Indian Army

Service Rifles of Indian Army: 1947-Present

Recently the government of India has placed an order for 72,000 additional Sig-Saur 716 G2 rifles for Indian Army. There were a previous order 72,400 rifles earlier. These rifles along with Kalashnikov AK-203 rifles are being procured by India army to replace its INSAS (INdian Small Arms System) service rifle or the standard issue rifle. But this is not the first time the Indian Army is doing this. Indian Army has replaced its service rifles earlier three times.

What is a Service Rifle

A service rifle  (also known as a standard-issue rifle) is a rifle which an armed force issue as standard to its service members. In modern forces, this is typically a versatile and rugged battle rifle, assault rifle, or carbine suitable for use in nearly all environments.

In other words, service rifles are the most common rifles given to the infantry soldiers. Indian Army has used Lee-Enfield Bolt-Action Rifles, Self-Loading Rifle (SLR) and in modern times using INSAS as the standard firearm since independence.

The finest weapon in our arsenal are those that breathe

Indian Armed forces

List of all Service Rifles

RifleService lifeAction And caliber
Lee Enfield Rifle
aka “.303 rifle”
1947-1963.303 British cartridge,
Bolt action
( aka Rifle 7.62mm 1A1)
1963–19987.62×51 mm NATO
Isapore 2A1963-1970s7.62×51 mm NATO
Bolt action
AKM and it’s varients1980-present7.62×39 mm
Select fire
INSAS1998-present5.56×45 mm NATO
Select fire
IWI Tavor tar-212002-present5.56×45 mm NATO
Select fire
Sig 716 G22019 -present7.62×51 mm NATO
select fire
AK 203future induction7.62×39 mm

Lee Enfield rifle

The legendary Lee-Enfield is a bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle that was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire and British Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th century. The WWI versions are often referred to as the “SMLE”, which is short for the common “Short, Magazine, Lee–Enfield” variant. This rifle saw over 17 million unit production around the world.

The Lee Enfield rifle invented by James Paris Lee, the rifle was initially manufactured by Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield has the dubious distinction of having the highest kills to its name

Indian Army inherited the Lee-Enfield rifles from the British Indian Army after independence. Indian army used the SMLE MK III* variants which were produced in rifle factory Isapore, west Bengal.

Lee-Enfield was used by Indian Army Troopers even after World war-2 ended and continued to do so until 1962. It was found that Indian Troopers equipped with Lee-Enfields were found severely lacking compared to Chinese Soldiers equipped with Automatic and Semi-Automatic Weapons like Type-56 (Chinese copy of AK 47) Assault Rifles and SKS Carbines. This was primarily because of the rate of fire of the rifles. It was better in terms of accuracy, range, and stopping power.


MassSMLE Mk III*: 3.96 kg (Mk III)
LengthSMLE Mk III*: 44.57 in (1,132 mm)
Barrel lengthSMLE Mk III*: 25.2 in (640 mm)
General Specifications
Cartridge.303 Mk VII SAA Ball
Rate of fire20–30 aimed shots per minute
Muzzle velocity744 m/s (2,441 ft/s)
Effective firing range550 yd (503 m)
Maximum firing range3,000 yd (2,743 m)
Feed system10-round magazine, loaded with 5-round charger clips
SightsSliding ramp rear sights, fixed-post front sights, “dial” long-range volley; telescopic sights on sniper models. Fixed and adjustable aperture sights incorporated onto later variants

After the 1962 Sino-Indian war this rifle was withdrawn from service. Indian army gradually transferred these rifles to Police forces. This rifle was replaced by Ishapore 2A and L1A1 SLR rifles.

Ishapore 2A/2A1

The Rifle 7.62mm 2A/2A1 (also known as the Ishapore 2A/2A1) is a 7.62×51mm NATO caliber bolt-action rifle adopted as a reserve arm by the Indian Armed Forces in 1963. The design of the rifle – initially the Rifle 7.62mm 2A – began at the Rifle Factory Ishapore of the Ordnance Factories Board in India, soon after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

The Ishapore 2A/2A1 has the distinction of being the last bolt-action rifle designed to be used by a regular military force other than specialized sniper rifles. While they are no longer in service with the Indian military, the rifle is still used by the Indian police.

Externally, the Ishapore 2A/2A1 rifle is based upon (and is almost identical to) the .303 British calibre SMLE Mk III* rifle, with the exception of the distinctive “square” (10 or 12 round) magazine and the use of the buttplate from the 1A (Indian version of the FN FAL) rifle.

The rifle was produced at an average rate of 70,000 a year. Around 250,000 rifles were made in total before production ended in 1974

Mass4.7 kg (10.4 lb), unloaded
Length44.5 in (1130 mm)
Cartridge7.62×51mm NATO
ActionBolt action
Rate of fire20–30 rounds/minute
Muzzle velocity792 m/s (2,600 ft/s)
Effective firing range800 m (875 yd)
Maximum firing range2,000 m (2,187 yd)
Feed system10- or 12-round magazine, loaded with 5-round charger clips
SightsSliding ramp rear sights, fixed-post front sights
Rear sight2A: 2000 yards
2A1: 800 yards

L1A1 Self Loading Rifle

The L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, also known as the SLR (Self-Loading Rifle),  is a British version of the Belgian FN FAL battle rifle (Fusil Automatique Léger, “Light Automatic Rifle”) produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN)

Indian Army inducted SLR as “7.62 mm rifle 1A1” in 1963 just after Sino-Indian war to phase out its Lee-Enfield rifles. It is also known as Ishapore 1A1. It is a copy of the UK L1A1 self-loading rifle. It is produced at Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli of the Ordnance Factories Board. It differs from the UK SLR in that the wooden butt-stock uses the butt-plate from the Lee–Enfield with a trap for oil bottle and cleaning pull-through. 

During the 1960s the need for a semi-automatic rifle was felt.  Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) evaluated several Australian, Belgian and British FAL rifles and each one was disassembled and examined. Simultaneously Indian government was negotiating with Belgian FN for license production of FN Fal in India. As these negotiations failed ARDE decided to manufacture its own version of FAL. This rifle was named as ‘Rifle 7.62mm 1A1’


Ishapore 1A1It was the copy of British L1A1. It was the semi-automatic variant
Ishapore 1CIt was a fully automatic variant designed for firing from port hole of BMP-2
Ishapore 1AIt was a copy of automatic belgian FN FAL

FN threatened a lawsuit when they learnt of the unlicensed variant. Then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not made aware of it and after he had heard it, offered to settle FN’s complaints by agreeing to purchase additional Belgian-made FALs, FALOs and MAG 60.20 GPMGs.

FN FALs, Isapore 1A1, 1A and 1C were gradually withdrawn from service after 1998. 1998 onward, INSAS began replacing the SLR family of weapons. The retired rifles were transferred to CRPF, NCC, and Police forces of various states.

General Specifications

Mass4.337 kg (9.56 lbs) empty
Length1,143 mm (45 in)
Barrel length554.4 mm (21.7 in)
Cartridge7.62×51mm NATO
ActionGas-operated, tilting breechblock
Rate of fireSemi-automatic (1A1)
Fully Automatic (1A and 1C) 675-750RPM
Muzzle velocity823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)
Effective firing range800 m (875 yds)
Feed system20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
SightsAperture rear sight, post front sight

Indian Small Arms System (INSAS)

INSAS is a family of rifles and LMG and currently is the standard issue rifle of Indian Army’s regular infantry Soldiers. It is extensively used by Indian Army, Airforce, Navy, CRPF, CISF, BSF and almost every police force in India. It is also used as a training rifle for small arms training at various training establishments of the armed forces. over 9,00,000 units belonging to this family have been produced.

In the mid-1980s, the decision was taken to develop a 5.56 mm calibre rifle to replace other obsolete rifles. Trials on various prototypes based on the AKM were carried out by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune. On the completion of the trial, INSAS was adopted in 1998 and thus entered service. 

Issues with INSAS

Within a year after its induction, INSAS got the opportunity to prove its worth. It was the Kargil War of 1999. During the 1999 Kargil War, the rifles were used in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. But this rifle did not meet the expectations. There were complaints of jamming, the magazine cracking due to the cold and the rifle going into automatic mode (luckily) when it was set for three-round bursts. There was also a problem of oil being sprayed into the eye of the operator. Some injuries during firing practice were also reported. In 2001, the 1B1 variant was introduced to solve problems regarding the rifle’s reliability back in the Kargil War, but it opened up other problems such as broken magazines.

Despite all efforts made to improve the rifle, INSAS seriously lacks the stopping power. According to some soldiers, one bullet of INSAS was not enough to kill its target. A confirm kill often requires multiple hits. This might be because of the small 5.56 mm calibre. That is why the Army does not use INSAS rifle in Kashmir Valley. Due to poor reliability and lack of power army prefers AKM over INSAS in Kashmir Valley.

Though this rifle was intended was intended to be cheaper and simpler than the AK 47 type rifle, its far more complicated and difficult to maintain. There are allegation of corruption on ARDE as INSAS contains more parts than required amount.

Thus due to all these short comings of INSAS, Indian army decided to replace its service rifles on a mass scale for the fourth time. SIG 716 G2 and AK 203 will be the future rifles of Indian Army.


Mass4.018 kg (8.86 lb) (without magazine)
Length960 mm (37.8 in)
Barrel length464 mm (18.3 in)
Cartridge5.56×45mm NATO
ActionGas-operated, Rotating bolt
Rate of fire600–650 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity900 m/s (2,953 ft/s)
Effective firing range400m (Insas Rifle)
600 m: Point targets (Insas LMG)
700 m: Area target (Insas LMG)
Feed system20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
SightsIn-built iron sights, mount point for telescopic or night sight

AKM family

AKM family is the most used firearm in the world. Indian Army has procured different variants time and again. There are over 4,00,000 AKM type rifles in active duty with the army.

Indian army was gradually phasing out its L1A1 type rifles during the 1990s. However, to phase out the still in use bolt-action Lee–Enfield rifles as quickly as possible, India had to acquire 100,000 7.62×39mm AKM-type rifles from Russia, Hungary, Romania and Israel in 1990–92.

Even today Indian army use the seized firearms from the insurgents. Indian Army is looking forwad to make Ak 203 its future rifle which is nothing but an improved AKM.

Tavor Tar-21

Tavor Tar 21 is the standard issue rifle of Indian Special forces. Tar 21 is an Israeli rifle manufactured IWI. Indian Special forces use TAR 21, CTAR 21, STAR 21, and X95 variants.


 In late 2002, India signed an ₹880 million (equivalent to ₹2.7 billion or US$38 million in 2019) deal with Israel Military Industries for 3,070 manufactured TAR-21s to be issued to India’s special forces personnel, where its ergonomics, reliability in heat and sand might give them an edge at close-quarters and employment from inside vehicles. By 2005, IMI had supplied 350–400 TAR-21s to India’s northern Special Frontier Force (SFF). These were subsequently declared to be “operationally unsatisfactory”. The required changes have since been made, and tests in Israel during 2006 went well, clearing the contracted consignment for delivery. The TAR-21 has now entered operational service – even as India gears up for a larger competition that could feature a 9 mm X95 version.

There was an attempt to create an Indian version of the Tavor under license known as Zittara, which was not adopted and it was made with a few prototypes from OFB. The new Tavor X95s have a modified single-piece stock and new sights, as well as Turkish-made MKEK T-40 40 mm under-barrel grenade launchers. 5,500 have been recently inducted and more rifles are being ordered. A consignment of over 500 Tavor bullpup assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over ₹150 million (US$2.1 million) and ₹20 million (US$280,000) respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (Marine Commandos) in December 2010.: In 2016, IWI announced that it was establishing a 49:51 joint venture with Punj Lloyd in India, in order to manufacture rifle components in India.


Mass3.27 kg (7.21 lb) (TAR-21)
3.18 kg (7.0 lb) (CTAR-21)
3.67 kg (8.1 lb) (STAR-21)
Length720 mm (28.3 in) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
640 mm (25.2 in) (CTAR-21)
Barrel length460 mm (18.1 in) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
380 mm (15.0 in) (CTAR-21)
Cartridge5.56×45mm NATO
ActionLong-stroke gas-operated, rotating bolt
Muzzle velocity910 m/s (2,986 ft/s) (TAR-21, STAR-21)
890 m/s (2,919.9 ft/s) (CTAR-21)
885 m/s (2,903.5 ft/s) (TC-21)
Effective firing range550 m
Feed system30-round detachable box STANAG Magazine (5.56×45mm NATO)
SightsBackup iron sights and integrated Picatinny rails are provided for the Meprolight MP 21, ITL MARS with integrated laser and IR pointer, Trijicon ACOG, EOTech holographic sight and other optical sights

That was all about the standard-issue rifles of the Indian army. However, there are various other rifles operated by Indian army but in limited numbers thus they cannot be termed as service rifles. Very soon the Indian army will have Ak 203 and Sig 716 G2 rifles as service rifles.



Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.


  1. u said Indian army uses akm’s seized from terrorists. Do u have any proof to back that claim of yours? It really seems like u are trying to downplay the army by mocking them that they don’t have good guns to fight with.

    1. Have you ever wondered what happens with the seized arms? The seized arms are first thoroughly inspected. For example, say few Kalashnikovs are seized or recovered from the terrorists. Now say few were AKM and few were Chinese type 56. Now the quality and condition are thoroughly examined. Indian army uses AKM. So if the weapons are found of satisfactory standards, then the army will use the AKM and dispose the Type 56s. Sometimes these seized arms are also used in covert ops as these weapons are easy to get rid of. I am not at all mocking or downplaying the army. They use those particular models which are already in service and only if the gun meets the desired standards.

    2. It is an unspoken rule to use enemy weapons against them if necessary. Using their weqpons against them is better as they get a taste of their own medicine (weapon) also it is their bullets which will be used and their rifles will be worn out not army’s. This will help to cut the costs of counter-terrorism operations and reduce the maintenance and increase service life of army’s service weapons

      1. Hi Respected, Sheershoo deb
        Im already 30 year old. i want to know that is any position (vacancy) is there where I can be a part of Indian army. I have experience in studies and work of New Zealand as well as Zealand India. kindly consider me if possible. i be glad to here from your side.
        Manpreet Singh Dhillon
        phone and what’s app – 7527821708

        1. Guru Gobind sing is worship worthy and guru Nanak is one of the Pancha Pandava who defeated daemons in the spiritual war of Mahabharata war.
          And he sit on the right side of god and thats why sikhs are more dharmic than hindus, in hinduism we have right side sun dynasty and moon dynasty( ram krishna) and on the left side we have ravan dynasty.

  2. I think there are more rifles in use than this:
    But the clever thing to do would be abandoning the usual calibers for .243WSSM
    – Fits in any modified 5.56×45 weapon and their magazines
    – Recoil similar to 7.62x39R used by AK-47 etc
    – Less muzzle energy than 7.62x51NATO or 7.62x54R but ballistics are much better so, after 400-500m, retains more energy than these. These usual military caliber are accurate and efficient up to 800m with a 64cm barrel..243WSSM is 1000-1100m OK : 6mm calibers absolutely rule 1km sportshootng competitions!
    – Bullpup rifles of the likes of FAMAS G2, Tavor, etc, are only 88-91cm long with a 64cm barrel. If smth reusing the Korobov TKB-022PM loading system, you’d end with only 75cm for 64cm barrel length
    – Lighter/smaller than 7.62x51NATO or 7.62x54R
    – India uses 22 models of rifles and 8 machine-guns w. 5.56x45NATO; 7.62x39R; 7.62x51NATO or 7.62x54R
    .243WSSM would allow to use a single bullpup rifle, a single machine-gun and now you find very light versions of the XM195 MicroGun like the XM556, you may even consider a Gatling even on light vehicles like Quad motorbikes, doors of very light choppers like the HAL Cheetah, providing suppressing fire at 1km+
    Even if uncommon, the use of any unified caliber by an army as large as the Indian one will drag the ammo costs down, likely to end even lower than the actual 4 calibers in use as much more of a single caliber would be purchased
    – Unlike w. 5.56, you don’t need to hit terrorists with 2-3 bullets to neutralise them.
    => The only issues I see : You extended 5.56 magazines as the brass diameter is larger, so a mag for 45x 5.56 will be around 30+, one for 60x 5.56 will have only 40+ rounds etc.
    Rounds are heavier than 5.56, but since most of 7.62×39 has steel-cases, and usual machineguns belts for PKM as well as Dragunov rounds are much heavier and so are these weapons, so, all in all, a squad may finally carry as much rounds as usual, moreover, you can cut weight elsewhere : there is freaking light outdoor gear, just look at how warm and light are sleeping bags and winter clothes from a company like Carinthia : they have a 2kg sleeping bag that is comfy at -37.8°C and has a low limit at -65°C, same for body armours : Level IV protection against armour-piercing bullets is truly heavy : you will need a 3kg Level-IIIA soft armour with two 2.3kg ceramic-composite plates and two 1.7kg trauma plates… Go for a light plate-carrier and two Hexatac 2.6kg plate, each does standalone Level IV and trauma-plate at once, so you only wear a 5.5kg body armour instead of a 11kg one…
    Another caliber of interest : it’s a wildcat of .30carbine, the
    Surestrike .25 Garin
    Since .30carbine fits in a pistol grip, see AMT Automag III, so does the .25 Garin
    The overall length is 42.7 mm, it’s just 2.3mm more than the FN5.7×28 used in the FN Five-SeveN, the FN P90, Keltec P50, Ruger-57 and some other firearms; and 0.7mm longer than the 5.56×30mm MINSAS used by the 3kg (empty) JVPC :
    But, unlike these calibers as well as the HK 4.6×30, the 9mmPara, etc, the energy is not around 540 Joules, it’s similar to the .30carbine with around 1300+ Joules in a 40cm barre, except that you have an ogive-shaped rifle bullet instead of a “pistol” ball-bullet, then, the energy is also on par with 5.45x39R used by AK-74/AK-74U
    And there would be a very nice multi-caliber modular SMG which already uses 9Para, FN5.7×28 or HK4.6×30 that would be a perfect plateform, the STK CPW :
    and a leg holster similar to the HK MP7’s one would be a perfect fit :
    I’d recommand 50 rounds magazines, to deliver it with a 40cm barrel as well as the 18cm one and I’d strongly advise to also create a .300 Garin, using a .300 Winchester Magnum 250-300 grains bullet and a shorter case and a barrel with an integrated silencer as the bullet shall leave the barrel at 320m/s. Bingo, the goal is a silenced heavy bullet, so the energy would be about 800+Joules, therefore similar to Russian 9×39 subsonic cartridges or .357magnum, but here you have much better aerodynamics, and smaller caliber, so you can expect longer range and better accuracy than a VSS Vintorez or an AS Val.
    So here we have something that can be carried like a big pistol with the energy of an AK-74U when the short barrel is fit, similar to AK-74 with a 40cm barrel and like a Val or Vintorez when silenced…
    We saw many long range sniper/anti-material rifles appearing in the last 25 years.
    .338 Lapua-magnum has became very common, as well as .50BMG.
    Well, .50BMG rifles are damn heavy, but when it comes to long range shooting, all the world’s records have been beaten by .408 Chey-Tac. Usually, these rifles are just a little lighter than .50BMG ones but…
    gas operated semi-automatic mechanics absorbs a good part of the energy that would be going into the frame of a bolt- action gun, therefore, the Vigilance Rifles VR1c Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) only weights 7.7kg
    And… ever heard about the Tracking-Point targetting system?
    .408CT would surely allow lighter heavy machine-guns with the double of a .50BMG’s range
    GRENADE LAUNCHER… not really rifles ;-)
    This one is very interesting and very light:
    But 40×46LV (low velocity) grenades should be replaced by 40x53HV (high velocity) ones and a little longer barrel, so allowing up to 1700 meters against point targets and up to 2200 m maximum. Combined with some Tracking Point alike.
    The Cougar MS might be manually operated but the kind of straight-pull loading similar to biathlon carbines is rather fast to operate and semi-auto/auto grenade launchers tend to be much heavier, so, with an efficient electronic sighting, no need for fast cycling when a single one is gonna hit where needed.

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