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India is looking for a new rifle to replace their aging arsenal. They’re hoping that a new 100 percent Indian-designed and manufactured firearm will fit the bill. There’s just one problem: the gun doesn’t work.

India was one of the countries who hopped on the FN FAL bandwagon in the 1950’s during the post-WWII NATO weapons standardization drive. Well, a cheaply made unlicensed copy of the FN FAL. Or more accurately a cheaply made unlicensed copy of the L1A1 British FN FAL knockoff. (Above)

In the 1980’s the Indian military decided to swap from 7.62 NATO to the more common 5.56 NATO. They redesigned a Soviet AKM and adopted that as the INSAS.

In the years since the INSAS rifle was introduced there have been a long series of complaints about the gun, from poorly made magazines cracking in the cold to issues with reliability and unexpected full auto fire.

Another big issue that seems to come up time and again: soldiers keep getting sprayed in the face with oil when shooting the gun. In 2011, Indian officials declared that the problems had been fixed. At the same time they also issued requests to the firearms industry for a rifle to replace the INSAS platform.

The latest RFP for the replacement firearms required a lightweight firearm chambered in 7.62×51 NATO. So the Indian firearms industry had a go. The Indian military (used to their 5.56 NATO rifles) didn’t like the results.

From the Xinhua news agency:

India’s home-made assault rifles have failed basic trials, thus being rejected by the Indian Army, media reports said Thursday.

The 7.62 x51 mm indigenous assault rifles, which were made by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board and meant to replace AK-47s used by Indian armed forces, have many faults, including excessive recoil and excessive flash and sound signature, unnamed Army sources were quoted as saying.

When moving from an intermediate cartridge like the 5.56 NATO to a proper rifle cartridge like 7.62 NATO there’s going to be more recoil, more noise and more flash. That’s just part of the package.

It sounds to me like the Indian military needs is a good silencer, which should reduce noise, flash, and recoil all in one fell swoop. But who expects the procurement department of the military — any military — to use common sense when politics are involved? Which is always.

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    • These guns were manufactured by the State owned firearm factory (the only gunmaker in India).

      That is the problem.

      India’s only gunmaker is an incompetent government beaurocracy.

      They need to allow (1) people in India to own guns (2) the free market to manufacture firearms.

      If they don’t do those two things, India will never make good weapons.

      In that case, they should just buy guns from someone else. Buy AKs, M4s, Tavors, whatever. All of those are proven platforms.

      India’s military isn’t that credible anyway. Pakistan is their only serious threat.

      • I’ve been saying that they should buy the Galil Ace in .308 since they announced they wanted a .308.

        • The .308 Galil would be an excellent choice. I’d love to have one of those myself. I still lack a semi auto in a full power cartridge. I’ve got full power bolties, and autoloaders in intermediate rounds, but lack the true “battle rifle”. No firearm collection is complete without one of those.

      • I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but firearm ownership is perfectly legal in India.

        For the most part, you have to belong to a sporting club to purchase .22 rifles and pistols. Same with Skeet and Trap. It’s called a “Sports Quota” license, and there are very few restrictions on it. You can also get a “General Protection” permit, which will allow you to purchase self-protection pistols above .22 caliber. You usually see that with businessmen and politicians.

        You also have to understand that most Indians live on less than $4.10 a day. A pistol is about as attainable for the average Indian as a rocket ship.

        • Yes, I know that guns are legal in India. They are just severely restricted, and quite expensive.

          From what I’ve gleaned on Indian gun forums,

          1. There is one incompetent state owned, and operated gun and ammo manufacturer. They only sell certain caliber ammo (I think 22, 32, 303, 30-06, and 12 gauge). Their handguns are grossly overpriced (probably 4 times what they are worth), are of poor quality, and there is a long waiting list to get one. That all makes it very difficult for an average person to arm themselves.

          Socialistic monopoly at work

          2. They have pretty much shut off the import of all foreign guns and ammo (with a very few exceptions – like Indians who have lived abroad being able to bring back one or two personally owned guns and a box or two of ammo, if they return to India.)

          The result of this is grossly inflated prices for foreign guns. Foreign guns (like a CZ82 chambered in 32 acp – remember ammo availability from that state owned factory) are incredibly expensive.

          A Smith, Ruger, Glock, CZ, Sig, Colt, can all be had, but will cost you TEN TIMES AS MUCH as they would in the States, and the average person makes ONE TENTH the income of someone in the States.

          Thus firearms are out of reach for most people in India.

        • availability is also an issue. But you are correct it’s not that hard to own one if you got the cash

  1. An entire army outfitted with suppressed .308 battle rifles… Now that’s what I’m talking about. A real man’s cartridge with real man results. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

    • 90% of casualties in modern warfare come from indirect fire, cas, vehicle systems, and crew served weapons. Statistically long range rifle combat played a very small role in actual decisive action combat. And that’s what snipers and squad designated marksmen are for.

      • Agree, though the point is never popular on sites devoted to small arms. Mortars, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired missiles, and unmanned explosives…..are what win wars these days. Air and artillery, too, are winners…if an army can afford them.

        In RVN it was the air and artillery the NVA feared, not rifle or carbine fire. They’ve made this point repeatedly. Our leadership encourages soldier/infantry focus on their small arms: this is a confidence and over-confidence builder. More M240’s an M2’s and mortars! For personal protection give me a suppressed M4 in 300 BLK, 10.5 inch barrel, with fast and slow rounds.

      • I’m aware. I just love battle rifles. Whatever the caliber, I hope our military becomes more suppressor friendly.

      • Fair point.

        We need to rethink modern combat so we can actually have the fighting done by rifles, not machines.

        Make men war fighters again, not war machine operators.

  2. The Indian firearms industry also has issues with customer service. All the customer service personnel were at call centers in the US, and none of the Indians could understand them.

    • I shot moonshine out my nose and my sinuses are clearer than the day I was born and all I smell is freedom!

      Good gracious that is the funniest thing I’ve read all week ! You sir are a comedian of the highest order.

  3. Cheapskates. That’ll teach ya. Kinda reminds me of North Koreas proprietary in-house iPad.

  4. One point three billion people and you can’t build a decent rifle. Pathetic…why won’t they just import one? Oh and when will they fight that war with similarly nuke owning Pakistan?!??

    • Well, maybe if they merged India could have its firearms made by the many many indigenous Pakistani manufacturers.

  5. And here I thought India was still using British Enfields.

    That wouldn’t be a bad platform to start from.

    • I had 2 of the Indian Enfields in .308. Much as I love the Enfield I could not get the warm fuzzies for these 2.

      Shotgun patterns at 50 yards. Barely on paper at 100. They looked good and functioned as expected. Can’t remember ever having a rifle that shot worse. And I had 2 of them.

    • The story didn’t say they couldn’t build a rifle, it said the rifle built to the required specs was too loud, had too much recoil, and too much flash.
      The M-14 has recoil (like any 7.62 NATO rifle), is noisy (like etc), and has flash (you get the idea).
      IOW, the government didn’t understand the results of what it asked for.

  6. Judging by the pics they should teach their soldiers how to properly shoulder a rifle. Actually placing the stock in your shoulder pocket goes a long way to mitigating recoil….just sayin

  7. SMH…
    “When moving from an intermediate cartridge like the 5.56 NATO to a proper rifle cartridge like 7.62 NATO”

    7.62 NATO is an intermediate cartridge.

    “It sounds to me like the Indian military needs is a good silencer…But who expects the procurement department of the military — any military — to use common sense when politics are involved?”

    Or maybe because almost the last thing a soldier wants is another piece or gear to have to lug around and maintain.

    • An intermediate cartridge is a rifle/carbine cartridge that is less powerful than typical full-power battle rifle cartridges, such as the .303 British, 7.62×54mmR, 7.92×57mm Mauser, .30-06 Springfield or 7.62×51mm NATO, but still has significantly longer effective range than pistol cartridges.[1] As their recoil is significantly reduced compared to high power rifle cartridges, fully automatic rifles firing intermediate cartridges are relatively easy to control. However, even though less powerful than a traditional full-power rifle cartridge, the ballistics are still sufficient for an effective range of 250–500 metres (270–550 yd), which are the maximum typical engagement ranges in modern combat. This allowed for the development of the assault rifle, a selective fire weapon that is more compact and lighter than rifles that fire full power cartridges. The first intermediate cartridge to see widespread service was the German 7.92×33mm Kurz used in the StG 44.[1] Other notable examples include the Soviet 7.62×39mm used in the AK-47 and AKM series, 5.45x39mm first used in the AK-74, and the American 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge first used in the M16. – per Wikipedia

    • Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how much bullshit soldiers carry already? How about giving them something to carry that will actually make a noticeable difference in the amount of hearing loss they face.

      • They issue ear plugs too but they don’t do much to stop hearing loss even when you do use em.

  8. In the late 1950’s or early 1960’s the Indians stole (reverse engineered) the FAL design from FN and then had to gall to claim their stolen product was of their own design. No intelligent reputable manufacturer of any product would ever have anything to do with India. Those people have their own set of warped morals.

    • Was that something like Israel and Finland stealing the AK design for the Galil, and Valmet? Perhaps Kalashnikov himself stole the AK design from the Germans. Ruger seems to have stolen the P3AT and PF9 designs from KelTec.

      Of course with Israel, Finland, and Ruger, the stolen copied design was probably better than the original.

      • Valmet RK 62 design is either nicked from AK 47 -variant from Poland or bought an official licence for milled receiver from USSR. Both versions can be found. Eastern countries under USSR had no copyright, so it was free for all then. If something was bought, and somebody collected the money, then who or what entity? At the time was bilateral commerce between USSR and Finland, bascally no money, just product swap. Nevertheless, information of the origin of the RK 62 design is kinda scarce, no bragging detected. Before that the classic russian AK 47 was in use in finnish troops as “7,62 RK 54”.

        Galil was designed straight from RK 62, machinery and documentation was bought from Valmet somewhere late 60’s. Some rumours about preproduction Galil rifles that were made on Valmet made receivers. This is viable possibility. Back in the 60’s were pretty active official and unofficial gunsales from Finland to Israel.

        • The Israealis had the desperation defense to any copyright issues they might have hade.
          1) The Arabs wanted to slaughter them
          2) They had “issues” getting arms out of Europe.
          3) stealing a western design would have been a problem politically.
          4) The, steal from the Russians who were helping the Arabs.

      • The US provided (and still does) M4’s and M16’s to Israel. Most of their national guard carry them now.

    • Maybe the Indians could go the the Pakistanis for their new battle rifle? I understand they have gun makers who can make pretty much anything anyone could want.
      Oh, wait…

    • No intelligent reputable manufacturer of any product would ever have anything to do with India. Those people have their own set of warped morals.

      They watch the masters to the North – the chicoms

  9. Because the cartridge actually being effective is not worth the costs in recoil and muzzle blast. May as well use rubber bands and spitballs !

  10. Another view – the gov’t rejects the indigenous entry with these excuses so it smooths the selection of foreign manufactured 5.56 options.

  11. I think the problem that plagues Nations who decide to adopt a new firearm is that they leave it to “non-gun people”. Look at what happened when the “wiz kid” McNamara pushed the adoption of the M16 rifle, 50 years later the piece of shit still is not reliable as was proven in the Jessica Lange debacle which got more than a few of her fellow soldiers blown away by uneducated freedom fighters wielding your basic ubiquitous AK-47 rifle that did work that day.

    I think that all too often super patriotism gets in the way of cold, hard logical thinking and rather than adopt the best weapon every Nation has to come up with its own miracle weapon that only ends up working in the fantasies of the bureaucrats while failing miserably in the field.

    India dumping the FN FAL was certainly a good move but not perfecting their AK derivative was pure stupidity. The AK with the intermediary 7.62×39 would certainly been the right direction to go in and just adopting the original AK rather than a home grown abortion would have made more sense yet and ditto for McNamara as well and his ill fated M16.

    • The M16 is a fine weapon, and much improved since the botched procurement during the early Vietnam rollout. The procurement was so screwed up by Army and military leaders that I often argue that if it was the M14 being initially fielded, it too would be as much (falsely) misaligned as its successor. If you actually learn the history of the initial adoption of the M16 (and it’s not hard, there are plenty of Youtube videos that go over this indepth) McNamara was really not the person to blame for it.

      From my experience in the service, most problems that may have come up with the M16 was a result of old equipment, faulty old magazines, or Soldiers not taking care of their equipment. When we were issued brand new M4s (Straight from the factory) these performed flawlessly.

      The false idea that M16/M4s/AR15s are unreliable just needs to be put to the grave. Like any weapon system, it has its strengths and weakness, but most of the negativity has been repeated like old wives tales.

      • quote—————–From my experience in the service, most problems that may have come up with the M16 was a result of old equipment, faulty old magazines, or Soldiers not taking care of their equipment. —————-quote

        More patriotic bullshit that makes a million excuses for this garbage design. You Tube video’s do not expose the real problems of the M16 both then and now. Although You Tube video’s do indeed show the M16 functioning after being stomped in the mud and in one sensational video even functioning while an air compressor blows dust in it they videos in and of themselves do not show how the M16 actually does malfunction. In the videos the M16 rifles used started out as spotlessly clean and that is what is most misleading about the videos.

        The M16 sprays burnt powder all over the action much like a garden hose sprays water. No rifle not even an AK47 can withstand that kind of contamination without jamming and I proved this with an AK 47 years ago but that is another long story.

        During the Vietnam war a special lubricant called LSA fluid was developed at a great cost to the government and its still very expensive to make to this very day. The fluid was necessary because the M16 when fired in the rain would mix the burnt powder with the rain and jam the gun up tight. In desert warfare such a fluid cannot be used and as the burn powder accumulates it jams the rifle up. In my own experience many different brands of AR15’s would jam up on the range when not drowning in oil. The AK 47 suffers from no such malady and that is precisely why in the Jessica Lange debacle all of the squads M16’s failed miserably.

      • If you were issued a brand new M4, then you probably weren’t issued a brand new M16 in the 60s.
        They were unreliable. Resupply choppers wound need to bring replacement M16s in with hte ammo and water during firefights because the issued M16s just quit working.
        “Soldiers not taking care of their equipment.”??? They were told the M16s didn’t need cleaning. Cleaning kits weren’t even issued to the troops. How the hell were they supposed to take care of them without cleaning kits?
        Sorry, but your ignorance of the facts (including the issuance of cleaning kits and the M16A1 to fix the most glaring of the problems so quickly) is really showing. The M16, as issued, was woefully inadequate for combat.
        Just because Stoner didn’t include a chrome cylinder and barrel doesn’t mean they weren’t needed. I’ll bet any ARs you may own have them.

      • YellowMyDevil, you’re spot on. The M4 and M16’s of today are fine weapons. I’ve been in the Army since 1978 and I’ve never had a problem with any of my issued weapons – nor have I seen anyone else. I’ve seen these weapons function/fire for a LONG time without cleaning. The problems with the M16’s first issued in Vietnam have long since been fixed. The hater’s gonna hate – I could care less. I know it’s a fine system.

        • Peddle your rectum gas to the dead soldiers in Jessica Lange’s platoon. The facts remain every one of their piece of shit M16’s failed and the insurgents AK-47’s took a licking and kept on ticking and those guys are known for not taking very good care of their weapons, they know they don’t have to, they have the superior rifle.

          If the Morons that run the U.S. Military would have had their heads screwed on straight they would have adopted the AK or a variant of it. They also would never have adopted the Remington 700 as a sniper rifle either but that is another long boondoggle of a story as well.

    • Ian McCollum said that AR-15 is the best rifle available to a soldier today. Idiots on the Internet can rage all they want at this point, M4 is still the best.

  12. It sounds to me like the Indian military needs to stop expecting locals to develop decent weapon overnight. Unless they wish result to strikingly resemble pathetically slow modern software mostly baked by outsource shops (winkwink).

    People who fail to somewhat alter AK (ignoring Kalashnikov management screaming, should said screaming happen), slap a couple of rails on it and call it yet another gas-piston, rotating-bolt, modern-proven-ultrareliable assault rifle have no business in designing firearms from scratch.

  13. I would also be interested to know what the test results were around actually carrying the firearm on a long patrol. You know, full pack, 1000 rounds of ammunition, say 20 mile patrol, etc. Recoil doesn’t matter as much as whether you can get your troops to the battle without exhausting them before hand.

    • Why would the test include carrying 4 times as much ammo as any infantryman carries?

  14. I have been to India 3x, my wife is Indian, and her dad actually works at the state arms whatever-you-want-to-call-it in Uttarakhand. Weapons, for most Indians, are not part of the modern culture. You need a license for a blade over six inches in length. Ready the Puns 🙂 I know cuz the guys at the Windless Steelcrafts factory in Dehradun and they told me.

    They love them some arms control in Hindustan. Modern firearms are difficult to obtain in India. Double guns are fairly common even if a good chunk of them are illegal.

    I would not trust that the decision to keep the rifle making in house was not free of some type of corruption. As already mentioned here they could go with proven platforms like a galil. A .308 tavor is supposed to be in the works. Or they could just go with a 5.56 tavor which has been doing fine.

  15. Ahhh … there’s nothing quite like a State-owned ‘enterprise’ with poor to non-existent quality control compounded with equally poor to non-existent quality assurance to produce a really ‘high-quality’ product, is there.

  16. INSAS is a crap, just ask Nepalis soldiers who use it in civil war. India make crappy weapons, they export 7 DHruv helos to Ecuador, 4 out of 7 crashed in a few years later, the rest were grounded.

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