Genesis of the VHS: IM Metal Gets a FAMAS

After their abortive effort at designing a bullpup AK conversion, IM Metal (later to become HS Produkt) decided to make another try at developing a rifle for the Croatian Army. This time, they decided to base their design on the FAMAS. Why that rifle? Well, at the time the Croatian Homeland War was still raging, and some of the most experienced fighters on Croatia’s side were French Foreign Legionnaires of Croatian nationality who returned home to join the war. They used the FAMAS, and that spoke highly for its efficacy – and it was genuinely and excellent combat rifle.

So, IM Metal obtained a FAMAS to work with, and set about making changes to it. They wanted to lighten it as much as possible, so they removed the bipod, and also the receiver extension used to free-float the bipod. They then moved the charging handle assembly rearward a bit and made a new upper handguard. They also opted to replace the lever-delayed action with a simple short-stroke gas piston.

The rifle we are looking at today is that original FAMAS, representing the very beginning of the new design process. The design would eventually coalesce into the VHS-1, maintaining the basic elements seems here – FAMAS layout and ergonomics with a gas piston system. Stay tuned as we continue to explore this line of development…

Thanks to HS Produkt for graciously letting me film some of their original prototypes like this one!


  1. Now this Famas connection makes sense; it was about a sentiment brought back home.

    To the HS rifle development: there was prior to the ‘simple’ gas operation one which combined two odd concepts together. Hopefully Ian will put light on it in one of future installments. Btw, pronunciation of Karlovac(-ts) is almost perfect.

  2. Does firing the original Famas, upside down… Don’t know if anyone has tried; increase the fire rate, due to gravity having less of an impact on the “mass” bit moving back, even slightly? Out of interest.

    • Wonder if you, could put two… Possibly in a bigger cal, in a sort of Gast gun arrangement; but in a “screw” manner… Given no gas system, in theory the barrel could rotate. So, you could offset two guns next to each other threaded barrels… Counter rotate the srew, and use the barrels as mass.

      • In that… The “mass” of the orignial system has a wee circluar plug on it that sits in a thread I.e Around the barrel, and when it moves back it turns the others barrel; so allowing it to move back…

        Actually, or getting confused… Anyway a screw motion in a bigger cal… One, or more barrels. Will doodle, a bit.

        Anyhoo, I don’t think we should as humans forget the Famas mech; reckon it is of use in principle. And the actual gun, was good.

          • It is an AR but not. Bit lame… I mean, oh well thats fucking progress isn’t it how amazing. You are running an Ar in an Ar180 fashion, in the shape of an Ar as oppose an l85. Wow.

          • Haven’t quite managed to doodle something comprehensive yet after 8 pints… But, I think with a gas’less system the barrel could be used as mass, via rotation forward.

            Sober people, use pens he he. Burp. Out.

          • “(…)with a gas’less system the barrel could be used as mass(…)”
            In such situation I must warn you that gas system does not prevent implementing moving barrel, see СН which feature barrel moving forward and linked to other moving parts via means of gear.

          • Quite, well I hope the Author puts your forgotten weapons into the archive… As they will be hard to find/play around with…

            “The link by chain to Sagittarius from rebounding ocelot sees a chafing to overall plug in submersible.” Quote…

            Didn’t say that, really; he he! Thanks for the link anyway!!

    • “(…) increase the fire rate, due to gravity having less of an impact on the “mass” bit moving back(…)”
      Observe that in normal position opening is against gravity, but closing is boosted by gravity. After applying proposed change, opening will be boosted by gravity, but closing will be against gravity. Therefore I suppose due to gravity direction time between full forward and full backward position might change, but full cycle time will not change.

      • I have downloaded the English translation of the link, and your reply; and will read both of them a few times, I appreciate your input thank you.

        • Well I will absolutely read that a few more, more times as it is obviously very interesting and thank you very much.

          But as a short answer; but has anyone tried firing a Famas upside down in full auto, and noticed anyhthing “Science” aside… What if it was windy? He he.

          I will read the link etc again, bare with me he he.

          • Oscilate… Something.

            Jiggle, jiggle… Maybe it was the mount that needed changing; bump stock like…

            I will have to read that again… Er…

            Actually you know that is, er… Can you alter material characteristics by, well… Instead of say Titanium, which is a material per se; could Aluminium be “Wobbled” to perform the same function.

            Became quite interested in Americanium; that Nuclear waste thing in smoke detectors… It’s… “Helium” atom things, wobble, wobble.

            A lot of “stuff” matter is actually about how parcticles “wobble” odd isn’t it.

            Anyway probably not directly connected, abstract he he…

          • Will say this though untill we bolt together to Famas, upside down; not having “Science” alone with guns, someone has to check.

            Rona… Science, I mean come on, models.

            Yes with hindsight, he he.

            See, let’s just bolt the two famas’s upside down and hit the fuckers with a hammer until it works.

            Take about 6 week. Quicker than science also, who has a can of wd40?

          • I will read your link/answer again; and I do not wish to appear crude… While saying if there is one thing about guns, I have learned about guns from the first one ever till recently; nobody knows unless you try it. Within reason I.e. candy floss is very unlikely to a substitute for gunpowder.

            It is not war. Probably fucking will be with these clowns, but we are all more than capable of killing everyone else anyway.

            Experiment. Radioactive mutated killer ducks; we’ll need 4000rnd’s a minute to get to your house to your car.

            Quack, quack like that pecking at your eyes. He he.

  3. Immediately struck by how closely the silhouette of the front sight, carry handle, and charging handle recall that of the contemporaneous QBZ-95. Gotta be convergent evolution— not all of the prototype 5.8mm bullpups followed the same layout, and to my knowledge the QBZ-95 was unknown in the west before its appearance at the handover of Hong Kong in ‘97– but an interesting coincidence nonetheless.

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