SOCIMI AR-831 in 5.56x45mm NATO
Information lifted from another document
The peak of the accelerating cold warbetween Russia and the United States andheightened terrorists activities around theworld in the 1980s resulted in the forma-tion of many new military arms produc-ers, not only in the USA but almost everycorner of the globe. Highly industrializedcountries like Germany, Belgium, Swit-zerland and Italy led the way in small armsdevelopment in western Europe. Amongthese old world countries, Italy can beconsidered the pillar and pioneer of armsdevelopers in that part of the continenthaving produced weapons of war sincethe rise of the Roman empire. It is no sur-prise then that even after many hundredof years had gone by, Italian craftsmenstill produce some of the most remark-able weapon systems for today’s moderncenturions. Italy’s most historical achieve-ment in the small arms field was no doubtthe adoption of its Beretta 92F pistol bythe US Armed Forces, beating all con-tenders the world’s greatest arms produc-ers had to offer. While the firm of BerettaS.p.A. remained the flagship of Italy’s oldworld gunmakers, it was eventually joinedby new and innovative companies thatstrictly developed and produced weaponsfor law enforcement and military roles.In l982, the firm of SocietaCostruzioni Industriali Milano S.p.A.(SOCIMI), a highly respected railwayconstruction product developer and pro-ducer entered the field of small armsThe SOCIMIWeaponSystemsSubmachineGun and AssaultRifle Seriesby J.M. Ramosmanufacturing. Having no previousknow-how in the arms manufacturing in-dustry, its first step was to seek outsideassistance. In creating its weapon systems,SOCIMI took the expertise of veteranarms maker Luigi Franchi S.p.A. ofBrescia and formed the SOCIMI group.There were three weapons developed andmanufactured by the company namely theModel 821 9mm SMG, the AR 832/FS(7.62x51mm NATO) and AR-8315.56x45mm NATO) assault rifles. Theseweapons were jointly designed byFranchi’s Defence System Division andSocimi engineers. All weapons are pro-duced by three factories managed bySOCIMI namely the Binasco plant,Arluno plant and Sardinia plant. BothBinasco and Arluno factories are basedin Milano while the Sardinia plant is lo-cated in Sassafras. Briefly, the subma-chine gun model was produced by FranchiS.p.A. until all the tooling are completedto produce the weapons at all three SOCIMI factories.
By mid 1982, SOCIMI completed thefirst prototype of their 9mm submachinegun. Tooling for producing the gun com-menced immediately and production be-gun soon after. The production gun wasdesignated the Model 821 and was of-fered for commercial sale in the early fallof 1983. At first glance the M821 closelyresembled the famed Israeli Uzi subma-chine gun. When the Socimi SMG wasintroduced, the Uzi’s popularity was stillat its peak, and the US secret service isstill carrying it to protect the president.The battle-proven credentials of the Is-raeli gun was another factor that influ-enced the Italian engineers to create ashorter, lighter and more refined versionof the Uzi that adapted to ultra-modernmanufacturing technology.The SOCIMI M821 design and op-erating principle is close to that of the Uzisubmachine gun. The 3-position slidingtype fire selector, the grip-mounted maga-zine catch and grip safety are all derivedfrom the Uzi, as well as the wrap-aroundbolt, cocking handle and removable bar-rel system. It also retained the simpleblowback operation and fixed firing pinignition principle. Field stripping proce-dure is also the same as that of the UZI.Despite all the similarities noted withthe UZI, the M821 has some distinctivefeatures of its own. Most notable of thesedifferences include a side-folding metalstock, finger groove grip pattern, a heavy-duty recoil buffer system and a slightlydifferent trigger mechanism incorporat-ing a double sear arrangement for opti-mum safety. To attain maximum lightness,the SOCIMI submachine gun utilized ma-chined light alloy forgings, instead of theheavy sheet metal stampings found on theUzi, in the manufacture of the weapon’sreceiver and grip frame, making the M821about a pound lighter than the Israeli gun.This lightness also allows the weapon tobe fired with one hand if need be. TheM821 is also designed to accept laser aim-ing devices and a silencer by substitutinga threaded barrel for the standard part.The M821 is ideally suited for commandounits as well as urban and jungle warfare.
Lead Photo, opposing page: Left side view of the SOCIMI M821 9mm subma-chine gun. Although the M821 closely resembled the famed Israeli UZI, itposses several distinctive features of its own. This include frame and receivermade from alloy forging instead of heavy sheet metal stamping, side foldingmetal stock, finger groove grip, superior recoil buffer system and double seararrangement for optimum safety.
Right: The Socimi AR-831 assault rifle is chambered for 5.56mm NATOcartridge. The weapon closely resembled the U.S. M-16 rifle but utilized anAK-47 gas operating system to enhance its performance in adverse climaticconditions. This is a pre-production prototype.
Although the M821 was offered in the in-ternational arms market until l990, it isunknown to date if it has ever gained com-mercial success or was ever adopted byany nation. It is however a remarkablemodernized version of the famed Uzi sub-machine gun that deserves a closer lookand serious consideration by countriesthat are still engaged in jungle warfare oranti-terrorist operations.The second weapon developed andproduced by SOCIMI is the AR-831 as-sault rifle chambered for the 5.56x45mmNATO cartridge. Once again in design-ing the AR-831 assault rifle, SOCIMIchose to improve upon an existing popu-lar design. In this case, the Armalite-de-signed Ml6 assault rifle was chosen as abasis. While externally resembling the USMl6 rifle, there were some mechanical im-provements incorporated in the AR-831to make the weapon more trouble freewhen exposed to extreme climatic condi-tions such as mud, snow, sand and dust.Arguably, the weakness of the US com-bat rifle is its gas system, which is easilyaffected by entry of foreign matter. Tomake the Ml6 work reliably, the gas tubemust be maintained on a regular basis toensure that any obstruction in the tube isremoved, allowing unrestricted flow ofgas pressure in order to unlock the actionduring cycle of operation.The Italian engineers at SOCIMI re-alized the shortcomings of the US servicerifle and came out with an improved M16-type rifle in the form of the AR-831. Thenew rifle, which they developed in 1985,utilized an AK47-type gas piston, whichis directly mounted at the top of the boltcarrier. The bolt and bolt carrier assem-bly are identical to that of the M16, aswell as the recoil spring, recoil springguide, magazine catch and hold-open de-vice. The cocking handle and triggermechanism are slightly different in for-mat but function and connect in the samemanner. The standard 20- and 30-roundM16 magazines are used. There is a slightvariation in plastic furniture design, aswell as the angle of the pistol grip that isof finger groove pattern. The 3-positionfire selector is derived from the originalM16 and can only be manipulated con-veniently by right-handed shooters. Thereis no bolt-assist incorporated into the AR-831. It is not needed due to its superior AK47 gas piston operating system. Ad-ditionally, the weapon is equipped with agas regulator, which also controls the rateof fire, and also permits the use of gre-nades of various kinds. A folding stockvariant of the AR-831 is also offered pat-terned after the Belgian FN FAL Paracarbine. In the fixed stock version, therecoil spring is housed inside a large tubethat also doubles as a connecting base forthe plastic buttstock (M16-style). In thePara, the recoil spring is assembled in-side the gas piston like on the AK-47 de-sign.In l987, a more modernized andstreamlined version of the SOCIMI5.56x45mm 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 rotat-ing bolt that locks directly into the barrel extention.
Left: Field strip view of the AR-831assault rifle. Note the simplicity andfewer components compared to theU.S. M-16 combat rifle. The Socimitakes M-16 magazines and can betotally stripped without the use oftools.
Above: The third and the last weapon developed by Socimi is the AR 832/FS assault rifle chambered for the .308cartridge. This pre-production prototype shares the same basic design and materials of its .223 cousin but utilized aconventional rifle sight, rather than hi-placement plane of the M-16.
The rifle is produced in vari-ous formats with a variety of fire selec-tion systems, allowing semiautomatic orfull-automatic fire, semiautomatic orthree-shot burst or semiautomatic-only.The weapon retained the original straightstock configuration along with a longstroke bolt cycle that provided mild re-coil. The rifle is light and rugged withmajority of the components being madeof light alloy forgings and hi-impact re-sistant polymer materials. Other materi-als are high tensile steel. The cockinghandle is now positioned on the left sideof the receiver frame. The original designhad the cocking handle on the top rear ofthe receiver behind the carrying handle.The magazine release is now ambidex-trous on the new version. The barrel ischrome lined and the muzzle is designedto accommodate grenade launching. Both the original AR-831 and the latest ver-sion AR-871 assault rifles can be fieldstripped quickly and easily without theneed of tools starting with the removal ofthe rear connecting pin (like the M16) andhinge open the action to pull out the boltand carrier assembly. However, it can beeasily stripped in minutes (except triggergroup) of its sub-components (buttstock,handguard, gas piston and flash hidergroups) using only the rim and point of acartridge as a tool if a more detailed clean-ing is required.The third and final weapon devel-oped and produced by SOCIMI is the AR-832/FS assault rifle chambered for the7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. Like its5.56x45mm cousin, it shares the same ba-sic mechanical design characteristics andmaterials in its overall construction. It isexternally different from the AR-831 uti-lizing a conventional rifle sight rather thanthe hi-placement sighting plane of theM16 genre. The rifle has certain externalfeatures of the Para FAL rifle with simi-lar folding stock and cocking handle po-sitioned in the left side of the receiver.The gas regulator system is also a deriva-tive of the FAL but with the combinationof the Kalashnikov gas piston principle.The mating of two battle proven systemsresulted in an extraordinary rifle with out-standing simplicity, rugged overall con-struction and very light weight with itslight alloy and plastic furniture construc-tion. Like its 5.56x45mm variant, the AR832/FS is equipped with a gas regulatorthat controls rate of fire as well as pro-viding grenade launching of varioustypes. Field stripping provision on the7.62x51mm NATO rifle is the same as thesmaller AR-831. While full production ofthe assault rifle series commenced as farback as the later part of the l980’s, thereis not much information as to how theSOCIMI battle rifles fared in terms ofcommercial sales or if any country hasever considered them for adoption. In ex-amining the design characteristics of allthe weapons developed and produced bythe Socimi Group, there is no doubt thatthey represent logical design characteris-tics combining what has proven to workand making the best of it.
MANUFACTURERS:SOCIETA COSTRUZIONIINDUSTRIALI MILANO S.p.A.Via San Calimero n. 320122 MilanoItalyLUIGI FANCHI S.p.A.Via del Serpente, 1225020 Brescia,Italy
Information and picture from Pierangelo Tendas & Roger Dubois