By Jean Huon
After the civil war that tore the country apart from 1936 to 1939, Spain found peace and managed to stay out of WW II. In the 1950s, the country became modernized with American help and money obtained from tourism and the country was equipped with modern equipment in all the military fields. Gun factories, gathered within Empresa Nacional Santa Barbara, produce conventional armament, but in 1949 the Spanish military authorities created the Centro de Estudios Tecnicos de Materiales Especiales or CETME, under the direction of General Cantero. Its research department developed many new models.
CETME got collaboration from German technicians and among them was Ludwig Vorgrimmler, who worked at Mauser at the end of the war and developed the StG 45 (M) with a delayed bolt operation. At the request of France, Vorgrimmler was amiably invited to continue his work at the Mulhouse Technical Center. But he was requested by the Spaniards also, and against the wishes of the French, he managed to go to Spain. There, he developed an assault rifle which used a delayed opening bolt.
The first prototype was made in 1951. It fired a 7.92x40mm cartridge with a lightweight and very tapered bullet. Another one was developed with a similar 7.62mm calibre ammunition. But the final rifle (CETME Modelo A) used a 7.62×51 with a light bullet called the 7.62mm CETME-NATO.
The weapon was exhibited in several European countries and interest was shown by the new German Army. Finally, the CETME assault rifle, optimized by Heckler & Koch, was adopted as the G 3 by the Bundeswehr.
The Spanish Army adopted the Modelo B in 1958 and it was followed in 1964 by the Modelo C, which fires the now standard 7.62mm NATO cartridge. These models were used by the Spanish armed forces and the Modelo C was manufactured until 1976. At the end of its production, the CETME Modelo E rifle was also produced with a green plastic stock.
CETME Modelo L
Starting in 1971, the CETME Division de Armamentos y Municiones Conventionales developed a 5.56x45mm rifle. It was derived from the former models with some obvious modifications. The development spread out over ten years; the official tests taking place from 1982 to 1984 and the weapon was adopted by the special forces (Foreign Legion, paratroops and Navy commandos). Production began in 1986 and was completed in 1991. Fabrica de Armas de Oviedo produced approximately 100,000 examples of this model.
The gun had few machined parts, which were assembled by welding. The stock is made of green plastic, the butt plate is of rubber and a metallic sling bar is fitted on the left side. There are also two holes for the assembly pins, which are removed when disassembling the weapon. The stock is hollow and contains the recoil spring. The spring-guide has an additional spring which acts as a buffer. The stock is assembled on the frame with two pins.
The 5.56mm barrel has 6 groves, right hand twist. The first models had 12-inch rifling, but production models have 7-inch rifling. CETME Modelo A, B, C, used fluted chambers, which were then discontinued on the Modelo L.
A flash-hider similar to that of the M16A1 is screwed on the muzzle. The frame is made of stamped sheet metal, with sharp angles at the top and longitudinal grooves on the sides. After stamping, a milled part is welded at the rear of magazine housing which receives the magazine hook. The frame is prolonged with a square section tube, also welded and which contains a rod holding the folding cocking lever on the left side. The trigger mechanism has an aluminum frame and contains the trigger, semi-auto and full auto sears, disconnector, hammer and their axis and springs. It is assembled with a pin and the selector axis. The pistol grip is of green plastic and is screwed under the trigger group. The steel trigger guard is a separate part. The selector is on the left side just over the pistol grip. It has three positions: safety (S), single shot (T), and full auto (R).
Initially, a long plastic hand guard was installed under the barrel, from the magazine housing to the top of the frame. To avoid heating problems, it was replaced by a shorter double wall plastic hand guard and a sheet metal perforated cooler. The cooler is screwed inside the hand guard. It joins the frame at the rear and is retained by a pin at the top.
Feeding was initially with straight 10-, 20- or 30-round magazines. But for the standard rifle, a STANAG 4179b (M16 type) magazine was adopted. Spanish mags were made of thick steel sheetmetal which produced malfunctions. During NATO exercises or deployments of the Spanish troops in some countries, the soldiers tried to obtain M16 magazines, which work perfectly in the Modelo L. This constituted a “double-allocation” because it was prohibited (and severely punished) to lose a magazine whose cost was 25 pesetas in 1995!
The bolt body is made of several milled and welded elements. It receives the bolt head, locking piece, locking rollers and firing pin.
The front sight is protected with ears and is adjustable for elevation. The rear sight is an L type flip-up and has two apertures (200-400 m). It is adjustable for windage. The initial model had an oblique drum with a U shape sight for 100 m and three eyepieces (100-400 m). Sight mounts are both cast steel. The front sight also has a ring and is pinned on the barrel. The rear sight is welded to the frame.
The frame has a painted green finish. The barrel, metallic parts of the hand guard, magazine and trigger guard are parkerized. The trigger frame is black anodized.
- Carrying sling,
- Bipod, which is similar to the model for the CETME Modelo E. It has two telescopic legs and is installed like a clothes pin. This accessory is cumbersome and not very practical: it can’t be folded nor be easily transported fitted on the weapon. When moving its telescopic legs there is a likelihood of a finger pinch. The only positive point is that it is fitted with a knee joint which facilitates clearance.
- Bayonet Modelo 1964. The single edged blade is 8.74 inches long and has a black parkerized finish with a black plastic handle grip It has a green plastic sleeve, with canvas holder and metallic hook. It is fitted over the barrel.
- Cleaning kit.
- Blank firing device.
- Grenade launcher.
- Magazine loader.
- Modelo LC, is fitted with a short barrel and a telescopic stock made of two steel rods and a metallic butt plate with a rubber recoil pad. It is locked by a pushbutton located on the top of the frame plug. On this model, the buffer is installed in the rear frame plug. The recoil spring is shorter than that of Modelo L. It cannot be used with a bipod or bayonet and cannot launch grenades.
- Modelo LV, with a STANAG scope mount for a Spanish Enosa scope or a British Susat scope.
- Remove the magazine and clear the firearm.
- Extract the two assembly pins at the rear of the frame and place them in the holes located on the stock.
- Remove stock and recoil spring.
- Remove the pin which retains the trigger frame and pull it 0.07″ at rear. Put the selector downwards to extract it slightly, then match the axis pin with the corresponding notch to extract it, after which you can remove the trigger frame (that is more quickly to write than to do!).
- Pull the cocking lever to the rear and extract the bolt.
- Remove the pin which fixes the hand guard to the front sight base and remove the handguard.
|Characteristics||CETME Modelo L||CETME Modelo LLC|
|Caliber 5.56 mm|
|5.56 mm (.223)|
5.56 x 45
0.925 m (36.41″)
0.400 m (15.74″)
3.400 kg (7.5 lbs)
|5.56 mm (.223)|
5.56 x 45
0.860 m (33.85″)
0.668 m (26.29″)
0.320 m (12.59″)
3.400 kg (7.5 lbs)
Epilogue… Or Almost
Some troubles were encountered with the CETME Modelo L and in 1996 the Spanish Army sought to replace it. Several foreign models were tested: German G 36, American M16A2, Austrian Steyr AUG, Belgian FNC, Canadian C 7, Israeli Galil and Swiss SG 550. Finally the Heckler & Koch G 36 in its standard export version fitted with 1.5x day scope, was adopted. Special forces also used the G 36 E, G 36 K, G 36 C and G 36 V, with an Aimpoint sight, X day scope or holographic sight.
The G 36 is licensed for production in Spain by the Spanish arsenals which became Santa Barbara Sistemas, and later in 2001: General Dynamics Santa Barbara Systemas. The Spanish armed forces received 75,000 G 36 at cost of 770 Euros each ($1,125).
Comeback of CETME
The research division of Santa Barbara became the Compañia de Estudios Tecnicos de Materiales Especiales. Unable to furnish a replacement weapon for the Modelo L, it continues research on small arms and accessories.
The ComFut system, or Combatiente del Futuro, is a program for the addition of a camera, sighting device and communication system on the G 36.
CETME Modelo XR
In 2008, the Spanish government requested to develop a new weapon. CETME entrusted the project to four engineers: Antonio Ferrol, Marcos De Leña, Santiago Sobera and Pío Ternal. They developed an improved version of Modelo L. After having considered the use of telescoped ammunition, they retain a conventional 6.8×43 cartridge similar to the 6.8mm Remington SPC. The weapon works with a short stroke gas system and a locked breech. The cocking lever is reversible. The barrel is lengthened 0.78-inch and received a new flash-hider. The XR bolt stays open after shooting the last round. It mounts conventional sights (the front sight can be folded) and two Picattiny rails for sighting or accessories. The straight translucent magazine is of polymer. A short barrel gun with collapsible stock designated XRC was also developed.
The CETME Modelo XR should start production in 2016.
|Characteristics||Modelo XR CETME||Modelo XRC CETME|
|6.8 mm (.267)|
6.8 X 43
0.945 m (37.20″)
0.420 m (16.53″)
3.200 kg (7.06 lbs)
|6.8 mm (.267)|
6.8 X 43
0.880 m (33.64″)
0.688 m (27.08″)
0.340 m (13.86″)
3.200 kg (7.06 lbs)
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V16N2 (June 2012)|