India is a large country – often referred to as a sub continent. It is the dominant power in SE Asia and has a standing armed force of over 1.2 million. But the early years after independence saw the political leadership led by Nehru give very little importance to the armed forces which continued with obsolete weapons like the first war vintage .303 rifle (bolt action) and an assorted range of revolvers imported from the UK and some other countries. As a corollary the small arms industry also suffered and no weapons were manufactured in India.
The 1962 debacle of the Indian army at the hand of the Chinese changed all that and the Indian leadership steeped in non violence and utopian Gandhian thought had perforce to change course.
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The result was that the weaponry of the Indian armed forces was upgrade. The government also set up a spate of ordinance factories under the department of defense production, which in turn was a part of the defense ministry. Presently there are about 40 Ordnance Factories which come under the control of Ordnance Factory board which is located at Delhi. These factories now manufacture revolvers and pistols for the armed forces. The weapons are also available in the civil market and any Indian with a valid arms license can buy these guns from the outlets of the Indian ordinance depots.
The ordinance factories manufacture pistols and revolvers. The weapons manufactured are the FN Browning GP35 a 9mm pistol. There is another type of pistol manufactured which is copy of the Pistol manufactured in Canada by John Inglis. These are high power pistols and are freely available.There is no restrictions on their purchase, but the weapon has to be booked with the ordinance depot and the cost of the weapon paid up front. The weapon which is priced at about $1500 is made available to the buyer in about 2/3 months after the weapon is booked. Another variant of the pistol manufactured is the Glock17 another 9mm pistol. This pistol forms part of the armory of the special protection group that guards the Prime Minister and other important personages of the Indian state.
The Indian ordinance factories also manufacture a six chamber revolver. They manufacture the.38 as well as the.32 range of weapons. The .38 is exclusively for the armed forces and is characterized as a prohibited bore weapon. The .32 revolver however can be sold to a civilian and is also priced similar to pistol at about $1500. The .32 caliber revolver which is also referred to as IOF Mk1 is clearly copied from the famous Webley Scott revolver of the UK. The Indian made revolver weighs .70kg.
The quality of the pistols and revolvers definitely needs improvement. A general look will show that the Indian made small arms are inferior as far as their get up and looks is concerned,compared to weapons made in the advanced western world. The finish is poor and the government owned ordinance factories do not have a quality control check in place. The pistol particularly the ones marketed for civil use are prone to jamming while in use. These defects have resulted in the Indian made weapons being confined only to India. Foreign nations have not evinced any interest in the Indian made pistols or revolvers. The functioning of the Indian made revolvers is a shade better, but they also can do with a better finish. One of the marketing pivots is referred to as the esteem value. It is the look of the end product. The ordinance factories will do well to address this lacuna in the small arms manufactured by them.