The Indian Small Arms Systems (INSAS) rifle, developed in the late 1990s to replace antiquated British rifles in Indian service, has been criticized for numerous functional and operational issues. Despite being in service with the Indian Armed Forces for around 30 years, it is often cited as one of the most inadequate assault rifles of the era. The Indian government, which initially strove to rectify the rifle’s issues, recently decided to replace it with imported foreign models.
- INSAS, an acronym for Indian Small Arms Systems, was created by the Indian government in the 1980s to replace the 7.62mm battle rifles in use at the time with a lighter, domestically produced assault rifle.
- Despite serving with the Indian Armed Forces for nearly 30 years, the INSAS rifle has been plagued with significant operational issues, resulting in its reputation as one of the worst assault rifles in recent history.
- The rifle was subjected to its first real test during the Kargil War between India and Pakistan in 1999, where it was reported to have performed poorly in the extreme cold conditions. Complaints included broken polymer magazines, the weapon randomly firing full auto, and the gas regulator, an essential component for functioning, occasionally breaking.
- Due to its complexity and numerous design flaws, the INSAS rifle is expensive to produce. Its notable failure has led to its upcoming replacement with foreign imports, specifically the AK-203 rifles from Russia and SIG 716i rifles.
- Despite the criticism, the Indian government persistently tried to fix the INSAS’s issues and modernize the platform, even creating the Excalibur variant in 2016. However, this plan was scrapped in 2018, indicating a move towards more reliable and cost-effective options.