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!