Country of origin
Weight (without magazine)
Length (with folded stock)
Cyclic rate of fire
Practical rate of fire
20 - 50 rpm
Range of effective fire
400 - 600 m
The INSAS (INdian
Small Arms System) is a family of infantry arms, including assault
rifle and light machine gun. Both of these weapons share the same
basic design. A carbine was also planned, but
eventually was not adopted. Development of the INSAS family
reportedly commenced in the mid 1980s. The INSAS assault rifle was adopted
alongside the light machine gun by the Indian armed
forces in 1998. It replaced the
L1A1 semi-automatic rifle used by the Indian armed forces since the
late 1950s, and the Soviet
assault rifle, used since the early 1990s. The INSAS was also
adopted by Indian armed police and paramilitary forces. To this day
the INSAS is a standard-issue infantry weapon. The INSAS
has been exported to Bhutan, Nepal (25 000 rifles), and Oman. A
small amount of INSAS rifles were exported to Swaziland. It is believed that
overall around 300 000 INSAS rifles were produced to this day. This weapon saw action
during various military conflicts including Kargil War (1999), Nepalese Civil War and the ongoing Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in India.
Recently Indian MoD was looking for a new weapon to replace the
INSAS. In 2019 it was announced that the INSAS will be replaced in
Indian service with license-produced AK-203 assault rifles,
chambered in 7.62x39 mm ammunition.
The INSAS is
based on a Soviet
but has a number of features from other successful designs, such as
HK33 (charging handle),
Steyr AUG (magazine), and
metal buttstock, used on the INSAS Mk.1A).
The INSAS is a gas operated weapon. It is
chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm (.223 Remington)
ammunition, opposed to Soviet 5.56x39 mm or 7.62x39 mm ammunition.
Originally the INSAS was planned to be adopted in 1994. However the
introduction was delayed due to design flaws and the
lack of 5.56x45 mm ammunition in India. Eventually ammunition was obtained in large
quantity from Israel. Otherwise the INSAS was produced without
reliance on foreign components.
is capable of semi-auto and 3-round burst firing modes. Fire mode
selector is located on the left side, above the pistol grip. So
basically the INSAS is a battle rifle, than a true assault rifle.
Though there is a version of the INSAS with a full-auto mode. The
INSAS rifles made for export can be built with semi-auto, 3-round
burst and full-auto firing modes.
INSAS was first introduced it was mired with reliability issues. This weapon
had a tendency to jam at
high altitudes. Also its magazines cracked due to cold weather and
battlefield abuse. There was also a problem firing in 3-round burst
mode - the weapon fired in full-auto instead. Some of the problems
were eventually fixed on subsequent production batches. Despite that
recently Indian MoD decided to replace the INSAS with a more
reliable design, the Russian AK-203.
various versions of this assault rifle. Some of them have solid
buttstocks, made of wood (early version) or polymer. There is
also a version with side-folding metal buttstock. The INSAS also has a built-in carrying handle.
The rifle can be fitted with orange or black furniture, although the
later is typically seen with INSAS rifles exported abroad.
assault rifle is fed from 20-round capacity magazines. It
is also compatible with 30-round capacity magazines, developed for INSAS light
machine gun. Magazines are transparent.
This feature was borrowed from the Austrian
AUG. This handy feature allows to see the number rounds left,
without removing the magazine from the weapon. Also magazines are
designed to the
standard. However it appeared
that these magazines had a tendency to crack due to cold weather and
could not withstand battlefield abuse.
rifle has built-in iron sights. This weapon has a sighting range of
400 m. However it has effective range of 600 m against point targets. This weapon has a
mounting point for telescopic or night sights.
The INSAS assault rifle
can mount a bayonet. It can be also fitted with a 40-mm underbarrel
grenade launcher, or fire rifle grenades.
is a baseline version with a solid buttstock.
is a version with a side-folding metal buttstock. The buttstock is similar to that of the Israeli
rather than that of the Soviet
AKM. This weapon is intended for
paratroopers, special forces and vehicle crews. This assault rifle has some minor
differences, such as reshaped pistol grip. This version lacks
"full-auto" firing mode.
machine gun. It was developed to complement the INSAS assault rifle
and has the same basic design. It comes with a longer heavy barrel,
bipod, and "full-auto" firing mode. Also this weapon has a
different foregrip. It has an effective range of 700 m against area
targets. This weapon is used as a standard issue squad-level fire
a carbine version of the INSAS assault rifle. The
Kalantak has a sighting range of 300 m.
Amogh is a
personal defense weapon, chambered for a newly developed 5.56x30 mm
ammunition. This weapon was developed for the troops, like vehicle
crews, that do not need a full-size assault rifle, or troops that
need a weapon for close combat engagements. The Amogh has a sighting
range of 200 m.
Excalibur is a recent improved version of the INSAS. Reliability
issues were addressed. Test conducted in early 2015 were moderately
successful with only two stoppages during testing after 24 000
firing rounds. The Excalibur is chambered for a standard NATO
5.56x45 mm ammunition. In 2015 it has been reported that INSAS might
be replaced by the Excalibur.