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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
Entered service ?
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
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 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. It was designed by Armament R&D Establishment (ARDE) under Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The INSAS is currently the primary weapon used by the Indian Army, which is actually world's third largest army. The original INSAS rifle was adopted back in 1998. It saw action in Kargil War (1999), Nepalese Civil War (1996-2006) and the ongoing Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in India. However the INSAS has reliability issues. It tends to jam at high altitudes. Furthermore its magazines crack due to cold weather. In terms of performance the INSAS is inferior compared to most modern automatic rifles of the world. The new Excalibur rifle was aimed to rectify the problems of the INSAS. The goal was to deliver a reliable and cost effective weapon, which could replace the INSAS.

   The Indian Army scrapped its 2011 tender for 66 000 multi-calibre assault rifles as during tests the foreign weapons reportedly failed to meet quality standards. The Indian 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 currently not competitive on the global level.

   The Excalibur assault rifle is chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. It features high ruggedness for battlefield engagements and is lighter to handle than the INSAS.
This weapon has a folding buttstock and Picatinny-type rails for mounting various scopes. The rifle also incorporates 'direct gas-tapping angle', which reduces recoil during firing and abandons the three round burst mode of INSAS rifle. Instead the Excalibur features semi-auto and full-auto firing modes. New 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. Such figure is close to the set standard of one stoppage.

   It was planned that after approval, around 600 000 Excalibur rifles will be delivered to the Indian Army during the next couple of years. A variant of the rifle firing 7.62 mm ammunition was also in development.


Rakesh Nair

   Article by RAKESH NAIR

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Excalibur weapon

Excalibur weapon

Excalibur weapon

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