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Assault rifle

Excalibur weapon

The new Excalibur assault rifle might replace the INSAS in service with the Indian Army

Country of origin India
Caliber 5.56x45 mm
Weight (with full magazine) 4.03 kg
Length 895 mm
Length (with folded stock) ?
Barrel length 400 mm
Muzzle velocity ?
Cyclic rate of fire 650 - 700 rpm
Magazine capacity 20, 30 rounds
Sighting range ?
Range of effective fire 400 m


   The Excalibur is an improved version of the INSAS assault rifle, designed by Armament R&D Establishment (ARDE) under DRDO, which is currently the primary weapon used by the world's third largest army; the Indian Army. The INSAS rifle was adopted in 1998 and was used in Kargil War (1999), Nepalese Civil War (1996-2006) and the ongoing Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in India. INSAS rifle is inferior compared to most automatic rifles of the world. This rifle has reliability issues. It tends to jam at high altitudes; magazines crack due to cold weather. The new Excalibur rifle aims to rectify the problems and deliver a very reliable and cost effective rifle, replacing the INSAS.

   The Indian Army scrapped its 2011 tender for 66 000 multicalibre assault rifles as the foreign models tested failed to meet its qualitative standards. The army decided to push on with the indigenously developed Excalibur rifle to fill the operational void. The new 'Make in India' policy adopted by the government stresses the need of indigenization, especially in the defence sector. The policy aims to reduce the dependence on foreign weapon systems and services, opening the defence market to domestic industries. The initial growth is predicted to be low as Indian defence industries are not competitive in the global level, but will strengthen the platform for future growth.

   The Excalibur rifle fires a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. It features high ruggedness for battlefield engagements and is lighter to handle. It is well suited for low intensity conflicts and close quarter combat situations. The rifle is also ergonomically designed with folding butt and Picatinny rails for mounting optical/electronic devices. The rifle also incorporates 'direct gas-tapping angle', which reduces recoil during firing and abandons the three round burst of INSAS rifle, instead adopting single shot/automatic firing modes. Plycarnoate magazine for the rifle ensures good operability at high altitudes without cracking. Test conducted in early 2015 were moderately successful with only two stoppages during testing after firing 24 000 rounds; close to the set standard of one stoppage.

   On approval, about 600 000 Excalibur rifles will be inducted into the army over the next two years. A variant of the rifle firing 7.62 mm cartridge is also in development.


Rakesh Nair

   Article by RAKESH NAIR

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Excalibur weapon

Excalibur weapon

Excalibur weapon

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