For decades the Argentine Army (and many militaries around the world for that matter) utilized the excellent Belgian Fabrique Nationale FN FAL automatic rifle chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. The type was produced in over 2,000,000 examples and distribution was such that over 90 countries utilized some form of the weapon or another - some even continuing service of the type today. Production began in 1947 and remains ongoing as of this writing (2012). Needless to say, the FN FAL has seen its fair share of combat worldwide.
Argentina accepted the FN FAL into frontline service in 1955 with the first examples arriving in 1958. FN FALs in Argentine service were designated as FSL-FAL (the Belgian "FAL = Fusil Automatique Leger" descriptor being changed to the Argentine "Fusil Automatico Liviano"). License production was granted in 1960 to which the Belgian design solidified its place in Argentina military history as its standard issue Battle Rifle. In the early 1980s, an attempt to modernize the Argentine inventory was pursued and a response came in the form of the "FARA 83" - also known as the "FAA 81" for "Fusil Automatico Argentino". For all intents and purposes, the FARA 83 was a relative mish-mash of components borrowed from other proven designs including - but not limited to - the FN FAL itself. The FARA 83 did share a striking similarity to the Israeli Army's IMI "Galil" assault rifle which, itself, was an evolution of the Soviet-era AK-47 system by way of the Finnish RK 62 and is believed to have served as an influence for the Argentine development.
By all accounts, the FARA 83 was a very conventional assault rifle design. It sported tried and proven design features that made for a very functional weapons system. The receiver was rectangular in its overall shape and generally slab-sided with the ejection port and HK-style charging handle set to the right side of the body. The pistol grip was well-angled and ergonomically designed, set just behind the trigger unit. The trigger system was distinct in that it managed the settings for semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. The magazine feed was fitted just ahead of the trigger group and accepted curved, spring-loaded magazine boxes. The stock was semi-skeletal and hinged to fold over the right side of the receiver - this helping to promote a more compact overall design suitable for use by vehicle crews or paratroopers, battlefield elements traditionally requiring the facilities of a smaller weapon. The forward portion of the weapon consisted of a horizontally-ribbed forend, gas cylinder and barrel assembly. The gas cylinder was fitted over the barrel assembly and capped at the front by a forward iron sight. A rear iron sight was set at the extreme rear of the receiver. The barrel protruded a short distance ahead of the weapon and was capped by a noticeably slotted muzzle brake.
The FARA 83 sported a running overall length of 40 inches with the stock fully extended. The length was decreased to a very handy 30 inches with the stock collapsed. The barrel itself measured 18 inches. Unloaded weight was nearly 9lbs. The system was chambered to fire the 5.56x45mm cartridge from 30-round detachable box magazines. Cyclic rate-of-fire was approximately 750 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity reaching 3,166 feet per second.
As its alternative designation suggests, the FAA 81/FARA 83 rifle appeared in 1981 and production ultimately began in 1984 under the direction of state-owned Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu of Rosario, Argentina. Despite its promising nature, financial difficulties beset the Argentine military at this point in history. As such, production of the FARA 83 was limited to just 1,193 reaching circulation within the Argentine Army ranks. Production was halted in 1986 due to a lack of funding, making the FARA 83 a short-lived and only mild success. It is believed that limited production resumed sometime in 1990 but manufacture totals of this secondary endeavor are unknown.