MANUFACTURER(S): FAMAE - Chile
OPERATORS: Chile; Portugal
ACTION: Blowback; Closed Bolt
CALIBER(S)*: 9x19mm Parabellum; .40 S&W
SIGHTS: Iron Front Post and Adjustable Aperture Rear
Detailing the development and operational history of the FAMAE SAF Submachine Gun (SMG).
Entry last updated on 7/11/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The SAF is an impressive-looking Chilean submachine gun designed and developed by state-owned FAbricas y MAestranzas del Ejercito (FAMAE) for the Chilean armed forces and security elements. The SAF owes it origins to the Swiss SIG 540 series assault rifle of 1977 which, incidentally, was selected for localized license production within Chile. Key alterations were made to the base SIG 540 assault rifle that included replacing the gas-operated, rotating-bolt system with a blowback, closed-bolt operation. Chilean experience in the processing of the Swiss SIG 540 series helped engineers to generate their all-new end-product that borrowed upon existing, yet proven (and readily available), components to make for an indigenous weapon design that could be delivered with a lower procurement cost. Design of the SAF began in 1993 with production following that same year, continuing even today. The weapon was installed into the inventory of the Chilean Army and subsequently found use in local police forces as well. Export orders included deliveries to the Portuguese Republican National Guard.
At its core, the FAMAE SAF is a conventional select-fire weapon that features a safety, single-shot, 3-round burst and full-automatic fire modes via an ambidextrous selector. The firing operation is blowback from a closed-bolt system and construction is of both high-impact steel and lightweight polymers. The weapon is primarily chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge but a version chambered for the .40 Smith & Wesson has been noted. The magazines are either 20- or 30-round detachable straight boxes and have provisions for affixing multiple magazines (up to three) together in a side-by-side fashion for quick reloading. Each magazine is also slightly transparent to allow the operator to visually check the available ammunition supply - a good quality to have in the heat of battle. Sighting is via an adjustable aperture rear with front post fixture. The cocking handle is set to the right side of the body as is the cartridge ejection port.
FAMAE developed the SAF into a family of submachine gun types to help deliver cost-effective solutions to broader market needs. As such, the SAF was ultimately introduced in four distinct production models. The standard submachine gun came in a fixed polymer buttstock and metal skeletal folding buttstock (hinged to fold over the right of the receiver) form. There was also a specialist silenced version and featured a long suppressor assembly fitted over the muzzle with a double-perforated forend housing and the inclusion of the basic skeletal folding stock.
A compact model was also developed (and known appropriately) as the "Mini-SAF". The Mini-SAF featured no buttstock (though the hinged skeletal one was still optional) and a shorter barrel to make for a more manageable operator length (approximately 12 inches long). The type also sported a forward vertical hand grip (ala the HK MP5K) for a sure two-handed hold. To ensure its portability, the Mini-SAF was also issued with a shorter 20-round magazine to replace the original's 30-count - though the latter could still be used without modification.