The Nifty Brazilian LAPA FA-03 Bullpup Rifle That Never Was

Our friend Ronaldo Olive was kind enough to share another piece of firearm history with us. The  Brazilian LAPA FA-03 was a prototype rifle built in the 1980s. It had a surprisingly modern design that reminds me of the VHS Bullpup (minus the picatinny rails which had not yet been invented). One nifty side-effect of its straight in-line design was that it could stand upright on its recoil pad! Ronaldo told me that the rifle was a technical success that performed flawlessly, but due to politics the project was sadly killed.

Brazilian LAPA FA-03 Bullpup Rifle-2

Brazilian LAPA FA-03 Bullpup Rifle-3

Brazilian LAPA FA-03 Bullpup Rifle-1

Ronaldo Olive wrote the following article for the 26 May 1984 issue of Jane’s Defence Weekly …

UPDATE: Our friends at Forgotten Weapons have more on this gun.

Many thanks to Ronaldo Olive for the photos, information and the article.

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.


  • Mike F Di

    this may have been rare in real life, but was mentioned quite a lot in the older books in the sci fi novels “DEATHLANDS” carried by the lead character Ryan Cawder.
    too bad, it was a great idea..

    • just me

      great series

  • snmp

    Brazilian know better the FAMAS than VHS, simply cause France (French Gyuana) share long border with Brazil.

    • vitor roma

      Well, I think everobody knows the FAMAS better because it has been around for a long way while VHS is still a novelty. Ah, Metal Gear Solid too.

      • snmp

        in 2003, no VHS rifle out croatia, In plus French army & Brazilian army work & train together around the border

  • Cobalt-60

    Someone needs to bring this puppy back from the dead! I’d buy one.

  • Frosty_The_White_Man



    LAPA bullpup rifle: the final story

    A long time ago, Nelmo Suzano, the rifle’s designer, told me that shortly after it had been sent to Brazilian Army’s Marambaia Proving Ground in Rio de Janeiro for the official certification program that would clear it for series production (it was not, in fact, an Army evaluation for possible use) he received reports that three case extraction problems had occurred in about 500 rounds fired. Since he and several other people, including myself, had already fired thousands of rounds through the gun with virtually no problems, he became justly surprised and headed to the test center to get the rifle back and the remaining 5,500 or so rounds left of the 6,000 total of CBC ammunition that had been acquired for the tests. A detailed examination of the gun showed no problems with both internals and externals, so Nelmo turned his attention to the ammo.

    The cartridge cases involved in the incidents presented what he called “overpressure bulges”. After examining an measuring each of the unfired rounds, he found out that 64% of them presented size or shape discrepancies that would lead to unacceptable headspace variations when chambered and fired. More so, some rounds were found with the primer mounted backwards (!) and quite a few had the bullet out of alignment with the case. Nelmo then took the defective rounds to the CBC factory and showed them to a top company executive, who could give no satisfactory explanations other than saying the “heads would roll”… In the event, the rifle was not returned to the Marambaia Testing Ground, other associates of the LAPA company gave up their financial participation in the program and Nelmo was left alone. At that time, he had received a request from the Malaysian military who wanted that eight guns be sent immediately for an evaluation program that would lead to the local production of the Brazilian bullpup rifle. He could not have the guns completed at that short notice, so the whole thing did not proceed further. It should be recalled that, later, the Steyr AUG was adopted by Malaysia and produced there under license…
    Oh, yes: no matter what you may have read in books or the Internet, ONLY THE PROTOTYPE SHOWN WAS EVER BUILT!

  • DashVT

    So many innovative rifles and sub guns from this era. To bad there’s scarcely anything available on the market for a reasonable price other than AK’s and AR’s now.

    • Ian

      I hope you don’t honestly believe there is anything innovative on this.

      Also the grip angle makes my wrists cry.