Indian Army wants to Upgrade Sniper Rifles

Hot on the heels of requesting an RFI for 36,000 thermal optics for GPMGs, Indian Army Infantry Procurement officials are putting out another RFI solicitation, this time for 5,000 rifles in .338 Lapua, no mention of scopes or thermal optics. In fact, the solicitation is worded very vaguely with “as light as possible for easy transport and use in varied terrain” and, “convenient to carry and operate by an average-built Indian soldier”. Defined metrics should improve to actual specifications in the competition process. I suspect these rifles are for border security against Pakistan, similar to the thermal optic RFI. Operations in Kashmir don’t seem to afford the ranges that a .338 Lapua capability would be useful at.

Although Indian Infantry currently use a number of bolt action rifles, semi-automatic rifles, and INAS DMRs for a long range role, it appears that the Cold War SVD Dragunov is especially effective due to its status as a squad level DMR. Within counter-insurgency warfare, DMRs are especially effective when the battlefield is extremely fluid and changing. Traditional sniper teams and tactics are effective as well, but are sometimes hard to get into position over very short periods of time. Something that a soldier with a DMR on a foot patrol can easily accomplish in a situation like Kashmir.

From Jane’s

The service plans to acquire 5,000 bolt-action sniper rifles chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum, with a requirement for the rifle to be capable of operation in environments to include high altitude, desert, and jungle.

With regards to weight and size, the specifications outlined are not set, with the RFI noting that its weight with bipod and empty magazine should be “as light as possible for easy transport and use in varied terrain”, while the overall length is required to be “convenient to carry and operate by an average-built Indian soldier.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • TVOrZ6dw

    Is this a normal refresh, or is the Indian army expecting heavy action in a few years?

    • Xtorin O’hern

      the Pakistani’s have been taking potshots at them across the border, they wanna send some lead back.

      • DGR

        Pakistan is accused of funding terror strikes against Indian positions, and both sides have already escalated to fairly regular cross boarder artillery fire. If you haven’t signed up for it, sign up for the NightWatch. Its a great source of information for what’s going on in the world, and its a cheap source of reliable news (actual news, not politicized drama).

        • KestrelBike

          DGR, you mean this? http://www.kforcegov dot com/Services/IS/NightWatch.aspx

          Thanks for the info, seems informative!

          • DGR

            Ya, that’s the one. Hands down the finest current world events news service on the open/public source (in my opinion). Its $25 a year, but easily worth it for the level of detail it gives you for the global climate. It is honest to goodness unbiased news, with some commentary to explain what they think it means, in a daily email. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who wants to follow the global security situation.

        • MeaCulpa

          Without taking sides in the whole Pakistan/India mess I’d say that it’s highly likely that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (a bunch of a*s holes on a scale that makes the CIA look like choir boys) is funding terrorist attacks against both civilian and military targets in India. ISI has been supporting the taliban and other “fun” groups.

          • Yeah, Pakistan and ISI are playing this dangerous game of tip-toeing back and forth between supporting the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban, in addition to fighting them at the same time, with U.S. aid all the way.

    • DGR

      The situation has been developing for a few months, In a BLUF, the situation is very tense and war seems more likely than it has in recent years. However, the risk of all out war is still limited by Chinese involvement in Pakistan and the employment of nuclear weapons. That said, the Indian military is serious about continuing to modernize their force to maintain the technological advantage they currently have. They have a long ways to go, but you will see more and more technology developments as time goes on. From the infamous standard issue rifle replacement program, to better ballistic missiles and a modernized Air Force.

  • Wetcoaster

    They want a lot of things, but they don’t seem very proficient at actually developing or buying them.

    • AC97

      Bureaucracy at its finest…

      • MeaCulpa

        In the case of India the problem is probably less corruption no more rampant corruption.

    • Martin M

      Cue the requests for ‘evaluation’ samples!

  • SLi-Fox

    They can send those dragunovs this way…

  • MeaCulpa

    Que horrible corruption in 3… 2…

  • A.WChuck

    In case my other post is nixed by staff due to a link:
    On December 12 TFB posted a similar article by Hrachya H.
    Do the writers read their own blog?

    • Darn it! You are absolutely correct man, I really apologize for that. Usually I’m really good about not double posting, but have been so caught up in other matters this completely skipped my attention… I promise you I do read our own blog, and I do try my best to ensure I never double post but this one just slipped through the cracks. Once again, I’m sorry, you guys deserve better from me 🙁

  • Vitor Roma

    Oh shiiiii…here we go again.

  • Kivaari

    Does anyone have a clue about the 2 inch mortar shown? Is it still used for HE frag?

  • John

    >The service plans to acquire 5,000 bolt-action sniper rifles chambered
    for the .338 Lapua Magnum, with a requirement for the rifle to be
    capable of operation in environments to include high altitude, desert,
    and jungle.

    If the Enfield can handle that, great. If not, just barrel them for what they CAN do, put a 1917 rail on them, and ship them out.

    At this point, nobody trusts the India procurement program and nobody will sell to them without a 100% guarantee.

  • Jim Slade

    The Indian military is a hungry Chris Rock and the world arms market is a restaurant.

  • Fantastic Journey

    This procurement is for high altitude mountain divisions being raised to match up to China in the east. High altitude requires longer range and heavier bullet.

  • Doom

    Lol, I love how people are questioning the 5000 bolt action rifles but not the 36,000 thermal optics that will probably cost twice as much if not more per optic than it would per rifle. Where is India getting the cash for this again too? Are they pulling an America?