The FAMAS (Fusil d'Assaut Manufacture d'Armes St. Étienne, or "St. Étienne Arms Factory Assault Rifle") is a French assault rifle that was produced by GIAT Industries (now Nexter Systems). It is currently the standard service rifle of the French Army, although it is due to be replaced by the HK416.
Development of the FAMAS began in 1967 at the state-owned MAS factory at St. Étienne. The lead designer on the project was Paul Tellie. By the end of the 60s, a functional prototype had been produced, and military trials took place in the early 1970s. By 1976, the design had been finalized and the French Army made the decision to adopt the weapon as the F1 in 1978.
The first model, the FAMAS F1, was manufactured in 1978. These guns had proprietary 25-round box magazines, a one-finger trigger guard, and other minor differences from the current FAMAS G2 model. Production of both models was discontinued in 2000.
Later, the FAMAS rifles were redesigned for better integration with NATO standards, culminating in the "G1" and "G2" models. The G1 was an intermediary model; it was able to accept both the proprietary magazines and STANAG magazines. The latest configuration (circa 1994), the G2, accepts only STANAG magazines.
In 2017, the French Army adopted the HK416 as its new standard-issue service rifle after extensive trials. It is due to replace the FAMAS in French service.
The main selector switch has three positions - safe, semi-automatic and full auto. There is an additional selector switch behind the magazine; when the rifle is set to full-auto, this selector switch has two settings - full auto, and three-round burst.
The rifling in the bore has three grooves instead of the more common 4-6. The F1 models utilize a 1:12 rifling twist; the G2 models, a 1:9 twist.
The FAMAS has issues with using standard brass-cased 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition, which can create over-pressure and case ruptures and lead to severe malfunctions, so the French military uses its own special steel-cased ammunition for the FAMAS. Local production of ammunition had ceased entirely however.
All rifles are shipped with sling and bayonet. With the exception of the "SMG" variant, all rifles come with a deployable bipod.
The FAMAS is a part of the French FÉLIN (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés, Integrated Infantryman Equipment and Communications) infantry combat system. FAMAS used in the program are modified with lowered carrying handles and extra equipment to integrate all aspects of combat into a single system.