HOT GAT or FUDD CRAP? Ultimate Pistol Shotty or Brazilian Joker?

Welcome everyone to the 97th edition of ‘Hot Gat or Fudd Crap?’, one of our many series here on TFB. If you’re new to the series, this is where we look at the most obscure firearms that are actually for sale and ask the question – is this Gat a sweet deal or only has a Fudd appeal?  Each week the TFB staff weighs in with their thoughts, but readers get the final say in the poll at the bottom of each article.

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Brazilian G43 Cloning Attempts

World War II, as well known, marked the actual in-combat debut of semi-automatic rifles by the main nations involved, such as the United States (with the .30-06 M1 Garand), the Soviet Union (the 7.62x54Rmm SVT-40), and Germany (the 7.92x57mm G43/K43). The deep influence of the subsequent 7.92x33mm MP43/MP44/StG44 family on the post-war “assault rifle” design concept is equally well recognized. But it was the earlier Gewehr 43 that eventually caught the attention of Brazil as a possible way of locally manufacturing a semi-auto rifle for its armed forces, the Brazilian G43.

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IMBEL's Xodo pistols: a brief look at compact M1911 descendants

In the Portuguese language, the noun “Xodó” is a popular expression to indicate one on whom we have a very special romantic crush or long-lasting love relationship. It’s no small wonder, then, that IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil has chosen it as the name of two of its dozen-or-so pistols currently available, models that have received a great deal of attention in the local market. More significant, by the way, is the fact that the Brazilian weapons manufacturer had never given any of its products a name, other than its usual — and a little confusing, in my opinion– system of caliber, model number (e.g. MD1, MD2, etc.), and suffix (LX, GC, TC, etc.) designations.

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Fabrica de Itajuba's first SMG prototypes - Part 4

This fourth assessment of the first 9x19mm submachine guns to come out of Brazilian Army’s  — and IMBEL’s, after 1975– Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) will be somewhat of a flashback to the early 1970s.  I have skipped the actual timeline back because the weapons involved here were quite different from the previously-described models of the mid-to-late seventies. It just so happened that in 1971 the guys at the facility’s Oficina de Protótipos (Prototypes Workshop) appeared to have given a better look at Israel’s Uzi buzzgun and decided to come out with a weapon with the same magazine-in-central-pistol-grip configuration.

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Fabrica de Itajuba's first SMG prototypes - Part 3

In 1978, three years after Brazilian Army’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) had become part of the IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil conglomerate, the unit’s Oficina de Protótipos (Prototypes Workshop) decided to give the earlier 9x19mm C.E.70 submachine gun design some additional modifications. The first resulting test specimen, tentatively designated M978, kept the basic wooden lower receiver and firing mechanism topped by a rectangular upper receiver housing a similarly-shaped, heavier bolt, whose longer displacement distance was aimed at reducing the weapon’s cyclic rate of fire. This was finally achieved, coming down to a more reasonable figure of 600-700 rounds per minute. A new, non-reciprocating charging handle made of light alloys was added to the top of the gun, this featuring a wide U-shaped configuration so that it did not interfere with the use of the sights. Empty cartridges ejection was also moved to the top.

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Fabrica de Itajuba's first SMG prototypes - Part 2

The next evolutionary step in 9x19mm submachine gun design by Itajubá Factory’s Prototypes Workshop was very trivial, indeed, and took the form of replacing the initial, somewhat clumsy, shaped-wire folding stock with a tubular model somewhat based on the model used in the PARA-FAL rifle. Offering a much firmer shoulder-firing support, it folded very neatly to the right side of the FI/70, which otherwise remained mechanically unchanged.

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Fabrica de Itajuba's first SMG prototypes - Part 1

Having very recently ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/11/06/imbels-ia2-based-subgun-carbine-prototypes/)  written about submachine guns and pistol-caliber carbines currently under development at the Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) facility of IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil, in Minas Gerais State, it just occurred to me to dig my old photo and info files in search of material to produce a how-it-all-started-type article on the company’s very early SMG prototypes. Some of them have, in fact, already been brought to the attention of TFB readers in previous editions, such as the FAL-based 9x19mm models of the late-1970s/early-1980s  period ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/05/29/imbels-fal-derived-submachine-guns/) and a couple of .40 S&W prototypes of the late 1990s ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/07/12/early-40-sw-subgun-prototype-brazil/ and http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/09/20/another-early-40-sw-subgun-prototype-imbel/). But I wanted to find the granddad of them all, and succeed I did!

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IMBEL's IA2-based subgun and carbine prototypes

The concept of “modular” or “family line” weapons is far from new, being easily found worldwide, but, much more typically, in the Heckler & Koch house. Once you have a sound, functional firing mechanism/operating system combination, chances are that they may be used in a variety of configurations and calibers. Enter the IMBEL -Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil company. Having developed and placed into production the IA2 family of 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm rifles in both selective-fire and semi-auto variants, in addition to being about to certify a .22LR training kit for the smaller-caliber types, the design office of the concern’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) is now playing around with derived .40 S&W and 9x19mm submachine-gun designs, plus a .380 ACP semi-auto carbine.

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A third IMBEL .40 S&W subgun prototype

Following two earlier exploratory attempts to create a .40 S&W submachine gun ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/07/12/early-40-sw-subgun-prototype-brazil/ and http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/09/20/another-early-40-sw-subgun-prototype-imbel/ ) the research department of IMBEL’s Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory, in Minas Gerais State) pushed their efforts one step further in the shape of a third prototype model, still under the general designation SMTR .40 IMBEL MD1. Captain Paulo Augusto Capetti Porto remained responsible for the project.

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Another early .40 S&W subgun prototype from IMBEL

As already mentioned in an earlier TFB article, Brazilian police agencies were quick to follow a trend to adopt the .40 S&W round, introduced in the early 1990s as a wonder solution for most LE pistol and submachine gun needs. The local IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil company soon came out with a somewhat crude SMG prototype ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/07/12/early-40-sw-subgun-prototype-brazil/) to initially explore the concept. The results were positive enough to justify the start of a brand-new design effort in 2000 or so, officially designated SMTR (Submetralhadora, Submachine gun) .40 IMBEL MD1. The brain behind the project was Army then-Captain Paulo Augusto Capetti Porto, the enthusiastic head of the Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) research department and who had had prominent participation in IMBEL’s work on a number of creative 5.56x45mm rifle developments ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/05/18/filfilc-97-family-forgotten-imbel-rifle-prototypes/).

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Miscellaneous guns in pics and text - 2

Hi, there! One more time, here’s a small random selection of pictures and text on miscellaneous guns that have been located in this writer’s somewhat messy files. You may find them of some interest, though.

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An early .40 S&W subgun prototype from Brazil

For five whole decades or so after World War II, the .45 ACP and 9x19mm calibers were, as known, the most widely employed in pistols and submachine guns worldwide, this including Brazil. Types in wide use  by the country’s armed and police forces included the locally-made INA M.B.50 and M953, both in .45 ACP, and the Taurus MT-12, in 9x19mm, whose original projects came, respectively, from Denmark (Madsen M1950) and Italy (Beretta M12). Some indigenous designs, all chambered to the 9x19mm round, were, in fact, often tried by different individuals and manufacturers in Brazil, quite a few of them having already been shown to history-inclined TFB readers. Other than that, some foreign-made types were also adopted, such as the German-made Walther MPK and the Heckler & Koch MP5 in various sub-types. All in 9x19mm, of course.

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Miscellaneous guns in pics and text – 1

Gathering material for articles here at TFB is a mixture of results for this senior scribe, ranging from full exultation to sheer deception. Sometimes an interesting photo negative is dug out from surviving files, just for yours truly to find out that no related info is located in his somewhat messy files. The other way around is, of course, sometimes the case: data, but no photo! But there’s another variation in the process: the case of both pics and info duly located, but in such a limited form that they become too narrow to generate a full story. Here’s what I mean, hoping you enjoy:

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IMBEL's FAL-derived submachine guns

As a long-time (since the mid-1960s) licensed manufacturer of the well-known 7.62x51mm FN FAL rifle for the Brazilian Armed and Police Forces, plus also for export, IMBEL – Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil took the opportunity to use it as a basis for other firearms. How this eventually took the form of several 5.56x45mm rifle variations, from the MD1 prototype of 1983 to the MD97 models of the late 1990s, has recently been shown by TFB in a series of articles. But it is not generally known that the weapon was also used as a basis for a number of 9x19mm submachine gun and carbine projects that originated from the Fábrica de Itajubá (Itajubá Factory) facilities’ Oficina de Protótipos (Prototypes Workshop).  The idea was, of course, using off-the-shelf FAL parts (unchanged and/or slightly modified) in their subgun designs so that development time could be abbreviated and production costs, pretty much reduced. Here’s a brief account of the SMGs that were built and tested by IMBEL in the late-1970s/early-1980s period.

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The FIL/FILC-97 family: The Forgotten IMBEL Rifle Prototypes

In 1997, while Brazilian Army Captain (later, Lieutenant-Colonel) Paulo Augusto Capetti Porto was working at IMBEL’s Fábrica de Itajubá as head of the R&D Office, several interesting ideas materialized into a series of prototypes generally designated as FIL-97 (Fuzil Imbel Leve, Light Imbel Rifle) with 437mm barrels and FILC-97 (Fuzil Imbel Leve Curto, Short Light Imbel Rifle), for the shorter carbine-type variants with variable length barrels. This family of guns was merely intended to analyze different construction materials (polymers and light alloys) and ergonomic variations for possible use in future weapons, in what might be called concept ideas studies, if you wish.  It should be recalled that they were all gas-operated and featured a rotary bolt breech locking system similar to the MD97 model then in production. Here’s a selection of some of the guns that emerged from that extremely creative period.

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