7.62-millimeter IA2 could complement 5.56-millimeter weapons
by MATTHEW MOSS
The Brazilian army got a new rifle in September 2015. The 5.56-by-45-millimeter weapon is part of the IA2 family of weapons developed by Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil — a.k.a. IMBEL. The 5.56-millimeter IA2 is replacing the army’s old M964 and MD97 rifles.
And in mid-October, Brazil announced its intentions to also test the 7.62-by-51-millimeter version of the IA2. The army has requested five prototypes for evaluation.
It seems likely that the government will give the army permission to adopt this new, larger-caliber rifle alongside its smaller-caliber cousin. The Brazilian army has long been a dual-caliber force, issuing rifles in both 5.56-millimeter and 7.62-millimeter to various units, depending on the unit’s role.
The 7.62-by-51-millimeter IA2 uses the FN FAL’s gas-operated, tilting-block system, but is significantly more modern than Brazil’s license-built FALs. The select-fire IA2 should offer superior ergonomics, a full-length picatinny top rail and side and bottom rails on the foregrip.
The IA2 feeds from standard FAL magazines and has a fully-adjustable folding stock. The new weapon features a 17.2-inch-long barrel and, unloaded, weighs 8.9 pounds. That’s 1.7 ounces lighter than the FAL.
Despite external similarities, the 5.56-millimeter and 7.62-millimeter IA2s are actually two distinct weapons. While the 7.62-millimeter rifle retains the FAL’s tilting bolt, the 5.56-millimeter version already entering service uses the rotating bolt found in the AR15 and M16.
Brazilian interest in the 7.62-millimeter IA2 shows that, despite adopting a 5.56-by-45-millimeter rifle, the are is unwilling to give up the greater power and punch that the 7.62-by-51-millimeter NATO cartridge affords.
Brazil is not alone in this line of thinking. Both Pakistan and Turkey have stuck with 7.62-millimeter rifles, while India is considering the larger caliber for its new service rifle.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Army had equipped most of its small units with 5.56-millimeter weapons. But combat experience reminded the Americans of the value of the heavier cartridge. The U.S. Army was quick to distribute 7.62-millimeter M14 rifles to “designated marksmen” in each infantry squad.