SOCIMI Weapons System

SOCIMI Weapons System
SOCIMI Weapons System
SOCIMI Weapons System
SOCIMI Weapons System
SOCIMI Weapons System

PICTURES Click on the smaller picture to see a larger view: SOCIMI-1: SOCIMI AR-831 assault rifle, both ready to fire and field-stripped. SOCIMI-2: SOCIMI AR-871 upgraded assault rifle, small picture with folding buttstock open and drawing from the book "Atlas of the Arms" by Aleksandr Borisovic Zhuk showing the rifle with fixed buttstock.> SOCIMI-3: SOCIMI AR-832/FS battle rifle, with buttstock open, buttstock folded, and field-stripped. SOCIMI-4: SOCIMI TYPE 821-SMG submachinegun, right side vies, folded stock, 32-rounder magazine in. SOCIMI-5: SOCIMI TYPE 821-SMG submachinegun, two different right side views (upper one is an "artistic feature", lower one is from SOCIMI brochure of the time) showing the weapon with 32-rounder magazine in and stock open. Following text coming from the Volume 7 #3, December 2003 issue of SMALL ARMS REVIEW: Text re-arranged and with some add-ons and precisations by me. -- The peak of the accelerating cold war between Russia and the United States and heightened terrorists activities around the world in the 1980s resulted in the formation of many new military arms producers, not only in the USA but almost everycorner of the globe. Highly industrialized countries like Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy led the way in small arms development in western Europe. Among these old world countries, Italy can be considered the pillar and pioneer of arms developers in that part of the continent having produced weapons of war since the rise of the Roman empire. It is no surprise then that even after many hundreds of years had gone by, Italian craftsmen still produce some of the most remarkable weapon systems for today’s modern centurions. Italy’s most historical achievement in the small arms field was no doubt the adoption of its Beretta 92F pistol by the US Armed Forces, beating all contenders the world’s greatest arms producers had to offer. While the firm of Beretta S.p.A. remained the flagship of Italy’s old world gunmakers, it was eventually joined by new and innovative companies that strictly developed and produced weapons for law enforcement and military roles. In l982, the firm of "Societa Costruzioni Industriali Milano S.p.A. (SOCIMI, "Milan Industrial Works Corporation"), a highly respected railway construction developer and producer entered the field of small arms. Having no previous know-how in the arms manufacturing industry, SOCIMI's first step was to seek outside assistance. In creating its weapon systems, SOCIMI took the expertise of veteran arms maker LUIGI FRANCHI S.p.A. of Brescia and formed the SOCIMI group. There were three weapons developed and manufactured by the company namely the 9mm TYPE 821-SMG submachinegun, .7'62x51mm-NATO AR-832/FS battle rifle and the .5'56x45mm-NATO AR-831 assault rifle. These weapons were jointly designed by Franchi’s Defence System Division and SOCIMI engineers. All weapons are produced by three factories managed by SOCIMI, namely the BINASCO and ARLUNO plant, located at the extreme outskirts of the city of Milan, and the SAFRASSAS plant, in Sardinia. ARLUNO plant and Sardinia plant. By mid 1982, SOCIMI completed the first prototype of their 9mm submachinegun. Tooling for producing the gun commenced immediately and production begun soon after. The production gun was designated as the TYPE 821-SMG and was offered for commercial sale in the early fall of 1983. At first glance the TYPE 821-SMG closely resembled the famed Israeli UZI submachinegun. When the SOCIMI TYPE 821-SMG was introduced, the UZI’s popularity was still at its peak (and the US Secret Service is still carrying it to protect the President). The battle-proven credentials of the Israeli gun was another factor that influenced the Italian engineers to create a shorter, lighter and more refined version of the UZI adapted to ultra-modern manufacturing technologies. The SOCIMI TYPE 821-SMG design and operating principle is close to that of the UZI submachinegun. The 3-position sliding type fire selector, the grip-mounted magazine catch and grip safety are all derived from the UZI, as well as the wrap-around bolt, cocking handle and removable barrel system. It also retained the simple blowback operation and fixed firing pin ignition principle. Field stripping procedure is also the same as that of the UZI. Despite all the similarities noted with the UZI, the TYPE 821-SMG has some distinctive features of its own. Most notable of these differences include a side-folding metal stock, finger groove grip pattern, a heavy-duty recoil buffer system and a slightly different trigger mechanism incorporating a double sear arrangement for optimum safety. To obtain maximum lightness, the SOCIMI TYPE 821-SMG utilized machined light alloy forgings, instead of the heavy sheet metal stampings found on the UZI, in the manufacture of the weapon's receiver and grip frame, making the TYPE 821-SMG about a pound lighter than the Israeli gun. This lightness also allows the weapon tobe fired with one hand if need be. The TYPE 821-SMG is also designed to accept laser aiming devices and a silencer by replacing a threaded barrel for the standard part. The TYPE 821-SMG is ideally suited for "Commando" units as well as urban and jungle warfare. Although the TYPE 821-SMG was offered in the international arms market until l990, it is unknown to date if it has ever gained commercial success or was ever adopted by any nation; only the Italian Law Enforcement community has adopted it in some number, it is still kept in stock by SWAT units such as the NOCS and other important police groups. It is however a remarkable modernized version of the famed UZI submachinegun that deserved a closer look and serious consideration by countries that are still engaged in jungle warfare or anti-terrorist operations. The second weapon developed and produced by SOCIMI is the AR-831 as-sault rifle chambered for the .5'56x45mm-NATO cartridge. Once again in designing the AR-831 assault rifle, SOCIMI chose to improve upon an existing popular design. In this case, the Armalite-designed Ml6 assault rifle was chosen as a basis. While externally resembling the US-Ml6 rifle, there were some mechanical improvements incorporated in the AR-831 to make the weapon more trouble-free when exposed to extreme climatic conditions such as mud, snow, sand and dust. Arguably, the weakness of the US combat rifle is itsgas system, which is easily affected by entry of foreign matter. To make the Ml6 work reliably, the gas tube must be maintained on a regular basis to ensure that any obstruction in the tube is removed, allowing unrestricted flow of gas pressure in order to unlock the action during cycle of operation.The Italian engineers at SOCIMI realized the shortcomings of the US service rifle and came out with an improved M16-type rifle in the form of the AR-831. The new rifle, which they developed in 1985, utilized an AK47-type gas piston, which is directly mounted at the top of the bolt carrier. The bolt and bolt carrier assembly are identical to those of the M16, as well as the recoil spring, recoil spring guide, magazine catch and hold-open device. The cocking handle and trigger mechanism are slightly different in format but function and connect in the same manner. The standard 20-rounders and 30-rounders "STANAG" M16-style magazines are used. There is a slight variation in plastic furniture design, as well as the angle of the pistol grip that is of finger groove pattern. The 3-position fire selector is derived from the original M16 and can only be manipulated conveniently by right-handed shooters. There is no bolt-assist incorporated into the AR-831. It is not needed due to its superior AK47 gas piston operating system. Additionally, the weapon is equipped with a gas regulator, which also controls the rate of fire, and also permits the use of grenades of various kinds. A folding stock variant of the AR-831 is also offered patterned after the Belgian FN FAL Para-carbine. In the fixed stock version, there coil spring is housed inside a large tube that also doubles as a connecting base forthe plastic buttstock (M16-style). In the "Para" version, the recoil spring is assembled inside the gas piston like on the AK-47 design. In l987, a more modernized and streamlined version of the SOCIMI .5'56x45mm assault rifle was introduced. It was designated as the model AR-871. The new refined version is a selective-fire weapon using a gas-operated rotating bolt that locks directly into the barrel extention. The rifle was produced in various formats with a variety of fire selection systems, allowing semiautomatic or full-automatic fire, semiautomatic or three-shot burst or semiautomatic-only. The weapon retained the original straight stock configuration along with a long stroke bolt cycle that provided mild recoil. The rifle is light and rugged with majority of the components being made of light alloy forgings and hi-impact resistant polymer materials. Other materials are high tensile steel. The cocking handle is now positioned on the left side of the receiver frame. The original design had the cocking handle on the top rear ofthe receiver behind the carrying handle. The magazine release is now ambidextrous on the new version. The barrel is chrome-lined and the muzzle is designed to accommodate grenade launching. Both the original AR-831 and the latest version AR-871 assault rifles can be field-stripped quickly and easily without the need of tools starting with the removal of the rear connecting pin (like the M16) and hinge-open the action to pull out the bolt and carrier assembly. However, it can be easily stripped in minutes (except trigger group) of its sub-components (buttstock, handguard, gas piston and flash hider groups) using only the rim and point of a cartridge as a tool if a more detailed cleaning is required. The third and final weapon developed and produced by SOCIMI is the AR-832/FS battle rifle chambered for the .7'62x51mm NATO cartridge. Like its .5'56x45mm cousin, it shares the same basic mechanical design characteristics and materials in its overall construction. It is externally different from the AR-831, utilizing a conventional rifle sight rather than the hi-placement sighting plan of the M16 cache. The rifle has certain external features of the Para-FAL rifle with similar folding stock and cocking handle positioned in the left side of the receiver.The gas regulator system is also a derivative of the FAL but with the combination of the Kalashnikov gas piston principle. The mating of two battle-proven systems resulted in an extraordinary rifle with outstanding simplicity, rugged overall construction and very light weight with it slight alloy and plastic furniture construction. Like its .5'56x45mm "cousins", the AR832/FS is equipped with a gas regulator that controls rate of fire as well as providing grenade launching of various types. Field-stripping provision on the SOCIMI AR-832/FS battle rifle is the same as the smaller AR-831. - END OF THE ARTICLE AS REPORTED FROM "SMALL ARMS REVIEW" - While full production of the assault rifle series commenced as far back as the later part of the l980’s, there is not much information as to how theSOCIMI battle rifles fared in terms of commercial sales or if any country has ever considered them for adoption. In examining the design characteristics of all the weapons developed and produced by the SOCIMI Group, there is no doubt thatthey represent logical design characteristics combining what has proven to work and making the best of it. - ADD-ON - The entire SOCIMI Weapons System was trialed by the Italian Armed Forces at the later part of the '80s, when they decided to replace the aging .5'56mm BERETTA AR-70/.223 weapons system (for the Army, the Air Force still uses it and even the Navy does in small quantities) and the older .7'62mm-NATO BERETTA BM-59 battle rifle system still in service at the time, and now kept in reserve. Other contenders were the HECKLER&KOCH G41 manufactured by HECKLER&KOCH and presented by FRANCHI (which had to obtain manufacturing license if the gun was adopted), the VB-SR made by BERNARDELLI (Italian license-made and enormously improved version of the Israeli GALIL assault rifle in .223-Remington), and the BERETTA 70/90 Weapons System in .223-Remington. The new BERETTA system was adopted, even because it was not just a completely new production system, in fact most of the old AR-70/.223 weapons could have been upgraded to 70/90 with minimum expense. This almost signed the end of the SOCIMI Group: the HECKLER&KOCK G41 rifle was later adopted by the COMSUBIN (Italian Navy SEALs), and is still kept in service today; several BERNARDELLI VB-SR rifles were evaluated, some of them were equipped with M203 grenade launchers and equipped the FOLGORE paratroopers regiment during the "Restore Hope" mission in Somalia, but mainly the BERNARDELLI VB-SR became the standard assault rifle used by the NOCS (SWAT/CT/HRT team of the Italian National Police). The only significative exception was the BERETTA AS-70/90, which was the Squad Automatic Weapon of the 70/90 BERETTA system, it was trialed but not adopted because it was magazine-fed only, while the Italian Armed Forces wanted a belt-fed SAW with EMERGENCY magazine-feeding possibility: the FN MINIMI (M249-SAW in US military service) was adopted, and it's now license-made for Italian internal use by BERETTA as the "Minimi". The SOCIMI Weapons System had unknown commercial luck; samples of the AR-831, AR-832/FS and AR-871 rifles were actually bought for Italian governmental use, but them were seldom seen even at that time, and now are most probably kept in stock. The TYPE 821-SMG was adopted by the NOCS and became its standard submachinegun replacing the BERETTA PM12-S for a short time, until the German MP5 series arrived. The TYPE 821-SMG samples acquired by the NOCS, as well as the BERETTA PM12-S/S2s, are still kept in stock but the BERETTAs are most commonly used than the SOCIMIs. At the beginning of the '90s, an enormous nation-wide investigations about political corruption, named "Mani Pulite" ("Clean Hands") broke out ravaging the "sacred" world of the politics and economic interests in Italy. That very same investigation put SOCIMI under fire, and the company was subsequently forced by the judges to shut their firearms manufacturing lines down as it was known that the company had secretly (and most probably ILLEGALLY) sold military firearms abroad without the needed authorizations from the Ministries of Interior and Defence. Later, even the railway lines of SOCIMI were shut down and the entire company went belly up. That's the reason why the SOCIMI weapons kept in stock by Italian and foreign Governmental offices are seldomly used: there are no spare parts or assistance available. Another company named SOCIMI is active in Italy, but it's located in SICILY, it has partially resumed the railway and industrial products manufacturing lines, but is all in all a NEW society, it doesn't manufactures anything gun-related and it's not a defence contractor. ---- TECHNICAL SPECS: - AR-832/FS battle rifle - CALIBER: 7'62x51mm-NATO CAPACITY: 20-rounders or 30-rounders magazines TYPE OF FIRE: Selective, semi-automatic or fully-automatic OPERATION: Gas, rotary bolt, piston-activated CYCLIC RATE: 650 - 900 Rounds Per Minute via Gas Regulator LENGHT: 810 Millimetres (Stock Folded) / 1030 Millimetres (Stock Extended) HEIGHT: 226 Millimetres (without magazine) / 260 Millimetres (with 20-rounder magazine) / 320 Millimetres (with 30-rounder magazine) WEIGHT: 4,3 Kilograms loaded / 1,08 Kilograms unloaded BARREL LENGHT: 450 Millimetres RIFLING: 4 Grooves, RH x 12" MUZZLE VELOCITY: 820 Meters per Second MUZZLE ENERGY: 318 Kgm SIGHT: Adjustable for windage and elevation RADIUS: 522 Millimetres - AR-831 assault rifle - CALIBER: 5'56x45mm-NATO CAPACITY: 20-rounders or 30-rounders magazines TYPE OF FIRE: Selective, semi-automatic or fully-automatic OPERATION: Gas, rotary bolt, piston-activated CYCLIC RATE: 650 - 900 Rounds Per Minute via Gas Regulator LENGHT: 985 Millimetres HEIGHT: 210 Millimetres (without magazine) / 220 Millimetres (with 20-rounder magazine) / 280 Millimetres (with 30-rounder magazine) WEIGHT: 3,1 Kilograms loaded / 450 Grams unloaded BARREL LENGHT: 470 Millimetres RIFLING: 6 Grooves, RH x 7"/12" MUZZLE VELOCITY: 990 Meters per Second with M193 ball / 948 Meters per Second with SS109 ball MUZZLE ENERGY: 175 Kgm with M193 ammunitions / 180 Kgm with SS109 ammunitions SIGHT: Adjustable for windage and elevation RADIUS: 440 Millimetres - AR-871 assault rifle - CALIBER: 5'56x45mm-NATO CAPACITY: 20-rounders or 30-rounders magazines TYPE OF FIRE: Selective, semi-automatic or fully-automatic / semi-automatic or 3-rounds burst / semiauto-only OPERATION: Gas, rotary bolt, piston-activated CYCLIC RATE: 700 - 750 Rounds Per Minute LENGHT: 970 Millimetres (Stock extended) HEIGHT: 210 Millimetres (without magazine) / 220 Millimetres (with 20-rounder magazine) / 280 Millimetres (with 30-rounder magazine) WEIGHT: 3,6 Kilograms empty BARREL LENGHT: 470 Millimetres RIFLING: 6 Grooves, RH; twist with 1 turn in 178 Millimetres MUZZLE VELOCITY: 970 Meters per Second MUZZLE ENERGY: 176 Kgm SIGHT: Sights fore-blade, read-aperture, adjustable for windage and elevation. Mount for rear sight to STANAG 2324. RADIUS: 440 Millimetres - TYPE 821-SMG submachinegun - CALIBER: 9x19mm-Parabellum CAPACITY: 32-rounds magazines TYPE OF FIRE: Selective, semi-automatic or fully-automatic OPERATION: Open bolt, blowback, fixed firing pin CYCLIC RATE: 550 - 600 Rounds Per Minute BOLT TRAVEL WHILE LOADING: 76 Millimetres MAXIMUM BOLT TRAVEL: 120 Millimetres LENGHT: 400 Millimetres (Stock folded) / 600 Millimetres (Stock extended) HEIGHT: 175 Millimetres (without magazine) / 250 Millimetres (with 30-rounder magazine) WEIGHT: 2,3 Kilograms (empty with stock removed) / 2,4 Kilograms (Empty, with stock) / 6 Kilograms (with stock and 32-rounders magazine) BARREL LENGHT: 200 Millimetres RIFLING: 6 Grooves, RH; pitch 260 Millimetres MUZZLE VELOCITY: 380 Meters per Second MUZZLE ENERGY: 55 Kgm SIGHT: Adjustable for windage and elevation. RADIUS: 288 Millimetres STANDARD SAFETY SYSTEM: Trigger block AUTOMATI SAFETY: Sear, grip safety EXTERIOR FINISH: Hard anodized, matte dark grey PISTOL GRIP: Exterior moulted to anatomic covering, knurled thermoplastic

Submitted by: Pierangelo Tendas and Small Arms Review