Indian soldier taking aim with INSAS assault rifle during an exercise in 2009.
Source: US Army - © Public domain
The INSAS is a late Cold War era assault rifle of Indian origin. It was developed in the 1980's to replace the FAL in Indian service. INSAS stands for Indian National Small Arms System. It was designed to be a cheap and effective weapon. However the design proved too complex for low cost production and limited production quality has resulted in reduced reliability. First batches were delivered to the Indian Army in the early 1990's. Due to various problems full scale production was postponed until 1998. Since 2002 deliveries have been suspended again.
The design has been inspired by the FNC and Kalashnikov system. Both designs are known for their reliability. The front end of the weapon and the long stroke gas piston resemble the FNC. The receiver is similar to Kalashnikov designs. The stock, pistol grip and forearm are made out of plastics. Over the years a variety of derivatives were developed from the baseline INSAS of which only the light machine gun version was put in production.
The INSAS fires a slightly modified 5.56x45mm NATO round from 20 or 30 round translucent magazines. It is a select fire rifle with a cyclic rate of fire of 650 rpm. The maximum effective is about 400 meters. The accuracy is claimed to be good. Reliability is rather limited due to sloppy manufacturing and low quality materials.
The main user of the INSAS is the Indian military with 200.000 to 300.000 rifles in service. Over 20.000 rifles have been exported to Nepal and the INSAS was selected to become the standard issue rifle of Oman.
The INSAS rifle is the standard version of the INSAS family. The majority is fitted with a fixed plastic stock. Some have a metal tubular stock similar to those found on folding stock versions of the INSAS LMG.
The INSAS LMG is a light support weapon based on the INSAS design. It feeds from standard INSAS magazines and features a longer and heavier barrel, which does not feature a quick change ability. The handguard consists of two square pads and allows the bipod to fold into the handguard. Most INSAS LMG are fitted with the standard fixed stock. A folding metal tubular stock is also available.
The INSAS fires a domestic version of the 5.56x45mm round.
The INSAS supplemented and replaced the inch-pattern variant of the FN FAL that was produced under license in India.
The INSAS is partially derived from the Belgian FN FNC design.
The INSAS merges FNC and AK-47 design features.
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