KOLKATA: Its small, its cute and its lethal. On Tuesday, Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) launched ‘Nidar’, the smallest revolver to be manufactured in the country. The .22 revolver is meant for working professionals, businessmen and women who need to travel extensively. With a barrel length of 40.3 mm and weighing a mere 250 grams (when loaded), Nidar certainly packs a punch within a range of seven meters. While the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will market the revolver for Rs 35,000, customers in West Bengal will have to pay more than Rs 50,000 for it, thanks to the tax component.
The price in Uttar Pradesh will be higher where tax is more. Among the states where the revolver will be more affordable is Uttarakhand where tax is about 2.5%. Licencing is also an issue. Dealers, through who OFB plans to market the gun, say that the rules need to be relaxed for more people to purchase it.
“The entire purpose is defeated if people can’t get licences for the gun. It is meant for the common man after all. Rules are quite strict in West Bengal. We have taken up the issue with officials. We also feel that it would have been better if OFB had marketed the revolver at Rs 25,000. It would have been more affordable. We have urged them to do a rethink,” said Shipra Mondal of Mondal Precision, an arms and ammunition dealer from Baidyabati, Hooghly, who was among the first to receive a Nidar.
RFI’s logic is that the price can come down once demand increases. “We don’t fix the price. We just manufacture weapons. Pricing is left to those in charge of finance. However, if there is demand, I am sure that the price can come down. This is a unique revolver that loads eight bullets in its chamber. People can carry it in their pockets. Women can carry them in their purses,” said P K Agrawal, officer-in-charge, RFI. According to A K Prabhakar, DG, Ordnance Factories, more variants of the revolver can be built if there is positive feedback from dealers.
During the day, RFI also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Bank of India (SBI) for the supply of nearly 11,000 pump action guns (PAGs) for security guards.
“Discussions with RFI started nearly one-and-a-half-years ago. The 11,000-odd PAGs will be delivered over three years. Though we continue to make efforts to reduce the dependency on cash, nearly 85-90% of transactions continue to take place using hard currency. This is why the risk remains and banks have to be guarded. RFI will also train our armourers and security guards in use of the PAGs. In the future, more such weapons will be in demand,” sais Ashwini Mehra, deputy managing director, SBI.
According to Agrawal, RFI will manufacture 1,000 PAGs per month to meet the order. The weapon has also been developed to look more lethal. Its barrel is slightly longer than the one issued to the Ministry of Home Affairs and it can load four rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. OFB will market the weapon for Rs 55,000 and other public sector banks have started making inquiries.