Taurus SMT9 and SMT40 SMGs: walking alone

    Following its long bi-national design-origin experience with Italy (Beretta) and Chile (FAMAE) in the manufacture and marketing of submachine guns, Forjas Taurus finally decided that it was high time to go ahead and walk alone. The whole thing appears to have started in 2002, when the first of a series of computer-generated design configurations began to take shape within the Engineering Department at the company’s facilities in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State. Gradual design refinements involving both the mechanical and the ergonomics aspects of the new guns finally led to the first glimpse at the first prototypes in 2010, with more detailed views and information becoming available during the 2011 and 2012 editions of the LAAD Defense Exhibitions in Rio de Janeiro. Official Brazilian Army product certification was granted in 2011, thus leading the way to production start up and sales of the SMT9 (9x19mm) and SMT40 (.40 S&W) models. Yes, the designation comes from SubMetralhadora Taurus (Taurus Sub Machine gun).

    Different early configuration studies for the SMT subgun followed by a rare photo of the very first firing prototype fitted with a red-dot sight on the full-length, top Picattiny rail.

    To the point (this is not a full review article): as finally configured, the SMT in either caliber is a conventional blowback weapon firing from the closed-bolt position (hammer+ floating firing pin) using straight or curved 30-round magazines for the .40S&W and 9x19mm variants, respectively. Polymer is widely used everywhere, with a variable 3-position folding stock and such utilities as a full-length top Picattiny rail and optional, shorter rails at the 3-, -6, and -9 o’clock positions. Dimensions for both models are the same (barrel length, 200mm; length overall, 760mm; length, stock folded, 470mm), as are the empty-magazine weights of 3.25kg. Cyclic rates of fire are in the region of 600-700 rounds per minute, and a 2-round controlled burst position is present in the ambidextrous fire selector lever.

    The SMTs (here, .40 S&W variants) have a characteristic Taurus magazine housing which is intended to also act as a forward grip. Massive sight structures mounted on the top rail are noteworthy.

    An SMT9 with the adjustable (3-position) stock folded. Note curved 30-round magazine.

    An SMT9 equipped with a sound suppressor of unknown origin, marked “SMT9-02/11 Producer T-Z”. Any clues?

    This closer view of the same sound-suppressed weapon shows the massive configuration of the rail-mounted front sight and shape of the charging handle on the left side. This can be easily field-changed to the opposite side, if so wished by operator.

    Actual production of Taurus SMT9/SMT40 submachine guns started at the company’s facilities in Porto Alegre in 2011-2012, when sales began to materialize. The 9x19mm version was purchased by the Brazilian Army for use in some units (the Airborne Brigade, for instance), while the .40 S&W variant went to a number of local Military and Civil Police forces.

    Following the SMT40 service introduction in the local LE arena, however, reports began to pop out concerning firing incidents with the gun, some of them with supporting videos posted on the Internet. The problems appeared to be mainly with safety-related matters, with cases of accidental discharges and unselected full-auto fire, but complaints on material/finish quality also did emerge. As already reported here in TFB, a widely publicized case was that of about 6,000 guns delivered to PMESP – Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Military Police) and which were quickly removed from use. Still kept in storage, the weapons await the settlement of a long dispute between that State’s military police and the manufacturer. It has been reported that Taurus has offered to exchange the SMGs to 9x19mm models, but since the .40 S&W was the contracted chambering, the proposal was turned down. On the other hand, we have not known of malfunction reports with the Brazilian Army SM9s in service nor with the SMT9Cs (compact model with 165mm barrel) supplied to the Bangladesh Police around 2015.

    Author’s first encounters with the SMT9 (top picture) and the SMT40 were at a range near Taurus’ factory in Porto Alegre back in Sepember, 2012. Several hundred rounds were fired flawlessly, the very least expected from a factory-promoted event, though.

    This Brazilian Army Airborne Pathfinder (red cap and symbol) is carrying a 9x19mm SM9 on parade, standard sights removed so as not to interfere with the red-dot unit fitted. Stock is set for shortest setting.

    An SMT40 also equipped with a red-dot sight, plus other stuff on the handguard rails, is seen here in the hands of a member of PMDF’s (Federal District Military Police) BOPE (Special Police Ops Battalion).

    Among the users of the SMT40 subgun is Brazil’s PRF – Polícia Rodoviária Federal (Federal Highway Police). State Police clients include those of Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Tocantins.

    An SMT40 in range use with a corporal of PMMS – Polícia Militar do Mato Grosso do Sul (Mato Grosso do Sul Military Police). It may be noticed that the stock is in the fully-extended position.

    This PMESP – Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Military Police) SMT40 is being carried by a member of the COE – Companhia de Operações Especiais (Special Ops Company). The type, however, has for long being kept in storage awaiting the settlement of a long dispute with Forjas Taurus.

    SMT40 in service with PMES (Polícia Militar do Espírito Santo), weapon being fitted with a C-more red-dot sight and a front grip with a tactical light and laser pointer.

    This “Policiamento Rodoviário” (?) officer from the video game Liberty City is preparing to fire his “Taurus SMT9” from the shoulder. He better watch out: the stock is partially folded… to the left! Oh, well…

    Hi-res pics here: https://imgur.com/a/agbf2

    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.