FAMAE SAF (SIG SG540 Chambered in 9mm)

Chilean company FAMAE manufactures SIG firearms under license. One of their more interesting guns is the FAMAE SAF , a SIG SG540 rifle scaled down to a 9mm submachine gun. The latest model features a full length picatinny rail and a nifty angled foregrip build into the handguard.

Another interesting gun from FAMAE is the CT-2000, a SIG SG540 chambered in .30 Carbine (one of my all time favourite cartridges). The AftermathGunClub blog got taken on an exclusive tour of the factory and have published many photos online.

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.


  • alex

    gawd, please tell me they are importing them!! been lustin over these n the skorp evo 3s for a few years now

    • Erwos

      Completely unimportable.

      • JMD

        That just means they need to import a “sporting” configuration version, and team up with a US manufacturer to build 922r compliant conversion kits.

  • Denny

    With SMG to step into .30cal carbine is quite serious affair. I would expect that operating mechanism would be suited to cartridge power, not just mere blowback. Does anyone knows what it is?
    Pal Kiralyi for example, used in his Dominican production carbine .30cal UScarb shot; his action was retaded blowback with delay lever.

    • bbmg

      The Magal 30 carbine version of the Galil is more of a smg than an assault rifle, but retains the latter’s gas powered system.


      Apparently not a very popular design though.

      • Denny

        Thanks bbmg
        Looking at the picture again, it is entirely conceivable that the buildup in forearm contains gas piston. The amount of fouling being low from this cartridge probably would not necesitate an open access such as used on rifles. All what is left is control (camming) of 2 pieces action. This is my own construction of course.

      • alex

        its an smg built from a rifle, so to go back to rifle from smg isnt a big deal

    • bbmg

      looks like an experimental straight blowback 30 carbine: http://www.forgottenweapons.com/mystery-gun-identified-1944-hyde-carbine/

  • Michael

    I would love one in 30 carbine.
    How about one in 7.62×25?

  • FAMAE also has a licensing deal with Taurus, who is producing the CT30 and CT40 (.40 S&W).

  • Tinkerer

    On the first pic, the top firearm is a standar FAMAE SAF in 9mm Para. The bottom one is the new SAF 200 -named thus because it was unveiled during the bicentennial of Chile’s independence. It also is chambered in 9mm Para, and both are blowback designs.

    The .30 carbine is NOT called CT-2000 but CT .30 -after “Carabina Táctica”, or “Tactical Carbine”, in .30 Carbine caliber. It is a semiautomatic weapon, more geared towards law enforcement than military, and uses a long-stroke piston gas system.

    FAMAE -“Fábricas y Maestranzas del Ejército”, or “Army Factories and Workshops”- is a government-owned defense company, providing all kind of material -from armored vehicles and artillery to small-arms ammunition-. Their official website is http://www.famae.cl

    • Denny

      Aaah, that clears the issue. I got fooled into impression that the bottom one was in .30cal. In fact if you look at size of mag wells they look much alike. Thanks for info!

    • I made the correction to the lower SAF-200 when it was pointed out by a Canadian forum. The CT-2000 is referenced as the .30cal in one of my references but you are correct, I should have looked closer to their website. Thank you for this correction.

  • Is it just me or does that angled foregrip look uncomfortable?

  • Nathan

    Looks cool, doesn’t it?
    That’s the first thing I thought when I was about to try it out. It was the Mini model
    I was the first of my group to try it out and couldn’t be more excited about it.
    The feel was great, and it was really small and concealable.
    Turn the switch to burst and fired. It gave me ‘bang’, ‘bang’, ‘click’.
    Wondered what happened, took the magazine out, check the chamber and it was empty, try to load a new round, fired and then ‘click’, again checked the chamber and it was empty. This time, I hit hard on the bottom of the magazine, to seat the magazine correctly, and it was ‘bang’, click.
    This time I load slowly the new round checking it chambered correctly, and again ‘bang’, ‘click’ but this time the case got stuck. I remove the case, and though it was the crappy FAMAE ammo they were giving us, so I had a box of MAGTECH 124gr FMJ and load a new magazine to make sure if wasn’t also a magazine problem.
    This time, also slowly load and fired, again ‘bang’, ‘click’. I was really getting mad at this, so I gave up, and pass it to the next guy. When he took the gun, he chamber as you are supposed to, and it was just a ‘click’, he checked and the chamber was again empty, so he did an slowly chamber to make sure the round was loaded properly and then he had this same problem, ‘bang’, ‘click’. So this time He try to hold his hand pushing the magazine up, and slowly load a new round and fired, this time it was only a ‘click’, he open the chamber, and the unfired round was extracted, the primer was not dented at all, so this time, the gun was field stripped, and it looked like the firing pin was broken, this caused the test to finish.
    As you can guess, for me this gun was totally UNRELIABLE, If this happened to me when I really need this gun, I would be dead. I still don’t know if this gun was a lemon or not, but seeing FAMAE’s quality I think not.
    So in 5 words: “Looks cool, but doesn’t deliver”

    • Tinkerer

      Interesting experience, I’d like to know more. Where did you get that Mini SAF? Was it using steel or polymer mags? Was it brand new or used? Was it legally acquired from FAMAE, or something else? This last I ask, because FAMAE doesn’t really cater much to civilians, and it makes me curious about how you got access to that firearm.

      • Flounder

        I do like the story… As long as it is true… And it sounds like you had a broken firing pin from the start… And I think that Just playing with the springs or the gas setting probably would have fixed most of your problems. Some guns just don’t come from the factory perfect.

        That’s why they’re cheap!!! 🙂

      • Tinkerer

        Flounder, the SAF -and the Mini SAF of Nathan’s tale- is a direct blowback submachinegun. No gas system to fiddle with.

        Now, I think that a broken firing pin was only one of the problems with this particular gun: Nathan describes a lot of Failure to Feed problems with both brands of ammo he tried -FAMAE and Magtech- and one failure to extract wiht the FAMAE ammo. Personally, I’ve seen that both the SG-540 series AND the SAF series were initially offered with transluscent polymer magazines, but now I only see them with steel magazines. I suspect that, since FAMAE didn’t have experience with high-technology polymers for the magazines, they outsourced them to a third party, and the fact that they no longer seem to use the polymer mags, I suspect that said mags weren’t really up to standard.

        I’d like to ask Nathan if the Mini SAF he tried used polymer or steel magazines.

      • Nathan

        Tinkerer we were using translucent polymer mags. In our range we are in close relation with some of our army former officers. The army till last year allows us to use their military range for higher caliber use and they were always welcome to ours, our range is very complete and was the host of the ISSF Shotgun World Cup 2011. That time a former officer of our army arrived with a new “toy” the SAF Mini. That’s were I had the experience I told you. How he got it, I personally don’t know, but word is that it was borrowed for the weekend from our army’s armory.

      • Tinkerer

        Nathan, I can truthfully say I’m jealous of your range. Wish we had one like that here.

        As for the magazines: word has it that the original transluscent polymer mags were unreliable. Apparently, they were designed with too thin walls, so they would crack and such. Like I wrote before, FAMAE seems to be moving away from the polymer mags and the latest SAF 200 is shipped with steel mags -which should be backwards compatible with the older SAFs. All I can say is that the polymer mags might be the reason for the Failure to Feeds you experienced. As for the broken firing pin: either bad luck, too much use, or just plain bad metallurgy. If the latter, I hope that FAMAE has adressed that issue.

    • Dacky44

      I know for a fact that it was not 9mm Famae ammo.They are not producing it.

  • Ben

    Well it isn’t winning any beauty contests with that foregrip, but it looks very ergonomic and it’s based on a proven design too 🙂

  • Mike Knox

    A Chilean MP-5, what could possibly go wrong, horribly wrong..

    • Tinkerer

      Care to share your experience with chilean firearms?

      • Bad Enough

        Personally I would hope it comes with a piece of Bolivia’s coast line

      • Tinkerer

        Bad Enough, please let’s not go there. Firearms, not politics, remember?

      • Mike Knox

        Actually about FAMAE. A few of their independent developments don’t fare well in a lot of aspects, ..

  • Johnny

    Luckily these are coming to Canada. Yes, Canada is getting these before the US.

  • Esh325

    Kind of cool. I’m curious as to why you like the .30 carbine so much? It might been great in WW2, but by today standards it’s a round with very little practical use.

    • Jeff Smith

      @Esh325, Check out this article:


      “According to noted ballistician Doctor Gary Roberts,”The best ammunition choices for the M1 Carbine are the Remington 110 gr JSP (R30CAR) and the Corbon 110 gr JHP DPX loading using the all copper Barnes X bullet. The Remington load has an average velocity of 1864 f/s, expands to around .54” to .58” and penetrates 13” to 16” whether in bare gelatin, through automobile windshields, or Level IIIa body armor. This is comparable intermediate barrier performance to many good .223 loads.””

      From what I understand, .30 Carbine is similar to a .357 Magnum. A 110 grain bullet going around 2000 fps can be pretty effective.

      • Esh325

        But in terms of accuracy,lethality, and cost, the .30 carbine doesn’t come close to a 5.56×45. I mean back in WW2 the .30 carbine exceeded all other pistol calibers used in terms of performance. I think the bad rep came from soldiers who expected it to fill role of a M1 Garand.

      • matt

        “penetrates 13” to 16” whether in bare gelatin, through automobile windshields, or Level IIIa body armor”

        lol wut? Penetrates 13″ after going thru level 3a armor, I doubt that. Out of a rifle it might penetrate the vest at 10 feet, but it wont at 100 yards.

      • Jeff Smith

        @Esh325, The 5.56mm round does outperform the .30 Carbine in most ways. I believe the main advantage is use in urban environments where over penetration isn’t acceptable and distances would be fairly close. The Brazilian state police use it in areas where their FALs are a little too much. I think it would be best used as a bridge between something like a MP-5 in 9mm and an AR-15 in 5.56mm. A full auto .357 magnum would be pretty brutal at close range, especially against light armored individuals.

        @matt, I read that and thought the same thing. Here is a Youtube video someone made of someone of an AMT AutoMag III with a 6.5″ barrel versus a level IIIa vest. It was only at 10 feet, but the intended use isn’t too much more than that. As I said above, I believe the intended us is a bridge between something like an MP-5 and an AR-15: more power than a handgun or subgun, but less penetration than a full size rifle.


        Also, if any of this info is incorrect/inaccurate, someone please let me know!

      • W

        well look at the bright side. Nobody has attempted to pass off the myth that the 30 caliber cannot pass through frozen winter clothing…particularly the kind that were worn by North Korean and Chinese troops. 😉

        The 30 caliber was a neat cartridge. longer ranged with more penetrating power than the 45 ACP and more mild recoil compared to the ’06. I think the 30 cal in the M1 carbine fails when compared one on one with the M1 garand’s 30-06, though people are comparing apples to oranges. Comparing it to a 5.56 is also apples to oranges since the 5.56 is a necked cartridge. Different weapons for different battlefield environments.

      • snmp

        .30M1 carbine and 7,92×33 Kurz are in same ligue amunition.

      • JonMac

        Not quite the same league – there’s at least 600fps difference and superior mid-range ballistics with the 7.62×39. .30 is little more than a hot pistol cartridge.

    • Tinkerer

      Well, the .45 ACP, the 9 mm Para, and the .50 BMG were great in WW2 -hell, they were great back in WW1-, so why wouldn’t the .30 Carbine?

      • Esh325

        There haven’t been any rounds to obsolete the 9mm,.45 acp, and .50 BMG. The 7.92×33,7.62×39,7.62×51,5.56×45, and 5.45×39 have obsoleted the .30 carbine. There were complaints of the .30 carbine performance back in WW2,Korea, and Vietnam when they tried to use it like it was a Garand. Not to say the .30 carbine was bad.

      • W

        quite simply, the bottlenecked intermediate cartridge made the 30 cal obsolete.

  • Jeff Smith

    Does anyone know if the FAMAE models have had the same problems as the Taurus CT-30?


    • Tinkerer

      Can’t really tell. It’s the same design, but built in different factories -in different countries, in fact- by different companies.

      The article you posted refers to a specific problem -“magazine locks”-, and spoke of some suspected other problems -failure to fire, slam fires-, but when I checked the brazilian site that was cited, there was only reference to the magazine issues. According to the original brazilian article, the magazine would jam the gun after a sequence of shots.

      • Jeff Smith

        @Tinkerer, Thanks for the info!

  • JonMac

    It’s not really ‘a SIG SG540 rifle scaled down to a 9mm submachine gun’ as it’s blowback rather than gas operated.

    Likewise when Aftermath say ‘What the H&K MP5 is to the H&K G3, the SAF is to the SG540.’ that’s not true either. The MP5 is literally a scaled-down G3, utilising the same system of operation.

    This thing is more like the UMP is to the G36 – same broad family of weapons, but technically quite different.

    • You are correct, I was considering feel and use of the weapon, more than the operation. No dispute from me on any point you made.

      • JonMac

        Fair enough – sorry for being a pedant 🙂

  • Paul

    Unlike Nathan, my experience with FAMAE weapons was much different.

    I had the opportunity to visit FAMAE back in the 90s and pretty much fired all their weapons, including the SAF. I was very impressed. The SAF in particular had a very high cyclic rate but was quite controllable. I fired about a half dozen mags through the SAF with no hiccups.

    FAMAE is not a huge manufacturer but the technical people I met there were very knowledgeable and appeared to put out a quality product. They’ve been building SIGs under license for decades. I suspect they’ve worked out the bugs by now. The SAF itself is a blowback weapon.

    I agree with Jeff that the .30 caliber carbine (with the right ammo) is a neat concept and makes a lot of sense for the Brazilian police that are often chasing down bad guys through very crowded and narrow streets in the favelas (slums) overlooking Rio. There are plenty of videos on You Tube that show them in running battles with some pretty nasty fellows.

    Anyway, that is my .02.

    • Shawn Rhino McFarren

      High cyclic rate is correct, but the fact is it has “thee” highest ROF in sub machine guns and I think still is.

  • snmp