India Restarts Rifle Program (Again), Solicits for 7.62x51mm Rifles, Not 5.56x45mm

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It feels like déjà vu: India has once again issued a Request For Information (RFI) for a new rifle, this time in 7.62x51mm NATO caliber. The RFI was reportedly issued on the 27th of September, making it two and a half months between the nation’s government announcing they were preparing the document, and actually issuing it. DefenseWorld reports on the RFI’s contents:

Total Quantity required is approximately 1,85,000 Assault Rifles out of which the immediate requirement is of approximately 65000 rifles. The approximately quantity 65000 Assault Rifles should be delivered within four (04) months to twenty eight months (28) from the day of signing of the contract, the RFI issued this Tuesday stated.

Tentative date of the issue of RFP is April 2017.

According to the RFI, the rifle should be capable of achieving accuracy better than three Minutes of Angle up to a range of minimum 500 meters. The rifle should be capable of fitting and firing of Indian in-service UBGL manufactured by Indian Ordnance Factory, Trichy. The rifle should have integrated open sight and multi option telescopic sight. The rifle has to be compatible with all modern sights and accessories and provision for mounting the same.

Oddly, in a DefenseNews article, Indian defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle did not feel the requirements for 500-meter accuracy and compatibility with telescopic sights were reasonable:

“The RFI is watered down, yet it still remains complex. Why does the Army require an assault rifle with a telescopic sight? [It] is not clear. Does it want every soldier to have a sniper capability? These complex, qualitative requirements do not augur well for the future of this RFI … unless at the [request for proposal] stage there is a change,” Bhonsle said.

“The range of 500 meters is highly optimistic,” he added.

The Indian Armed Forces have been trying to replace the troubled INSAS rifle for several years now. India’s indigenous AK-derived rifle has repeatedly underperformed, due to problems both in build quality and inherent to the design. The Indian government had sought a foreign-made weapon, but that program was cancelled for what were likely political reasons. In the meantime, the country decided to replace the INSAS rifle in all major combat zones with the aging AK pattern of rifles, as a stopgap. With this most recent RFI, India is back on the international market, shopping for options. This time, however, the country is requesting larger-caliber guns, possibly joining both Pakistan andTurkey as nations using the 7.62mm NATO caliber as standard issue in lieu of a small-caliber, high-velocity round.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Anonymoose

    Galil ACE 7.62×51, pls.

    • Tritro29

      From where I stand those are minimal requirements for an SVD/M110 DMR. With a Grenade launcher. How is this even possible?

      • iksnilol

        Take SVD/M110, mount grenade launcher, issue with 50 round drums.

        Problem solved (sorta, kinda… not really).

        • Tritro29

          Don’t let the Indians read this, they will actually try and make it happen. Ok try…
          On a second thought, MKEK looks like a perfect choice. AR-10 with all the bells and whistles from the future.

          • randomswede

            Could MKEK produce those volumes in the set time?

            A quick read on wikipedia suggest “perhaps”.

          • Tritro29

            I don’t think so with the Indian mannerism of changing averything all the time and complaining

          • randomswede

            They, in theory, could have learned their lesson.
            They haven’t, but you know… in theory…

          • Tritro29

            Oh they have learnt their lesson no question about that, only they would try one last time their luck, you know, just to be sure.

            It’s sad because when the Indians get out of that place they are scarily good in business, work ethics and effort. I say it’s just like Russia, pull a Russian out of Russia he will do something with his life. Let him there he would do something to die.

        • jono102

          They’ll expect H&K results for second hand AK47 prices and wonder why they end up with the next INSAS.

      • Anonymoose

        May as well get some select-fire L129s from LMT if they want an .308 AR platform. There are no select-fire SVDs besides the SVU-A, which is rare and low-capacity.

        • Tritro29

          I was pointing out the DMR issue. The LMT’s are a 2/3 thousand dollar a pop system. Really the best the Indians can hope for is cheaper than dirt License for an AR-10 kind of deal.

    • Major Tom

      With the bottle opener standard issue!

    • Sasquatch

      Or this ^

  • TDog

    I’m curious what the economic requirements will be. If it’s anything like the whole Rafale odyssey, I’m sure India will try to get a foreign company to donate all the tools, dies, design schematics, and industrial secrets associated with the rifle’s manufacture; have it made in India, and then have said firearms company warranty the guns that were made in India.

    As is, it sounds like India is looking for the mythical battle sniper squad automatic rifle hybrid – half this, half that, with another half thrown in for good measure.

  • Ganesh

    somebody needs a pool installed winkwink nudge nudge

    in plaintext new people have risen to the top and they want their bribes

  • Good to see we’re not the only one’s with small arms procurement issues.

  • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

    It never ends, maybe at the end of the century they have decided which cartridge to use.

  • Giolli Joker

    It’s no longer even funny.

    Nathaniel too is running short of amusing tags.

    • Major Tom

      Give it some time. Inspiration likes to strike at odd times.

  • Bullphrog855

    It’s nice to see countries going towards .308 as their work horse. I don’t agree with it but I’m sick of how standardized the world is becoming. At least compared to the variety of the much more romantic WW2-Cold War eras IMO.

    I love Ar-15s but every time I see someone has adopted Glock or Ar-15s… my heart breaks a little because of how boring it is. Albeit it’s a double edge sword in the Ar-15s case since I do like seeing it assert it’s dominance on the world.

    Can’t argue with following what works though.. or in Glocks case, what’s adequate
    but super cheap.

    • Major Tom

      .308 does have some advantages in that sort of region. Asia Minor and South Asia has a lot of territory where you run into a lot of open country thus if you were in a combat zone in Kashmir or Afghanistan or Pakistan or the “frontier” in Turkey, you wouldn’t be fighting at spitball distance all the time meaning a smaller caliber shorter ranged carbine like an M4A1 wouldn’t be that useful compared to a good G3 or FAL or whatnot.

      And that’s not even going for the whole “stopping power” thing.

      • therealgreenplease

        Wouldn’t the engagement distance be a stronger argument for 6.5×39 though? Personally, I’d like to see them more or less “copy” the AK platform but “evolve” it to be more ergonomic, versatile, and a touch lighter. Chamber it in 6.5×39 and they could claim to have a rifle of their own and an effective one at that.

        • randomswede

          “more or less “copy” the AK platform but “evolve” it to be more ergonomic”
          I’m not sure if you are joking but that is the INSAS.
          It’s largely an AKM in 5.56 NATO with a G3 style charging handle and thumb safety, designed and produced domestically.

          As for “6.5 Grendelski”, I haven’t seen what muzzle velocity they get out of it but if they can get 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s) or so with a good BC then that could work.

          • therealgreenplease

            I was think of an evolution more along the lines of what we’ve seen with the AK Alfa.

          • randomswede

            The INSAS is 18 years old so if they did the same thing today they probably would have designed it with more polymer parts and thus closer to the Alfa, more “Magpul” one might say.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        Their biggest potential threat would be in the areas you mention so it does make sense.

      • Zachary marrs

        If i was shooting that distance, I’d still bet an M4 with optics will be better than a G3 with irons

        • AC97

          You could get a G3 with a Picatinny rail though, not that they are the most common variant by any means.

          • Zachary marrs

            Did you not read the article? They said optical sights have no use outside of sniper useage.

            India seems to think its 1914. But it isn’t

          • AC97

            Oh, right, I forgot for a minute that this is India we were talking about, because that would make too much sense.

          • randomswede

            You seem to have missed that the first quote is from the Indian government: “The rifle should have integrated open sight and multi option telescopic sight.”

            The second quote is from “Indian defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle”: “Why does the Army require an assault rifle with a telescopic sight? [It] is not clear. Does it want every soldier to have a sniper capability?”

            So: “Rahul Bhonsle of DefenceNews seems to think it’s 1914.”

        • Major Tom

          Not really. The M4 series with regular ball ammo averages about 7 MOA in semi. (I’ve heard it can be as bad as 12 MOA.) At 500 meters, more than a few of your shots are gonna veer completely off target even if the crosshairs on your ACOG are dead center.

          The M4 series is a 300 meter gun. No two ways about it. With optics you can stretch it to 400 but that’s beginning to seriously push it.

          Either way, at 500 meters you’re out of effective range of the M4.

          Now a full size M16 has the accuracy to reach 500 meters with its roughly 3 MOA accuracy. But like the M4, the M16 is pushing it to reach 500-600 meters mostly on account of its ammunition. 5.56mm doesn’t retain accuracy at distances of 500 meters or greater.

          And I’m not even getting into topics such as the wounding profile and other elements of ballistics of that kind of shooting.

          Personally, I’d just go for a modernized and updated SCAR-H. Even a 16.5 inch barrel version has few issues reaching 500 meters.

          • Zachary marrs

            7 moa? out of an m4 with ball ammo? try less than half that

          • Major Tom

            My data comes from a Marine Corps armorer. Ya know the actual guys who would know this stuff?

            Barrel length does affect accuracy. If it doesn’t, why bother making anything larger than a .38 snubbie revolver? Generally speaking, the longer the barrel the more accurate it is. (To a point yes, then you start bleeding velocity.)

            The rest of that post reeks of AR-fanboyism.

          • jono102

            If a service rifle is shooting 7-12 moa, then there is a reason an armorer has it in his shop.
            You loose velocity from a shorter barrel but it doesn’t necessarily mean massive drops in accuracy. Take 2 AR type rifles of comparable age, use and optic. One with a 18-20inch the other with a 14.5-16inch barrel and you will have comparable results in grouping size out to 600m. The effect of human error would have greater influence i.e. the shooters ability to apply marksmanship principles and apply fire or take into account the different points of aim at different ranges than 4inches of barrel.

          • Zachary marrs

            Find me a credible source that states barrel length effects accuracy

            Sorry, but a USMC armorer isn’t the be all end all of information, their job doesn’t make them correct.

            Don’t call me a fanboy when it is your ignorance that is at fault

          • robstott

            If the 7-12 MOA with a M4 type is with Irons, and as a result of the average shooter, I believe that..

            But the technical accuracy is much, much greater. With my issued M4A1 and 4x ACOG, I had no problem making “headshots” on the 25m zero target. That translates to about 1.5 MOA.

          • Phil Hsueh

            Barrel length affects velocity which, in turn, affects range.

    • gusto

      totally with you

      plastic fantastics and syntethics have no soul

      I have one used almost abused and that sits in a synthetic stock but I feel no joy in using it.

      yes my other rifles and guns are also tools but not for anything tactical or even selfdefense, they are hunting or sporting tools

      would they be better in stainless and synthetic, maybe but I enjoy hunting and different targetshooting, I am like Wesley Snipes in white men can’t jump, I rather look good and lose

  • Trevor

    India doesn’t want to lose the genitalia waggling contest with Pakistan… hence the caliber shift.

  • iksnilol

    I feel this show got bad around was it season 4 or 5, what with the Excalibur thingy? I mean, now they’re just stretching the show out to keep it alive one more season,.

    • TJbrena

      I thought for sure the Israeli guy was going to take the lead spot after the goofball lead retired, but the producers seem convinced they can stretch this arc out for ratings and avoid hiring a new guy.

      I just want a conclusion of the rival arc, dammit!

    • Uniform223

      This is like watching Lost…

      • iksnilol

        EXACTLY! They’re like “it’s genious because you know it’s gonna end” … but they don’t mention it’s gonna end eventually (with them running outta money) and end with them padding a season with stupid crap (IE Excalibur) and then compressing the last season with a bunch of stuff that should have been 2 seasons (IE last season of Lost).

  • Phillip Cooper

    Am I nuts, didn’t a lot of their police and troops run during the Mumbai incident? Maybe focus on getting them some more modern weapons – no matter the caliber- and finding someone with backbone to use them?

    • B-Sabre

      Some of them may have run, but the guy caught on video exchanging fire with the terrorists (wielding AK-47s) while armed with only an SMLE obviously has big clanging balls of brass.

  • ReadyorNot

    The Indian military uses a variety of weapons systems from around the world.. their logistics must be a nightmare.

    • Der Stürmer

      Their govt hands out fliers to Indian citizens on the benefits of using a toilet instead of going in the street

      • Malthrak

        When they have a population 4x that of the US, spread over every conceivable stage of economic development from millenia old subsistence farming to ultra high tech areas almost indistinguishable from Silicon Valley, awkward things occur.

    • TDog

      From what I’ve heard, it’s close to non-existent. Their tanks and artillery lack ammunition, their planes lack parts, and shortages abound. All in all, they seem to be obsessed with getting the system and singularly unwilling to do anything to maintain said system in fighting shape.

  • ArjunaKunti

    These requirements make no sense. Every gram of the .308 is a single waste of load for an average rifleman who will never shoots past 350-400 m.

    • snmp

      not for fight in Kashmir (Moutain of Himalayas)

      • jono102

        A lot of throw away lines are made about the ranges soldiers can engage over in particular regions these days. In actual fact most Urban, jungle and open country can generally present the same issues. In jungle and urban you can go from 1-2m in close combat to 3-500m+ with clearings and valleys in jungle or open terrain, fire lanes or elevated positions in urban. In open terrain etc you can end up in close combat moving through defensive positions, or in dead ground whilst avoiding the enemies direct fire weapons.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    This is a perfect reminder of why I’m extremely skeptical of all of the people that are predicting that both China and India will overtake America and become the new leading superpowers sometime this century. China almost certainly will, but India is too disorganized and incompetent to keep up with China’s rise. Traveling to both countries makes this extremely obvious. China is way more organized, technologically advanced, and clean than India.

    • john huscio

      China has a serious demographic problem, which is why they are pushing so hard in the south china sea right now….. in a decade or so, a rapidly declining workforce won’t be able to provide the taxbase to sustain military expansion and china will need immigrants to fill the gap and keep its economic head above water

  • Amplified Heat

    Man, how do I get in on this fat, Indian, money cake? Seems like there is plenty for everyone.

  • John

    1. The HK 417.

    2. The FN SCAR-17.

    3. The AR-10.

    4. The Galil ACE.

    5. The Kel-Tec RFB.

    6. Finish the INSAS-Ex project, and chamber it for 7.62 NATO.

    Those are the only options India can reasonably consider. Russia won’t touch or build anything NATO now, except for their own purposes.

    • wysoft

      Indians like AKs so the Zastava M77 is an option. Zastava loves contracts.

      Kel-Tec RFB? Why did you even include this as an option? Kel-Tec can’t even build them in quantity for the US civilian market.

      • Sasquatch

        Finally someone is realising that there is an AK that shoot 7.62×51.

    • Tritro29

      4 choices don’t make sense for the numbers we’re speaking. Two are more expensive than the allowance for an Indian Company per month.
      1 just doesn’t exist.

      On Options, well 1. get that CZ prototype. 2. check the Serbian M77A2 (is it 2 already?). 3 try and heckle Russia (CK) for the new SVK you never know.

    • snmp

      FAL from Indian Ordonnance
      Russian AK400 or AK100

      • Max Glazer

        AKs were never made in 7.62×51.

    • Sasquatch

      Russia might not but the yugoslavians will.

  • TM

    Those questioning the caliber choice should consider the fact that they are probably sitting on millions of rounds of 7.62×51 ammunition and are tooled up to produce it already.

    Also, the cartridge needs to be reliable from sea-level to the highest populated elevations on the planet. Data gathered from Afghanistan showed many small-caliber cartridges under performing in thin/cold air and to be highly sensitive to rifling twist and projectile weight combinations. The x51 may not be a hot rod or super efficient, but it is super stable across a wide range of environmental conditions.

    The optics mentioned in the RFI were likely not referencing a traditional sniper scope but a low magnification aiming device like the SUSAT, ACOG or Elcan currently in use. A 500m engagement distance is reasonable with this cartridge and optic combination for regular infantry, and is common in the regions they would operate.

    US troops operating in Afghanistan would come under fire from 7.62x54R guns and not be able to return fire with 5.56 as they were out of effective range. It is a legitimate concern for their ‘Big Army’.

    • TDog

      All that and .308 just rocks! 😀

    • jono102

      The primary argument India would have for going to 7.62 would be your first one, they have it (a lot) and can already produce it.
      The effective range argument from Afghan only has so much weight. Yes it has the better long range characteristics, but it comes down to being able to locate and identify a target (optics etc) and then have the necessary ability to accurately engage (marksmanship, training and command). If not soldiers will do the exact same thing as for 5.56, put rounds in the general direction, except now they will carry less. A miss is a miss be it 5.56 or 7.62.

      5.56 and 7.62 X 39 is a lot easier to teach recruits and soldiers to get rounds on under 300m than 7.62 NATO.

      India needs to decide what they need their rifle to be able to do vs what they have the ability or motivation to resource. Otherwise they are wasting their time….again

  • TJbrena

    Remember, no matter how bad your think your local Military-Industrial Complex is, India’s is worse.

    • Tritro29

      Nope there will always be Congo. God bless those Coltane mines.

      • TJbrena

        How messed up is the Congolese procurement process?

        • Tritro29

          Well the procurement process is more like where do we steal enough magazines to feed this “platoon” for a week. Oh Police storage.

          Best sory evah.

          When you need things done, you go to Ukraine to buy tanks. Nice modernized T64’s. Tanks never arrive and you learn live on TV they’re being blown up by Russia in Eastern Ukraine. So you actually worry what could have been if you had them to protect you. Then Ukraine sends 5 instead of 46 and they don’t explain the difference. Your tanks do not start, because Ukraine hasn’t shipped APU with the tanks, while the APU is necessary to start the tanks while not running the turbine (yeah I kid you not) to have the tank less visible on thermals, so you happen to get Chinese compatible packs.

          Tanks start, but the guns aren’t properly aligned with the video sight. No problem, your tankers pot a marker on the display so you don’t miss the deviation. Ukraine charges you the double, you still haven’t seen the rest of the tanks, but from time to time, Russian sites show up your contracted tanks picked up in pieces.

          All this is true (slightly dramatized). And many more stories like these are to be told.

          If you understand french or you can get some one to translate it for you, check for a video on the Congolese Army being trained by the Belgians around 2009/2010 It’s hilarious from start to end.

          • tsubaka

            il y a moyen de mettre le lien de la video?

          • Tritro29

            I posted the link but it is pending so check for this one on youtube.

            Title: Tout ça ( nous rendra pas le Congo).
            Youtube channel: yaya boeing

          • TJbrena

            Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out.

  • Rock or Something

    Ishapore 2A1 rifle it is…

  • jono102

    Please for the love of God, baby Jesus, Brahma and any other deities don’t let it be a INSAS/Excalibur/Excalibur 2 in 7.62mm. Hell even the ARX200 would be better now they dumped the inconsequential crap from the ARX160

  • Sasquatch

    Wow….. This is just stupid…. Just go and call H&K and order some 417s. Or call FNH and order some SCAR 17s. If they are so bent on making it them selfs buy tooling to make AR10 pattern rifles.

    • randomswede

      My guess is that they don’t have SCAR 17 or HK 417 money and building things in country has been problematic, but if they buy the tooling complete it should be fool proof.

      • Sasquatch

        AR 10s would be the easiest am I right? Now if they losen up a bit on the accuracy part they should make a yugo m77 pattern rifle.

        • randomswede

          To make make AR-10s cheaply I suspect the presses needed to produce the forgings are the most exotic, the rest is fairly “meat & potatoes”.

  • john huscio

    MPT76. Tailormade for this solicitation.

  • RicoSuave

    India’s inability to produce a decent battle rifle is baffling considering they have put satellites in space, developed nuclear weapons, built their own aircraft and battle tanks. Why is small arms technology so difficult ?

    • jono102

      They did end up with the Arjun MBT. The “Indian made” tank that was only 50% domestically produced parts. They spent 3 years fixing issues and then declared it better then T-90’s in their own trials. Now a large percentage are apparently off the road with tech and parts issues.

      They made that look pretty difficult.

      • Max Glazer

        Better then T-90! When I heard them say that I fell out of my chair laughing. THey only ordered about 124 of them, and Arjun Mk2 was in the works. Since then it’s all be quiet and India is still buying T-90s…

  • 🐒👊

    Total Quantity required is approximately 1,85,000 Assault Rifles” How many is that supposed to be?

  • 🐒👊

    Looking around the web. Looks like Unified Weapon Systems (Adams Arms??) Has their foot in the door with Peru and also submitted some rifles to India. Small frame .308 look familiar? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/44dfdeb97dfbd2df3a678372cb7ead3322042382c394054a152c6a0a149c70e8.png

  • gunsandrockets

    If you only issue 60 cartridges per rifleman, they might as well be 7.62x51mm as 5.56mm.

  • John Daniels

    I think the Indian state arsenals should start making the 2A1 version of the Enfield rifle again, issue that, and just call it done.

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    India is so corrupt it is not even funny!!!!