Canadian Rangers to retire Lee-Enfield rifles

Since their formation in 1947, the Canadian Rangers, Canada’s Arctic defense/surveillance militia, have been carrying .303 chambered Lee Enfield rifles. Today, more than 60 years later, each Ranger is still issued with a Lee Enfield No. 4 rifle and each year are provided with 200 rounds of .303 ammunition. Because parts are becoming scarce, the Canadian Forces have decided to replace the Rangers’ Enfield inventory by 2014 with a rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm. Canada.com reports

Earlier models had been in service with the British army since 1895, according to the Juno Beach Centre, which commemorates the effort made by all Canadians during the Second World War. On its website, the centre noted that during the First World War, Canadian troops threw away their government-issued Ross rifles in favour of Lee-Enfields they picked up on the battlefield.

Thompson said after consulting with the Rangers, it was agreed that the new rifle would be in the 7.62mm/ .308 Winchester calibre, as this was best suited to meet the Rangers’ requirements. He noted that “.308 Winchester refers to a specific cartridge that is very similar to the 7.62 x 51 (NATO) cartridge, and is made by several companies.”

They were originally issued to the Rangers, along with 200 rounds of ammunition, to ward off incursions into Canadian territory. Today the Rangers are not expected to engage invading armies, but they still carry a rifle for personal protection and survival in the harsh Arctic territory they patrol.

Canadian Rangers practicing with their Enfields.

[ Many thanks to Louis for emailing me the link. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Pete

    Ruger scout? Or Steyr if $ is available?

  • jonmac

    1895 was just the smokeless version. The No.4 has as much in common with the original Lee-Metford of 1888.

  • spawnofbill

    I wonder if they’re going to stick with a bolt action or go with a semi-auto .308 like the M110 or SCAR-H.

  • Avery

    Enfield parts are getting scarce? Wasn’t the total manufacture around 17 million guns? I think there’s some Australian and British factories that still produce reproductions.

  • lee n. field

    More Enfields for the surplus market?

  • howlingcoyote

    “Rangers are not expected to engage invading armies”, huh, i guess they didn’t watch the movie “Red Dawn”. The Russians came to the USA through Canada.
    Too bad they are dropping the SMLE. Good rifle through the ages.
    Will the surplus rifles be sold to collectors in the USA? What might the prices be?
    The 308 Win. is a good cartridge, but army is now using 300 Win. Mag. to really reach out there. Also a good choice against the big bears.

  • Chase

    I would believe that they would replace it with a FAL clone as the Canadian forces have experiance with that rifle.

    • David / Sharpie

      No, the reason they kept the Enfields was because the FAL was not reliable in arctic conditions

      • Jib Halyard

        NOT TRUE! I have carried the FN in the arctic in mid-winter, and it’s as reliable as could be expected from any self-loader. Certainly more reliable in those conditions than the toy (M-16 variant) that replaced it.

  • I hope they are sold as surplus and a goodly number imported to the USA. I would love to run across one of those old rifles…

  • Gabe

    They’re getting some sort of Winchester rifle now.

  • Alex Vostox

    So, any suggestion for replacement?
    For 7.62mm rifle I suggested FN Fal variant. The last time I know they worked fine in the hands of Brit during their exercise in Norway (Dunno if the climate in Artic Canada is more harsher than Norway).

  • Jeff

    What will happen to the No4’s? I bet some bureaucrat decides to scrap them!

  • Komrad

    I wonder if they’ll go with a semi-auto or another bolt gun. I would hope they would go with a semi in order to keep up a little better. Maybe the Canadian gov has some FALs laying around.

    • David / Sharpie

      Nope, FALs were all cut up and sold as scrap metal

  • Josh

    Is it just me or does this job sound awesome.

  • armed_partisan

    That’s an amazing length of service for the Lee-Enfield. Hopefully, it means a few more will make their way south and to other places in the Anglosphere. I can’t fathom how parts could be scarce, although that being said, I’m sure these rifles are well worn after a world war and 64 years of service in the Canadian arctic. Will the CR’s be adopting another Bolt Action, I wonder?

  • Vitor

    Well, the HK417 was adopted by an artic nation (Norway), but the SCAR-H is the one considered a breath of fresh air among .308 rifles.

  • I had no idea the Canadians were armed with 303 Enfields. The 7.62x51mm will be much better for them this day and age!

    • David / Sharpie

      Only the Rangers have .303s, the real army uses the 5.56 for the main issue rifle

  • mica

    send em on down this way come 2014 i could use part,s for mine or a new one \\ kinda odd i allwas thought the canadien goverment pefferd to dissarm thire citazen,s how much you want to put a bet once thay hand in the 303 the NEW RIFLE,S DONT SHOW UP till at least 6 of the politico dipwad in the parlment approve,s of the indiginouse tribe,s being armed oh god armed civaliens in canada heaven forfend where thay tell you the lengh of knife you can carry and expresing your thought ,s unless it,s political corect nope

  • Huey

    rumor has it they are going to modernize from the Enfield to the FN-FAL…

  • scurvy

    At least they can pick a proper caliber, unlike the US.

  • Lance

    They should go with the US M-14 they operate in arctic conditions very well. But I think they will be going with a blot action.

  • Nick

    We scrapped thousands of fully functioning C1 & L1A1 FAL rifles years back. I don’t think there are any left in service amongst the Canadian forces. Thank you moronic Canadian bureaucrats. They also PROHIBITED all FAL variants from ownership and use by Canadian citizens – so into the smelter they went! (what a f*****g waste!!!!) The fact they are still using Lee enfield rifles to protect the sovereignty of our nation is EMBARRASSING. Our recent change of government likely prompted this decision to retire old technology. As arctic matters are of high priority to the governing party. I hope they adopt the SCAR, or at the very least, an AR-10 variant.

  • Nadnerbus

    Mica, punctuation is your friend.

    I’m not Canadian or an expert in Canadian law, but they are not that bad compared to other western nations. I would not find their laws acceptable or constitutional here in the US, but they are not as draconian as they could be. From what I gather, handguns are banned except for some highly regulated exceptions, but other than that one can buy pretty much anything else with the cutoff at machine guns. Semi autos seem to be OK, just no magazines over five rounds I think it is? Hell, they can buy the Tavor semi auto export where US citizens cannot.

    Canada is as much a frontier nation as the US. I read somewhere that gun ownership per capita there is comparable if not higher than the US. In short, Michael Moore is an idiot.

    • David

      Nadnerbus
      Handguns are not banned here, they are regulated by barrel length and where you can use them, and magazine capacity but FAR from being banned. Centrefire semi auto rifles have a 5 round max with capacity, there are a few exceptions to this rule, 1) if they are designed to use handgun mags (Cx4 Storm with a 10 round pistol mag, AR-15 with an AR pistol mag, Just Right Carbine with a Glock mag, or the SUB-2000 with either a Beretta or Glock mag etc) 2) if they are belt fed, yes we can get semi auto belt fed guns and no there is no limit. There is no limit for rimfire semi autos (Apart from the M&P 15-22, that’s been limited to 10) or manual action firearms. And yes we can buy the Tavor. I’ve heard the per capita is comparable, but I doubt that.

      armed_partisan
      They are going with a .308 because that’s what is in service with the C6, so we have a ton of ammo for it. Last I heard they are going with a Diemaco made (Colt Canada) .308 Lee-Enfield, but I haven’t heard if they will copy the AIA Lee’s or what. Semi autos have a hard time functioning in Arctic environments, and these guys aren’t full time soldiers, they are more of a militia, so these rifles are more for hunting/protection while patroling, the chances of a foreign invasion are very small.

      BDFT
      DAMNIT, I wanted one, they should do our own version of the CMP

      mica
      Do you consider the middle of Calgary “Out in the sticks” because I don’t, What restrictions on actions and calibres of guns are there? From what I can tell you have no idea what the hell our laws are like

      Everyone else
      The AI AW will not be used, they are not duarble enough to be frontline service weapons, the Ruger will not be used because (Like the AW) they are MUCH too expensive

  • armed_partisan

    If they go for more bolt actions, .300 Win Mag would be a better choice than 7.62 NATO, me thinks, but a 7mm caliber would be better still (awesome BCs in many 7mm bullets). The problem is this: where are they gonna find a factory bolt action with open sights? As Pete noted above, other than the Savage Scout and a very select few others, there aren’t that many to choose from. That means they’d have to go with optics, and good ones cost a pretty penny, especially ones that can withstand those temps. I’ll bet some scopes have a tendency to shatter when you go from outside to inside up there. Plus, you get snow in your lenses.

    A semi-auto would be a good choice, but they certainly won’t be lighter in weight. You’d figure that if these folks were willing to face down an invading soviet army with bolt actions, they wouldn’t feel a pressing need to have a high rate of fire now that the odds of that happening are vanishingly small. I’ll bet the last thing you wanna pack on patrol in the arctic is several hundred rounds of heavy ammo when your biggest threat is bears. Judging by the picture, they’re none-too-concerned with camouflage, I bet they aren’t worried about the tacticool so much as the practicool.

  • charles222

    A bolt action is superior to a semi for these guys with the temperatures they face; on one of my missions in Afghanistan we were about 10,000 ft AGL and every last weapon’s action had frozen solid overnight. A bolt action can obviously be manually cycled if that’s happened to you.

  • David

    Scurvy: Last time I checked, Canadian Forces are saddled with the same miserable 5.56NATO we are!!! OTOH, we adopted the miserable 9X19 pistol.

  • howlingcoyote

    They could get a semi-auto in 300 Win. Mag. in the Browning semiauto rifle.

  • BDFT

    The Rangers will not get anything like an FN FAL. They are prohibited in Canada because they are too scary looking. (No, I’m not kidding.) The Lee Enfields will be destroyed because that is present Canadian policy. Sucks but there it is.

  • cju

    I gather they’re basically looking for a new hunting rifle. Cold weather moose hunt, how about a SAKO?

  • Louis

    They probably will stick with a bolt action rifle. From a report “Results suggest the new CRR should be a bolt action of .308 Winchester / 7.62mm calibre that is shorter and weighs less than the current Lee Enfield.”

    http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=101730.0

  • Lance

    Hmm Looks like Canada went the same way as Great Briton in scrapping older rifles. Too bad the use and Germany didn’t and we have needed DMR rifles in M-14s and G-3s.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    The folks firing in the picture kinda looked like they would be Inuit, or some other northern tribal people. If that’s the case, then I wouldn’t worry too much about what caliber they’re issued. these folks regularly take out caribou with .223…or so I’ve been reliably informed. They’re VERY accurate shooters.

  • mica

    to nadnerbus # 1 sorry dyslex and some time get,s better of me \\ however what your forgeting is unless you live out in the stick,s or on a farm you can not own a fire arm \ rifle and said rifle must be in a lock safe where the law officer can inspect at will with out warent \\ as welll a restriction,s on type of firearm,s and caliber,s of rifle,s you can own \\so don,t know where your geting your number,s from but i do know of relitive,s and kinsman up thire who want to get the heck out cut of the political BS regulation of the canadien goverment

  • jacobloveshilary

    I think they should get something like a fn fal or an m1a or m14.

  • Derp

    I can’t see a semi-auto adopted; or at least anything vaguely military-looking. Folks here tend to spazz out about that kind of thing. Plus they’d only have five round magazines.

  • charles222

    We scrapped thousands of fully functioning C1 & L1A1 FAL rifles years back. I don’t think there are any left in service amongst the Canadian forces. Thank you moronic Canadian bureaucrats.

    ….Yeah, because keeping thousands of rifles stored in warehouses for the tiny portion of people who’d even want to own one is clearly a sound use of taxpayer money.

  • Tony

    Accuracy international Artic Warfare series perhaps

  • Bibo

    As was mentioned above, the Rangers are looking for a bolt action rifle that is lighter than the Lee-Enfields, in .308 Win, with iron sights. These will be the Ranger’s service rifle, but they are also their primary hunting/sustenance rifle. The rifles need to be able to work at -40 or lower, if needed and be 100% reliable (polar bears are not too forgiving of a FTF).

    I don’t think they have to worry about whether there are current products on the shelf that match their needs. They are ordering 10,000 rifles, so I’m sure Ruger or Remington or whoever it is will make them to the Ranger’s specs.

  • charles222

    Not sure how much an SMLE weighs (9-10 lbs?) but I’d say the “lighter than” requirement certainly rules out the AI rifles. They’re talking more plain-vanilla M700/ Model 64 territory with that, or one of those super-high-tech Magnum Research mountain rifles from the 1990s.

  • For those who live in more temperate climates – consider that in sub zero temperatures (often -20F, even -40F and lower is common), a semi-auto may easily malfunction. A good bolt action rifle will often continue to function well.

  • the kit guru

    mica

    No offense but you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. The CCC has no bearing on length of knives that can be owned or carried (there is, in fact, no stated limit and you can walk down the street with a sword on your back and unless somebody lodges a complaint, you have committed no offense). Handguns are readily available and you don’t have to “live in the sticks” to own a firearm, nor can somebody come into your home to inspect without warrant or warning. The only calibre restrictions are on .25/.32 cal handguns and we can own numerous firearms that are prohibited or heavily regulated in the US. Unless your relatives/kinsmen are fairly well familiar with Canadian law you probably shouldn’t take their heresay as evidence

    blake

  • Ex Canuck gunny

    A few clarifications seem in order. Yes, they are all Northern Canadian Natives from several groups. They are all volunteers, not paid unless in training or called out. Their original function was as ‘Kit Carson Scouts’ in the event of invasion or attack. They know the far north inside out. As for a replacement rifle, it HAS to be .308 Win. / 7.62x51mm NATO because Canada still has tons (literally) in inventory, and can make more. They will NOT consider any other caliber.
    It HAS to be a bolt-action since: A) The Rangers are NOT soldiers or cops, they are trained local civilians, so Canada will not issue them ANY semi-auto rifle, B) even if one was found that’s 100% reliable at 40 below zero. Perhaps Ruger Gunsite Scout rifles (which come with decent ghost ring iron sights and detachable 5 or 10 round magazines) would work. There will NOT be any optics, as they are NOT reliable enough in arctic weather.
    These guys are not snipers, commandos or anything so romantic. They are Scouts, and will use the rifles for subsistence hunting too.

  • iMick

    New Ruger scout rifle should be perfect for these guys!

    • David / Sharpie

      Other than cost and stock material yes.

      And it’s a controlled round push feed (If it’s like the regular M77)

      But a modified M77 is already in Canadian service, it is a .30-06 used by SAR techs

  • mica

    to naderbuss and kit-guru it would seem i owe you gentlmen a appoligiey i found out throught my famaly network up north why thire bitching so much concnering firearm,s i thought that most of my cousen,s were liveing in the westen part of canada ie the wild and wooliey part when the reality is that most of them are liveing in nova scota where the school,s train thire kid,s to be little PC robot,s afraid of firearm,s that is what thay were bitching about told em hay don, like the school,s move back west to alberta or sc but i know thay willl stay cuse of the work my bad next time illl ask mom to translate thire email,s \\ mica

    • David

      I think you’re mom should translate this email (Well, post)…….

      It’s the lib-tards that are afraid of guns, PCs are relaxing the laws…

      • mica

        french to engilsh david

      • David/Sharpie

        She should still translate that, can barely understand it

  • Patrick

    Its too bad they cant just stick with the enfield. They are a great rifle . I use mine for hunting every year with just the iron sights and it still has its full military stock. Every year i have used it i have bagged a deer! Ammo is expensive so it is understandable that they are being replaced. Would like to get my hands on one when they are retired though!

    • David/Sharpie

      I wish, but with our laws, they’ll all be scraped.

      It is a great rifle, not they need a newer one, they’re just worn out.