The Taurus way to a 5.56x45mm rifle

As you may (or not) have seen among  the myriad of AR platforms in different calibers fighting for the attendees’ attention during this year’s SHOT Show,  Brazil’s Forjas Taurus is another entrant in this apparently crowded market segment with its T4 (or FAT 556, in some earlier fact sheets), an M4 clone fully manufactured in the company’s facilities now concentrated in the city of São Leopoldo, just 33 km away from the traditional premises in Porto Alegre, capital city of Rio Grande do Sul State. You may find it interesting to learn how it all happened.

Taurus is a long-time manufacturer of revolvers (since the 1950s) and semi-auto pistols (1980s), having also ventured in the field of submachine guns (Beretta M12 variants and joint ventures with Chile’s FAMAE) and pistol-caliber carbines (also in collaboration with the Chilean company). It was only a matter of time until it turned its eyes to the military/LE rifle market. In April 2009, the Taurus stand in the LAAD Defense & Security exhibition in Rio de Janeiro was full of posters, literature, and, of course, display guns announcing the company’s intention to start a cooperative program with Israel’s IWI to manufacture the 5.56x45mm Tavor bullpup rifle in Brazil. The frisson it raised in the market, however, gradually died away and it seemed that rifles were no longer in the company’s plans.

“Shalom, Brazil!”: one of the many IWI Tavor rifles displayed in the Taurus stand during the LAAD 2009 Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro.

Another shiver, however, was felt exactly two years later at the 2011 LAAD show, when Taurus presented its own 5.56x45mm ART 556 rifle and CT 556 carbine designs. The guns were to be available with 1:7in pitch 254, 368, 419 and 508 mm barrels, and with semi-automatic and selective fire options. Following obvious market trends, polymer components were found everywhere in the guns, as well as Picatinny rails, the use of STANAG magazines, et al. Operation was a pretty conventional gas action with piston and a rotary bolt with six locking lugs. The lower receiver and foldable/adjustable stock were just the same as used in the company’s MT40 G2C submachine gun (200mm barrel) and CT40 G2 semi-auto carbine (412mm barrel) announced at the same occasion.

This scope-fitted, long -barrel ART 556 rifle occupied a prominent position in Taurus’ stand in the 2011 LAAD exhibition.

Photographed at the Taurus Porto Alegre facilities in November, 2011, an ART 556 prototype displays design similarities with the company’s .40 S&W CT40G2 carbine and MT40G2 submachine gun. The “G2” suffix was a provisional measure to distinguish the weapons from the earlier Taurus/Famae CT40 and MT40 guns.

Initial testing with prototypes made in the Porto Alegre factory proceeded regularly for about one year or so, the author having a chance to briefly test fire an early example in November, 2011, with a slightly more complete hands-on evaluation taking place in September, 2012.

This ART 556 is seen here in author’s hands fitted with a foregrip/tactical flashlight unit. Flip-up sights were used on the top rail.

Gas-operated with a piston and rotary-bolt locking system, the semi-auto CT 556 carbine had a 318mm barrel in 1:7in pitch, weighed 3.4kg empty, and was 800mm long overall. By folding the polymer stock to the right, this was reduced to 600mm.

The CT 556 standard sights, similar to those used in the company’s new subguns, were mounted on the top receiver rails, but foldable or red-dot units were a better choice. The grip-type shape of the magazine housing’s forward end tended to attract many shooters’ supporting hands, but not the author’s.

All in all, the examples tested worked flawlessly all the time and appeared to just being plain able to fight for its share in the military and LE market. But, remember, to reach that expected stage the Taurus weapons would have to undergo a long and costly test certification program, tooling set up, and series manufacture process, which apparently made the company have second thoughts as to if the whole thing was necessary. In fact, late in 2012, it appeared that the path to follow would probably involve what many companies worldwide had done: make an AR-based platform and go! At that time, examples of both AR-15 rifles (16-in barrel, semi-auto only) and M4 carbine (12.5-in barrel, selective fire) lookalikes were completed, myself also having had a chance to fire them at the factory.

Two Taurus-made (company logo on magazine wells) AR platforms ready in late 2012. The top weapon is a semi-auto 16-in barrel gun, while the other is a selective-fire carbine with a shorter barrel.

When building its first AR-type platforms in 2012, Taurus had practically decided to take this way into the 5.56x45mm rifle/carbine market.

In 2013, negotiations led to the Florida-based Taurus Holdings company to associate with Diamondback Firearms LLC, of Cocoa, FL. The agreement was expected to lead to the production for Forjas Taurus of the DB15S (16-in barrel) rifle and the DB15B (shorter barrel) carbine, and this was again made public during a LAAD Exhibition, the April 2015 version. It looked like that the bull-head symbol had finally found its place on commercially-available Taurus 5.56x45mm guns. But that was not to be the case: commercial disagreements between the two companies put an end to the project, having it gone back to the original “Made in Brazil” model.

The DB-15B semi-auto carbine as exhibited in the LAAD 2015 Show. Note the use of Magpul pistol grip, stock and magazine.

The DB-15S carbine made by Diamondback Firearms for Taurus.

Receiver markings on a Taurus/Diamondback DB-15 carbine… which was never to be.

The resulting Taurus T4, both in semi-auto-only and selective-fire variants, then, finally made its (final?) entry scene in the recent SHOT Show. With barrel lengths of 368 or 292mm and two handguard options (aluminum or polymer), all pertinent details were there in Vegas. Hope you’ve see them.

An early Taurus T4 (previously, FAT 556) carbine illustration.

As shown in the recent SHOT Show, the Taurus T4A2 rifle also displays the company’s new Bull logo on magazine housing, pistol grip and retractable stock. Barrel here is the 368mm variant.

Available videos of earlier prototypes:

CT 556, November 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ykz7K48D3r8

CT 556, September 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPT1qeelPsU&t=7s

AR-platform prototypes, late 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubrksPlX9RE

 





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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  • Laserbait

    Is it shake to shoot also? 😀

    • TVOrZ6dw

      Only after its first 2 trlps back to the factory for repairs…

  • RSG

    A Taurus long gun? Yeah, I think I’ll pass. It’s not like we aren’t spoiled for choice. (Although I like how their original Scar looking stock looked)

  • tiger

    The world needs another AR about the same as Brady needs another Super Bowl. Can the world move on from the AR 15 already?

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Move on to what exactly?
      The design is not the problem.

    • Paul White

      and can Brady move on to retirement? And Belichick too… please please please

      • Graham Best

        Three fingers left to adorn.

    • int19h

      Look, we already have ARs priced well below AKs. A little bit more push on the supply side, and I think we can get them below SKS, and approaching Mosin. What’s not to like?

      A modern musket, indeed.

      • Zachary marrs

        AR’s can easily be found cheaper than SKS’s

  • Dave Webster

    I guess Andrew tuohy (vuurwapen) didnt kill the concept as well as he thought.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    My hat is off to everyone who sees an already congested marketplace and has the courage to say, “Me too!”.

    • Mr. Privilege

      But what about the blacks and gays?

      • Brett

        ………………………………………………………………What the actual FUUUUUUU

  • plumber576

    “The rifle that NCStar dealer at the local gun show has been waiting for.”
    -Taurus marketing slogan

  • nova3930

    Just what I’ve been looking for. An M4 clone that goes full auto when you look at it sideways….

    • “Sideways”? You have more faith in Taurus than I do, amigo.

  • nighthawk9983

    If they come out with a reliable full size AR with 20″ barrel, fixed stock and A3 or A4 style upper they will have my support, the flood of ARs has had a conspicuous absence of full size models which is disappointing considering how boring the platform already is.

    • MrBrassporkchop

      Even if they did people would still give them crap. Even if they made a 100% gun.

      • Maybe one of these days we’ll get the opportunity to find out!

    • roguetechie

      Dude, just build your own…

      Hard it is not

      Expensive it is not

      There is no try only DO or do not

  • Swarf

    Success Through Failures.

  • John

    Maybe it’ll be like Hi-Point. Maybe they’ll be good.

    • Tinkerer

      Now a Hi-Point AR is something I’d stare at stupidly for hours.

      • Cal S.

        You mean a Hi-Point that shoots 5.56x45mm? Yeah, it would weigh 15lbs and look like a brick. But it would still be 100% reliable!

        Oh, and they’d make sure it used a cheap, proprietary, 10-rnd single-stack magazine.

        • roguetechie

          You should check out blog Del narco…

          They’re already in RDT&E … Hi point though wanting to create utter shock and awe when they hit the floor at SHOT 2018 only tests them south of the border.

          • Cal S.

            Yeah, I can’t read Spanish…

          • Avid Fan

            It’s easy, just add “el” to the front and “o” to the end of words. El guno, El caro, see?

          • Cal S.

            Tu el enterpretationo adviso es muy el funnyo…

  • Paul White

    Boldly going where 12049 companies have gone before!

  • Cal S.

    I’d take the Taurus SCAR, as long as they didn’t try to price it at more than the $850 it would be worth…

  • hahahahahaha wow no

    Every Taurus AR sold should come with a free ACE bandage and an eyepatch.

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    Ronaldo, do you think this Taurus M4 clone could compete for local (brazilian) military and police sales with the IMBEL IA2 ?
    How is the reaction so far for the IA2?

    • AHill

      While I admit that going with an AR15 would have been a wholly sensible and probably better off long run decision; I am quite happy that the BRs decided to “update” the FAL platform with the IA2. I am a FAL fan and always like to see something that isn’t just another AR15 (excluding Diemaco AR’s of course).

  • pnanan

    Should have adopted this as the standard military rifle, not that pos brazil army went with.

  • n0truscotsman

    um no. How about you address for myriad of QC problems with your existing lines first, Taurus?

  • Bayou Boys

    They are a little late to the dinner table but as they have always done lower the price point that will sell guns. I dont seem to be hungry now after viewing the offering!

  • MB

    New Flash, Taurus builds first -sub $200 AR platform with full-auto capabilities for 38% of the purchasers. 42 % get a jam-o-matic or ker-boom model, and the remaining 20% get a functioning weapon they will not trust, and has no resale value. No thank you Taurus. I know people with Taurus guns, not one has had a trouble free gun, and most owners have stopped shooting them and just put them in a safe and forget about them and the money they wasted.

    • BreakTop 22

      Wow – no one has a trouble free Taurus gun. No one. Thanks for the FAKE NEWS hahaha idiot

    • throwedoff

      Please don’t tell my PT140 that it isn’t trouble free. It might take it to heart. Of course I haven’t ever dropped it on concrete directly onto the back of the slide either nor do I plan to.

  • Benjamin Michel

    I would like to see one that I can hold and check out. I have and old 380 that is a 12 rounder and a 9mm that is a 17 rounder both shoot very good.

  • Bad Penguin

    The CT 556 looks huge,