This Old Gun: Argentine FM FAP

Unlicensed copies of the Browning Hi-Power Have been made all across the world to varying degrees of quality, with many not completely measuring up to originals made by Fabrique Nationale. However, those made by Argentina and used by its military are a different story entirely, and have a direct connection to FN. They are known as the FM FAP.

During the 20th century in Argentina, the nation made some interesting selections on which firearms to adopt for its military, with particular emphasis on John Moses Browning designs for sidearms. Up until the 1970s, the Argentinians issued their forces with a licensed copy of the Colt M1911A1 chambered in .45 ACP known as the Model 1927, or S27. It was at that time in the 1970s that the Argentinians began to look at new designs to replace the aging S27.

The Model 1927, or S27, Colt M1911A1 licensed copy used by Argentina.
The Model 1927, or S27, Colt M1911A1 licensed copy used by Argentina.


The Argentinians looked to another popular Browning handgun design which was possibly the finest military pistol at that time, the Browning Hi-Power. The Hi-Power offered the improvements that Argentina sought in a new sidearm for its military, including 9 mm chambering and a staggard-column magazine. The design was single action only and ergonomically excellent.

The FN Hi-Power compared to a licensed Argentinian Hi-Power.
The FN Hi-Power compared to a licensed Argentinian Hi-Power.


The Argentinians realized the potential and success of the Hi-Power design, and thus sought to quire their own for their new service pistol. At first, Argentina bought some Hi-Powers from FN, before then deciding to make it themselves under license from FN. Around 1969, a factory was set up to produce the handguns. This factory was unique in that not only were the pistols it was producing faithful licensed copies, but FN had a direct hand in setting up and equipping the new factory. The tools used in the factory were supplied directly from FN. Engineers and technicians from FN also helped plan the layout of the factory.

The roll marks on the slide of an Argentinian produced Hi-Power.
The roll marks on the slide of an Argentinian produced Hi-Power.


The result of the direct involvement of FN in supplying and setting up the Argentine factory were Hi-Power copies that were of notable quality compared to others. The Argentine FM FAP has the same build characteristics, features, and reliable function of the FN produced guns of the same era. In many cases the build quality is so exact that the only way to easily tell if a Hi-Power is of Belgian or Argentinian manufacture is based off the manufacturer’s markings.

Shooting an Argentinian FM FAP.
Shooting an Argentinian FM FAP.


Another unique feature of the FN FAP’s production was that modifications of the design closely followed any design modifications made by FN. Under the terms of the license, if the Belgians made a change the Argentinians would make a similar change. As a result, the characteristics of FM FAP handguns closely followed those found on FN produced Hi-Powers from each era of production.

A smaller detective version of the FM FAP produced by the Argentinians.
A smaller detective version of the FM FAP produced by the Argentinians.


One thing that the Argentinians did that was not in sync with the Belgians was the development of a smaller detective version. These detective versions of the FM FAP were simply bobbed, with length removed from the barrel and grip to reduce the overall size. Everything else about the design remained basically the same except for different configurations used by different importers to the United States market.

Some of the small arms produced by the state-run arms factory in Rosario that would later be turned into export versions for sale to the U.S. market.
Some of the small arms produced by the state-run arms factory in Rosario that would later be turned into export versions for sale to the U.S. market.


After the end of the Falklands War in mid 1982, the circumstances of the Argentinian defeat resulted in the collapse of the Argentinian military leadership. This in turn resulted in economic upheaval in Argentina, creating a need for new forms of revenue. They turned to their domestically produced firearms as part of the answer for the revenue question, in particular the products of the arms factory in Rosario.

An export version of the FM FAP for the U.S. market, the M90.
An export version of the FM FAP for the U.S. market, the M90.


Argentina decided to sell the products of the state-run factory, which included rifles, handguns and ammunition, to the United States civilian firearms market. The U.S. market welcomed the Argentinian products which became popular in some circles. It was at this time that Argentina began offering an export sales version of the FN FAP handgun, known as the M90. For the most part, these M90 handguns were surplus FM FAP handguns that were overhauled, given a new coat of paint and had different grips installed before being sent to the U.S. market.

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to americanrifleman.org/artv. For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.

Latest

Lupolead122
Lupolead122

2021 Rifle of the Year: Benelli Lupo

American Rifleman is pleased to announce 2021 Rifle of the Year goes to Benelli USA for its Lupo bolt action.

Sonoran Desert Institute Honored for Veteran Hiring Efforts

Sonoran Desert Institute was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor for its efforts in hiring and recruiting veterans with the 2021 HIRE Vets Medallion Award.

NRA 150: First Gold For American Riflemen

The modern Olympics, as we know them today, started in 1896, and there were shooting events at the games as early as Athens in 1906. After all, the man who put the games together, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was himself a French pistol champion. Neither the United States nor Great Britain sent rifle teams to Athens, but that changed for the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

New For 2021: Springfield Armory 1911 Ronin EMP

Springfield Armory blended features from its Ronin 1911 lineup with its popular carry-size EMP pistol to create a carry-friendly 1911 with top-tier elements.

​America’s First Sniper Rifle: The Telescopic-Sighted Krag-Jorgensen

The American Civil War was the first conflict in our nation’s history in which telescopic-sighted rifles were employed in combat to any appreciable extent. These muzzleloading, percussion rifles were fabricated by a number of civilian gunsmiths and gunsmithing firms, primarily for benchrest shooting matches.

The Armed Citizen® Nov. 29, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.