The Brazilian 9x19mm SAICO M1990 prototypes

    When you, TFB readers not from South America, frequently comment that some of the prototype guns shown by this senior scribe in this blog were unknown to you, this is easily understandable as a mere consequence of your geographic distance from this continent. But the guns that are brought to you today are, in all probability, entirely unknown even for Brazilians. Please, meet the 9x19mm SAICO M1990 prototypes.

    In 1990, a Brazilian company called SAICO – Semeato Armas Indústria e Comércio Ltda was created in Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul State, with the basic objective of manufacturing different types of cutlery, tools and knives for home and agricultural use. At present called Semeato S/A Implementos Agrícolas, the corporation has become a full-fledged manufacturer of agricultural implements (planters, grain drills, etc.). Okay, “Firearms, not agricultural stuff…”

    It just so happened that in the very early years of SAICO, the idea emerged to also try the firearms market. An unknown designer created a 9x19mm submachine gun (curiously, called a Mini Fuzil de Assalto, or Mini Assault Rifle) designated M1990 A2 and two similarly-configured semi-auto carbines, the M1990 A1S (foldable metal stock) and the M1990 A2S (fixed wooden stock). Intentionally or not, the weapons had an evident AK-ish look, what appearing to be the gas tap and tube above the barrel being only an extension of the tubular upper receiver. Operation employed was a simple blowback action, but my fragmented notes from that period do not show whether it operated from the open- or closed-bolt position. Shame on me…

    The weapons were fed by curved 20-round box magazines, the mag release lever, aft of the housing, being pressed forward to actuate. The cylindrical-shaped changing handle was located about 45 degrees to the left side, while the fire selector lever was also on the left side, the subgun version having the settings “S” (Segurança, Safety), down; “R” (Repetição, Repetition), up; and “A” (Automático, Automatic), forward.  The semi-auto carbines, of course, had only the “S” and “R” positions.  The only other recorded specifications were the barrel length (340mm), the gun’s overall length (847mm), and the weight with an empty magazine (4kg). More details in the photos that follow.

    The SAICO M1990 prototypes were submitted to official Brazilian Army product certification tests at the Campo de Provas da Marambaia (Marambaia Proving Grounds), in Rio de Janeiro, in 1993 or so, but were reported to have failed miserably.

    The SAICO M1990 A2 submachine gun prototype displays its Kalashnikovian looks. The “P005” markings on the receiver may indicate the illustrated gun to be the 5th prototype.

    Close-up view of “P005” showing trigger and fire selector details.

    Detailed view of the flash hider fitted to all SAICO M1990 variants.

    The front sight was a fixed post with study side protection ears.

    The flip-type (50-100m?) aperture rear sight.

    Right side view of the SACO M1990 A1S semi-auto carbine with the metal stock in the open and folded positions. This prototype is marked “P003”.

    Closer view of “P003” shows the “S” and “R” fire selector markings of the semi-auto carbine version. Markings on the upper receiver read “SAICO 9mm Parabellum”.

    Right side view of the same M1990 A1S prototype, with details of the ejection window and the magazine release catch.

    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.