Bayonets from Brazil: IMBEL Knives

Although not much into knives, as a whole, I’ve found myself always carrying one or another to the field while participating, as a guest journalist, in military maneuvers all around Brazil along decades. Even if never used for any throat-cutting, sentinel-dispatching action, my blades did frequently prove very handy to cut tree branches to make improvised clothes hangers in camps, open food cans, help transform pineapples into valuable hydrating complements to field rations,  turning barbecued meats (yes, different kinds…) into added-on proteins to help me keep on following the younger guys, etc.. Since I’ve figured that most of the times I was carrying a locally-made IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil product, I’ve decided to show and briefly describe to TFB readers some of the blades that have come out of the company’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory), in Minas Gerais State, in the last 40-or-so years.  It’s interesting to notice that most people expect gun writers to automatically become blade experts, but this is not my case: I’m just a plain, average knife user. Enjoy the pictures, though.

The FC-IA2

Even if bayonets may be considered an idiosyncrasy in modern warfare, the fact that they also double as utility/combat knives is appreciated. The 5.56x45mm IMBEL IA2 rifle is seen here with this add-on item.

When IMBEL started developing its 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm IA2 rifles in 2008-2010, the opportunity was also taken to create a bayonet that could double as a general utility/combat knife. The result is the FC-IA2, which is not only accompanying the weapons being supplied to the Brazilian Army, but is also finding good acceptance in its utility roles with the local Armed and LE Forces, plus with the general public, since it is commercially available direct from the manufacturer and from private dealers.

AISI 1070 carbon steel, a popular material in military cutlery, is employed in its construction, the flat ground blade being hardened to about 50 in the Rockwell C scale, this being said to represent a good combination of torsion/bending characteristics. The handle is made of molded polyamide, being topped by a flat steel surface to allow hammering functions, a lanyard hole being provided there.  All the metal parts are phosphate coated for corrosion resistance.

In addition to the belt loop (seen here with the inner Velcro straps separated), the sheath includes a click-opening/closing metal clip for attachment purposes.

Particular design attention was given to the polyamide sheath, which features a water draining opening that doubles as a lanyard hole. The reinforced nylon belt loop, with Velcro strips inside to keep it tightly closed when not used, is complemented with a quick-attach/release metal clip for belt or backpack use.

FC-IA2 SPECIFICATIONS: total length, 296mm; blade length, 178 mm; blade thickness, 4.5mm; blade width, 33mm; weight, knife alone, 380g; weight with sheath, 550g.

Size comparison of the FC-IA2 and the FC-AMZ knives.

The FC-AMZ

The FC-AMZ is seen here fitted to a 7.62x51mm IMBEL IA2 rifle. Yup, they’ve given the weapon the same designation of the 5.56x45mm model.

The FC-AMZ (from Amazonas) is a larger version of the FC-IA2 model, equally compatible with use as a bayonet, though this capacity is present, of course, as a “just-in-case” feature. It’s no small coincidence that most of its characteristics were either suggested or tested by the guys from Brazilian Army’s CIGS – Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva (Jungle Warfare Training Center), located in Manaus, Amazonas State, with additional inputs from  SpecOps personnel.  Construction material and details for the knife and sheath are duplicates from those of the smaller counterpart.

Dimensions and weight of the FC-AMZ were basically specified to meet the requirements of Brazilian Army’s Jungle Warfare Training Center.

The AMZ knife is seen here in a non-military application… (Photo Credit: Alexander Olive)

FC-AMZ SPECIFICATIONS: total length, 365mm; blade length, 247mm; blade thickness, 4.5mm; blade width, 47mm; weight, knife alone, 520g; weight with sheath, 780g.

The Mk.2 Trench Knife

Author’s decrepit Trench Knife after a long career of field use and abuse. Sheath is the all-leather, commercial version that was given a war paint.

Produced at IMBEL’s Fábrica de Itajubá for many years (1980s-1990s), the locally-called Faca de Trincheira Mk.2 (Mk.2 Trench Knife) is an unsophisticated — but highly popular — article still found among the everyday items carried by military and LE guys in Brazil. My battered example was once (but never authorized by me) mishandled by a guy who started using a motorized sharpening wheel to “fix it” before he was stopped, the scars remaining to this day. The knife features a leather-rings handle and a no-frills sheath of the same material.

A military issue IMBEL Trench Knife with different sheath.

TRENCH KNIFE SPECIFICATIONS: total length, 320mm; blade length, 185mm; blade thickness, 3mm; blade width, 30mm.

The Survival/Hunter Knife

The Caçador (Hunter) knife with its leather sheath painted in a military style. Note sharpening stone compartment.

In the 1970s, a knife called Caçador (Hunter) was commercially  marketed in Brazil by IMBEL, while at the same time being offered to the Brazilian Air Force as a survival tool (never officially accepted).  It featured a leather-rings handle and a leather sheath containing a small sharpening stone compartment, something pretty common in the popular Ontario Air Force Survival Knife and others. The sawback portion is 45mm long.

A close-up view of author’s rare and much used specimen shows that it sports a Brazilian AF logo (winged sword) and FORÇA AÉREA (Air Force) markings, indicating its earlier survival knife intentions.

SURVIVAL/HUNTER KNIFE SPECIFICATIONS: total length, 245mm; blade length, 140mm; blade width, 5mm; blade thickness, 5mm; weight, 240g.

The Fireman’s Knife (Faca de Bombeiro)

The IMBEL Faca de Bombeiro.

In the mid-1980s, the company made an experimental batch of knives intended to be used by Brazilian fire departments for general rescue duties, but it was never adopted as such.  The huge carbon steel blade had a saw back, a wirecutter slot, and a claw slot at the tip, while the handle was wooden. The surviving examples have now become collectors’ items.

FIREMAN’S KNIFE SPECIFICATIONS: total length, 340mm; blade length, 225mm; blade thickness, 10mm; weight, 820g.





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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  • Blumpkin

    Nice article. Thank you.

  • john huscio

    Excellent.

  • Jeff Smith

    To the guy who stabbed the fish in the head – I’m pretty sure you just pissed it off.

  • TigerUppercut

    Nice tiger musky.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Took me a moment to realize it was the fish, not a knife…

    • Anonymoose

      That’s clearly musky tiger and not a tiger musky. Remember, this is in the Southern Hemisphere.

      • john huscio

        It’s some kind of small piraiba catfish.

  • Devil_Doc

    I think I need that FC AMZ knife…

    • Anonymoose
    • tomah57

      Right ,but where can you buy one ???

      • Devil_Doc

        Not on Amazon. I looked..

        • Tinkerer

          I see what you did there.

      • Phillip Cooper

        I saw one went for $118 on ebay, but I couldn’t find one for sale anywhere.
        Soon to be a $900 limited run edition on some knife manufacturer’s site… which means it will be the same darn thing, with their name on it. Except made in China.

  • joe tusgadaro

    Neat, a subject we never see.

  • poakka

    That may be the biggest bayonet on any modern rifle. Yet it doesn’t seem out of place. A modern pugio, I wonder if they have any special techniques.

  • Tinkerer

    Since I’m not in the business of stabbing people, I think I’ll take the faca de bombeiro. Looks like a very versatile outdoors tool.

    • Phillip Cooper

      I’m not in the business of shooting people anymore, either… unless it becomes necessary to shoot people.

    • aknnan

      Having a bayonet greatly reduces your need to shoot someone. (i have no evidence for this) Basically it makes a rifle alot scarier, especially these days where people are drugged up or mentally ill, there’s something about a knife that reaches the primitive brain when a rifle doesn’t.
      So time to attach this to the home defense pistol.

      • Zebra Dun

        It makes the rifle much harder to grab and take away from you, same as a pistol bayonet.

  • Jim_Macklin

    If you might be worried about a riot and defending your home neighborhood, a rifle with a bayonet attached might be just enough to convince the leaders of the riot that another place would be a better, safer place to riot and burn.
    A bayonet says “I’m serious” more than a 32 inch Remington 870 goose gun.. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3bad6ec5a2d28c2476b51ea72e29972d71c19681e87600270cecf45e5bbb8165.jpg

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      In the Yogoslavian war, nobody was impressed by you waving your rifle around. Fix the bayonet, and suddenly everybody was paying attention.

      Perhaps it’s because not many people have been shot before, but almost everybody has suffered a cut (even minor ones) and knows instinctively what that sharp steel can do and how much it will hurt.

      Whatever.

  • Tassiebush

    Pretty interesting to see these variations. Bayonets and survival knives really are a good example of the art of compromise trying to achieve a bunch of different functions while balancing the issue of weight.

  • Bison “FANatic”

    Bayonets are awesome and as a community we should embrace them and picture them on our firearms whenever we can.

    Why you ask? 1994 Clinton Assault Weapon Ban. A bayonet lug makes an ar15 more deadly than a mini-14 don’t ya know? Liberal logic in full derp.

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Here is worse. In Spain, fixing a bayonet turns a demilled rifle (or a plastic airsoft toy) into an illegal weapon (2 year jail time). Even if separately both are legal. The same goes for a functional rifle, of course.

  • Zebra Dun

    Discussing fighting/combat bayonets and knives is treading into the same battle as the M-16 vs the AK and 1911A1 vs everything else area.
    I cannot for the life of me see carrying a $250.00 or more knife into a situation where I may have to dump it to save my life or lose it maybe have it stolen.
    Yet a cheap knife is out for reason plain to see.
    I while in the military carried the issue Bayonet, the K-Bar and for the most part as a purchased carry knife the old M-1 Garand 1942 shortened bayonet.
    The old M-1 bayonet was the best, it broke open C- Rats cases, dug holes, cut roots and pounded in tent stakes and cracked coconuts better than any other tool. too big to lose, not expensive or flashy enough to get stolen and the cost was dirt cheap. Hard to sharpen it was, but to cut hell I had the issue bayonet/K-bar.

  • richard kluesek

    Nice line of knives, sure they would find a market niche anywhere.