INSAS rifle

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"INSAS" redirects here. For the Belgian film school, see INSAS (film school). For India's future soldier program, see F-INSAS.
INSAS rifle
INSAS Rifle.jpg
The INSAS Assault rifle
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin India
Service history
In service 1998–present
Used by See Users
Wars Kargil War[1]
Nepalese Civil War[2]
Naxalite–Maoist insurgency[3]
Production history
Designer Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE)
Manufacturer Ordnance Factories Board (OFB)
Variants See Variants
Weight 4.15 kg (without magazine)[4]
Length 960 mm (37.8 in)[4]
Barrel length 464 mm (18.3 in)

Cartridge 5.56×45mm NATO[4]
Action Gas-operated, Rotating bolt
Rate of fire 600 rounds/min[4]
Muzzle velocity 900 m/s (2,953 ft/s)[4]
Effective firing range 400m Insas Rifle
600m Point Target
700m Area Target Insas Lmg[4]
Feed system 20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
Sights In-built iron sights, mount point for telescopic or night sight

INSAS (an abbreviation of Indian Small Arms System) is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun (LMG). It is manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board at Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli, Small Arms Factory Kanpur and Ichapore Arsenal. The INSAS assault rifle is the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces.[1][5][6] It has been plagued by reliability problems; in April 2015, the Indian government replaced many INSAS rifles with older AK-47s.


Since the late 1950s, the Indian armed forces had been equipped with L1A1 self-loading rifles.[5] In mid-1980s, the decision was taken to develop a 5.56 mm calibre rifle to replace the obsolete rifles. Trials on various prototypes based on the AKM were carried out by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune. On the completion of the trial, The Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) was adopted in 1990. However, to phase out the still in use bolt-action Lee–Enfield rifles as quickly as possible, India had to acquire 100,000 7.62×39mm AKM-type rifles from Russia, Hungary, Romania and Israel in 1990–92.[7]

Originally, three variants were planned in the INSAS system, a rifle, a carbine and a squad automatic weapon (SAW) or Light machine gun (LMG). In 1997, the rifle and the LMG went into mass production.[5] In 1998, the first INSAS rifles were displayed at the republic day parade.[1] The introduction of the rifle was delayed due to the lack of 5.56×45mm ammunition, large quantities of the same were bought from Israel Military Industries.[5]

The rifle first saw action during the Kargil War in 1999.[1][5]


The INSAS is primarily based on the AKM but incorporates features from other rifles. It has a chrome-plated bore. The barrel has a six-groove rifling. The basic gas operated long stroke piston and the rotating bolt are similar to the AKM/AK-47.[5]

An Indian soldier with the INSAS rifle, during a military exercise.

It has a manual gas regulator, similar to that of FN FAL, and a gas cutoff for launching grenades. The charging handle is on the left instead of on the bolt carrier, similar in operation to the HK33.[5] There is a change lever on the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip. It can fire a three-round burst or in semi-automatic mode. The cyclic rate averages at 650 rpm. The transparent plastic magazine was adapted from the Steyr AUG. The rear sight lies on one end of the breech cover and is calibrated to 400 meters. The furniture is either made for wood or polymer.[5] The polymer butt and forend assemblies differ from the AKM and are more similar to that of IMI Galil. Some variants have a folding butt. A bayonet can also be attached to it.[7] The guns take 20- or 30-round polymer magazines. The 30-round magazine is made for the LMG version, but can be also used in the rifle. The flash suppressor also accepts NATO-specification rifle grenades.[5]


During the 1999 Kargil War, the rifles were used in the high-attitudes of the Himalayas. There were complaints of jamming, the magazine cracking due to the cold and the rifle going into automatic mode when it was set for three-round bursts.[1] There was also a problem of oil being sprayed into the eye of the operator. Some injuries during firing practice were also reported.[8]

Similar complaints were also received from the Nepalese Army.[1] In August 2005, after 43 soldiers were killed in a clash with Maoists, a Nepalese Army spokesman called the rifle substandard and their counter-insurgency operation would have been more efficient with better weapons. The Indian embassy released a statement that rejected the claim and attributed it to improper use, it also offered training for the rifle's correct use.[9] These issues have occurred many times in later dates in a report by the Indian Ministry of Defence's Press Information Bureau.[10]

In 2001, the 1B1 variant was introduced to solve problems regarding the rifle's reliability back in the Kargil War, but it opened up other problems such as broken magazines.[11]

On 8 August 2011, Pallam Raju, then Minister of State for Defence, replying to a question in the Lok Sabha said that all these problems had been rectified.[8] In November 2014, the CRPF requested to drop the INSAS as their standard rifle due to problems with reliability. The Director General of CRPF Dilip Trivedi said that the INSAS jams more frequently compared to the AK-47 and the X-95.[12][13]

New Delhi has defended the use of the rifle, saying that casualties should not be blamed on the weapon itself.[14] A parliamentary committee in 2015 has investigated on why a high-quality assault rifle was not being produced.[15]


INSAS Rifle with the newer black furniture
Kalantak Micro Assault Rifle

INSAS Standard Rifle[edit]

It is a gas operated assault rifle. It can be fired in single round or three-round burst mode. A telescopic sight or a passive night sight can be mounted on it. It can take NATO-standard 5.56×45mm SS109 and M193 ammunition. It comes with a bayonet. It has a mount point for the ARDE 40 mm under barrel grenade launcher, along with a gas-block for launching grenades and grenade iron-sights. The flash suppressor has a blank-firing adaptor.[4] It also has a foldable butt version.[16]

INSAS Assault Rifle[edit]

An INSAS Assault Rifle (with black furniture), incorporating full-auto mode has also been introduced. The automatic assault rifle has the same range of 400 m as the semi-automatic standard INSAS rifle.[17]


The LMG (Light Machine Gun) differs from the standard rifle in possessing a longer range of 700 m, as compared to 400 m range of INSAS standard and assault rifles. It has a longer and heavier barrel with revised rifling, and a bipod. The LMG version uses 30-round magazines and can also accept the 20-round INSAS AR magazine. This model fires in semi and full-auto. [18] It also has a foldable-butt version.[19]

Excalibur, Kalantak and Amogh[edit]

Excalibur, Kalantak and Amogh - All three of these are newer and lighter versions of the automatic INSAS Assault rifle. Like any INSAS, they use 5.56 mm calibre ammunition. They have foldable butts and picatinny rails to mount standard sights or opto-electronic instruments.

The Excalibur Rifle (range 400m) can be used for battlefield engagements as well as for close combat. It is lighter and shorter a compared to the automatic INSAS assault rifle. [20]

The Kalantak micro assault rifle (range 300m) is for close combat and personnel defence weapon roles.[21]

The Amogh carbine (range 200m) is specially designed for close quarter battle roles.[22]


In November 2011, the Indian Army sent a request for proposal (RFP) to 34 vendors for 65,678 multi-calibre rifles for about 2,500 crore (US$400 million).[23][24] The tender also included a license to manufacture about 100,000 more rifles in India, with a total expenditure of the phasing out estimated at 5,500 crore (US$900 million).[25] Similar tenders for a carbine and a LMG were also issued.[1]

The U.S Army soldiers familiarizing with the latest INSAS 1B1 during exercise Yudh Abhyas 2015

The specification of the weapon was of a modular rifle, with ability to fire both 5.56×45mm and 7.62×39mm by changing the magazines and the barrels. The 5.56×45mm was to be used in conventional warfare and 7.62×39mm in close quarters combat and in counter terrorism operations. The rifle was to have mount points for under-barrel grenade launchers and reflex sights. The rifle's weight with an empty magazine would be less than 3.6 kg. The barrels for both calibres would be less than 16 inches.[1][24][26]

In the winter of 2013 in Leh, the Army was expected to begin the winter trials of the short-listed rifles: Beretta ARX 160 from Italy, CZ-805 BREN from Czech Republic, ACE 1 of Israel Weapon Industries, SIG Sauer SG 551 from Switzerland and the Colt Combat Rifle from the USA, a variant of the M16A1 made for the Indian Army's requirements.[24][27] By February 2014, the four rifles remaining in the competition were the CZ-805, ARX-160, Galil ACE, and Colt Combat Rifle.[28] The Indian Army began the final round of trials for its requirement for 5.56 mm carbines in June 2014. The remaining rifles were the Beretta ARX-160, Colt M4, and IWI Galil ACE.[29] By October 2014, only the Galil ACE and ARX-160 were left in the competition.[30] However, the Army sent a letter to the manufacturers on 15 June 2015, to notify them that the tender has been retracted.[31]

Following the cancellation of the tender, the Indian Army decided to pursue a modified version of the INSAS. Called the Excalibur, it will incorporate design changes to turn it into the Modified INSAS Rifle (MIR). These changes include firing 5.56 mm ammunition (a second version will fire 7.62 mm rounds), having a full-automatic capability, a 4 mm shorter barrel, a side folding butt stock, a Picatinny rail, a universal mount that allows for a range of weapon sights and sensors, a smaller handguard, and improved polycarbonate magazine. Trials conducted resulted in the weapon having only two stoppages after firing 24,000 rounds. If the MIR clears trials, it could be ready for service within two years.[32]

Meanwhile, an AK-47 based rifle, called the Trichy Assault Rifle, is being tested by the Ordnance Factory Trichy. It was first unveiled in May 2011.[33] In January 2012, it was reported to be having stoppages during tests due to its high 800 rpm firing rate. It was to be downgraded to 650 rpm to ensure smoother operation, but it also delayed its introduction.[34]

The Excalibur rifle is being considered as a possible replacement for the INSAS.[35][36]

The performance of the 'Excalibur' assault rifle in trials last month at the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune has further enthused the Army. The Excalibur had only two stoppages (where the bullet gets stuck in the breech) after 24,000 rounds were fired, close to the Army's specifications of only one stoppage.

DRDO officials mentioned that the Excalibur can get to frontline service if it passes trials.[37] Another version of the Excalibur, known as AR-2, is chambered to fire 7.62×39mm rounds and it's offered as an alternative to Russian-made AKs.[37]

In 2015, under the leadership of General Dalbir Singh the Army changed its weapon procurement more in line with that of the Indian Navy's indigenous procurement model by overseeing the project and also committing sharp shooters at Ishapore factory to carry out extensive trials of the indigenous Excalibur rifle. The Excalibur rifle passed the mud and water test which could not be cleared by four foreign rifles. During this test the gun is immersed in mud and water before firing. Excalibur is provided with direct gas-tapping angle which reduces the recoil on firing the weapon. The rifle is capable of firing either single shot or in automatic mode and can be fitted with holographic sights or laser sights and night vision devices. 200 Excalibur rifles are getting built for the army trials which will begin in the end of 2015. Once trials are cleared the rifle can be mass-produced at half the cost of imported rifles. [38]

In December 2012, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that it was testing a multi-calibre rifle.[39] The prototype rifle named Multi Caliber Individual Weapon System (MCIWS) was unveiled in 2014 by Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE).[40] MCIWS is capable of being fitted with barrel which can fire 5.56×45mm, 6.8×43mm and 7.62×39mm ammunition. A single gun can be modified to accommodate the required caliber. The gun is made up of high grade aluminum alloy and is of superior finish. The modular design of MCIWS helps the soldier to strip and assemble the gun much more easily by removing a pin, also the rivet-less design helps it to work better in combat environment. The indigenous 40mm under barrel grenade launcher will give it more legality to destroy the targets up to 500 meters. Some of the modern ambidextrous features make it comparable to the features provided by other modern assault rifles. The Army can choose to go for multi caliber, dual caliber or even single caliber barrel. MCIWS has found interest with the Indian paramilitary forces including the BSF, CRPF, ITBP and SSB. The trials for the Indian Army is going to begin by December 2015 – January 2016.[41]


  •  Oman: In 2010, the Royal Army of Oman started using the INSAS rifles sent to them as per a defence agreement signed in 2003 between India and Oman.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "INSAS-weary army shops for new infantry arms". The New Indian Express. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Wikileaks news: Why Nepal king Gyanendra shed power". The Economic Times. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Anti-Naxal operations: CRPF prefers AK rifles to INSAS, bulk purchase on cards". 4 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Rifle 5.56 mm INSAS (Fixed Butt)". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Charles Q. Cutshaw (28 February 2011). Tactical Small Arms of the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Small Arms From Around the World. Gun Digest Books. p. 207. ISBN 1-4402-2482-X. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Manufacturing of Small Weapons". Press Information Bureau. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b John Walter (25 March 2006). Rifles of the World. Krause Publications. pp. 209–210. ISBN 0-89689-241-7. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "INSAS rifles troubled Indian Army men: Raju". Yahoo News. Indo Asian News Service. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "India rejects claims of Nepalese army on Insas rifle". Outlook India. 13 August 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "CRPF asks govt to replace Insas guns with AK rifles". The Times of India. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "CRPF wants 'defective' INSAS rifles replaced". Daily Mail. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "5.56 mm INSAS Rifle (Foldable Butt)". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  17. ^ Automatic INSAS by Ordnance Factories Board
  18. ^ "LMG 5.56 mm INSAS (Fixed Butt)". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "LMG 5.56 mm INSAS (Foldable Butt)". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Rifle Excalibur". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Kalantak Micro Assault Rifle". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Amogh Carbine". Ordnance Factories Board. Retrieved 20 Nov 2015. 
  23. ^ "Army issues global tender for new assault rifles". Zee News. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c "Five cos left in race to supply multi-calibre rifles to Army". Business Standard. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Guns and Butter in Billion-dollar Arms Deal". 21 September 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Rifle-cramped army sets sights on five". The Telegraph (India). 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "India to put assault rifle contenders through winter trials". Jane's Defence Weekly. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "Defexpo 2014: Indian Army poised to conduct assault rifle trials". Jane's Defence Weekly. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  29. ^ "Indian Army kicks off final carbine trials". Jane's Defence Weekly. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  30. ^ "Indian Competition to Replace INSAS Begins". The Firearm Blog. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  31. ^ "Army scraps the world's largest assault rifle tender". India Today. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  32. ^ Made in India rifle to replace INSAS: Modified Excalibur currently undergoing trials to meet Army requirements -, 4 July 2015
  33. ^ "Tiruchi ordnance factory develops new assault rifle". The Times of India. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  34. ^ "Indian 'AK-47' too fast for its own good". The Times of India. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b "Exclusive: Made in India rifles to replace INSAS". indiatoday. 2015-07-05. 
  38. ^ Army prepares for crucial trials as chief insists on indigenous Excalibur
  39. ^ "DRDO multi-calibre guns undergoing trials". The Times of India. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  40. ^ "Defence Modernisation: A Revolution in Indian Defence Procurement". The Economic Times. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  41. ^ Multi-Calibre Assault Rifle: Made in India vs Make in India
  42. ^ ".303 rifles replaced with INSAS: JH police". Business Standard. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  43. ^ "INSAS rifles to give police more fire power". The Times of India. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  44. ^ "Oman army all set to use India’s INSAS rifles". 22 April 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  45. ^ Reetika Sharma, Ramvir Goria, Vivek Mishra; Sharma Reetika. India and the Dynamics of World Politics: A book on Indian Foreign Policy, Related events and International Organizations. Pearson Education India. p. 128. ISBN 978-81-317-3291-5. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 

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