Assault Rifles are used to enhance inter-personnel protection across the battlefield. They are handheld weapons or firearms that are used across close combat operations. The commercial mass production and subsequent market growth of assault rifles commenced during World War II. The first, most commonly used assault rifle was noted to be the StG 44, the predecessor of Mkb42. Both the weapons were designed by Hugo Schmeisser during World War II. Post World War II, NATO has equipped battle rifles. However, NATO was prompted to adopt Assault Rifles during the Vietnam war due to the increased market penetration of the same.
Assault Rifles are selective fire rifles, i.e. they can be adjusted to semi-automatic, fully automatic, or burst mode. The mode of operation can be manually chosen using a selector switch. Assault rifles make use of an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Towards the end of the 20th century, assault rifles were noted to be the standard military ammunition used across various platforms. The munition replaced full-powered rifles and sub-machine guns. Assault Rifles gained popularity owing to their lightweight structure and high volume of fire across ranges between 1000-1600 feet. It can fire 600 rounds per minute in an automatic setting.
On studying the overall market size and the product competitiveness within this market, it is seen that AK47, M16, IMI Gali, and Heckler & Koch G36 are some of the prominently used assault weapons. The AK-47 is noted to be one of the most prevalent models of assault rifles. It is a standard infantry weapon used across 106 countries. There are roughly 200 Million variations of AK-47 available within the global market. The use of this technology has a rather controversial history owing to the increased illegal arms trading of this weapon.
According to secondary research, it is to be noted that the cost of an AK-47 model varies between USD 30-USD 3,600 depending on the source. The illicit demand for AK-47 is noted to be particularly high within Africa thus causing a surge in the illegal supply of the same. The prices for AK-47 are noted to be the lowest in Africa, followed by Pakistan. Some of the common end-users for this market are noted to be the US, Venezuela, Yemen, Iraq, the Republic of Congo, Mexico, and Sierra Leone. The growth in usage of this weapon system across insurgencies, terrorist camps, and militant threats is poised to be a key market limitation for the Assault Weapons vertical. As per the United Nations, the supply and production of AK-47 are to be curtailed across the global markets owing to the increased misuse of this weapons system.
On studying the overall regional competitiveness of the Assault Rifles market, it is noted that both North America and APAC are the largest consumers of the same. Increased geopolitical conflicts and brewing border tensions are poised to be two of the key drivers for this market. As of 2021, the government of India invested roughly INR 5124 Crore for the development of over 7.5 lakh AK-203 Assault Rifles. India and Russia entered an intergovernmental agreement for the production of these munitions. The joint venture led to the culmination of the Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Ltd, which is set up in Korwa Amethi for the domestic manufacturing of rifles. The program is poised to increase indigenous production of assault rifles which is anticipated to have a positive impact on the global economic scenario. The joint venture is between Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) from the Indian side and Rosoboron Exports and Kalashnikov on the Russian side. The AK-203 is poised to replace the in-service INSAS rifle which was inducted into the Indian forces roughly 3 decades back.
As of 2019, the Indian government approved the procurement of the Sig Sauer rifles. These munitions were to be deployed for cross-border operations between India and China. The power struggle between these two economies is poised to be one of the key factors that support the expansion of their defense budget.
China was also noted for the introduction of new assault rifles into its military forces in the year 2021. The new QBZ191 5.8mm automatic rifle, and two new rifles from the 191 series were displayed during the Air show. The new weapons are indigenously developed within China by the munitions contractor, China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC). The rifles were first showcased in the year 2019 during the military parade held in Beijing. A lighter variant of the QBZ191 was also displayed by the CSGC, i.e. the QBZ 191. The QBZ191 series is poised to fully replace the QBZ95 series. The newer munitions technology offers added ambidextrous usability, dexterity, and improved ergonomics to the PLA’s existing weapons system.
An increased focus on indigenous programs is noted amongst the upcoming defense economies. As per statistics, the growth in direct, indirect, and induced employment generated by the inclusion of new defense programs is poised to improve the purchasing power of the population. Moreover, a rise in the number of defense programs is expected to boost the skilled employment rate.