The FAMAS (Fusil d’Assaut de la Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne) is a bullpup-styled assault rifle designed and manufactured in France by MAS located in Saint-Étienne, which is now a member of the French government-owned Nexter group. It is the service rifle of the French military.
The first French bullpup rifles were developed between 1946 and 1950 at the AME (Atelier Mécanique de Mulhouse) and MAS, testing rounds such as .30 US Carbine, 7.92x33mm Kurz, 7.65x38mm (Made by Cartoucherie de Valence) and some other intermediate calibers.
Since France was engaged in the First Indochina War at the time, and was also the second-largest contributor to NATO, the budgets for new types of weapons were reduced and priority was given to the modernisation and production of existing service weapons. Nevertheless, approximately forty different prototypes were developed between 1952 and 1962, most of which were designed for the 7.62x51mm NATO round, however, the round was not found to be suitable for any bullpup designs, and consequently, none were adopted, and the ideas were set aside. MAS then began to manufacture under licence the H&K G3 and the H&K 33 in the 1960s and studies were reactivated to produce a weapon using the new .223/5.56mm round.
The FAMAS project began in 1967 under the direction of Paul Tellie and the first prototype was completed in 1971,with French military evaluation of the rifle beginning in 1972. When production problems delayed the general issue of the new rifles, and with the 1976 Battle of Kolwezi showing the immediate need for a more modern weapon, the French Army began searching for a temporary rifle to fill this need until the FAMAS came into full production. The H&K 33 was considered, and 1200 pieces were tested by Infantry, Marines, Mechanised and Airborne troops, but it was ultimately turned down in favour of the SIG SG 540, built under licence by Manhurin, until enough FAMAS rifles were produced to begin general issue. The French military finally accepted the rifle in 1978 as the standard French combat weapon.
After adoption, the FAMAS F1 replaced the aging MAS 49/56 rifle and MAT-49 submachine gun, and approximately 400,000 FAMAS F1 assault rifles were produced, with production now complete. The F1 was followed by the G1 that included several minor improvements such as redesigned grips, Magwell compatible with STANAG & FAMAS magazine and an enlarged trigger guard, but it remained conceptual and was never actually produced.