INSAS rifle
INSAS rifle in Indian army
TypeAssault rifle
Light machine gun
Place of originIndia
Service history
In service1998–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsKargil War[1]
Nepalese Civil War[2]
Naxalite–Maoist insurgency[3]
Insurgency in Northeast India[4]
Myanmar Civil War[5]
Production history
ManufacturerArmament Research and Development Establishment
Ordnance Factories Board
No. built100,000 (Assault Rifles) and 6,000 (LMG) (2012)[7]
700,000–900,000 (2019)[8]
VariantsSee Variants
Mass4.018 kg (8.86 lb) (without magazine)[9]
Length960 mm (37.8 in)[9]
Barrel length464 mm (18.3 in)

Cartridge5.56×45mm NATO[9]
ActionGas-operated, Rotating bolt
Rate of fire600–650 rounds/min[9]
Muzzle velocity915 m/s (3,002 ft/s)[10]
Effective firing range400m (INSAS Rifle)
600 m: Point targets (INSAS LMG)
700 m: Area target (INSAS LMG)[9]
Feed system20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
SightsIn-built iron sights, mount point for telescopic or night sight

The INSAS,[11] or Indian Small Arms System,[12] is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun (LMG). These weapons were developed in India by the Armament Research and Development Establishment and manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board at its various factories.[13] It was the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces for almost three decades.[1][14]


Indian soldiers in combat with INSAS rifle during the Kargil War.

The development of the INSAS began in the mid-1980s, when the Indian Army released a general staff qualitative requirement for a new assault rifle to replace locally produced licensed copies[15] of the L1A1 self-loading rifles,[14] which the Army was using since 1961.[10] The new assault rifle was to chamber it in 5.56×45mm NATO, unlike the L1A1 SLR rifle which is chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO.[10]

After studying a number of designs, the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune undertook the task to design and develop India's first assault rifle. The development and user trials of the new rifle – INSAS was completed by 1989 and entered into service in 1990.[16][10]

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.[14] 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 adequate 5.56×45mm ammunition, large quantities of the same were bought from Israel Military Industries.[14]

The first combat use of the rifle was during the Kargil War in 1999.[1][14]

The INSAS rifle saw limited use in the Indian Army's counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir,[17] but was extensively used by Central Armed Police Forces in combating Maoist insurgency.[18]



The INSAS assault rifles are being replaced in the army with the AK-203 assault rifles[19] and the SIG 716i designated marksman rifles.[20] The LMG variant is being replaced with the IWI Negev.[21]

However, these rifles will remain in service with the police and other paramilitary forces and are being used as a replacement for the decades old bolt action Ishapore 2A1 rifles.[22]



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.[14]

Two Indian soldiers with the INSAS. The two types of INSAS assault rifle include the 1B1 (rear) and the original (front).

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.[14] The fire selector is placed on the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip, it can be set to semi–auto, three round burst and full auto. To set it to safe, the selector has to be rotated all the way up, which will block the sear and prevent the rifle from firing.[10] It has three modes of fire – semi-automatic, three-round burst and full automatic modes.[10]

The cyclic rate averages at 650 rpm. The rear sight lies on one end of the breech cover and is calibrated to 400 meters.

The furniture is either made of wood or polymer.[14] 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.[16]

The guns take 20- or 30-round magazines; there are made like the Steyr AUG and are made out of polymer.[10] 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.[14]

In 2023, it was reported that Star Aerospace has offered parts for modernizing INSAS rifles, which are approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs.[23] Among the upgrades included by SA consist of picatinny rails for sights and attachments, folding stock and rubber fore and pistol grips.[24]



The INSAS assault rifle was battle tested in the 1999 Kargil War. The three month long war was fought in the high altitudes of the Himalayas,[25] where temperature would go as low as –20 degrees Celsius.[26]

During the conflict, the rifle encountered some problems such as occasional often serious stoppage, cracking of polymer magazine due to the cold weather and some other reliability issues such as firing in full auto when set for 3 shot burst.[25][1] Similar complaints were also received from the Nepalese Army.[1] In the Kargil war, neither the INSAS proved reliable nor the Army was satisfied with the new rifle.

The Indian Army, which was used to the 7.62×51mm NATO round for almost three decades, was dissatisfied with the stopping power of 5.56×45mm NATO rounds.[1]


INSAS AR (with UBGL) (top) and LMG (bottom).

Assault rifle


The AR variant can be fired in single round or three-round burst mode.[27] 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 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher,[28] along with a gas-block for launching grenades and grenade iron-sights.

The flash suppressor has a blank-firing adaptor.[9] It also has a foldable butt version.[29]

It is being replaced in Indian service by the AK-203.[13]

The AR has four subvariants:[30]



The LMG (Light Machine Gun) differs from the standard rifle in possessing a longer range of 700 m, as compared to 400 m range for their assault rifle counterparts. It has a longer and heavier barrel with revised rifling and 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.[32] It also has a foldable-butt version.[33]

The LMG will be replaced with the IWI Negev Ng7.[34]







The Kalantak micro-assault rifle, with a range of 300 m, is for close combat and personnel defence weapon roles.[35]

Prototype Bullpup


Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Bansod, of Army School Mhow reverse-engineered an INSAS rifle to produce a bullpup carbine variant.[36] Lt. Col. Bansod caught the attention of high-ranking Indian Army officers when he made the rifle in 2019.[37]

He reportedly did this in his spare time. The rifle was only made as a prototype example.


Map with INSAS users in blue

Non-state actors



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