Since late 1950s, Indian armed forces were equipped with 7.62mm NATO L1A1 self-loading rifles, which were licensed copies of the famous Belgian FN FAL rifle. As the 7.62mm self-loading rifles started to become obsolete by the 1980s, India began to develop the INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System), which incorporated features from several popular foreign designs. The INSAS system was originally planned to have three components - a standard rifle, a carbine, and a squad automatic rifle (LMG), all chambered for 5.56 x 45 NATO ammunition. In 1997 the rifle and LMG were ready for mass production, and in 1998 the first units were observed on an Independence Day parade armed with INSAS rifles. The mass introduction of the INSAS rifle was initially delayed by the lack of the domestically made 5.56 mm ammunition and India accordingly bought significant stocks of ammunition from the Israeli IMI company. At the present time at least 300,000 INSAS rifles are in service with the Indian army; some of these have seen action in Indo-Pakistani conflict. The INSAS rifles are made by the Ishapore Rifle Factory.
The INSAS rifle is broadly based on the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 action, but with many modifications. The basic gas-operated action with long stroke gas piston and a rotating bolt, as well as the stamped steel receiver, are generally the same as in modern Kalashnikov rifles. However, the gas system is fitted with a manual gas regulator, similar in design to that found on FN FAL rifles, as well as a gas cutoff. The charging handle has been moved from the bolt carrier to the left side of the forearm; it is similar in position and design to German HK G3 rifle. The selector / safety switch is located at the left side of the receiver, above the pistol grip, and allows for single shots and three round bursts. The rifle is fitted with a side-folding carrying handle, and either a solid or side-folding metal buttstock. Furniture can be made from wood or polymer. Standard magazines are made from semi-translucent polymer and contain 20 rounds. Longer 30-round magazines of similar design are available for the INSAS LMG but can also be used in the rifle. The sights consist of a hooded front, mounted on top of the gas block, and a diopter rear, mounted on the receiver cover. The flash hider is shaped to accept NATO-standard rifle grenades. INSAS rifles can be fitted with AKM-style multipurpose knife-bayonets.
Caliber: 5.56x45 mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 945 mm with fixed butt; 960 / 750 mm with folding butt
Barrel length: 464 mm
Weight: 3.2 kg empty
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds