The .22LR carbines: Guns of Nelmo Suzano

In the early-1980s, while acting as an associate and head designer of the Rio de Janeiro-based LAPA – Laboratório de Projetos de Armamento Automático Ltda company, Nelmo Suzano also found the time to create two .22LR carbines, which shared several design features with his 9x19mm SM Modelo 3 submachine gun and 5.56x45mm FA Modelo 3 bullpup rifle. To begin with, they employed polymer-based bodies topped by a so-called carry handle, actually, the rear sight protection structure.

The semi-auto CE MOD.01 was successfully tested and approved in Brazilian Army examination for “permitted-use” (non-military) guns in 1982.

The semi-auto CE MOD.01 was successfully tested and approved in Brazilian Army examination for “permitted-use” (non-military) guns in 1982.

The semi-auto model was called the CE (Carabina Esportiva, Sports Carbine) Modelo 01, being a blowback-operated gun fed by a 10-round magazine inserted in the pistol grip. It was fitted with a 370mm barrel, which gave the weapon an overall length of 755mm. Empty weight was only 2.1kg. The flip-type aperture rear sight had settings for 50 and 100 meters, and was fully protected by the carry handle structure, while the cocking piece, a simple vertical rod in the prototype, ran inside that. To cope with the straight-line configuration, the front sight post was mounted on top of an elevated metal structure and protected by side ears. Fire-selection (“S” and “1”) was made by a disc-shaped unit on the left side of the gun.

The single prototype built was submitted to basic functioning and safety tests at the Brazilian Army Marambaia Proving Grounds in September, 1982, receiving the grade of “good quality weapon”. No series manufacture was undertaken.

The CA MOD.02 prototype was distinguishable from the semi-auto model by the larger capacity magazine in the pistol grip and the curved shape of the cocking lever within the carry handle.

The CA MOD.02 prototype was distinguishable from the semi-auto model by the larger capacity magazine in the pistol grip and the curved shape of the cocking lever within the carry handle.

Side-by-side with the sports model, Nelmo also completed a selective-fire variant, the CA (Carabina Automática, Automatic Carbine) Modelo 02. With the same dimensions and weight of the semi-auto model, the prototype with rock-and-roll capability was distinguishable for having a slightly-curved cocking lever and a longer 18-round magazine in the pistol grip. Depending on the ammo brand used, the CA reached incredible cyclic rates of fire ranging from 1,200 to over 2,000 rounds per minute. The weapon fired from the closed-bolt position, whose hammer and firing pin were based on those used in the LAPA bullpup rifle. It also remained in the prototype stage, only, and was never officially submitted to tests.

Closer view of the selective-fire CA MOD.02 shows the disc-shaped fire selector with the markings “S” (front), “1” (top), and “30” (rear) displayed in a 180 degrees arc.

Closer view of the selective-fire CA MOD.02 shows the disc-shaped fire selector with the markings “S” (front), “1” (top), and “30” (rear) displayed in a 180 degrees arc.

The magazine catch was located at the rear bottom of the pistol grip, being pressed forward to actuate.

The magazine catch was located at the rear bottom of the pistol grip, being pressed forward to actuate.

Some family traces are evident in this side-by-side view of Nelmo Suzano’s CA MOD.02 selective-fire carbine and the SM MOD.3 submachine gun.

Some family traces are evident in this side-by-side view of Nelmo Suzano’s CA MOD.02 selective-fire carbine and the SM MOD.3 submachine gun.

Part of author’s “Enciclopédia de Submetralhadoras” e-book with pics of the CA automatic carbine. Note the use of a flash hider, not really necessary in a .22LR gun, but very neat-looking. Sharpen your Portuguese language, folks!

Part of author’s “Enciclopédia de Submetralhadoras” e-book with pics of the CA automatic carbine. Note the use of a flash hider, not really necessary in a .22LR gun, but very neat-looking. Sharpen your Portuguese language, folks!

As a final note, one may now wonder why the heck would anyone want a voracious rimfire spitter. It just so happened that at that time (i.e. 1970s) there were some proponents that such .22LR buzzguns could well find a place in LE/riot control/prison security duties. In fact, this is what the American-180 submachine gun of that period was about. Adapted to more modern production methods, it re-appeared in the former Yugoslavia as the MGV-176 during the 1980s.



Ronaldo Olive

Ronaldo is a long-time (starting in the 1960s) Brazilian writer on aviation, military, LE, and gun subjects, with articles published in local and international (UK, Switzerland, and U.S.) periodicals. His vast experience has made him a frequent guest lecturer and instructor in Brazil’s armed and police forces.


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  • Dickie

    For a riot gun. O jesus that would hurt

    • Anonymoose

      The Israelis don’t seem to care. 😀

      • tts

        Not necessarily a good thing.

  • Anonymoose

    Are you sure this guy wasn’t just a time-traveler who brought awesome stuff back from the future?

    • Ronaldo Olive

      I also wondered that, all the time…

    • Edeco

      Totally is, I’ve been sent to capture him, am collecting data from this blog. Also must attract and impregnate a violent, alienated female version of myself.

  • tts

    Seems like a nice enough gun. I’m kind’ve surprised it never seemed to make it to market. Maybe they couldn’t get the RoF down easily?

    • iksnilol

      Whole point of .22 buzzguns is the ROF.

      Fire 20-30 rounds a second at the same target due to little recoil.

      • tts

        Sure but it needs the ammo to go with it otherwise you just get a second of fire and then have to switch mags.

        The super high capacity ammo mag that was light and reliable is what really made the AM-180 interesting and viable IMO. A 30rd stick mag just won’t cut it with that RoF in a practical setting.

        • Phil Hsueh

          Make it belt fed then?

          • Tassiebush

            Apparently Delisle who invented that awesome silenced .45acp smle Delisle carbine had aspirations to develop a belt fed .22lr machine gun with a suppressor. Not sure if it ever got to prototype stage.

        • Nunya Bidniz

          Just as the light, reliable high capacity mag of the FN P90 is what really makes it interesting and viable. Some ideas are evergreen, it seems…

  • Lou

    I have been aware of Suzano’s great work for decades. Its too bad that he didn’t have the backing to go into mass production in the USA.

    Nice article series Ronaldo! My good friend, the late Charlie Cutshaw, had great respect for you and I have read your articles as far back as the early 1980s I believe. Happy to see that you are writing for TFB.

    • Ronaldo Olive

      Tks, “Lou”, for your words. It’s sad to learn that Charlie Cutshaw is gone, too. Maybe he’s talking directly to Nelmo on a higher level, somewhere…

  • Tassiebush

    To make a bold controversial statement, if full auto wasn’t globally such a restricted thing and game laws were significantly different (two massive insurmountable ifs now but a tad less so in the 1970s) then a select fire rimfire like this one firing at buzz saw rate of fire would have to be a pretty versatile gun for the average civilian user. Obviously it’s a regular small game gun in semi but an aimed burst at vital areas would bring down bigger animals and that option would function for defensive use too. Good logistically as well.

    • iksnilol

      So much meat damage.

      *curls up*

      • Tassiebush

        My assumption is that in such a controllable round at such high rof that a burst would pattern into a relatively small area and be comparable to buckshot. Heart lung area shots, neck shots or brain shots on stationary beasts shouldn’t really be any worse than if using buckshot. My biggest concern would be about lack of penetration. If a beast was running then spread out group might be an issue though. That’s my hypothesis anyhow.

  • Jones2112

    Very cool looking firearm, the 80’s were indeed a time of cool looking guns that unfortunately are no longer being invented…