The INSAS 5.56mm Rifle

An Indian reader emailed me an article he wrote about India’s service weapon, the INSAS 5.56mm Rifle. The article is facinating and I highly recommend you take the time to read it.

INSAS receiver. Note the lettering: its been scratched in my hand.

I think it is safe to say the gun was designed by a committee. It has a FNC-styled fore-end, a AK-styled receiver, a FNC-styled trigger group, an AK-style bolt/gas system and Steyr AUG inspired magazines (which are manufactured by an Indian plastic furniture maker!)!

I found quite saddening was the obvious lack of pride by the workers at the Ishapore factory. One of the rifles which the author inspected did not even bother wiping off the white enamel paint which is used to color the lettering. I have not met any workers from Colt Defense’s M4 factory, but I would imagine they take great pride in knowing that their work is used to defend the nation. The author wrote …

I found out that they wanted to have white paint filled lettering, but the crude scratching that passed off as lettering was too shallow and the lazy buggers at the factory simply squished some white enamel over the general areas and didn’t even bother to wipe off the excess!!

Read the article here.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • AB

    I am genuinely disturbed at how shoddily that weapon seemed to have been put together. Lots of money for the various contractors involved, but the cost result seems to be a poorly made firearm that will fail in a nasty scrape.

    Finding a bunch of machinists to make AK clones would have been far more efficient and safer, if provided with decent quality steel and modern facilities.

  • RP-in-TX

    Great article. In just the last two years I’ve started seeing INSAS rifles carried by guards at the airports in Bangalore and Mumbai (along with various FALs, Enfields, and underfolder AKs). The first time I saw one I thought it was a Galil variant because it also had a Galil-style tube folding stock and upward-pointing cocking handle. Apparently they make a few different configurations of the INSAS.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    The weapon may be a disappointment to the gun nut.

    However, if you need a bunch of carbines right now, as the Indian Army does, then pulchritude takes a back seat.

  • Big Daddy

    Now that’s a Mattel toy gun. The plastic parts look like they are easily cracked, the plastic looks thin and brittle. I can’t see the sighting zero being held with the flimsy cover like an AK with the sight on it. The Galil’s cover also has a sight on it but is probably much stronger and it’s fit tighter. Even though it looks like the Indian design seems to have an extra metal hood over the area were they meet with the unlocking mechanism. It still looks flimsy and under rough conditions looks like there is no way the rifle will hold zero to the point of eventually not being able to be of any use.

    I would not want to have to go to war with this weapon. I would be looking to pickup an AK-47 or FAL of some type ASAP.

    I guess when your country has a billion people having a quality rifle even of minimum quality for your soldiers is not important. They probably would have been better off trying to buy old M-16A2s from the USA or AK-47s from Russia or China or both. They are superior to this POS.

  • allen

    This disaster of a weapons system has been around for about 12 years. The Indians seem to always solicit procurement requests for military weaponry, test the foreign weapons and string the manufacturers on, and then take what they think are the best features and then combine and produce them in India without license. And from what history of Indian arms procurement I’ve studied, they then pay much more for this privilege of designing, producing, and then modifying the design cause it doesn’t work right. But, after all, this is coming from a country that to this day still fields SMLE bolt action 303 Enfields.

  • JonMac

    Sounds like the situation at Enfield and then Nottingham when the equally kit-bashed SA80 was being produced (with the threat of factory closure hanging over the workers to boot).

  • John Jackson

    The lettering is too uniform to be made by hand – more likely the machine equivalent of a dot matrix printer. I noticed that in British English the author wrote hotch-potch. We Yanks say Hodge-podge.

  • Underwhelmed

    I am guessing that this is manufactured in a government owned facility, which would explain the poor quality. And it is weird to read the stamped word “Rifle” just phonetically transcripted to Hindi, rather than a translated equivalent Hindi word. The Indian government would be better off just building licensed foreign designs like Pakistan has done with the H&K G3 designs.

  • HeavenlySword

    Looks like India needs to get invaded a few times…

    That is one shitty service rifle.

    • tej

      bastard , u want my country get invaded

      • Babububu

        Don’t want it to get invaded? Do something about the clowns who arm your soldiers with junk.

        If Indians don’t care about their security, why should anyone else?

  • Martin

    Oh my! That review makes things made in Communist China look good!

  • subase

    Should have just bought AK’s, it having no handle was probably a deal breaker though. The INSAS first military rifle meant to be carried alot and shot little.

  • hillbilly

    Should the INSAS be slightly renamed the INSANE?

  • jdun1911

    It won’t hold zero with iron sight. There is a reason why the rear AK iron sight is not on the receiver cover. They went full retard.

  • CinSC

    “However, if you need a bunch of carbines right now, as the Indian Army does, then pulchritude takes a back seat.”

    Well, it’s been quite a while since pulchritude was in MY back seat.

    But, seriously, this makes one reflect on what a blessing our very robust and responsive firearms industry here in America is. Want a well-made handgun or rifle? You have HUNDREDS to choose from. Not so for the Indian civilian or soldier.

  • Erik

    @jdun1911, and everyone knows you NEVER go full retard… 😀

  • LJK

    jdun1911, the Finnish RK62 and 95 rifles (also other variants, but those are the two commonly seen) also have their rear sight on the dust cover. They work, even if they are essentially only very well made AK47s. The 62 just gets its cover re-stamped to the receiver if it gets loose (quite rarely) and the 95 has a tightening screw which the operator cranks tight whenever he assembles the weapon.

  • LJK

    (Meant to say receiver cover. I’m tired.)

  • Beaumont

    Excellent article with good comments from some obviously knowledgable folks. If the Islamofreaks decide on a full invasion from Pakistan, they know that small-arms fire won’t be much of a deterrent. I’m guessing that the terrs’ small-arms training, as poor as it is by US standards, is also superior to Indian training.

  • MrSatyre

    Just stumbled across this:

    India’s Arms Factory Plan Hits Snags

  • subase

    The furniture colour – desert orange

  • Ken

    Marginal flash hider-fail. Carry handle-fail. Cheaper than cheap plastic-fail. Rear sight on upper cover-epic fail. Unreal. Bet you cant even use it as a club. Better off re-stamping some Russian PPSH-41 sub machine guns. At least they will work!

  • jdun1911

    I have no experience with the Finnish’s carbines. What I can say is that you need a rock solid no movement platform to mount your optics or sight. Any movement however small it maybe will have negative effects.

    I do not trust AK cover optic/sight mounts.

  • Justin Liu

    Apparently this thing also flicks barrel oil into the shooter’s eye when operated. (how does that even work?)

    Read more: Jawans get faulty rifles as new ones lie idle – Nagpur – City – The Times of India

    Add this to over-heating barrels and bad cold temperature performance.

  • mattling

    To make things worse, the rifles were criticized for cracking in the low temperature high altitude environment of Kashmir.

    Its one of those “eh..better than nothing” solution to the Indian army’s need for automatic weapons. Go to any high security area in New Delhi and you will find the security guards toting the latest MP5s and Glock pistols.

    The special forces and commando unit themselves are now equipped with the Israeli Tavor.

    If you noticed during the Mumbai siege, the first responders were paramilitary and riot control elements carrying AKs and INSAS rifles. The late arriving Naval commandoes and NSGs were rocking MP5SDs, Dragunov SVDs and a DMR version of the SIG550.

    If you read the comments on the article, the commenters are referring to the corrupt bureaucrats called “babus” who revel in exerting civilian control over the military, insult KIAs at their funerals (if they show up) and more often than not are pseudo-marxists who believe in giving kickbacks and jobs to their home districts in the name of “indigenous design and production” rather than truly listening to the military’s needs.

    Castles in the air, but I fail to see why the Indian army can’t simply license the Tavor from Israel and give it to every soldier.

  • W

    “Castles in the air, but I fail to see why the Indian army can’t simply license the Tavor from Israel and give it to every soldier.”

    or simply do what venezuela (and scores of other different countries) does and purchase tooling for AK74 rifles and produce their own licensed copies. Those seem to be working stupendously well…

  • William C.

    Wow. Might as well buy the 5.56mm AK variant (AK-101?) from Russia. Wasn’t the FNC pretty cheap and licensed by several nations? Could be another option.

  • cottage cheese

    “Castles in the air, but I fail to see why the Indian army can’t simply license the Tavor from Israel and give it to every soldier.”

    …oh that’s simply because it’s not upto the Army… its those ridiculous all pervading babus who control that aspect as well.

    There was a lame attempt the get a watered down Tavor variant going under license known as the Zittara, available in 5.56×45 , 5.56×30 or 9mm… a manufacturing..or perhaps assembly facility was set up at Small Arms Factory, Kanpur. After a year or two of indecisive peddling, it recently disappeared from the online product list.

  • Flashman

    What a piece of junk! It’s hard to believe that any army would equip its troops with such trash.

    My shilling says that a goodly slice of the development budget went into the the trough and was speedily vacuumed up by a legion of Mr Fix-its, politicians, their relatives and assorted other influence peddlers and consultants.

  • Justin Liu

    @Flashman Swiss banks reports there are about 1.5 trillion dollars of indian money in their accounts. This is 3 times the nearest russian amount. No doubt some of that money comes from skimming from arms development

  • Rich Kerr (Papa Gato)

    I guess it is possible to screw up an AK pattern rifle, this belongs in a “Ripleys Believe it or Not” story!