Early Taurus SMGs: the Beretta heritage

    My previous (https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/11/06/imbels-ia2-based-subgun-carbine-prototypes/) mention of some submachine guns and pistol-caliber carbines that have emerged from Forjas Taurus in recent years generated a number of requests to elaborate more on the subject. Here it goes:

    The “Bull-logo” company, a long-time manufacturer of revolvers since 1939 at its facilities in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State, briefly turned its attention to submachine guns in the mid-to-late 1970s, when it came out with a somewhat crude prototype variation of the 9x19mm Smith & Wesson Model 76, itself a clone of the Swedish Carl Gustav M/45. This was easy to understand: in the 1970-77 period, Bangor Punta, which owned S&W, had a 54 per cent controlling interest in the Brazilian concern, and some technology and methodology were exchanged between them. Back in 2015, TFB ran a photo feature about that (https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/09/21/potd-the-taurus-9mm-smg-the-mystery-smg/).

    The tentative S&W Model 76 derivative SMG made by Forjas Taurus in the 1970s. Trigger guard was missing from this single example briefly examined by the author in April, 1994, when it was seized in Rio de Janeiro… from criminal hands!

    The same gun, field stripped. Length, overall, 770mm; length, stock folded, 512mm; barrel length, 204mm; empty weight, 3.8kg.

    However, actual SMG series production by Taurus only became a reality in 1980 when the assets of the São Paulo-based Indústria e Comércio Beretta S.A. company were purchased, this including machinery and design rights for the well-known Beretta 92 pistol and the M12 subgun, the latter having been earlier adopted by the Brazilian Army as the MtrM (Metralhadora de Mão, Handheld Machine Gun) M972. Manufacture activities in that city were transferred to Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State, where Taurus’ main facilities were located, in June, 1993.

    As initially delivered to Brazil, the 9X19mm M12 was entirely unchanged from the Italian original model, this including the brownish main and forward resin grips and the somewhat disliked, separate push-button fire selector and applied safety controls. When production was transferred to Taurus, modifications were to be found here and there, the weapon being gradually redesignated MT-12 (an all-black, carbon copy f the M12), MT-12A (lever-type fire and safety selector on the left side, enlarged grip safety lever, simplified stock folding procedure, flip-open cover on the ejection port), and MT-12AD (disconnector added to the firing mechanism). In addition to the Brazilian Army, the different MT-12 variations also found their way to Air Force, Navy, and different LE agencies inventories. Examples are still occasionally seen in use.

    A typical MtrM M972 (Beretta M12) as initially delivered to the Brazilian Army, with the characteristic brownish grips.

    The early Taurus MT-12 still in guard duties with the Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force). Note separate push-buttons for fire selection and applied safety.

    MT-12 subguns on parade in the hands of Marine Corps troops in dress uniforms. Yes, in 2017.

    The subsequent Taurus MT-12A featured an enlarged grip safety lever, a snap-open ejection port cover, and a one-piece fire selector/applied safety control on the left side.

    This long-barrel, semi-auto carbine variant of the MT-12A was apparently envisaged by Forjas Taurus for the U.S. market many years ago, having been tested at Brazilian Army’s Marambaia Proving Grounds, in Rio de Janeiro. Note shorter (20-round) magazine.

    In the mid-1990s, I came across this “sanitized” (no Taurus markings) example of the MT-12A in service with a local State Police agency. It featured unusual “SMG 12” markings (indicated) followed by a “01511” serial number. Fire selector lever markings were the standard Portuguese/Italian “S” (Segurança,/Sicura), “I” (Intermitente/Intermittenza), and “R” (Rajada/Raffica).

    Higher-res pics at https://imgur.com/a/jaTdp

    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.