FAMAE Mini SAF submachine gun chambered in 9mm (Photo: Youtube/Tactical)

Like the Steyr submachine gun, the FAMAE SAF is based upon an assault rifle design, though in this case with much more modification. In the 1980s the FAMAE factory (the Chilean government small arms factory) obtained a license to manufacture the Swiss SIG 540 assault rifle.


This is a 5.56mm locked-breech weapon of fairly conventional pattern and is the standard Chilean service rifle. Having set up the machinery to make this rifle, FAMAE looked at the design and decided to adapt what they could of the rifle to a submachine gun (SMG).


The general design, the receiver, stock, and fore-end, is that of the rifle though shortened. The rotating bolt breech closing system was modified to a simple blowback bolt, but the rifle’s hammer mechanism was retained, so that, like the Steyr AUG 9 Para, this weapon fires from a closed bolt. The actual mechanism was altered, however, to allow for single shots, automatic fire or three-round bursts, the latter being somewhat unusual on submachine guns.

A new 9mm barrel was designed and fitted. The magazine was made in translucent plastic so that the contents can be seen at any time; it is also fitted with protruding lugs on one side and keyhole-like slots on the other so that two or three magazines can be clipped together. One can be inserted into the magazine housing on the weapon, leaving the others exposed. When the first magazine is empty, it is simple to slip it out, shift the lot sideways and slip a fresh magazine into position – far quicker than withdrawing fresh magazine from a pouch and fitting it in place, then having to pick up the old magazine.

FAMAE SAF Variants

Three models of the FAMAE SAF submachine guns are made; the standard model with a fixed plastic butt; standard with a side-folding tubular metal butt; and a silenced model with an integral silencer and folding butt.

FAMAE SAF 2020 image
FAMAE SAF (Photo: Pinterest)

There is also the Mini SAF with a much shorter barrel, no shoulder stock, and a forward handgrip. It can use the standard 30-round magazine but a special 20-round magazine gives additional compactness. The whole weapon is only 12 inches long and is ideal for stealth work (concealed carry) like bodyguard and covert operations.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer:FAMAE, Santiago, Chile
Type:Blowback, selective fire
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Barrel:7.87in (200mm)
Weight (empty):6.4lbs (2.9 kg)
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Cyclic rate of fire:1300 rounds/minute
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