Royal Netherlands Army’s Nifty C7/C8 Rifles

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Royal Netherlands Army have given their Colt Canada C7 rifles and C8 carbines a few tacti-cool upgrades.

The upgrades include a nifty tan-colored bolted on rifle-length rail extension, tan-colored CAA Tactical buttstock, oversized magazine release, ambidextrous safety selector switch, freefloated lightweight profile barrels and Aimpoint scopes. They get bonus points for a two-tone color scheme over the boring all-black color scheme used by all the other AR-15 military users worldwide.

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ]

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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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  • Simon

    It is a very decent gun.
    Unfortunetly they just upgraded all the very old guns instead of going for something new, it doesn’t have a gas piston either.
    (They were very thorough when upgrading though).

    Our Special Forces have HK 416′s so this upgrade was mostly for all the regular troops. My unit had a few Norwegians with 416 and we were very jealous about those.

    I just left the Royal Dutch army, unfortunetly my unit wasn’t issued the new C7 / C8 (M16 and M4) yet.
    This comes as a welcome upgrade from a conventional AR platform with Elcan optics to a new setup with Grip Pod and Red Dot.
    -
    I did a tour in Afghanistan in 2008, back then the majority of our weapons was still without optics, they sent a few aimpoints/eotechs to Afghanistan and you had to rotate the few proper weapons when you had night time guard duty, the conventional aiming setup didnt work at night.

    Because of this we were often mocked for being the ‘beggars army’ we had to borrow a lot of equipment from the Aussies.

    Now however we are finally going for the next gen equipment.

    Nice that you noticed this upgrade Steve.

  • Theodoric

    Notice they switched the old Elcan scopes for Aimpoints, because the Elcans use tritium for lighting.

  • Theodoric

    Also, most of the military (armoured infantry) just uses the new collapsible full-length C7s, while the C8 Carbines are used by paratroopers and the like. A lot smarter than what the US army is doing, in my opinion.

    • Geodkyt

      I’m not even sold with para riflemen carrying carbines. If your primary MOS is, “Dispense death and destruction via rifle fire”, the ballistic advantage of those extra few inches when forced to use ball ammo is considerable (more so compared to a US 14.5″ M4 than some of the 16″ carbines some nations issue).

      Issue the carbines to drivers, AFV crewmen, radio operators, officers, etc. — those people whose SECONDARY job is pulling the trigger on small arms, and whose PRIMARY job frequently means they need to be less encumbered. ESPECAILLY when they need a personal arm that takes up little room next to them, and is as easy to drag out the hatch in a hurry.

      A 20″ barrelled AR (especially with a collapsing stock) is not exactly like humping a Brown Bess, Garand, or L1A1. Never noted any problems getting in confined spaces where I could still actually fight, with a full sized M16, although I occaisionally would have killed for a collapsing stock.

  • Gage

    What kind of magazines are those?

  • Sid

    Why a lightweight barrel and direct impingement operation?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Sid, I am not sure why they went with lightweight. The US Army is moving towards heavy barrels for the next gen of M4 carbines.

  • Dan

    Meanwhile, in Canada, most of our C7s use an optic that loses it zero if bumped by a leave or raindrop, and we attached stupid steel rails at the end of our barrels.

  • greywolf-ita

    seems to be a derivate of the upgraded danish carabine…

  • Andrew (European Correspondent)

    Why are soldiers on parade carrying weapons off safe? Even if their protocol is to leave the hammer down in storage, it looks unprofessional.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Andrew, I think the hammer would be down.

  • Peter

    It’s really ugly looking for a parade rifle.

    • Dukeleto

      Looks a lot better than the SA80 with a plastic bag wrapped round the optic! ( & I’m a fan of the SA80)

  • Lance

    The AR makes another upgrade face it they’ll be around in our service and world service for a long time. I like to know about the CAA hand guard durability though are they tough enough to survive being knocked around? There plastic rails. I prefer all black though it looks much better.

  • Brandon

    A lightweight barrel on a selective fire combat rifle?

  • John Doe

    Still made by Colt (Canada). I really want to see the HK416 become standard with more armed forces. Excellent rifle.

  • Josh

    The guy in the first photo is in dire need of a haircut. Back on topic though, these bolt on rail extensions are kinda cool. I wonder where I might procure one?

  • Bill

    I sent this link to my buddy and he commented:

    “in their last war, they lost in 6 days, were occupied for 5 years,  and liberated by Canadians. does their choice of parade rifle surprise you?”

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Bill, I know you were joking, but I wonder if the fact that they were liberated by the Canadians is the reason they buy their rifles from Canada.

      • Cdn Phil

        Steve, I can assure you it got us in the door! The final decision was based on performance but yer darn right we put Maple Leaf flags on everything! Heck the US doesn’t have a monopoly on national pride or making use of it!

  • John Doe

    @Peter I’m with you on that. A parade rifle should be an older wood-stocked bolt-action or battle rifle. I don’t want to see AUGs being spun, I want M1 Garands.

  • John Doe

    Peter I’m with you on that. A parade rifle should be an older wood-stocked bolt-action or battle rifle. I don’t want to see AUGs being spun, I want M1 Garands.

  • Doug

    Gage,
    Those are Thermold 30 Round Magazines.

  • Lance

    @ John Doe the USMC is adopting HK-416s for a support weapon. The light weight barrel on a rifle is not too good the Army now and the Marine’s with the M-16A2 in the 80s went heavy over problems with over heating in prolonged automatic fire. This must be for the C8 for guard duties or Air Born troops.

    • Geodkyt

      Um, they went with the heavier barrel (forward of the front sight housing only) in the M16A2, not for overheating, but because troops in Vietnam had used M16s as PRYBARS and bent the barrels.

      In fact, one of the Army objections to the M16A1E2 program (the eventual M16A2) was that the “heavy barrel” of the rifle was no such thing, that all it added was WEIGHT, but added neither STRENGTH, STIFFNESS, nor HEAT CAPACITY where the rifle actually could derive some good — under the handguards. The Marines left the barrel “M16A1 profile” under the handguards because they didn’t want to modify the M203 attachment, and no one thought of (or it was shot down) the eventual M4 solution of a heavier barrel with M203 mounting point cut outs. (Over an over, the US Army critique of the ‘A2 was very simple — teh Marines took a good assault rifle that could use some improvement, and turned it into a bullseye-oriented rifle that was less capable for combat than the rifle it was replacing. Given USMC’s emphasis on competition style 500 yard KD bullseye shooting for marksmenship fundamental development, this is hardly surprising.)

      Of course, what got overlooked is HOW the troops were using their M16s as prybars — with the old M16 (not M16A1, even), they found that the three-prong flash suppressor could have a prong slipped under packing straps on pallets, and the rifle could then snap the packing straps. More convienient than pulling out your e-tool. Unfortunately, this frequently bent the barrels.

      Overlooked was the fact that once they went to the closed M16A1 birdcage, the rifle no longer made a decent prybar compared to an e-tool, so PVT Snuffy was far less incliuned to abuse his rifle in this particular fashion. (Also, reminding junior NCOs that “IS gun, NOT crowbar” also contributed to the reduction of Stupid Troopers bending rifles.)

      So, the M16A2 barrel “fixed” a no-longer-applicable training problem, by a useless material solution that provided absolutely NO physical improvement nor would have dealt with the original problem, nearly 20 years AFTER having the problem inadvertently addressed by changing the $2 flash suppressor!

  • jdun1911

    Those are Thermold mags. I believe Israelis and a number of other countries use them at one point or another.

    Sid,

    Have you ever hump a heavy barrel AR before? I got one and it’s NOT FUN. It also makes the rifle/carbine front heavy. Piston AR have really no advantage over DI AR. Piston AR do have more disadvantages than DI AR.

    • Domestic Squirrel

      Not to say you’re wrong but you’ll prob never meet a dissatisfied soldier who’s issued an HK416 and trade it for a DI.

  • http://mcthag.blogspot.com/ McThag

    Y’all know that the M16A2 (and the C7) have the same barrel profile under the handguards as the original M16 and M16A1? It’s only heavier from the front sight base to the muzzle.

  • dylan

    the diemaco (colt canada) lightweight profile is actually a standard profile m4 barrel. right from the get go the c7 series was designed around a super heavy (non standard ar15 compatible) barrel. the barrels used are thicker no only past the gas block but actually also under the forearm. im not talking bull barrel but trust me they are heavy for a battle rifle. come to think of it various branches of the canadian armed forces are even ordering extra heavy (then standard c7) barrels. the ppcli’s c8 flat top, the new gv m10 (most bad ass monolithic ar to come out of canada), and c7nld comes to mind. so with that in mind “lightweight” by diemaco’s standards really isnt all that light.

    • Cdn Phil

      Actually the barrel profile for the original Dutch (and Canadian) C7 and C7A1 are exactly the same outside as the M16A2. They are made to fit the M203. The C8 originally was the Colt light carbine profile which went to the M4 style later when they went to the C8CQB series. The Dutch C7 LSW used a very heavy profile all the way from muzzle to breech.

  • dylan

    oh and a heads up the c7nld, c8nld and LOAW (latter being a upgraded diemaco LSW) are obviously the new AR’s used by netherlands and they are also monolithic like the gv m10

  • Juice

    They also use the HK style Grenade Launcher, not sure which one though,
    most likely the M230, and also (visible in the picture) the Comp M4 red dot sight.

    I shot one during the World Harbor Days in Rotterdam, it’s a really user-friendly weapon!

    • Dutchy

      @Juice: Grenade Launcher is indeed the HK, only called HK LV.
      @Dylan: The LOAW is only used by the Marine Corps(dont ask me why, we all think they suck), Army and AirForce use FN Minimi Para.
      The C7 handguard is the same as the C8 version, but they added an extension.
      The grip pod is very weak and will probably break under combat use and the CAA buttstock rattles. But it’s still an improvement over the old C7/8.
      About the weapons being off safe, it’s only possible to switch the selector to safe after cocking the weapon, why cock it during parade duty, just to switch it on safe?

      • John Doe

        In all my time in the Marines (7 years and counting) I haven’t heard of the LOAW. I’ve seen the FN Minimi and MAG, but not LOAW.

        Then again, my job keeps me in combat, but away from most machine guns.

  • Peter jansen

    @Bill: Actually Holland was liberated by the Americans and Canadians, and we did not “loose” the war after 6 days. The Dutch army put up a fight with their outdated inferior weapons for 7 days, most of them did not even have enough ammo. I personally know someone who fought the Germans at the Battle of the Grebbeberg, they faced Waffen SS units with automatic weapons of which they had very few.

    They surrendered only after the city of Rotterdam got bombed and although exact numbers are not known, nearly 1,000 people were killed and 85,000 made homeless. Around 2.6 square kilometres (1 square mile) of the city was almost levelled. 24,978 homes, 24 churches, 2,320 stores, 775 warehouses and 62 schools were destroyed.

    The Netherlands possessed 35 modern wheeled AFV’s, no tracked AFV’s, 135 aircraft and 280,000 soldiers, while Germany had 159 tanks, 1,200 modern aircraft and around 150,000 soldiers at their disposal (for the Dutch theatre only).

  • bbq

    It’s probably because US export requirements are much stricter than the Canadian ones, making it easier for other countries to buy arms from Canada than the US.

    • Cdn Phil

      Its actually much harder to export any military supplies from Canada versus the US. In the case of these rifles in particular, Canadian exports are approved by BOTH the Canadian and US Governments due to technical data ownership. Our requirements to get an export permit for military hardware make yours look like a cake walk.

  • http://www.fareconsultants.com JvD

    Bill: Please note that my parents were liberated by the Poles (General Macek’s cavalry), not the Canadians, and most of the rest of Holland was not liberated at all but had to wait for the Germans to capitulate. Allied armies got stuck south of the rivers. For an outdated army equipped with artillery from 1878 five days against a much larger totally modern army is really not that bad.

    The reason why the Dutch army bought Canadian C7 rifles is that Canada bought our close-in anti aircraft systems. The Leitz sights on them are considered a mistake. They worked well on the shooting range but not in the field.

    But, more importantly:
    I think the color scheme on the rifle looks ugly. Does not match the parade uniform and looks cheap. Most soldiers agree. However, the choice was very conscious and makes sense. Using a two tone color scheme breaks up the outline of the gun, helping in camouflaging. Guns are not made to parade with. For that they can use old but better looking Canadian Enfields (still have plenty of them in stock). ;-)
    Generally there is consensus on the modifications. Soldiers like them and it seems the accuracy of the rifle improved by 40%. Only negative point is that the improvement in accuracy is negated a bit by the telescoping stock that is rather wobbly. Also there are some worries about the handgrip (with retractable bipod).

    Introducing a piston system was taken into consideration but was rejected on grounds of cost.

    As for the manazines: Holland has used Thermold magazines since adopting the C7. They work fine.

    • Cdn Phil

      Excellent points on the rifles. I know I sold them the originals.

      On the first order only Dutch Marines had optics and yes the C79 scope mounts were a bit lacking. The evaluation and selection was extensive, 7 years to decision. It included a very extensive life cycle cost analysis and the Canadian bid was the overall best value. We had actually bought their CIWS for ships long before, but we DID buy their M109 upgrade and 105mm artillery upgrade and that was the industrial offset associated with the deal. No matter who was selected they would have had to put together an offset package as well so that is pretty much a given in large scale international arms deals.

      Yes the Dutch actually caused Diemaco to put the Thermold (Cdn) mag back into production. Their mag bodies were moulded with H105, H106, H107 and H108 cavity identifiers if I recall. There were two post moulding machine cuts made to remove the top of the fullering (so they fed straight like an aluminium mag) and under the lips to give the round an upward tilt as it moved forward (this was primarily to work in the Cdn C9 Minimi LMG and in particular to work in that with the short blank rounds though it also made feeding in the rifles and carbines better). And yes they work very well. Too bad they aren’t on civi street.

  • Arjan

    “in their last war, they lost in 6 days, were occupied for 5 years, and liberated by Canadians. does their choice of parade rifle surprise you?”

    They also held of an armored column augmented with heavy artillery and divebombers for 5 days with a few 19 century field guns and some machineguns. According to the logs, some Dutch soldiers went to milk the cows during artillery barrages, because “You can’t leave those poor cows standing there without being milked”

    They also shot down half of Germany’s JU-52′s, a fact that some historians consider to be an important reason for Germany to cancel their plans for an airborne invasion of the UK.

    They also had a few marines holding the bridges around Rotterdam with such tenacity that they earned themselves the nickname “Schwarze Teufels” (Black Devils).

    Sorry guys, I had to defend the defenders. This doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful to our liberators.

  • K!P

    @Bill meanwhile we shot down more than 250 planes , 50% of all german transports available at that time, managed to recapture and hold airfields from the german elite paratroopers and where desperately waiting for the french and english forces to help from the south. Only to surender after they bombed the hell out of rotterdam. Even than we did not surrender the province of zeeland and our navy. (and the oversea’s teritories.)
    Don’t forget its a small country with only 9-10 million people than, facing the German blitzkrieg forces. While using bicycles and 1890′s artillery and captured german ww1 swartlose MG’s (when they retreated trough dutch territory after ww1 they had to leave em at the border.) New arangement was orderd but somehow the krupp (german!) factory delayed it a few years.

    but all that is ever remembered is the 6 days fact.

    sorry for the of topic rant, but i hate it when people brush over history.

  • Sid

    jdun1911,

    Yes, I have humped a heavy barrel AR before. I was in the first training company in the US Army to qualify with the M-16A2 (1987) and then served for 3 years with the 7th ID (Light). After having used the M-16A1, the A2 was a dream. Much more accurate due to all of the combined improvements.

    The proposed changes to the M-4 include a heavier barrel and piston operation.

  • William C.

    Who makes the rail system used on these? Looks pretty fancy.

  • jdun1911

    The A2 do not have heavy barrel. It is heavier than the A1 but it is not a HBAR. My cousin have HBAR in 16″. His 16″ carbine is heavier than my 20″.

  • asclepius

    HOW DO ALL OF THEIR BERETS BE SO FUCKED UP???

    • Geodkyt

      Uh, they’re in the DUTCH Army, not the US 82nd Airborne?

      Different armies, different uniform standards — note the hair. Your average hard-core US infantry NCO looks like a prison skinhead and thinks a 1950′s style flattop is “long”, while the Dutch don’t think that shaggy troops do any worse in the field.

      • Sam Suggs

        yeah miltary hair regs are hear to stay in the united states

  • Mountainbear

    Speaking of the safety selector switch. Now, I’m not really familiar with the AR15 family, never fired one. But… to me it seems that entire load of Dutch soldiers are carrying rifles that are effectively on FIRE.

    And to me that’s very unprofessional and a big no-no in my book. Back when I was a recruit our DIs were like wolves to make sure everybody had his safety on.

    The invasion of the UK was canceled simply because Hitler got involved into military decisions and the guy was batsh*t crazy. At first the Luftwaffe bombed the RAF almost into extinction, but a brave RAF raid on Berlin got Adolf involved, the goals were changed and the Luftwaffe, which already had fuel problems by just dealing with the RAF in the South, was now ordered to attack British cities. With that their fuel issues became bigger and the RAF could catch breath. An air invasion of the UK was never a plan. If so, it would have been a combined assault, similar to Normandy. The number if Aunt Jus at hand was just irrelevant with an RAF that was gaining strength and was giving the Luftwaffe one hell of a bloody nose over London.

    If anything, the lack of Ju52s was significant at Stalingrad, where the Fat Hermann promised to feed the army from air and failed to do so. At Stalingrad Hitler got involved again and his “brilliance” doomed the entire 6th Army.

    • pjoo

      Just so yo know we dutch soldiers ar not all idiots! yes a lot are;) Our guns can only be set on safe if the gun is loaded! we dont put bullets in our guns when we are just walking a parade!

    • Geodkyt

      Since you can only place the selector in the SAFE position if the gun is cocked, if they cleared their weapons and dry-fired them (generally the last step of clearing a weapon in MOST armies), they would have the selector in the “SEMI” or “AUTO” position — and most armies I’ve heard of prefer that administrative stuff like this be done in the SEMI position, just in case PVT Dumbass (and his squad leader was negligent in checking) truly screwed the pooch.

      Having been there when privates fired a shot from a “cleared” rifle is bad enough. Even cuaght privates “clearing” rifles while they still had a mag in place.

      Being around when Goober blazes off a “negligent burst” because he “cleared it” with a loaded magazine locked in place and dropped the hammer on AUTO would be much, much, worse.

  • Royi

    If I recall clearly, the reason the Dutch choose Diemaco over Colt was simply a matter of price versus quality (price being very important for the Dutch).
    Several requirements (such as cold-hammered-barrels etc.) were simply too costly if done by Colt.

    Also, I agree with John Doe that ‘wooden rifles’ would be more appropriate. However, seeing as it is an annual event where all departments (police, military branches, reserves, paramilitary units) sent representatives to stand guard along the route of the Golden Carriage, it is only logical that they would be using their issued rifles.
    Not to mention that the last wooden rifles (Garands, Mausers) were thrown out a decade ago, keeping them became too expensive not to mention obsolete. Even the Studentmilitia units (the frats with the silly uniforms) use C7′s and FALs.

  • Netforce

    This is just my personal preference but it should either be all tan or all black. It looks kinda odd this way.

  • Texas_Dave

    looks like a 16-inch barrel on them purty TAPCO-laden parade guns….must need longer bayonets for ‘em should our European baby sisters revert back to trench warfare.

    I wonder if I can get a surplus AR bayonet from the Dutch army to fit my Bushmaster 16-inch. You never know when you’ll have to bayonet charge a whitetail or a feral hog out here in Southeast Texas brush country.

  • charles222

    Not too sure about the CAA hardware. Cheap garbage in my experience.

    • Lance

      I got CAA hand-guard there not bad at all I don’t have a issue with them. Its the closest you can get to a KAC A4 rails system w/o braking your bank.

      As for Army A4s the USMC have probably taken all of them since there going to a mostly all A4 USMC.

  • charles222

    Whoops! This came to mind as I posted my last comment.

    With the US Army mostly no longer using the M16A4, the Dutch should’ve tried to get ahold of these. Easy enough to put a collapsing stock on, and the rail isn’t CAA garbage. I’d imagine we’ve got thousands in storage somewhere.

  • Dukeleto

    Why does the “no-politics” rule never seem to extend to ignorant yanks who’ve likely never read a history book, and think WWII started in 1942, being condescending pricks about European militaries??

  • browcs

    Love the Royal Netherlands AF….all that I dealt/worked with in Iraq were complete pros.

  • 15yroldgunman

    Go look up the colt Canada catalogue it has this stock it is a long barrel variant of the colt Canada integrated upper reciever

  • SKS guy

    WOW! those guys in the second picture are almost as tall as I am. (Joking, im only 6’1”). Either “target” or “force multiplier”

  • Max Pulido

    Canada’s C7 rifles have green handguards standard.

  • Bjorn Groen

    Actually the Underslung granade launcher used by the dutch military is the H&K GLM, which is a derrivative of the H&K AG36 (which is specially made for the G36)
    H&K also won the contract of supplying the US Army GLM’s as a replacement of the old M203′s

  • Bjorn Groen