FAMAS: The Weapon Used by the French Armed Forces

A Shock Weapon

The FAMAS is a basic individual weapon for the fighting soldier, and its multi-mission functions enable the following:

I. Single shot or short burst accurate firing due to:

  • a long barrel (488mm) in a short weapon (760mm)
  • a delayed blow back operating system which reduces recoil
  • 300 to 500 meter sights integrated with the barrel
  • provisions for the attachment of any NATO standard telescopic sight

II. Assault firing:

  • in the full-automatic mode at a high rate of fire (1,100 rounds/min.)
  • in the three-round burst mode

III. Support firing:

  • as an automatic rifle using the optional bipod
  • as a grenade launcher firing anti-tank (AT), anti-personel (AP), anti-personel anti-vehicle (APAV), smoke, or tear-gas grenades

These functions can all be performed with standard ball ammunition and without any modification to the weapon. They also make the FAMAS a multi-mission weapon adapted to a variety of modern combat needs. It is also well-suited for law-enforcement and VIP protetection due to its accuracy, compactness, and ease of handling.

A Performance Weapon

The FAMAS is solid and reliable; it will withstand, without loss of performance:

  • Water, mud, sand, and dust
  • Extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +51°C (-40°F to 124°F )
  • generally adverse field conditions

The FAMAS is compact, light, streamlined, and perfectly balanced around its pistol grip. It can easily be carried in the ready position with the use of a universal sling, thus leaving both hands free while maintaining the weapon on firing stand-by.

It is designed to satisfy particular shooter requirements:

  • Right or left handed shooters can be accomodated by simply reversing the ejector
  • The large handguard permits shooting with gloves in extreme cold or NBC environments

The FAMAS can be obtained with a rifling pitch of either 7.9 or 12 inches. It is therefore capable of firing all NATO standard 5.56x45 caliber ammunition, including SS 109 and U.S. M193.

A Sure Weapon

The FAMAS was engineered with reliability and shooter safety in mind. It will not fire a round with the chamber open. It will also withstand 300 rounds fired in 2 minutes without heating enough to induce ammunition 'cook-offs.' Finally, the safety is housed within the handguard, allowing the user to engage or disengage it while maintaining a clear sight picture.

Simple Maintenance

The FAMAS is a relatively simple design which can be field stripped into 9 modular components in less than one minute without the use of tools. Its barrel will retain its accuracy after firing up to 15,000 rounds.


Certain missions, notably those involving unmarked vehicles, require short and compact weapons. For this purpose, GIAT Industries has developed a FAMAS with a barrel that is less than 406mm in length.

Information and images courtesy of GIAT Industries