The FAMAS (French: Fusil d'Assaut de la Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne, Assault Rifle by St-Étienne Arms Factory), is an assault rifle firing the 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge from a 25- or 30-round box magazine, depending on the version of the weapon. It is the standard-issue weapon for the French military. Its distinctive shape has earned it the affectionate nickname Le Clairon ("Trumpet") among troops. Similarly, largely because it used 5.56mm NATO ammo, it was sometimes given the nickname of "five-five-sixers".
The FAMAS is of the bullpup configuration, meaning that the action and magazine are located behind the grip instead of in front of it. This means that the FAMAS can be of shorter overall length (comparable to a carbine) despite its 488mm barrel, allowing for a compact yet accurate firearm. The downside is that the FAMAS cannot be shot from the left shoulder without modification (by changing the extractor claw from left to right) and reloading may prove to be awkward at times.
The FAMAS has earned a somewhat mixed reputation. Early reliability issues were mostly corrected in the rifle's first few years of service, though occasional feeding problems remain. Compared with other bullpup rifles, the FAMAS is mostly superior to the British L85, but cannot compete with the Austrian Steyr AUG in terms of reliability, ergonomics, and accuracy. Those who have fired both weapons almost universally prefer the American M16/M4 over the FAMAS. The FAMAS F1 variant uses a proprietary magazine and cannot accept the STANAG magazines used by the M16, L85, AUG, and the Belgian FNC. One well-known problem is an extractor prone to breaking in the field, with French soldiers usually carrying one or more spares when deployed. Also, the weapon tends to tear regular NATO-standard 5.56 cases apart rather than extract and eject them properly, requiring the French Army to use its own specially-made steel-cased ammunition. This lack of compatibility with NATO allies prompted the French to develop the improved G2 model, which accepts STANAG mags, cycles reliably with NATO M855/SS-109 ammo, and features stronger components to correct the F1's remaining reliability problems. However, the G2 was never widely adopted by France's military due to budget constraints. The French Army announced in 2013 that it was seeking a replacement for the FAMAS.
The FAMAS variant used by the French military is the F1, while the Genome Army use the G1; an intermediate model that retained the original 25-round magazines while introducing the full handguard. Eventually, the G1 became the G2; an export model able to accept NATO standard STANAG magazines used by the M16 and other NATO firearms.
- Main article: Shadow Moses Incident
During the Shadow Moses Incident, the FAMAS was the standard assault rifle of the Sons of Big Boss, which Solid Snake referred to as a "five-five-sixer" due to its ammunition type. Liquid Snake later utilized a FAMAS during the Jeep chase in the Supply Route nearing the end of the mission.
Behind the scenes
Metal Gear Solid
The FAMAS first appears in the original Metal Gear Solid, in which it is used by the enemy soldiers. The FAMAS is not normally used by any U.S. Special Forces, since their standard issue weapon is usually the M4A1. The FAMAS was most likely chosen for the game due to being a then-obscure weapon combined with its blocky design being easier to render with the PlayStation engine, much like the SOCOM. The M4 has a more cylinder-based design, which would have been difficult to make with a 32-bit 3D graphic system.
A FAMAS rifle is initially located in the second floor basement armory of the tank hangar, after the player procures the Lv.2 card key from Kenneth Baker. Otherwise, it can later be found in the second floor basement of the nuclear warhead storage building or the first floor basement of the nuclear warhead storage building (after obtaining the Lv.5 card from Meryl Silverburgh). While it is slightly less powerful per-shot than the SOCOM, its rapid rate of fire makes it an effective weapon against multiple enemy soldiers and against Psycho Mantis. It is the only fully-automatic weapon in the game, though its use is restricted due to the noise it creates. In the remake The Twin Snakes, the FAMAS is equipped with a laser sight for added precision.
- "Assault rifle. 25 rounds per magazine. Press A for full automatic fire. Press Y for safety."
- ―FAMAS description in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
At one point, the FAMAS was to have been included in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Early trailers show Snake firing a FAMAS at Gurlukovich soldiers on board the tanker, with one scene showing a firefight in the pantry, destroying food supplies in the process. These scenes were included in the final version, during a cutscene in which Iroquois Pliskin discusses the Tanker Incident with Raiden.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus
The FAMAS is only later seen in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus.
- "A 5.56mm caliber assault rifle. The first model was adopted by the French army in 1978. The chamber is situated behind the grip in bullpup style, giving the rifle a short total length comparable to a carbine model despite its 500mm barrel. This shape has earned the FAMAS the nickname "Trumpet.""
- ―FAMAS description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Despite its expansive weapon list, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots does not include the FAMAS. Given the stringent quality control placed on Japanese miniature company Tamiya by GIAT, over their model of the Leclerc, it is possible that the manufacturer declined to allow it to be in any further games. On the other hand, with Metal Gear Solid 4's CQC inclusion, the bullpup configuration would make it unable to perform SMG/rifle CQC, since the magazine would go through the player. Although it was omitted as a usable weapon in Metal Gear Solid 4, it does appear in the game as part of the Metal Gear Solid flashbacks as well as the nightmare that Snake experiences while on his way to Shadow Moses Island.
Metal Gear Solid Mobile
- "Assault rifle. Press the Action key to fire. Press Y for safety."
- ―FAMAS description in Metal Gear Solid Mobile
- Metal Gear Solid
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (flashback)
- Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus
- Metal Gear Solid Mobile
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (flashback)