Mystery Gun from Brazil

A reader from Brazil sent us this photo of a rifle captured by Rio de Janeiro’s Military Police. It looks like a well made production rifle, and yet I don’t recognise it. Can anyone identify this gun?

[ Many thanks to Ronaldo for the photo. ]

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.


  • Victor

    That’s interesting, it kinda resembles the Fara-83 Argentinian assault rifle, but I don’t think it’s the same gun.

  • Maxwell de C. Batista

    See the early models of FAMAE or SIG 540. It is not popular, here in Brazil.

    • I had considered the SIG 540, but dismissed it because of the shape of the receiver. Looking at it again I think it could be a SIG 540 lower on some other upper.

  • BrianH

    Looks like an IMBEL MD maybe?

    • Creamy47

      i think your right, this was captured in Brazil

      • BrianH

        I think the person calling it as a SIG540ish rifle may be closer to right. Maybe it was a refurb or IMBEL copy?

    • Relentless

      My first thought was a modified version of an IMBEL MD97L.

    • Aftermath Gun Club

      The search for the answer has been going on since September.

      The only MD model (I know of) that didn’t have the pivot pin in the same place as the FAL, behind the magwell, was the .22LR experimental model. The charging handle of the MD prototypes were almost always the same as the FAL.

      This firearm is missing the receiver groove of the AR70, though the gas block appears simillar, I can’t tell if it has the barrel-sleeve locking mechanism in the front. The magrelease lever cover is wrong fo an AR70 but the lower receiver resembles it.

      I believe it most resembles the SG540 series and could be a prototype. If you look at the selector location, it isn’t the same as the SG540. the upper receiver is also not angled like a SIG and more like the Beretta AR70 series.

      Very curious.

  • MacK

    Some type of early Sig Rifle or FNC, so many variants in SoAm I will leave it to someone that actually knows.

  • Wes


  • Casey Taylor

    Whatever it is, I want it.

  • Victor

    It might be some model of the SG-540. Here’s a picture for comparison:

  • Anthony H.

    Best answer I can find by searching the internet (and most logical) is that it’s either a stolen prototype, due to the lack of marking and serial number, or it’s a Frankengun.

    To me, the upper screams AR-180 (the sights, bolt, and dimensions appear to match up), but the bottom is appears to be a Beretta RX4 (upon inspection from others’ suggestions)

    This one is a toughie.

    • Victor

      That makes a lot of sense. It could be a stolen prototype from Taurus. They were experimenting with some designs for their new Assault Rifle and I know that they own a license to manufacture FAMAE’s submachine guns here on Brazil; these SMGs are completely identical to the Sig-540 family, with the exception of the dimensions, cartridge and other items.

      • Victor

        Also, I’ve just google a few pictures of the AR-70 and it really looks a lot like one.

    • Anthony H.

      Yeah, I meant AR-70. I just had a total goof up and typed the wrong one. LOL

  • Sivispace

    It looks like a .308 Galil.

    • mkings01

      This was my first thought as well. The charging handle appears to be different than stock, but that’s not a huge modification.

  • Kav

    Here’s the closest thing I’ve found so far:

    Some variant of the Beretta AR70.

  • Raven

    Looks like a SIG SG530 or some variant thereof to me. Kind of iffy about the design of the bolt and charging handle, but the upper and general design would definitely fit.

  • At first I thought perhaps some odd variant of the Indian INSAS, but I don’t think it’s really all that close except superficially cosmetically. No idea. Maybe it’s some Khyber frankengun.

  • shockfish08

    Looks like a FAL and a Galil had a kid

  • ruben

    looks like an ar18 style bolt and action with a galil style lower, that one pin between the trigger guard and the grip has to be a right hand mounted safty. very strange.

  • ThomasD

    Doesn’t look like 7.62 to me. Certainly not 7.62 x 51. Compare it’s magazine to that of the FAL the guy is wearing.

    Some sort of AR-70 clone is my best guess.

  • Jeff

    Could it be the mythical SG530 found in the wild?

  • Rusty Carr

    I would say it’s something home spun. Unlike anything I’ve ever run accross. Interesting compaltion of alot of different guns someone might have decided these all look good to gather and slapped em all in one pkg.

  • Reverend Clint

    looks sorta like a stoner design with the ak mag latch.

  • Chris Brosnahan

    Has a passing resemblence to the Australian Leader carbine of the late 80s…certainly greatly modded, but looks similar nonetheless.

    CB in FL

  • Mike Knox

    Looks a bit like a Stoner 63..

  • Dave McDaniel

    Could this be an original Bushmaster with an AK style gas system?

    • Aftermath Gun Club

      It isn’t a Gwinn/Bushmaster rifle.

  • Imbel md97 to me…

    • Otis

      it is ether an oddly modified Imbel MD-97 or maybe an early production version.

    • Aftermath Gun Club

      In my opinion, this is not an MD series. The MD is based on the FAL. The mag release, charging handle, magwell, triggerguard, and almost everything looks different.

      • Victor

        You’re right, it’s not part of the MD series of rifles. It may be a stolen, undisclosed prototype.

  • Evan Jay

    Is it just me or has the chamber been blocked/welded? If you zoom in a bit you can see that there is no ejection port, unless it is on the left side which I doubt. There also tiny rail sections on top of the receiver.

    My guess is this is a back alley franken-gun, and I’d be surprised if it actually fires.

  • fjkhoury01

    Absolutely a modded or cloned AR70 type rifle.

  • Tim Ellwood

    Though at 1st it was a HAC-7, nope , not that.

  • Harsh
  • Here is a comparison of samples of the SG55x, Leader, MD, AR70, M96, and the mystery gun in one photo (sorry about the size).

    • Oh to have a bunch of those on hand 😉

      • Aftermath Gun Club

        Yeah…but I only have this photo of this mystery gun. 😉

  • Gumby

    I think it’s a Taurus, the MT-9 SMG is based on SIG rifles so it’s either that or a FAMAE weapon, probably not Imbel though.

  • Biff
  • Lance

    Its one of there new infantry rifles its a FN FNC copy used by Brazilian solders now.

    • Victor

      Our soldiers don’t use FNC rifles. They use the FAL rifle and will soon be issued with the IA2, indigenously developed rifle chambered in 5.56 whose external operation and design is almost identical to that of the FAL.

      • Lance

        So its a FALish weapon chambered in 5.56mm then.

  • Ray

    Reminds me of a Berreta AR70

  • Axel

    Look at the location of the pins in the receiver are with the ar70 and the mystery gun. To me it looks a lot like a copy of the ar70. Many features are “same same but different”, like the placement and the number of pins, the shape of the rear sight, the ejection port height in relation to the bore and trigger guard.

    THere are some differences though, like the design of the forward pivot point of the receivers; on the ar-70 the upper has flaps that go outside the lower, on mystery rifle the lower receiver is the most outer one.

  • Bubba-Fudd

    I looked it up in some books, but I didn’t manage to find a perfect match.
    The closest I came were some early Beretta AR70 rifles.
    But there are some things that just don’t match up.
    The stock and furniture are wrong, and the hinge-tab-things on an original upper are on the outside of the receiver.
    If I had to guess I’d say this is a clone of one made by a rather skilled gunsmith, probably in some underground factory. Things like that are not that uncommon in South America.

    • denny

      You have two known factories in Brasil which none is doing anything similar, two in Argentina (from which one is making commercial pistols only and other is in low operation maintenance mode), one in Chile which is class, none in Uruquay or Paraquay, one in Colombia (licensed production Galil) and one in Venezuela doing much the same (AK). Peru has one engineer-enthusiast who fusses with FN style rifles and he in fact added some value to it, but still old style design. Peru’s military has dozen types of rifles of various origin – no solid domestic maker; relating logistics and service must be complex. We know current Imbel’s production and we know Forjas Taurus’. That’s about it, rest is buying outside. So, where is another mysterious and unknown company?

      The way the sheet metal is worked clearly indicates blank/draw/forming operations on good trade-standard level; no small shop can do that without extensive investment. Same thing with plastic; it needs precision built injection molds. The only possibility as I see it, is external input in some sort of conglomeration Beretta-SIG with FAMAE, as “snmp” correctly says. FAMAE is probably the closest bet.

      • denny

        There are three known companies in Brazil actually – the third being Rossi (revolvers and shotguns). They are most likely NOT behind this creation. So for time being I stick to my FAMAE line.

  • ger

    Looks like Swedens Bofors AK5 – basic version

  • Big Daddy

    The receiver says AR70.

    It’s strange, the magazine looks like it’s bigger than a 5.56mm round would need. Not a standard magazine, maybe Galil knockoffs.

    I have never seen a stock like that with the weld there between the two parallel pieces. They look bent and welded to keep them stable. My guess that’s a field modification to keep the weapon in inventory, it looks Galil. The magazine release looks Galil.

    Brown furniture, ugly and a Bakelite resin quality so it’s not a cutting edge polymer, again kind of Galil looking. The barrel is void of finish and the flash hider looks FN. There are picatinny rails for a scope added later??? Don’t recognize the rear sight, front sight looks FAL. The barrel looks like it might have been designed to fire rifle grenades.

    It started off life as an AR70 of some kind. But everything else says modified or one of a kind or made by a country in small numbers using other parts from other guns. My guess is some mods where made but it’s pretty original other wise and made by a small company making AR70 knockoffs with Galil type proprietary magazines.

    What country has experience making AR70s, Galils and FALs?

    • Big Daddy

      No Galil flash hider.

  • TW

    Id day its some sophisticated backyard manufacturer

  • Tinkerer


    • not Sig

      it’s not a sig 530 as the magazine latch is different, the charging handle at a different place and the rear sight is slightly different

  • Muratcan Senturk

    well it looks like IMI Galil

  • Sardaukar

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it has a stamping saying “handmade” in portuguese…

    The barrel (somewhere shiny, somewhere dull), the gas port with that soldering point, the stock with another huge soldering point.

    My guess is “cobbled together”.

  • gunslinger

    is it me, or does the flash hider look like it’s turned 90 degrees?

  • Justin

    The magazine looks kinda similar to the Sig 510 in 7.5mm. I believe that Chile had purchased these weapons

  • Cottage Cheese

    Interesting cobble job. The lower is clearly SIG while the upper is unmistakably AR-70. The Gas port and foresight assembly appears to be FAL while the magazine latch and housing is from the Galil. The folding stock pivot and locking assembly is clearly SIG…. Interesting to say the very least, though I have no clue what it could be.

    • denny

      This is not a cobble job – not in physical sense (true, the bottom resembles Sig, the top AR180). But, it bears heavy signs of crosspolination for sure. It tells us, that there are creative minds south of Equator. This is most likely one-off or couple of pieces at best.

      The conclusion to make? Probably that we are close to end of the road as far as rifle design is concerned.

    • denny

      I missed to mention one detail: if you look at muzzle area it has provision for firing grenades and in fact it has done that since the surface is smoked up. Otherwise common surface finish on barrel is missing and that supports the idea of prototype or one-off. Who is behind it remains uncertain; Brazil is large country with growing industrial potential.

  • GasMask


    A Brazilian here. Or i’m very wrong, or this is a slightly modified Imbel MD97.

    • The Other Dave

      Gas Mask, I think you are most certainly right. I think everyone else is reading too much into this. It’s common for Imbels and stuff from CBC to be sold to Uruguay and then black marketed back to the favelas.

      • rabobo

        Maybe an imbel md97 chambered ins 7.62 nato (or russian)? Maybe locally sourced mag, not anything i’ve seen before….?

    • denny

      No senhor, it cannot be MD97 – look here please:

      Characteristic for all IMBEL production up to so far, had been pivot pin BEHIND mag well (ala’ FAL), suggesting that this is as far as sheet metal extends. All in front of it and top is machined slab. The change in MD97 was type of action. Also, it looks that they used for receiver aluminum instead of steel which makes sense (no more locking into receiver). Further, I’d suggest to take close look at stock – it is shabby compared with any similar gun.

      The piece you are looking at in most likely not IMBEL in any shape or form. I will not speculate further.

    • KC

      I think it’s an Imbel MD2; however, I can’t find enough information on the MD2 to confirm this idea

  • jc2k

    The lower looks like a combination of a Sig 540 and an FNC (note the distance between the rear of the grip and the rear of the receiver). The upper has AR70 written all over it.

    • denny

      FNC; really? FNC (closest interpretation of AK by FN’s standard) had receiver machined out of aluminum; top was welded steel. It was actually quite good gun, last in classics I’d say.

      For comparison with Berretta I suggest to look more closely. They had bunch of ugly rivets sticking out of it and wall was formed with bends. This is smooth which tells you guiderods. Not exactly same.

      • Anonymoose

        The FNC is far more technically similar to the M1 Carbine than the AK.

      • denny

        Read the article by Peter Kokalis, anonymouse. Peter is very knowledgeable and old time SOF; he knows his stuff. He trained people in couple of places around globe.

        Essentially all those 70’s and 80’s guns from FN, Beretta and SIG are AKs in tuxedo. And they are not shy to admit it. US carbine and even M14 are kind of odd. When I look at that operating rod it makes me feel like scratching my left ear by right hand – incredibly cumbersome; nobody copied them except for licensed production (Italy, Japan….) shortly after WWII.

      • W

        The FN FNC is long stroke, gas operated with a rotating bolt, like the AK.

        The M1 carbine utilizes a short-stroke, gas tappet design.

  • Bolter

    Early INSAS rifle?

  • Tribulationtime

    It is a early version of R6, with belgian influence.

  • Mike Knox

    Looking at the furniture, upper receiver and barrel finish, seems like a local attempt at an FN FNC clone..

  • popejoe69

    Looks alot like the SOCIMI AR-831 built in the early 1980’s. A joint venture between Fanchi’s Defense Systems and SOCIMI (Societa Costruzioni Industriali Milano) engineers.

  • mac66

    Looks to be a AR70 SC model which has a folding stock and grenade launcher barrel. The fore stock looks like it is off the AR70 squad machine gun version.

    • mac66

      and BTW, the rails on the receiver are for the detachable carry handle. Do google search on AR70 SC and you should find images nearly identical to the rifle in the photo.

  • snmp

    Beretta / SIG joint developement of 223/5.56 NATO Rifle who become the SG530/AR70

    => SIG SG530 => SG 540 (Build by Manurhin, INDEP & FAMAE) => SIG (SAN) SG550/FAS90 => SIG SAUER SG55X

    => Beretta AR70 => Beretta AR70/90
    => Berretta AR70 =>Franchi SOCIMI AR870 & FARA83/FAA81 (Argentina)

    BTW : FAA81, SG530, SG540 & AR70 have the same mag

    • denny

      This is plausible alternative interpretation. The features on the gun are testimony to precise factory work, at the same time it is visibly unfinished. Therefore the only possibility is – prototype. Never sold in quantity and not known to broad public.

      Since officers carry their own .308cal rifles this is possibly captured item perhaps during raid. In any case, this is interesting item as number of responses shows.

  • The Osprey

    Looks like an INSAS 5.56 from India.

  • The Osprey

    On second thought maybe not. Front sight/gas block looks somewhat FAL like, might be of Argentine or other South American origin.