You mention the Colt Canada C7 and note that it’s a “battle tested design” but you don’t mention that the country with the most “battle testing” of the platform is Canada itself?!

    • Other Steve

      Yea, I think everyone agrees this is a REALLY poor article.

  • Spiff

    Why was the long standing, proven, Steyr AUG not mentioned?
    I will be willing to bet that every one of these “newer” rifles will be replaced within 2 to 3 years as unsatisfactory…
    Spiff

  • http://www.operatorchan.org balci

    >The H&K416 has good reputation

    This was my personal weapon when I was a guardsman in the Norwegian army, the only ones dumb enough to like it is often the unexperienced recruits or conscripts who have barely put 100 rounds through it on a comfortable range.

    Officers and seasoned soldiers will tell you the same, the rifle is a piece of garbage, several Norwegian ISAF soldiers to this day will go out of their way to have their old G3 rifles issued to them, knowing this 416 may, and will malfunction.

    The biggest issues we’re talking about is the gas port clogging up, gas regulator breaking, the buffer tube coming loose, ejectors just coming straight off the bolt, the piston and the piston rod both breaking is also very common, the supplied front sight is also completly useless, as the corn is way too thick, and the folding sight will be frozen in place by carbon if it’s in the folded position, and the rear sight couldn’t be more flimsy.

    The 416 is not a good weapon, not even decent, I would never trust my life to it, and the few days I had to use it under the attacks 22 July, I put more confidence in my somewhat lacking ability to use the bayonet, the few experienced soldiers with me would say the same, if their rifles must have been used for whatever reason, they couldn’t have trusted them 100%, and for me at least, who doesn’t think guns are good because they look cool, that’s a big problem

    • Other Steve

      Thanks for the first hand knowledge. Just a friendly note, do not go over to hkpro.com, those guys LOVE their HKs and that company can do no wrong to them. First hand knowledge be damned… ITS HECKLER AND KOCH! :)

      Interesting that every one of your gripes are all HK specific issues. A standard M4 has none of those problems or at least lower potential for crappy sights and etc. All this not even mentioning that a standard M4 is over a pound lighter than a 416.

      Then again, it’s not a piston design and we’re told how much better and more reliable piston systems are every day…. Yea, that’s sarcasm.

      • http://www.operatorchan.org balci

        I would have preferred a M4, or a Diemaco C8 which some of us had, we had a couple of H&K fanboys as well, but their expectations of the rifle were crushed after a few weeks in the field, or whenever their guns started coming apart back at camp for no apparent reason

      • AZRon

        Finally, the HK bashing begins. Other Steve, I’m shocked that a website devoted to HK firearms would have HK fans. Shocked I tell you. Perhaps Glock fansites are made up of people that prefer Iver Johnson revolvers? You speak of first hand knowledge. I would be curious to know how many HK’s you have owned, and which models they were.

        To balci, since you have experience, I will take you at your word and appreciate your report. Your statement “to this day will go out of their way to have their old G3 rifles issued to them” really hits home with me. I have always considered any AR-based rifle to be a failure waiting to happen. On the other hand, the HK 91 that I bought in 1981 is still just as reliable, powerful, and (nearly) as accurate as it was when I bought it new, even after 20,000+ rounds.

        AR…trying to turn a sows’ ear into a silk purse for decades.

        AR…easy to find “tactical” bolt-ons. (tactical…LOL)

        HK91/G3…acquire ammunition…shoot.

      • http://www.operatorchan.org balci

        @AZRon

        Indeed, our G3 rifles, or AG3 as they’re called, were produced right here in 1964, they’re great rifles, and whoever has served with them will often and always make comments about how flimsy the 416 is.

        Personally I joined the force after the adoption of the 416, so I haven’t been much in contact with the G3, but I could tell it was a far superior rifle, provided it has been mended after the constant wear it has been exposed to after nearly 50 years.

        To me, the G3 makes much more sense for the kind of warfare we were trained on, while the adoption of the 416 seems like some kind of desperate attempt to modernize our doctrines, even though that hasn’t, and won’t happen.

      • Other Steve

        AZRon, yea, go ahead and go there. Please….

        I own a SBR MP5 that I built from a flat and german demil parts kit. Finished by Ralph at RDTS because I wanted a good coating for it. Took the non-french A3 stock off and use an A2 because it fits me better. Use an FBI trigger pack because I like the Navy pictograms more than the SEF style. I have an HK P30S that is at my machinist getting threaded in 1/2×28 for my cans. An HK P2000sk I sold after owning and carrying for awhile. Using the jig I made for the MP5, I helped a friend roll a 91 body and had that completed rifle for about 8 months, enough time to determine it’s nice, but heavy and the collapsible stock is less than useless on that rifle. An HK marked/Benelli Super 90 M1 which probably counts just as much as my HK flare gun. I haven’t shot the MR556, but I have shot a semi LWRC lower with a 14.5″ HK416 upper, it was fine, but nothing special to me, heavy if anything was remarkable about it.

        I know HK just fine thanks. Also, how does that foot taste?

      • Rijoenpial

        That is what happens when you try to turn a DI design into a piston one, Other Steve!

        The piston rifles who are designed from the ground up are not as flawed as this one, not by a long shot! 100 rounds?!?! The HK416 is nothing but a DI converted into piston! And a pisspoor job at that, it seems! I haven’t fired one, but I tend to trust people who did, especially soldiers who relied on them for survival! Maybe it was the Norwegian version, maybe not! The truth is that the Delta were asked to return their HK416s… Maybe that was one of the reasons or the main reason why… Purely speculative on my part…

        Do not confuse weapons like the FAL, the SCAR and other piston driven rifles by design which are more robust and far less prone to jamming, to patched-up designs who try to be what they were not designed to be in the first place!

        The Ar-15 was never designed to be piston driven! That is why Eugene Stoner designed the AR-18 in the first place! Otherwise, he would have just slapped a piston and an uprod to it, and that would have been all she wrote!

        This is another reason why conversions like these are very ill-advised! I even suspect that the piston version of the CM901 is probably never gonna lift off the ground! Why settle for a flawed conversion when you can have the real deal?!

        Cheers!

    • Rusty Longsword

      Was talking to an Italian SF dude last week. I have no personal experience myself with the 416, and am not claiming firsthand knowledge, but his sentiments echoed very much yours. He said that the 416 would become unreliable after only a few rounds (maybe 150) being fired, and that stovepipes and all sorts of other malfunctions would follow. He really seemed to think the weapon was sub-par in terms of its reliability.

      • http://www.operatorchan.org balci

        I never had too much reliability problems with mine, it usually fed just fine, but it would rarely behave like you’d expect, I received mine new in box, and by the end of my service, it was useless.

        because the gas port becomes clogged after a few hundred rounds, you’re pretty much left with a straight bolt action rifle, it would have been acceptable if you could disassembe the gas block and clean it, but it’s all staked in place by roll pins, and you can’t exactly visit the quartermaster in his armory when you’re deep in the woods, hundreds of miles from civilization.

        The gun would also become disabled under cold temperatures (-35 celsius) usually the bolt would refuse to go anywhere, best remedy for this would be to heat it up in the tent, as jerking it out would damage the charging handle.

      • Lance

        Sorry but Delta Force and Some MARSOC and SEALs have 416s in service and is used by the USMC as well the 416 is a very relighable weapon.

    • Marsh626

      Wasn’t it a U.S. Navy SEAL with an HK 416 that put a bullet in Osama’s eye?

      And where did you hear that U.S. Army Delta Force abandoned it? They were the soldiers who put the most input into its development. And I think it’s safe to assume that Delta soldiers are some of the best shooters in the world.

      • Christopher T. Farrell

        Benazir Bhutto stated that she had reliable reports that Osama was dead long before the theatrical ruse staged by the ‘Manchurian’ Muslim from Mombasa presently illegally occupying the Oval Office.
        No surviving members of the Seal Team 6 to speak on what really happened. They’ve been killed off or otherwise silenced. We are supposed to believe that one of the officers of the Team’s chain of command committed suicide. No witnesses who can claim they saw Osama’s corpse aboard the aircraft carrier on which Osama was purportedly buried at sea. Not one.
        Obama did make sure that it was reported that his Muslim Brother was given a traditional Islamic burial with a corpse washing and wrapping in fine white linen and verses from the Koran supposedly read aloud over the reverential ceremony. How nice.
        Let us hope that Obama’s funeral is similarly reverential and soon.

    • Nater

      Except Eugene Stoner didn’t design the AR-18. He designed the AR-16, and the point of the design was to produce a cheaper rifle than the AR-10/15. Piston ARs work, they’ve been shown to work, and the SEALs don’t seem to mind theirs.

      Most new weapons have issues when they’re first introduced, especially when they’re introduced during war time.

    • Harald Hansen

      I’ve fired thousands of rounds through the 416 and the AG-3 before it, so I feel somewhat competent to address your concerns.

      (BTW, labelling people with different opinions than yourself “stupid” doesn’t help the discussion. Just sayin’…)

      Through years of using the AG-3, and putting a few thousand rounds through it, including 600 in one day, I’ve experienced no more malfunctions than I can count on one hand, and all of them were either magazine or operator related. A superbly reliable weapon, but heavy and with awful ergonomics. One example is the placement of the safety. I’ve got long fingers and can’t reach the safety without tilting the weapon or letting go of the pistol grip.

      My rifle platoon (Home Guard “Innsats”) got the HK416 maybe three years ago during the inital rollout of the weapon. So we got brand-spanking-new weapons.

      During trainining and the first few hundred rounds on the range, the weapons jammed like crazy. There were double feeds and failures to extract and such all up and down the firing line. Some feeding problems jammed the weapons up really tight, and took several minutes to clear.

      But it got better. There were fewer and fewer problems, and for the last year or so malfunctions have been rare, maybe one or two per range session per platoon.

      So it seems like the HK416 needed to be “run in”, so to speak, to function reliably. As the AG-3 was put in service when my father’s generation was conscripted, and can’t speak to how it was in the beginning.

      The other breakages I haven’t seen during my service. We had a couple of issues with the optics, that’s all.

      The folding front sight does get fouled and stuck with carbon. The easiest solution is to leave it up, as it is set up to co-witness with the red dot sight anyway.

      Personally, I was well pleased with the changeover. Better ergonomics, lighter weapon (I’ve been going on lots of patrols…), higher ammo capacity (30 shots vs 20 shots in-weapon during contact drills is a big difference), easier to shoot well.

      • anon

        Strange. You would think that expensive army-issue guns would have enough QC done so to not need a break-in period.

  • Vitor

    I suspect that the ARX-160 has a good chance. Seems to be a quite good design, definetly very modern and it will come from a well known neighboor.

    • Other Steve

      I have no idea how the ARX-160 works, or how it would be received by the French.

      I just don’t like how it looks like it has a diaper around the magazine. It looks almost as bloated as an F2000.

      • Vitor

        It looks bloated, but it’s quite light weight.

        It’s a typical short-stroke piston gun, with the BCG being designed to deal with a piston (unlike ARs with a piston slapped into).

        The gun caught the attention of many for being extremely modular, very quick changes of both barrel and ejection side.

  • cc19

    If they ditch ‘em someone needs to find a way to bring them stateside and convert them for civilian use. Last real one I saw was hanging out on Gunbroker for over 12 grand.

  • Zera

    One look at this, and I knew the author should’ve been ready to catch some flak.

    Particularly on the “Pros and Cons,” what with them being rushed and the most prominent con being “unproven.”

  • Tinkerer

    Steve, if it was you who wrote this article, then I am most profoundly disappointed of you. This has to be one of the most misleading and misinformed articles I have seen in a while.

    “The French FAMAS rifle has been a disaster”

    The first version of the FAMAS -the F1- has had some heavy faults, but those have been already worked out for a long while -current standard version is the G2-. Remember, the FAMAS was adopted in 1978 and is still the standard issue rifle for the french armed forces -among others.

    “Its blowback action is powerful …”

    The FAMAS uses a lever delayed action -the same as the AA-52 machine gun in 7.62×51. It is not inherently a bad action -remember, some of the finest weapons out there have delayed blowback actions, like the classic H&Ks.

    “and its rifling does not stabilize the modern 5.56mm NATO bullets.”

    That was the case with the F1 version and it’s 1:12 rifling. The current G2 has 1:9 rifling and is compatible with SS109 and M193.

    If you don’t research enough, you force on us your loyal readers a whole bunch of misinformation -or blatant errors.

    • Hauser

      What you say would be true, if the G2 actually replaced the F1. The G2 was only adopted by the Navy, the Army chose to keep the F1, meaning that they still have to suffer with all of the original problems with it. I think the problem with the action on the FAMAS is the fact that it is not delayed enough, so that the case is not fully supported when the pressure is still quite high potentially causing kabooms using regular brass cases.

  • Tom

    France have historically been quite friendly with Israel, although I too don’t think they’ll look outside of Europe for a new rifle.

  • Other Steve

    This whole list of pros and cons is amateur at best. Fluff piece most likely. Troll bate at worst.

    Sig’s con is “- Not an HK416.”

    … REALLY? Marketing bias much? Does the author have any sort of comparative experience with both platforms to back this up?

    I’m not defending the SIG 516, I have no experience with it. But I suspect neither does the author.

    • TATim

      “Looks to similar to the ill-fated FAMAS.” really takes the biscuit.

  • Bill

    A couple of thoughts on the AR platform making it:

    - Can be done w/FN in Belgium

    - Can be done by licensing the design and setting up factories make/assemble it in France to have it ‘Made in France.’

  • tradecraft

    I heard from my friend in the French army that the FN SCAR and the Steyr Aug have the most chance to replace the Famas.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys

    That is an impressive list right there.

    I think the French won’t be adopting the SCAR for a different reason: the French dislike anything Belgian! As in serious though, I think the fact that it was dropped by SOCOM is actually a point in favor of the weapon and not against, Steve, especially since the reasons presented for the USSOCOM dropping it do not affect the overall value inherent to the rifle.

    The F2000 being used by Lybian SpecOps is bad PR, I concur, but it is no reason not to buy and use it, since there are a few countries that were adopting it already! If that was the case, then Americans should not like having or buying Ak47w since they were used by the Soviets who were their antagonists for decades! See my reasoning here…? Also, we are very far from the truth behind the Lybian affair… And that’s enough politics from me on the subject…

    Regarding the AR-15 clones, including the HK416, C7, etc… They are most likely the ones beng picked up, though I agree with Steve that HK needs to make them affordable and not for deep pockets, especially in a time of european recession!

    The Beretta ARX-160 would be interesting, and surely by 2013 the ARX will have had enough field work and additional testing and improvements to enable it to be a serious contender…

    Regarding the SIG (the SWISS SIG, mind you), I think they can be a good contender, especially since they are already being used by French SpecOps, which provides familiarity and lots of data already on the rifle’s performance and endurance…

    I think there could be five aspects that could define the next French rifle: familiarity (bullpup design), modularity, durability, performance and, of course, price!

    I think they should adopt a SCAR or Colt CM901 since they are designed to accomodate 5.56 and 7.62… The ACR and the other unproven designs could be tested and who knows, one of them might surprise the French Army testers…

    I personally think they will choose an European brand (FNH, HK, SIG, Beretta, etc)… Less messy that way, especially regarding spare parts, shipping, etc…

    Once we know for sure which weapons will be entering the 2003 competition, we will know which weapon or weapons we will be rooting for…!

    Cheers!

    • Aurelien

      The recent purchase of MAG58 to replace the ANF1 machine gun show the French Army does not hate Belgian guns.

      • Rijoenpial

        I know that, Aurelien…

        I also know the French Army recently procured FN-MAGs for their armoured vehicles as well…

        It was my feeble attempt at humor… Guess you took it seriously, huh? Sorry about that…

        Cheers!

    • Indian

      All Weapons will be finished in next year

  • Aurelien

    Let’s put some history in there, just for fun.

    France has never spit on its neighbors guns. Even before 1945 the French Army worked with guns built all over Europe, and even bought Thompson SMGs to replace the feeble PM38 SMG (the guns went to the Brits after France fell)

    Since then, they have used a good number of guns not developed locally. Of course until 1973 we had a small arms development capacity.

    But the MAS has built contract-specific HK G3 rifles. They also built Beretta 92s for the Navy, Army and Gendarmerie.
    Manurhin built contract SIG rifles in the late 70s to equip the French Army, to bridge the gap left by the MAS49/56 and not yet covered by the FAMAS (for units deployed to Lebanon in 82 mostly)

    So if the gun is form one of the neighboring states, there is little chance of it not being built in one of Nexter’s plants.

    For the funny guy Jaymes, revise your facts : in WW1 the French Army held the front all the way.

    For any other funny people, France lost 85 310 killed in the Battle of France alone. In about one and a half month.
    That’s an awful lot of dead people for a fleeing army, especially when the death toll of the US Army from 1941 to 1945 averages 17000 for 2-month periods.

    • Nater

      Few Americans with a brain think that the French are cowards. Strange? Surely? Yep, but not cowards. Anyone that thinks they are should look at something called “Verdun”.

      People also tend to forget that at the same time the French were being routed by the Germans, the British were too.

    • Harald Hansen

      Anyone with any knowledge of European history doesn’t buy into the “France surrenders” meme. I think it got cooked up by The Onion (the satire newsletter) and took on a life of it’s own.

      • Harald Hansen

        “Its”, not “it’s”. Sorry…

  • Lance

    The F1 FAMAS will be replaced I don’t see the F2 going away. With French pride a factor I see a F2 or G2 version being adopted. Due to issues in SOCOM I really doubt the SCAR or ACR will be used. HK and F2000 have good chances. France would probably go with another Bullpup to make a easy transition with current French troops.

  • Likvid

    CZ 805′s “proprietary” magazine is interchangeable with G36 magazine and mag well can be easily changed to accept AR-15 mags. (why czech army choosed those stupidly wide mags and not AR-15 ones is beyond me..)

    Just saying.

  • http://deojesrandomstuff.blogspot.com/ Deoje

    I see the benefits of bullpups, but have never been a fan. That is mainly due to having trained with other weapons. Someone that has trained with a bullpup and used them almost exclusivly will probbaly not like other more conventional weapons.

  • Pete

    A lot of talk here about which gun France will IMPORT… I have no insider knowledge, but my gut is that even if they farm out the design, it will end up license-produced at MAS, just like the Beretta 92′s in service with them are (PAMAS G1). Also just like the Canadians do with C7/8′s, the Swede’s did and do with the AG3 & AK 5, and many other countries with solid manufacturing bases of their own do with service rifles. Just sayin…

  • Denny

    Something to consider: there are no more ‘national’ arms industries. It just happen that HK is located in Germany; financial relations are international and that turns the crank. Forget therefor phenomenon of ‘national pride’. There is little of it left in French forces – they are ‘professional’ and will do what they are told regardless.

    It surprised me that author calls FAMAS “disaster”. It was not. Personally, I had short encounter with it and remember that ejection (with brass cased ammo) was near perfect and the gun just sat at target I chose to place it at. The only negative was that you have to keep your head straight up because of tall sights. So for that.

    One design, by far too innovative and potentially surpassing anything known (if perhaps not politically) is AN94. This design is far ahead of the pack, namely in area of hit probability. Did anyone see the video of guy shredding stock of bricks with it?

    • 1991-2006_3rei

      I carried a Famas for the better part of 3 contracts and here is what I think of it. It’s a girl friend, not pretty, sometimes out of place, but always there when you need her. Unless you’re care for her, and practised with her, you won’t be worth sh*t. She doesn’t forgive fools, or the non-attentive, but give her a little love and she’s faithful through and through.

    • Ted

      Maybe the political or patriotic issues with not buying French aren’t quite as prevalent when the question is of a fellow Euro member state, but I think buying Russian rifles is an entirely different matter.
      Beautiful though the AN-94′s technology may be, it’s a singularly Russian creation, to say nothing of its absurd price. My general rule of thumb is that, if a country has not adopted the AK-47 or the AK-74, it’s probably not going to adopt any of Izhmash’s other creations.

      I think that the AN-94′s technology is going to remain Russian until a Western company copies it, and maybe throws it into a package that looks a little more like an AR-15.

      But maybe I’m wrong. Still, I balk at the idea of the Russians supplying weapons to America or any of its allies.

  • cesame

    The FAMAS is not a so bad rifle as people describe it.
    small, easy to use and powerfull.
    I had good time with it.
    Try to launch a rifle grenade with an AR-15 and we will see the results. And don’t tell me that a M203 does the same things ;-)
    Rifle grenade launching is still teached in French forces and I saw guys in Afghanistan wearing 6 rifle grenades…
    Today the rifle is “old”, and yes an 20 years old barrels is the best way to miss an ennemy at 100 yards.
    For the replacement, the choise is difficult. Today the price is important, and as France got good relation with FN Herstal this may be a good response. Another point is that the French army is not obliged to replace all the rifles. The special force have their “own” budgets for buying their own guns, the Navy can continue to use the G2 version and a part of the army can continue to use the F1. Don’t forget that in France we where still using machine gul like MAT49 (born in 1949) or handgun (MAC50) during the 1990th.

    • Nater

      All M16s are capable of launcher 22mm rifle grenades from their flash suppressor. The US never went that route because of the M203.

      You have to switch cartridges to launch rifle grenades, you have to switch triggers with an under barrel. The superiority of the latter is not debated by anyone.

      • Joe Schmoe

        You do not have to switch cartridges on newer rifle grenades, check out the SIMON grenade for example:

        http://www.rafael.co.il/Marketing/342-1005-en/Marketing.aspx

      • Kevin

        The french RG are fired with a bullet trap, and from what I get, the french soldiers prefer them over the 40mm, *much* more bang for the buck, though, it’s not a “or” situation (the 40mm rifle attachements are often used by specialized units when necessary), and everybody agree that the almost complete lack of vehicle or tripod-mounted AGL, again, except for some sf, is a big weakness in the french TOE (again, something that has more to do with the sorry inner workings of the french political-miltary-industrial complex than with anything doctrinal).
        Actually, quite a few armies still use RG (I’d say Israel, Columbia, SA, Russia,…?), even those who also use 40mm – different tools.

    • Christopher T. Farrell

      You must have served in the Legion too. Oui? Non? Putan! :)

  • armed_partisan

    My GUESS would be that France would want to buy weapons from a nearby (European) nation that speaks FRENCH, for logistical purposes if nothing else. Belgium AND Switzerland speak French (although they also speak Italian and German in Switzerland and Dutch and German in Belgium). Not to say there aren’t plenty of people in Germany and the USA or other places who speak French fluently and would thusly be able to handle any sales or communications issues which may occur, but I would assume that arms makers located in bordering states who share a common language (even if it’s not the predominant language in that nation) with the buyer probably have a distinct advantage.

  • Marsh626

    I’m not really impressed with the current state of gun technology.

    I fail to see how any of the more recent gun designs are superior to the 60+ year old AK-47 and and 50+ year old M16.

    The improvements in commercial gun technology since then are quite small.

    The only improvement I’d want if I was a soldier would be a better bullet.

    The 5.56 is too small and the 7.62 is too big. Give me something inbetween and I’d be a happy camper.

    And of course, I’d always want a lighter and more reliable gun. But I don’t really see gun weights coming down or becoming more reliable.

    So *meh* @ all these latest (and more expensive) assualt rifles.

    The gun industry really needs to step it up a notch in my opinion.

    • anon

      Sure, you can make it lighter and more reliable. Simply pour in the cash for polymer, aluminum alloys, quality steels, surface conversions , extra machining for fluted barrels etc -which means expensive rifles.

      Really though, small arms technology has not really advanced further than confining an explosion in something, for it to propel a small piece of metal very quickly.

    • koolaidguzzler

      I’m 1000% agreed on a middle cartridge. To me, the 6.8spc looks good, so does a 6.5 version for a longer bble’d rifle than the m4. This is just my archaic views, but I’d like to see a return to a flat topped rifle, instead of all these briefcase-handle rifle tops. Flat topped rifles point and handle faster and more intuitively in CQB, IMO.

    • Stillthekiwi

      7x43mm, developed by the UK after the second world war, and rejected by the US.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

    I have posted a followup here:

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2011/11/24/french-army-famas-rifle-replacement-follow-up/

    It answers many of the questions and comments posted here.

  • anon

    actually sig516 was adopted by thai navy several month ago.
    http://www.thaipoliceshootingclub.com/forum/index.php?topic=6161.0

    • Lance

      Fun looking pics wish you had the writing in English. I notice they also had M-16A1s there too to shoot with also.

  • mrref

    “The Australians seem to be spending more time developing this gun than Steyr are. ”

    http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2011smallarms/WednesdayInter12397Evenden.pdf

    PS: The Australian Steyrs are made by Thales; a French company.

  • Colin

    So, is upgrading the F1 unrealistic? I.E., if the G2 works okay why can’t the F1 get new barrels, mag wells etc?

    @Lance,

    Why would the SCAR-L getting booted by SOCOM stop the French from buying (if the above isn’t an option)? It works (just not a massive improvement over an M4), and FN would offer good prices…

    • Lance

      I just see France using another Bullpup since there troops used them for over 20 years now. The Tavor wont be used since France has strong anti-Israeli sentiment. The FS 2000 or AUG would be better bets. I still think a possible G2 upgraded would be a possible solution as well. The fact is most of this is talk and no one really know whats happening in side the Military’s HQ in Paris.

  • Chic

    Oh, I thought France, U.K., and U.S. will use there rifles until 2210.

  • Travis Burke

    That Tavor is amazing, ive used it before on a special forces military tour in israel. All the instructors who taught us how to use the weapons loved it. I think it would be a great addition to frances arsenal, and if anybody else out there wants to give it a shot, check out http://www.lionops.com. thats the company i was with, we did a lot more than just shooting the Tavor-2

  • Kevin

    Btw, I’m quite happy of being able to read a comment thread about the french army, on a “red meat internet” blog, mostly (haven’t checked the last ones) devoid the “cheese eating”, “white flag”, “only fired once…” Bull-sh9t. This a couple weeks after the 11th of november (4 out of 5 drafted family members KIA during the Great War… scr8w you, youtubes commenters), good.
    A nice change of pace! I’m proud of you all (just joking).

    • Jacques Le Pew

      Q: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris?

      A: Don’t know – it’s never been tried.

  • Stefan

    My money is on them either getting the SCAR or the FN2000. They are both weapons that fits France (IMO) and it would be politically a very good move. “If we can’t make it here, well Belgium will do”

  • strongarm

    If France goes to replace FAMAS, it would be by the reason of
    high cost to manufacture that rifle.

    Speed of Breechbolt Opening can easily be adjusted with contact
    surfaces of Carrier, Bolt and Delay Lever along with extracting
    grooves in chamber. The replacement cause can not be the nature
    of rifle.

    Possible replacement, also, can not be M16 clone , since that concept
    already has high manufacturing costs. Most probably, French will go
    to design their own rifles simply being of a litlle different version of AR18
    like SCAR, ACR, HK G36 and others.

  • AZRon

    Other Steve,

    Perhaps I should have phrased my question better. Maybe I should have asked if you own any HK’s that are still HK’s. You know, like NOT home-made, or off to the machinist because you and him just know more than the engineers.

    You’re the one that stated: “First hand knowledge be damned… ITS HECKLER AND KOCH!”
    It seems to me that you’re the one lacking in that department. But mall-ninjas often are.

    To be fair, my newest HK is a USP .45 that I bought in 1995, so I have no first hand knowledge of newer models; therefore I am not qualified to comment on them. Unlike you, I am willing to admit that I am not a super-authority on all things “guns”.

    Your “foot in mouth” reference, though undeserved, is exactly what I expect from people of your ilk.

  • Quji

    Ok i’m a french guy, and I will tell you my opinion about this: first it surprised me, you didn’t talk about the G36. It replaced the FAMAS in Afghanistan for our Gendarmerie Nationale (whereas the Army should use the FAMAS !), and the special units of the Police and the Commandos Marine are using it. I think this gun is less expensive than the HK 416 and even it is using polymer magazines, our friends of German Army (who share a brigade with us http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-German_Brigade) use it as their standart assault rifle !

    Then we can share the guns that you show in this article in three categories:
    -Those which won’t be chosen for political reasons: the ACR, the Tavor, the C7, the HS VHS and the last from Czech Republic. We don’t like Israelians, some aren’t European and buy an Czech or Croatian gun don’t look very serious for a country like mine.
    -Those which are the least likely: the Steyr AUG, the F2000 and the SIGs. We had never bought a lot of Steyr guns (maybe some sniper rifle for GIGN…), the FN want to win the contract with the SCAR not the F2000, for the 516 we don’t wan’t an AR-15 (even if it is Swiss-made) and the 550 and its variants are good, their are since a long time in service for SF but there is the problem of the magazine.
    -And those which are the serious challengers: the HK 416, the SCAR-L, the ARX-160 and for me the G36. They are already use by Special forces or have been seriously tested. Plus,the only manufacturers which have already made big business with French Army are Beretta (PAMAS (standart pistol for Army and Gendarmerie)), FN Herstal (Minimi and MAG (standart machine guns)) and especially HK (MP5,416,417,USP,UMP,G36 for special forces and police)

    • Aurelien

      Hi,
      The Gendarmerie is using the G36 to mark the fact that they went form Defense to Interior. They are still military, but they get the same hardware as the Police, which is using the G36 as its main rifle (its scheduled to replace the aging Beretta 12SD SMG).

    • Alex-mac

      Main problem with the G36 is that it’s really expensive. Mexico’s deal was 63 million euros for 30 000 rifles. Giving them an individual cost of 2100 euros around $2600 USD each. They instead decided to design their own rifle.

      And then there’s the cost of retraining, logistics and change of doctrine because they aren’t using a bullpup, that served as a one size fits all rifle.

      My bet is on the Steyr Aug, cheaper, it’s a good bullpup, patents have expired and France has in Thales a company experienced in designing, testing and manufacturing it.

    • Christopher T. Farrell

      What do you think of Brazilian weapons manufacturers? Do they have any weapons that you would describe as contenders for replacing the FAMAS?

    • mikewest007

      And what’s your opinion on the Polish offer, the MSBS-556?
      That, and what’s the weird rumor about Verney-Carron entering a partnership with IWI to offer Galil ACE that will be at least partially made in France?

  • johnny

    actually IWI makes all of france’s steel cased ammo.

    as far as rifles go, i think SIG/beretta have the inside track on any new rifle to be adopted.

    another interesting thing is that both france & the UK have started using 9mm speer gold dot JHPs in the past couple years…….

  • idahoguy101

    While I doubt that France will buy an American designed rifle the Canadian C7/C8 have the benefit of good ergonomics and 50 years of refinements. Talk to the USMC about the performance they get from the M16A4 with their optical scope.

  • Briyan

    I’d give them all AK-101′s and AK-102′s. They work with NATO rounds, they’re much cheaper than the FAMAS, they’re much more reliable than the FAMAS, and AK’s are just great weapons PERIOD.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jackson-Andrew-Lewis/630910774 Jackson Andrew Lewis

      id ask the russians for a nato version on the an-94 its still renowned as the most advanced weapons system in use/production.

      • mark

        Renowned by who? Activision? Overly complicated, expensive, and questionable reliability weighing in at 8.5lbs empty.

        There is a reason you don’t even see the Russians using it.

        • Jackson Andrew Lewis

          actually russian special forces and spetznaz are…..internal services of Russia, federal security. and The IRA has also bought several….. and albs empty is still the same weight as a good chunk of current assault rifles in many countries besides the ar-15. as for complexity and cost the famas is not that simple, neither is the
          a r15 when fully stripped and it has been simplified over the 20 years of existence… and price well thats not much different either.

  • lucky pierre

    Three items: I liked the old Fal I was in Algeria on the Celle Linie (Maurice line in US) and we had a lot of action every night for 4 months, its virtue was adjustable gas flow to piston and after a couple of hundred rounds you were not beat up. I left France though French born in Morocco, and wanted to settle in The US, no green cards for Africans, so I opted for the US Army.. First tour in Nam was with M 14, it would beat you to death after 80 to 100 rounds to the point you didn’t care. I tried our french trick of a pair of socks filled with sand and wrapped around the front of the barrel but no go still climbed like crazy on full rock and roll and recoil on semi was tough, its virtues good round, and quick on target sighting, which I feel these current systems have sold out on. Second tour got the 16′s with 3 prong mussel, ditched it for AK made by the Cechs, chromed and just not a p.o.s. like the chcoms. Last tour got the new and improded (how many times) M16, charging handel round nose and finally the correct ammo, great difference it just worked.
    Finally France, I get a lot of crap about it and have stopped pounding dumb asses in to the ground, in WW1 correcting for population the US would have had to have close to 6million KIA. WW2 in six weeks France had more KIAs then the US had in the whole war. Just short on leader ship always the problem.
    Verdun the Paris Mosque was built to honor the 150,ooo KIAS from Morocco and Algeria. I’m old and cast from the service for being too nervous…. seen what I’ve seen been where I’ve been,

  • Michael

    No mention of a built in white flag, passing a drop test. Only being able to fire one bullet, holder for wine. Come on guys, you are slacking. Beating up the French is a national sport in England

    • sensi

      Ah the xenophobic and ignorant garbage coming from that rainy island, mostly thanks to its bigoted and gutter level “press” conditioning the herd with its daily vomit denigrating and misrepresenting anything abroad or continental… A pathetic island syndrome. Do you know anything about Dunkirk and that “glorious retreat” of the British during WW2, fleeing the battle of France by boat? Just asking.

      Now a few historical facts about french warfare:

      “According to the British historian Niall Ferguson, France has participated in 168 major European wars since 387 BC, out of which they have won 109, drawn 10 and lost 49: this makes them the most successful military power in European history.” The Telegraph. 2010-10-22

    • dylan

      during the battle of the somme the french military lost 30,000 men in one day. ONE DAY. to put that in perspective, the number of americans killed in the whole of the vietnam war is only slightly higher than that number. the french are, and have been, and are, one of the most formidable military forces in the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.lu.3998 Ryan Lu

    what is that rail on the C7?

  • calloway

    more thane likely they will give them a new spin of the famas like a famas f2 i just is the famas but all problems have bin fixed

  • vegkop08

    While the famas design in its current version has design flaws . I would consider that all that really needs to be done is change the mechanism from blowback to gas operated with a piston mechanism with certain soft recoil mechanism installed . Also the rifle needs to be made in ,308 7’62 X51 nato instead. The concept of the rifle design is fine but It just needs to have modern features incorparated into the rifle that were not thought of during the first inception of the rifle’s design what a shame this design does not need to be abandoned but improved on by the french army and foreign legion. Let their weapons experts tinker with the famas and give input to the factory for possible improvements some of which can be even made to weapons currently in service

  • http://www.facebook.com/bahjat.tabbara Bahjat Atom-Smasher Tabbara

    Get the AK-12/5.56

    For God’s sake, Bullpups are just rubbish, and American rifles have never really been reliable. The AK-series may seem politically incorrect, but when all else fails go to H&K: the G36E.

    • Harvest M Riley

      I don’t know man are ar15 platform is pretty nice and the M1A is probably the most reliable gun ever.

    • Christopher T. Farrell

      What do you think of the Knight Armament PDW?

    • DisagreeingKiwi

      “Bullpups are just rubbish.” Speaking as a former NZ army soldier I’d kindly disagree with that sentiment. Our rifles were very nice, comfortable to shoot and reliable as well. The idea behind them is sound. Though I do agree the AR-15 based weapons are not reliable, the US troops complained about the M4 frequently in A-stan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jackson-Andrew-Lewis/630910774 Jackson Andrew Lewis

    i wonder if france ever thought of trying to change the extractor system and change the famas to a long stroke piston system. personally i think anything using a shot stroke or long stroke piston should be at the top of their list if i were france i would also try to keep the bulpup configuration as that is what many current soldiers in france will be used to. im canadian i do like the c7 but its an older system so that would be a step backwards in reality… as for bulpups the ones up there are for the mostpart good contenders with good records. as for the non bullpups as much experience the c7 has…..the other rifles for the most part are derived from the reliability of either the short-stroke H&k type systems or long stroke ak type systems….the only one id think they should avout is the scar as its bulky… my top picks would be, styer a3, hk 416/17, and the fn 2000

  • Colin

    What about sig 556 swat a new design .Lot of space for felin design and system is combat proven and variants of sig 556 is already in use with french forces , why not ???

  • Denis

    They would be real geniuses to replace Famas with Croatian copy of Famas. That would be a joke of the century. Other rifles are fine except f2000 I served with that rifle and its crap some soldiers had to replace whole rifles in 2 monthes they were using them because everything broke. Not to mention jamming ….

  • Joe Mariani

    The french will never replace the Famas it is the same nationalistic pride we Americans have when it come to the M16. Unless the new rifle is designed and manufactured in France the Famas will only be modified, like how the M16 was modified into the A1 and so on.

    • Christopher T. Farrell

      Also, the FAMAS is capable of firing a multitude of grenades quite a long distance and at extremely high angles of trajectory–great for getting grenades over high buildings in an urban warfare environment or even steep hillsides. I haven’t fired a whole lot of grenades with a FAMAS, but nearly broke my nose on the carrying handle one time from the kick. I was told that firing a lot of grenades off the barrel of my FAMAS would ruin the weapons accuracy.

  • Christopher T. Farrell

    I served in La Legion Etrangere and deserted. I would recommend the Knight Armament PDW for urban warfare scenarios.

    • Firstamendright

      How long where you in before the desertion?

  • Name

    Obviously a lot of rifles can make the job but, I think that France will probably chose a rifle from one of its closest european allies for political reason :
    - G36 (germany)
    - ARX 160 (Italy)
    - FN SCAR (Belgium)

    In the meantime the french army will try to modernize its aging Famas as good as they can.

  • Luis Medina

    God Bless you.

  • Johan

    Why not polish MSBS?

  • mikewest007

    Dear God, this article is so full of shit that ever the most neglected outhouse in the rural South can’t come close.
    First: no guns from outside of the EU/EFTA. That’s a specific point in the call for offers. That means no ACRs, no Colts, no Tavors.
    Second: the Croats apparently passed on taking part.
    Third: SIG is not offering the 55x series nor the 516, but something new they will reveal later. Rumors say that it’s based on an upscaled MPX mechanism.
    Fourth: H&K has not revealed yet whether they will offer the HK416 or the G36, and the latter is very likely after France had to source G36KVs with grenade launchers from them for their stint in Afghanistan, as you apparently can’t bolt a launcher on a FAMAS, period.
    Fifth: CZ 805 takes STANAG mags, thank you very much.
    Sixth: Poland is very much in with their new rifle, the MSBS, as the production finally started two months ago.
    Seventh: IWI decided to enter a joint-venture with the French company Verney-Carron, and offer a licensed Galil ACE that will be at least partially made in France.
    Eighth: An updated AUG is supposed to be one of the offers, but it will be a Thales offer. Steyr-Mannlicher are going with a piston-operated AR clone called the STM-556.