Throughout much of the twentieth century Argentina imported military hardware from a number of nations—but yet it did develop its own small arms industry. Among the domestically produced weapons included the Fittipaldi machine gun, a recoil-operated machine gun designed by Italian immigrant to Argentina Rafael Fittipaldi. However, it was never adopted and a sole prototype is now in the Museum of Arms of the Nation in Buenos Aires.
The South American nation did in fact adopt a number of locally developed and produced small arms during the Cold War, but the FMK-3 become Argentina's most successful homegrown submachine gun. Since its introduction in 1974 more than 83,000 have been produced and it has been widely adopted throughout South America, even if it didn't take the rest of the world by storm.
The selective fire, blowback operated weapon was designed by state-owned Fabricaciones Militares and closely resembles the Israeli-made Uzi, but it was also heavily influenced by the Czechoslovakian-produced Vz. 23 submachine gun.
The FMK-3 utilized a similar telescoped bolt, which made for a compact firearm. The receiver and pistol grip were made from steel stampings, while the safety/fire selector was located at the left side of the FMK-3’s pistol grip. Similar to the Uzi, it featured an automated grip safety at the rear of the pistol grip. The selector switch has three positions: “S” (Seguro or Safe), “R” (Repetición, Semi-auto) and “A” (Automático, Auto).
It weighed about 7.5 pounds, and was just 20.6 inches in length with the stock folded, and 27.3 inches with the stock fully extended. It was chambered for the common 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge and had a rate of fire of approximately 650 rounds per minute and an effective firing range of 100 meters. It was fed from double-stack 25-, 32-, and 40-round detachable box magazines, and featured flip up iron sights. According to those who have used it, the FMK-3 is quite controllable, despite the fact that it fires from an open bolt, and it is also said to be reasonably accurate in full-auto mode.
As originally designed the gun offered three different stock variations including a one-piece plastic fixed, a wood fixed stock and the more commonly used retractable wire stock, which closely resembles the stock used on the American World War II M3 “Grease Gun.” Soon after its introduction it was adopted by the Argentine Army and Police.
Use in Combat
The weapon was also exported to other South and Central American countries including Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, and El Salvador. A semi-automatic version was also marketed on the consumer market as the FMK-5 (locally called the “Subfusil Semiautomático”) and that version was also produced and locally sold on a limited basis for private security use.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.