Madsens and Mystery Rifles with the Rio Police

We have a couple cool items from Ronaldo Olive today. In response to some comments on the Brazilian PASAM Mauser pistols, he sent over these photos of the Rio de Janeiro military police with Madsen light machine guns:

Rio de Janeiro police with Madsen light machine gunRio de Janeiro police with Madsen light machine gunRio de Janeiro police with Madsen light machine gun


These Madsens came from the Brazilian Army, and were converted from 7×57 Mauser to 7.62 NATO by IMBEL, at the Fábrica de Itajubá factory. They are used in narcotics raids in the slums of Rio when heavy firepower is needed. Photos are courtesy of PMERJ Corporal Bloomfield.

Ronaldo also sent us a photo of a rifle that was found by the Rio police in a raid, that we haven’t been able to identify (and neither have they, apparently). Here it is:

Mystery rifle found in Rio
Any idea what this is? (click to enlarge)

It has some elements that look familiar (Galil mag catch, FAL gas block, AR-70 lower receiver), but we can’t quite put it all together. Any ideas? It apparently had no distinguishable markings.


  1. It looks like a derivative of the AR-16 / AR-18 in 7.62x39mm. Clearly factory produced, given the stamped magazine. And recent, given the Weaver or Picatinny rail elements. A Hugo Chavez special?

    • It resembles an SAR80. I suppose it might be a product of the murky arms industry of the former Yugoslavia. Grey market weapons are their bread and butter.

  2. Re the 1st photo of the cop: one hopes he doesn’t plan to shoot the Madsen that way. He’s got his hand over the closed ejection port door.

  3. Looks like an Australian “Leader” style (kind of an AR 180 knockoff) – popular at gun shows here in FL during the late 80s….my immediate reaction when I saw it – to me the folding stock and side charging handle gives it away.

    CB in FL

  4. The rifle looks like something the factories in Myanmar/Burma would come up with. They seem to be most interested in copying and blending different rifle designs.

  5. Definitely not an SIG 540 derivative. It seems to me to be some locally made by the underground gunsmith. Remember “Bechowiec” or “Błyskawica”? The weapon itself is probably a compilation of several well known and popular assault rifles, that’s why it’s similar to almost everything.

  6. It looks very smiler to a SIG 540 alright. But the notch between the lower and upper receiver has been moved forward of the mag well. The lower of the two grooves around the magazine well is crooked. The charging handle is different, as is the magazine release. Grip angle is very similar, but the trigger is quite different. Rails appear to be spot welded on, and the rear sight is completely different. Front sight is somewhat different, and there appears to be no regulator on the gas block. The flash hider is also slightly different. handguard is completely different

    I do not think this rifle would have made it pas Swiss quality control, though the Chilean theory….

  7. My money is that it’s a South African Vektor R4 – a modified version of the Galil though the rear of the receiver is vertical and the R4 is sloped from the butt attachment point to the rear sight. Might be a locally manufactured variant ..

  8. Guys,

    The battle rifle is also a Madsen – it’s their AK-derived 7.62×51 rifle. We have one in the NFC collection, and by weird coincidence, I was looking at it only today! Any details you want (I will check designation but I don’t believe it’s marked other than ‘MADSEN’ and the calibre), I can have a look for you.


      • Nope, still too eager. It’s not the M62, and not the weapon in the NFC. I blame lack of sleep and moving house 🙁

        Sorry, major brain fart there. If I can turn anything up on this stamped steel beast (the M62 being milled and really quite different), I will.

      • I don’t think so. The gun found by the Brazilian police is quite different from the LAR M62. If you look closer, the many small differences will become quite obvious. Besides, the mystery rifle seems to be of later vintage, very 80s if you ask me. My best (semi-educated) guess would be a local (or maybe Argentinean) prototype. The general layout looks very “FALish” to me.

        • Yes, see above – I was way out there, need to engage brain before keyboard.

          It’s actually closer to the Beretta AR70 in general arrangement – but still unique as far as I’ve seen. Weird.

  9. I have been looking at pictures of this weapons for quite some tome. I still do not know what it is. I would like to see the inside and it’s operating mechanism. Any additional pictures would be great.

  10. It’s not an FNC but parts of it seem to point that way like the stock lock-up. I think someone will see this photo and then go count the prototypes.

    Ronaldo Olive has published lots of photos and information regarding clandestine workshop guns here in Brazil and this one, if it is that, would be the best of the breed. This gun has the look of a professional shop and serious designers/methods. The lack of markings and the fact that the collected memory here can’t place it would suggest it is a stolen prototype that never made it into serial production. My guess is that this is a project gun from some sort of South American FN collaboration.

    Really looking forward to new stuff from Mr. Olive. If you’re not already familiar with his work you’re in for a treat.

    • “The lack of markings and the fact that the collected memory here can’t place it would suggest it is a stolen prototype that never made it into serial production. My guess is that this is a project gun from some sort of South American FN collaboration.”

      Than’t exactly my feeling and guess, Dave. The rifle looks way too good for a clandestine workshop ‘special’ of sorts. It might have been built in some professional facility in Brazil or Argentina or possily even, but less likely, Chile.

      Brazil tinkered with alternatives to the FAL back in the early Eighties, namely through the efforts of Mr. Nelmo Suzano and LAPA (Laboratório de Projeto de Armamentos Automáticos), with their FA-03 bullpup FAL conversion in 5,56mm (Mr. Suzano also built several interesting SMG designs, but that’t quite another story – and perhaps a good reason to ask Mr. Olive to publish more articles here!).

      Could this be some IMBEL prototype?

  11. A general principle for understanding Brazil itself is that nothing here ever dies and goes away entirely. The old just gains a fresh layer of modernity while all that was essential to the functioning of the old system continues beneath it. Begin with 1500’s feudalism and paint on top the layers of history, it is all still there influencing the present.

    The same approach has applied to their weapons. There is a rich tradition here of converting old arms and reissuing them to units farther down the pecking order. The 9mm INA conversion is just one example but there are also 7.62×51 Mausers (commonly encountered) and M-1 Garands and FN-49’s converted and modified to take FAL magazines (never personally seen one).

  12. The mystery rifle looks similar, but not identical to the Sig SG540-series rifles produced in Chile. This is possibly a copy made by a local gunsmith.

    On the other hand this COULD be a Bolivian FBM rifle. But I can’t find a picture of an FBM to compare this to.
    However, I read the description of an FBM, and it does match this surprisingly well.

  13. Reg. the FN-49s converted and modified to use FAL magazines, the Argentineans did the same, didn’t they?

    And yes, the old Mausers still go strong, much more so than in neighbouring Argentina or Chile, where their patterns have been relegated to ceremonial duties.

  14. Neat pic’s! Love the Madsens something fierce!

    Does anyone know if the magazines on the converted Madsens are ‘stock’ or had to be converted to handle the shorter NATO round?

    • In answer to your question about the stock Madsen magazines using 7.62×51 I’ve heard of people using stock Chilean 30-06/8×57 mag with 7.62×51. Dennis Ricke of Midwest Metal Creations in Lisbon, Iowa has been producing 1946 and 1950 Madsen Semi auto conversions for several years now and I know he made a small run of 7.62×51 barrels for his customers using lathe turned Browning 1919a4 barrels as the basis and these supposedly worked fine with the stock magazines. He has since discontinued making these due to the general hassle, time and expense of properly machining down the browning barrels and fitting them to the breach assemblies. Dennis produces his semi auto Madsens by taking a parts kit with a torch cut receiver and carefully re-welding the pieces while at the same time modifying it internally so no full auto parts can be fitted. These designs have to be approved by the BATFE before they can be sold to the shooting public. It is a much less expensive way of owning a weapon like this and avoids the long registration process and the high expense of buying a full auto version if you can find one at a class 3 firearms dealer. I have already bought two of his guns but had to sell them due to financial issues but I just recently bought a third one which I will be picking up Saturday and hopefully I’ll be able to hang onto this one. Dennis does superb work and his guns always run beautifully. It is often hard to imagine while looking at them that they were at one time just flame cut lumps of metal. Check out his work on this YouTube video:

  15. FWIW, I’ll go with a experimental locally-produced variant of the Beretta Ar70/223. While it isn’t a perfect match, the position of all the salient features are in the right positions. I’ll bet that Taurus had a go at producing an improved version when Beretta’s Brazilian contract expired. (That flimsy Beretta wire stock has been replaced and the mag release seems to have a protective housing installed, for example.)

    • Miki, the Beretta Ar70 was the first thing that came to my mind too but as you say it has a lot of local flavor too and the mag release has a Kalashnikov flavor to it with some hints of inspiration from other weapons.

    • Honestly, I want to hazard a guess that this could be one or more parts kits built on a new receiver of some sort. Most of this rifle looks like it’s made with factory parts, it’s not some crude gun plumbing.

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