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Multiple French news sites are reporting that H&K has indeed been chosen by the French military to replace the existing stock of FAMAS rifles with the Teutonic HK416. Designed in the early 1980s, the FAMAS was a bullpup rifle much like the Steyr AUG but with a distinctly French twist. The design worked for the latter part of the 20th century, but modern firearms have left the FAMAS design in the dust. Moving to a Stoner-based design will give French troops not only better ergonomics but also improve their ability to exchange parts and training with other NATO nations.

Belgian manufacturer FN isn’t pleased that their goods weren’t chosen and is suing the French government, saying that their products are of a better quality and design than the H&K offering.

H&K is reportedly on the hook for 101,000 rifles to be delivered to the French government, first going to special forces with a larger rollout expected thereafter. This latest German incursion onto French soil comes roughly 100 years after the failed technological demonstration known as World War I and 70 years after an extended trial period known as “World War II.” As always, Belgium appears to be caught in the middle and largely ignored.

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  1. The Germans are just pre staging a stock of fresh rifles that will never be used for when their boys roll in and need spares.

    Only thing the French will do with these rifles is tie cleaning rags to the muzzle end. Speeds up maintenance.

  2. I respect the WWI and WWII jokes. At least if the rifles need to be returned, they’ll come back with little use. Can I buy? Watch out Dutch, your tac bikes are next!

  3. I’ve never looked at the FAMAS as a superior rifle to any of the other modern military rifles. There’s a reason the FAMAS isn’t seen here in the US like the AUG, Sig 550, HK 416 and it’s not just because there are no semi auto models, it’s because nobody wants a FAMAS. Honestly, the gun looks like a piece of junk made in China.

    I suspect the UK military will make similar moves in the future with their L85 rifle and if so, the bullpup rifle will cease to be a staple of European armies.

    • Actually, there ARE about 200 semi-auto FAMAS in the US. They were imported in the late 80s/early nineties just before the Clinton ban. They’re all in the hands of collectors now. There was one on Gunbroker a few weeks back. It went for 15,000. They didn’t sell well back then because you could get an M-16 (full auto) for 700.

    • The FAMAS as it is now, isn’t a very good gun. However, it was and still remains better than the SA80 project. Not to slam it; it like the M16, was bent to political pressures and such and changes were made without consulting the engineers.
      It was never meant to be a 5.56 rifle, for instance, and the design was scaled to the caliber. The design is from the 7.62 NATO era, and France was looking at its own Small-Caliber-High-Velocity round, which was in the prototyping phase when NATO settled on 5.56mm. This is why the design needs steel-cased ammo and rips up brass cases. I’ve also read some debate back and forth between experts that it was originally meant to replace/serve the squad MG role as well; now a moot point as French forces use the Minimi(M249) It’s still, as of 2016, a 1-in-12 twist barrel, and a ridiculously high rate of fire for an infantry rifle and its 25 round magazine. It’s actually derived from a machine-gun action, and one of the reason for the high ROF. This is countered by a 3-round burst mode, but again, is now another quirk as “burst mode” is going the way of the do-do.
      Just like the US M-16/AR-15, a lot of the problems were magazine related. It too, was originally designed with an emphasis on cheap disposable, so of course the Army decided they should keep them far longer than their designated life-span.

      At this point now, the FAMAS is serving well still, despite its age. However, it is all about the long game. The cost to replace FAMAS is less than the cost to keep it up and running over time. The design is 30+ years old now. MAS no longer exists, and the dies and tooling are long gone. Parts reserves are drying up.
      The design predates a lot of modern “attachments”, so it is also getting expensive to create adapters and work-arounds for… so not only can they not take advantage of the growing “add-on” market, they have to machine and tool their own work-arounds and home-brew solutions to have new dongle and whats-its, and no one to split the costs with. As you can imagine, especially on a modern (From the 1970s or so) “slick rifle” it’s hard to find space to just bolt on a Pic-rail without interfering with internal mechanisms, etc.

      Economics of sheer scale is hard to compete with, even before limited budgets, finding replacement parts for a 30+ year old rifles, etc.

    • “There’s a reason the FAMAS isn’t seen here in the US like the AUG, Sig 550, HK 416 and it’s not just because there are no semi auto models, it’s because nobody wants a FAMAS.”
      Actually, it’s because few were ever imported. Which has a lot more to do with the type of market at the time, the kinds of import/export restrictions in place, and just plain how much money Century Arms & MAS wanted to throw at the project (they imported & built a shit-ton of CETMEs and Golanis; does that mean those are accordingly ‘superior’ firearms?) A FAMAS costs like ten grand today because they imported so few.

    • MAS was/is defunct as of 2001. Acquired by Nexter, and they make only artillery and vehicles.

      Only one French company applied for the production of the future rifle as France’s small arms industry has essentially ceased to be. The company in question, Verney Carron, was not considered capable of ensuring the maintenance of the rifles for 30 years, as well as a production rate of 16000 rifles a year. In addition rumor had it that they were offering a license-built Israeli design (probably the Tavor, but other rumors said it was a version of Galil ACE).

  4. The SCAR is like the Tim Tebow of the military arms world. Was adopted and cut in a short period of time. A bunch of fans, but no one wants to sign it…. The fans get mad when you say this, but it’s been in competition for numerous countries now and all have turned it down. This speaks volumes about the guns abilities.

      • Economy of scale is hard to argue with; plus that collective trouble-shooting of the design and the large aftermarket/accessory market is equally attractive, especially for a frugal Euro-Army.

        • Yeah, all the engineering for the various M4 clones has been done decades ago. If I were FNH, I would have submitted a DI M4 clone and undercut H&K on the per-unit cost. I would also pitch it as 100% compatible with all NATO equipment (which the short barreled 416 is not).

        • Yeah. I’m kinda surprised FNH didn’t sneak a ballpark figure for a package offer for basic M4s ready to go, if the cost of the SCAR platform didn’t pan out… you know just for comparison’s sake…

  5. um wait a minute,,, Didn’t I read recently that the German Courts ruled that H&K couldn’t be held liable by the German Gov’t even tho the rifles were a POS.

    • Not really, the weapon under scrutiny was the G36, not the HK416. It was claimed that under prolonged fire, the G36 performance degrades to the point where accuracy was nearly non-existent. One of the German government claim was the use of polymer parts unable to withstand heat generated by a high rate of fire. HK recently won in court against the government in the sense that the G36 performed as designed and as specified by the Wehrmacht specs. It was just not designed to be used like a machine gun because a machine gun must have a replaceable barrel to avoid overheating, and the G36 has a fixed barrel.

  6. Actually, the HK 416 is a VG choice for the French Army: modular design (can change to different calibers/config if needed for special ops); easier repair/part replacement; excellent ergonomics; piston design instead of DI; compatibility with NATO ammo, mags, parts; easy visual identification as friendly allies; etc.

    The FAMAS bull-pup design has too many idiosyncrasies: brass ejection right next to face and ear; must use steel jacket ammo; hard to repair; etc.

    As for insulting the French about its WW2 armistice with Nazi Germany: when an army cannot defend the country anymore, the only good choice left is to spare its civilian population from the horrors and destruction of war. The USA has never been invaded by a bloodthirsty foreign army, so it is easy for some of its armchair macho citizens to advocate a fight to the death; the wiser choice is to live another day and wait for an opportunity to raise again. That is what Free France under De Gaulle did; its casualties in WW2 were slightly higher than the US, so only the uniformed can bleat about France’s lack of fighting spirit (“…rifle dropped only once…”). France is and has been along time ally despite occasional friction caused by differing national interests or personality.

    The one nation to blame correctly for WW2 is Nazi Germany, with its habit of attacking its neighbors (France was not the only victim) and its avocation of a sick ideology (Nazism).

    As for the Soviets and red Chinese, only fools would trust them.

    • So when Americans landed in North Africa to begin the long plan of running Germany out of the country’s that had been occupied, including France, who did American soldiers have to fight first? Who killed American soldiers in the name of the German invaders? What naval units fired on American ships and got fired upon for their pains?

      Who are the French for 100 dollars, Alex?

      • The vichy troops fought the Free French and the Americans. The French also joined the German army. Enough so that the Germans could field entire divisions of Frenchmen.

  7. FNH is an awesome company with awesome products. Their problem? Cost. They’re not making anything superior to anyone else in terms of the M4’s. If Scar16 and 17’s weren’t $2500/3500 respectably, I guarantee they would be used and issued to multiple militaries around the world. I understand cost to US civilian customers is different, but it can’t be a huge chunk different in bulk to militaries. If you could bring down 17’s to $2000-2500, I’d be a buyer.

    • I got a 17 a couple years ago for $2800. I haven’t looked at prices lately, but I didn’t think they went up? The mags are pricey $38-$40. Or they were. The selling point for me was weight, only 8lbs dry for a .308 piston gun with folding stock. Now AR10’s are finally starting to loose weight so 8lbs 308’s will be considered heavy soon. I hope.

      • Every time I’ve seen one locally, they’re well over $3000. Quick net search I found some for $2900. Still, completely overpriced when the gun is so much polymer. Same with the FsN and PS90.

        • In VA, you can get them for less than $2,500 if you’re MIL/LEO at certain LGSs. That’s how I got mine. Being in the military. However, after taxes and all of that, it came out close to $2,500.


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