Indian Army ‘modifies’ American SiG 716 rifles to suit local needs

Customization of the SiG 716 has allowed use of low-priced bullets, additional grip, night vision lenses and the latest one – a bipod

The Indian soldiers were used to INSAS and AK-47 rifles, which they were very comfortable with. The SiG 716 is a modern-day weapon with a host of advantages, but needed some modifications to suit Indian conditions and soldiers.| Representational image

The newly acquired Sig Sauer assault rifles, popularly known as SiG 716, have got a ‘desi’ touch with the defence establishment modifying the US made weapon into one which the Indian Army would find of utmost utility, reports ThePrint.

The Indian Army got the first consignment of 72,000 SiG 716 G2 Patrol assault/battlefield rifles in December 2019 to strengthen border patrolling along the LoC with Pakistan.  It got the second lot of 72,000 more rifles a few days back. The modern-day assault rifle replaces the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45mm rifles and AK47 rifles. Both the weapons were proving insufficient to effectively man India’s highly sensitive borders and function will full efficiency in counter-insurgency and combat operations.

The Indian soldiers, however, were struggling to get used to the new rifles. Firstly, they had become too comfortable using INSAS and AK-47, which despite their limitations, were very convenient to use.

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One of the shortcomings of SiG 716 given to Indian troops was that it did not have optical device, which was not procured from the US to keep the cost low. This was a major shortcoming because without night vision, our soldiers found the new rifles of no use in the dark. The Army overcame this shortcoming by integrating its existing sight systems on the SiG 716. Though all our sight systems do not have a night vision, several of them have, which make them of more utility to the foot soldiers.

“The existing sight system does the trick. While it is not completely compatible with the firing system, it is much better than not having one. With a little bit of training, the soldier is able to shoot directly even in dark,” ThePrint said quoting a defence establishment source.

Besides, the SiG 716 has a higher recoil and calibre than the AK-47s or the INSAS. But the soldiers are adjusting to it because SiG has other advantages like greater accuracy and the ability to ‘shoot to kill’ at a distance of 600 metres while the other rifles had a much lower range and were not designed to kill at longer distances.

Indian soldiers, some of whom had shorter hands, were used to shorter barrel of the AK-47s. They found the SiG’s grip difficult to hold. The Army gave it an additional handle for better grip.

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The Indian Army got the 1.40 lakh SiG 716 rifles from the US for a good price, but its bullets still were expensive. To address the challenge, Indian Army used the local made rounds of the 7.62 light machine gun (LMG). On the flip side, the LMG rounds make the SiG’s recoil higher than what the rifle would have had the original bullets been used.

Another customized addition to the American rifle will be a bipod, which is nothing but a stand that allows the soldier to use the rifle in different situations with greater accuracy.

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