Letter Re: A Strange Assortment of Weapons in Rio

Dear Editor:
In a 28 November post in Survival Blog, you observed:

Rio de Janeiro shaken by fresh gang violence. There were 15 deaths in one day. Notice that one of the photographs shows a policeman carrying a scoped FN-FAL. Things must be serious. Please pray for the city’s residents.”

As a journalist I encountered a wide variety of weapons in use by the Rio de Janeiro Policia, including Imbel FALs, Ruger Mini-14s, various M16/M4 family weapons, Kalashnikovs and many examples of handguns. If the equipment–including tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles–tactics and appearance of the policia appears to be that of a military force under fire, that is because they often are.

A few of their weapons are pictured from various sources below. I saved the best three [IMHO] for last:

FALs, from a Xinhua article

FALs and G3, from The Australian newspaper

FALs, M4s and Galil, from Todayszaman.com

Mini-14 and AK variants, from Grind365.com. [JWR’s comment: The guy wielding two handguns must have been playing too many video games.]

And here are the ones of a weapon that was introduced circa 1902 [no, not the M4!] You don’t often see in use any more–except in Rio:

Madsen LMG

Another Madsen

Regards, – George S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending your observations and those fascinating photo links. Seeing those old warhorse Madsen light machineguns still in use made me chuckle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those Madsens updated with Picatinny rails! FWIW, in Nepal, a few police were still toting Martini-Henry rifles up until the early 1980s. (And I must mention that I still have a few quasi-antique gems designed by the genius John Moses Browning in my gun vault, so I mustn’t denigrate the Nepalese. Just because a great design is a hundred years old doesn’t make it ineffective.)