The decline of the gun industry in India

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

When I recently blogged about TACOM’s efforts to expand the US small arms industrial base, Btr astutely noted that if the government was really interested in expanding the industrial base they would re-open the machine gun registry.

In India the opposite has occurred. The Indian government has a monopoly on the manufacture of civilian arms. Only a limited number of Olympic class shooters are allowed to import guns.

Indian government manufactured “Revolver 32 (7.65 mm x 23)”. It costs about US$1366 (excluding taxes).

The consequence of this is that the government factories, which number about 40, can afford to let quality drop because they have a captive market of over 1 billion people. Now even the military are complaining about the monopoly.

The Hindustan Times reports:

“India produces the shoddiest guns in the world and sells them at ridiculously high rates,” says Swaran Singh, who owns an arms repair workshop in Jalandhar. “Every gun which comes out of the factories in Jammu or Bihar or the ordnance factories in Kolkata and Kanpur has a problem,” he says. Guns manufactured by the ordnance are marginally better, adds Singh, who repairs at least 25 new guns manufactured in Indian factories every month.

However, private licence-holders aren’t the only ones complaining. Forced to cope with weapons considered virtually obsolete in the international market, armymen are also saying it would be wiser to allow private players to manufacture arms and ammunition. “The government monopoly would break, the quality of weapons would improve and prices would fall,” says an official at the Army Headquarters. Besides producing defective weapons, the ordinance factories also do not meet delivery deadlines, says an official.

Over the years, the army has moved from the 7.62 mm self-loading rifle to the next generation Indian National Small Arms System (INSAS). But this 5.56 mm assault rifle is also known to develop major defects like cold arrest, breakage and cracking of components in strategic areas like the Siachen Glacier, Kargil and other high altitude areas, senior army officials say. Such defects were seen even during the critical Kargil conflict. The government was then forced to allow the import of one lakh AK-47 assault rifles from Romania at a cost of Rs 85 crore.

I highly recommend reading the whole article [ Google Cache Link ] . It gives insight into a unique situation.

Many thanks to Mehul for sending me the link.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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2 of 24 comments
  • Sal Palma Sal Palma on May 25, 2010

    Regretfully, India's elite are interested in evolving military prestige in lieu of feeding and caring for its people - infants and mothers to name just a few.
    Keeping arms out of the hands of its people is consistent with that strategy. India needs to place its people first; certainly ahead of multi-billion dollar expenditures on military initiatives. India is living a smoke and mirror fantasy. India’s neighboring countries are not a threat to India’s national security, its flagrant disregard of its people is.

  • Indian Patriot Indian Patriot on Aug 07, 2010

    @Sal Palma

    Don't talk about things you don't know. India since independence has been attacked no less than FIVE times by foreign powers, not to mention numerous border skirmishes caused by other countries' military adventurism. Don't give me that "neighboring countries are not a threat to India's security" BS.

    I also don't see how giving guns to regular civilians counts as "caring" for them. All it will do is result in a huge increase of domestic violence. Guns should be used by the police and military and no else. We are not some crazy rednecks who need to bring a gun everywhere we go.