Lee-Enfield rifle being phased out, being replaced by Colt Canada

Canadian Rangers

Canadian Rangers

We first blogged about Canada replacing the Lee-Enfield rifle, used by the Rangers, a reserve unit that patrols the far north, back in 2011. It seems the Canadian Army is still talking about replacing the aging rifles but not doing a whole lot of actual replacing. Back in 2011 the Army said they would be replaced with a rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. Now they are talking to Colt Canada, which makes me think they are going to issue them with AR-15 rifles chambered in 5.56mm.

Metro News reports

“The Rangers were not issued this weapon to fight an enemy, they were given the rifle because they are operating in one of the harshest environments in the world,” says Capt. Mark Rittwage, officer commander of the 3rd Canadian Patrol Group, Northern Ontario.

“And . . . the predators that are there, polar bears, wolves, even bull moose during rutting season, can cause a danger to our Rangers,” Rittwage says.

The Lee-Enfield is still being used by many military and police forces around the globe.

But its Ranger tenure may be coming to an end with National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces having issued a request for proposal to gun maker Colt Canada for a replacement.

Lee-Enfields are issued to Rangers primarily for self-defence, he stresses. The Rangers are trained to kill only if clearly threatened.

Each Ranger is issued with a Lee Enfield No. 4 rifle and has a yearly allowance of 200 .303 rounds of ammunition.

Thanks to Jay for the tip.



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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  • Victor

    Canada finally enters the second half of the 20th century.

    • floppyscience

      Canadian Rangers =/= all of the CF

  • TJ

    5.56 NATO useful on polar bears? Bull Moose? Stick to the .303 British, or replace with .308. 5.56 is too small a round to use way out there.

    • Koh

      It isn’t the bulls that you need to fear, it is the cows with calves!

  • Lemdarel

    The Rangers use their current rifles to hunt for sustenance. I don’t know how well 5.56x45mm is going to work on CXP3 game like moose.

    Edit: What TJ said.

  • gggplaya

    they need a lightweight 308/7.62×51. DPMS has a lightweight semi auto. But a good bolt action with a wood stock will suffice for these guys. However, the trigger and guard need to acommodate large gloves.

    I don’t think 5.56 will be enough to stop a bear, though he will eventually bleed out, u need to stop him fast.

    • Pedro

      How about a SCAR17?

      • gggplaya

        that the would work too, I’m just not a fan. The dpms g2 is lighter, you can get the hunter model with a 20″ barrel and still be lighter.

      • Dracon1201

        That’s a little too much gun for what they do, and they cost a shit ton considering who gets them.

        • waffen ss

          is $ ever an object when it comes to govt employees?

          • Jow Blow

            Yes it is but only, To the ones it actual matters like soldiers on the front lines, firefighters rushing into burning buildings, etc. But not so for the fat cats voting themselves pay raises and golden parachutes, so after being elected they never have to work again….
            I’ll top here because it could get to political.

            Maybe a good marlin in 30-30 would work. They do need a larger round period. If a person is still dangerous after few rounds of .233 / 5.56x45mm imagine what a large bear or bull moose would be like even with the whole clip on target. Hit those knees with them running ain’t an options so its gotta fall into 303, 30-30, 30-06,308/7.62x51mm or even 7.62x54r. At the least, They need both the ability for long range and up clos,e plus light weight with durability, None of those go together easily for cheap, if at all.

            Which if they get upgraded from Enfields to Mosins, I’m gonna laugh…..

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Good points, although I would not include the 30-30, as good as it is, in the list for this particular scenario and its specific demands. The 7.62mm x 54R , on the other hand, would be virtually ideal from an all-around standpoint — harder-hitting than the 0.303 Lee-Enfield or 7.62mm x 51 NATO, with a very long proven track record for reliability in the most extreme conditions and every bit as accurate at a low price point, all things being equal. The problem then arises, of course, of what weapons to purchase that fire this desirable cartridge — and that is where the buck stops, because of political and other related considerations that largely have little to do with practical solutions.

          • idahoguy101

            I believe thinking correct and astute. It was also be inexpensive. But it’s unlikely to ever happen unless the Rangers ask for Mosin-Nagant rifles

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            You are probably quite correct in your assessment — thank you! Still, one never knows since there are other weapons that could be suitable for the role chambered in 7.62mm x 54R, the only issue being that they are mostly Russian-made too, although something from former Warsaw Pact countries that are now closer to the West might be worthy of consideration.

      • Commonsense23

        How bout not. The MK17 doesn’t exactly have a great rep, reliability problems. It was forced on SOF and their is a reason the SMUs don’t use it .

      • Lemdarel

        SCAR’s are prohibited devices in Canada unfortunately, even if the US State Dept would let them be exported to us.

        • Cymond

          edit: nevermind, you already answered my question elsewhere

        • Paladin

          Select fire C8s and 30 round mags are also prohibited, and yet our forces use them.

          Canadian rangers are gov’t employees, for that matter they’re actually a part of the Canadian Armed Forces. If they’re not already exempt from the Firearms Act I doubt the conservative government would be too worried about making them exempt.

          • Lemdarel

            Our reg forces use them, yes, but they aren’t allowed to take their service rifles home, whereas these guys take their rifles home with them.

    • Anonymoose

      TBH, for surviving in (sub)arctic conditions, I’d rather have a synthetic stock for lower weight and better durability.

    • n0truscotsman

      AR10s have a hard enough time working as is, without being in the cold and without being DPMS.

  • Koh

    So what semi-autos are out there that are reliable in below-zero temps and may need to be used against dangerous game in a pinch? I think I’d still prefer a bolt action on those conditions, possibly something like the Ruger scout.

    • Tom – UK

      AK-47 simples

      In all seriousness though any military service rifle in service in the west will have had to pass reliability tests at up to -40c

      • Koh

        7.62×39 in a defensive use against bear or moose? Pissed off bears have been known to shrug off shotgun slugs and large caliber rifle hits…they die eventually but it doesn’t pack enough punch to stop them in an emergency, no thanks, a .303 or .308 is a light caliber in that situation.
        FAL or M14 possibly, but I wouldn’t trust any AR variant, they are very dependent on proper lubrication to run right, and that gets very interesting when you get down that cold. They don’t have the loose clearances of the older generation rifles. For their application (and considering Canada’s laws) I think a bolt action is the right choice.

        • M

          Also, Canada villainizes the AK which makes it a no-go

        • Scott P

          Better tell that to the guy who killed a bear in Alaska with an AK-74. He would disagree with you.

          • Koh

            “Chugach State Park Ranger Tom Crockett said the bear ran off, but later died.”

            http://www.bob-owens.com/2013/07/alaska-hiker-fired-13-rounds-from-ak-74-into-charging-brown-bear-to-survive-attack/

            It might count as a psychological stop, but it damn sure was not a physical stop. Stupid argument anyway since they are not getting Ak’s in Canada. The 450 Alaskan cartridge was developed because 30-06 and 348 Winchester (1950’s loads) were not reliably stopping big brown bears. There have been African elephants killed with a .22LR, that does not mean that is a good cartridge in a defensive situation when an Elephant is trying to stomp you into the mud.

    • valorius

      12 gauge pump or semi with brenneke slugs for me, thanks.

    • From a test in the 80s I have seen, the FN FNC and IWI Galil.

      • Koh

        Which would explain why the Swedes use a FNC variant. The Fins are using an AK variant similar to a Galil. A 7.62×51 Galil or Valmet might not be a bad option. I wonder why these guys were never issued C1A1 FALs?

        • idahoguy101

          The Rangers probably preferred their Lee Enfield rifles.

      • n0truscotsman

        The valmet AK beat every model tested.

        • Scott P

          Actually the Galil variants came in first. The Valmet second. And the FNC third.

          The Galil won out because it had better ergonomics over the Valmet.

          The FNC choked on one round because it was on the default gas setting. Once it was switched to the other gas setting it did not malfunction again.

          • n0truscotsman

            I forgot they tested the galil, so i pulled up the original article. Apparently they tested both 5.56 and 7.62 models and for some reason, i thought people were mistaking the galil for the valmet (even though the two are incestuous sisters).

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          Neither the FNC nor the AK have a hope in hell of stopping a polar bear.

    • FatWhiteMan

      You had me until you got to Ruger Scout…

    • Holdfast_II

      It’s not going to be a semi-auto. Unlike Regular and Reserve soldiers, Rangers take their rifles home. Many live at least part of the year in shacks or igloos, so a Restricted weapon (most semi-autos like the FAL) plus Canada’s gun storage laws would lead to immediate illegality.

      • Canadian Vet

        The FAL is actually prohibited 12.1 12.2 and/or 12.3

        A semi automatic long gun isn’t necessarily restricted either, it’s largely a barrel length thing. The reason I can’t see them going to a semi is a reliability and durability issue in the environment those rifles will be operating in. The Lee-Enfield was the AK-47 of its day, with loose tolerances and tougher than nails. They need something just as rugged and reliable.

    • Jimbo

      Right! Does a jammed up 5.56 stop a polar bear or grizzly?

  • Canadian Vet

    One of the reason the Rangers use a bolt-action rifle is because of reliability issues. Testing revealed the C7 family of rifle doesn’t really like the obscenely cold climate up there. Not to mention 5.56 is a little anemic for dealing with some of the wildlife.

    A current suggestion is a 7.62X51 variant of the Enfield made by AIA dropped in a more modern stock, as to ease the logistics of training ammunition and not have them have to learn a whole new weapon. The Canadian Armed Forces are pretty big on weapons handling, but our training system is a little slow to catch on. As such, a conversion and modernization would be a lot less onerous for everyone.

    • Miami_JBT

      AIA doesn’t make their own firearms. Those are made in Vietnam… hence why they are no longer imported into the USA. Also part of the contract stipulates that the new Canadian Ranger Service Rifle must be made in Canada by Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco). Contract is for 10,000 rifles. They originally wanted the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout Rifle but Ruger said no to the licensing deal with Colt Canada. They previously did a deal with them for another M77 but that was only 150 rifles.

      • Man pippy

        Correction, the wooden furniture of the rifle is made in Vietnam. AIA could license their rifle for Colt Canada to make, (with modern manufacturing tech). The wooden furniture shouldn’t be too hard to get made somewhere in Canada.

  • Grant

    Give them grenade launchers. They’ll stop anything.

  • Anonymoose

    Yeah, no. They’re not dumb enough to issue them C7s to deal with moose and bears. It will probably end up being a lightweight version of Colt’s M2012 with iron sights.

  • Lemdarel

    I very much doubt they’ll be issued C7’s or C8’s. These guys get to take their rifles home. While the Rangers are part of the Canadian Forces Reserve, I honestly can’t imagine them being allowed to take home select-fire rifles. I also can’t see them being given even a semi-auto variant of an ArmaLite variant.

  • Jeff Smith

    Does this mean surplus .303 ammo will available again???? OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE!

    • Miami_JBT

      No, they are running out of ammo and spare parts.

      • Jeff Smith

        RATS!

  • Svalbard_guy

    I don’t think they can use 5.56 NATO there. Main danger up north is polar bear, not humans, and 5.56 is simply not enough to take down a bear.

  • Krasnaja Zvezda

    Terrible idea!

    • steve

      The FN Patrol rifle would suit, which is really a Winchester action, as its for survival/protection not a fighting rifle.

  • J.J

    If they are used their service rifles for protection against animals than they should be pushing at least 7.62×51.

  • waffen ss

    Al Gore told me that polar bears are going the way of the dodo bird anyway.

  • Menger40

    These are exactly the kind of guys Jeff Cooper envisioned the scout rifle for. I hope they all get modern, light bolt guns in 308.

    • Dracon1201

      Yes, right here, yes. A Ruger Gunsite Scout would do them wonders.

  • Porty1119

    Some kind of light bolt gun in .308 would fit the bill. 5.56 is a bit anemic for moose and the like- I wouldn’t trust it with my life up there.

  • Matt

    So am I the only one who is hoping for some Canadian Lee-Enfields to come onto the surplus market?

    • Miami_JBT

      The Rangers will be given the opportunity to purchase their rifles and the rest will be destroyed.

  • Lance

    Think 5.56mm rifles for a Rangers job s too small think some C1A1s or a reproduction of one is best for them.

  • Joshua

    Lol at all the people who didnt read the article. No where does it say they are moving to 5.56 and yes colt canada is making the rifles, but they also make bolt action rifles.

  • Miami_JBT

    Part of the contract stipulates that the new Canadian Ranger Service Rifle must be made in Canada by Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco). Contract is for 10,000 rifles. They originally wanted the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout Rifle but Ruger said no to the licensing deal with Colt Canada. They previously did a deal with them for another M77 but that was only 150 rifles.

  • Mabey M

    Colt Canada does have the option to turn out C14 Timberwolf.

    • Canadian Vet

      The Timberwolf is made by Prairie Gunworks out in Alberta. I can’t see them licensing their design to Colt Canada and screwing themselves out of the business.

    • Blastattack

      PGWTDI is located in Winnipeg, Manitioba. There is also no way in hell the government would ever be able to justify spending over $5000 per rifle per ranger, and equipping them with a 13.5lb sniper rifle. The C14 is also a .338LM; which is an utterly abysmal choice for a rifle that only needs to shoot about 100 yards or so and at worst needs minute of pie-plate accuracy at that distance.

  • Guest

    Y’all just won’t admit that the Mosin 91/30 would be perfect for the job. Cheap & prolific to buy and feed, and a proven cold-weather design.

    • Paladin

      Great idea, let’s replace one set of worn out surplus rifles with poor parts availability for another set of… worn out surplus rifles with poor parts availability…

      You know what, maybe it’s not such a great idea…

      • Sergei

        Ebay, gunbroker. Or buy a spare rifle for an additional $99. Nothing breaks on a Mosin anyway.

        • Paladin

          The DND is not going to be supplying their rifles off of Ebay. “nothing breaks” on a Lee Enfield either. All rifles break eventually. All rifles wear out, especially when you have to deal with fielding thousands of them for years at a time in very harsh conditions.

        • Grindstone50k

          As an owner of a Mosin with TWO broken extractors, I beg to differ.

      • Just sayin…

        Good ’nuff for Syrian Rebels

        • Paladin

          Syrian rebels use whatever they can get their hands on. Just because it’s good enough for them doesn’t mean its good enough for the DND.

      • Man pippy

        Millions were made so there are still many thousands which have never been fired sitting in storage. More difficult would be sourcing them from an ex-soviet bloc nation given recent anti-western Russian aggression.

        • The Believer

          You mean that anti-western Russian aggression where the people of Eastern Ukraine (mainly Russian ethnic- demography is destiny as will be seen in Aztlan if patriots don’t force the US government to reassert control) rebelled against the coup by proxies of the people who run the State Department, Federal Reserve, etc? Yup, that’s some bad anti-western Russian aggression. Almost as bad as when Russia ‘forced’ Georgia to invade Russian soil with tanks.

  • SP mclaughlin

    After this afternoon’s events in Ottawa, maybe they should consider something more up to date (albeit not weaker in caliber.)

  • toms

    The Colt bolt action rifles everybody is quoting as the next Canadian rifle are NOT made by Colt. The 2012 rifles are made by Cooper in Montana and cost and arm and leg.

  • iowaclass

    Arctic Wafare Folding from Accuracy International. A little heavier, but the convenience of the folding stock makes up for it.
    Don’t be cheap with your patrol officers’ survival, Canada.

    • Blastattack

      That’s a terrible suggestion. The rangers don’t need a sniper rifle, they need a rugged and reliable battle rifle capable of taking game and predators at 100 or so yards. There is also no freaking way anyone would approve of the government blowing $100 million on the things! A Ruger Scout type rifle is the best choice, and the cost would be substantially lower.

  • iowaclass

    Arctic Warfare with a folding stock, maybe? No sense being cheap with lives at stake.

  • John

    I see two possibilities:

    1. The Canadian Rangers are going to become incorporated as a military unit for active duty, much like the U.S. National Guard. Therefore, the Canadian military wants them on a familiar weapon platform, so they’re going to be issued M-16 type rifles from now on.

    2. Retrofitting the Canadian Rangers would cost much, much more than anyone had originally planned. They’re also not keen on letting what is basically a civilian force have current military weapons. So the Canadian military is talking to Colt Canada about how much it would cost to a) modernize the Lee-Enfield versus b) equipping them with a 7.62 NATO bolt action rifle.

    Be interesting to see what happens.

  • Clifford

    AIA makes a 7.62 variant (the M10) of the No. 4 which is sold in Canada, and the Canadian Military converted a number of No. 4 rifles to 7.62 for target shooting. Why not use those? Or, reissue old C1A1’s – they are semi-auto only.

  • rampant

    Ishapore still knock out Lees for the civi market in 8x50mmR Mannlicher

  • MNOR

    Can we please stop with that old and beaten to death “5.56 isnt enough” argument?

    Any round can kill large wildlife, if placed correctly.
    Didn’t u guys see the helmetcam footage of the snowmobile rider that put down a charging, fullgrown, adult moose with a controlled pair fired from a 9mm glock.

    If anyone is going to argue that a 9x19mm somehow packs more punch than a 5.56 fired from a semiauto rifle, then, well.. wow…

    And you know, an AR is semi-auto.
    In a self defence scenario:
    If the bear/moose/sasquatch/ninjamutantotter doesen’t go down on the first round.. Well, shit, I guess i better squeeze the trigger a few more times, shouldn’t I?

    “Bears aren’t bulletproof”

  • Brian

    Beretta should just license Colt Canada some Tikka T3s. Problem solved.

  • Regulus

    I’m a huge fan of the Enfield. I have a No4 built by Savage. It has markings on the top of the receiver showing that it saw service in South Africa! shoots great and I love 303 brit. Only bad thing is that ammo is expensive now for her.

  • Man pippy

    My advice would be either get Warwick Firearms and Militaria in Australia to license the design of the AR based bolt action rifle in .308 they’ve been developing. Or get Australian International Arms to license their .308 bolt action Enfield. Although they should reduce the barrel length to 16 inches given how rarely the gun will be used and the increased ease of deploying a shorter rifle.

  • sar

    M4A1 is fast for shooting
    but if the terrorist have body armor then it fail..

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Mosin Nagant. Since we’re no longer at war with the Soviets, there’s no reason not to. Parts and ammo are ubiquitous (Since apparently, parts for the No 4 are one of the issues, though I can’t imagine why). It’s more powerful than .303 and will function fine in the cold.

    Unless they’re trying to standardize on .308, in which case, probably some kind of Mauser variant.

  • Jamie Clemons

    5.56mm too small for large game. Maybe there will be some surplus enfields on the market soon.

  • petru sova

    For the self-anointed guru’s claiming the AK will not kill a bear have never paid attention to what has been going on in Africa for decades. AK’s have annihilated animals like rhinos and elephant herds for their ivory and horns. They kill just fine and poachers love the gun.

  • petru sova

    Anyone from Canada know what their Government would do with the Enfield’s if they were replaced? Would they be destroyed or sold to civilians?

  • jm0502

    I wonder if this explains the .303 surplus CTD has.

  • maodeedee

    So are they selling the old Enfields to US distributors? That would be nice. But all the Canadians really needed to do was convert the enfields to Jungle carbine configuration (except with a modern recoil pad) and stick a pistol scope on it and they’d have the best scout rifle ever made.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    I’m sure the Indian Army would be happy to sell them some Enfield 2A’s that were manufactured there in 7.62x51mm – and they have a 12-rd mag v. the Enfield standard of 10-rds that doesn’t require extra care to prevent rim-lock.

  • Savage99

    How about a lever action? During WW1 the Canadian home guard was issued Savage 99’s in 303 Savage. Today’s Marlin 336 in 308 Marlin Express comes very close to the ballistics of the 308 Winchester/7.62 NATO round. The only real disadvantage is its tubular magazine. The reliability and accuracy has been proven over the years. If a box magazine is preferable then Browning offers lever actions in 308 Winchester, though at a considerably higher price and a more complicated action.

  • nurdlinger

    The AIA & the Ruger Gunsite are not military weapons. They are civilian rifles that were never designed for the rigors of military use. Also people have fantasies about what firearms Eskimos use to hunt with up north. A .243 Winchester is considered a “big gun”, and is capable in the hands of an Eskimo subsistence hunter to take down a Polar Bear if need be. An often used round in the north is .223 Remington, other .22 centerfires & .22 Long Rifle is very popular. Stil and all, the Rangers require something with similar pop to a .303 British (that would be the 7.62 mm NATO). I hadn’t heard about the Colt M2012. Since the Defence establishment is about $$$ in Canada, Colt Canada is not going to give away it’s toybox to some other company. I think it will be a Colt designed firearm, designed from the ground up for military use. Ta ta.

    • nurdlinger

      I have to add that the Ruger M77 has been used by the CF SARtechs for a while. It’s in .30/06, has a 14″ barrel, and a folding fibreglass stock.

  • nurdlinger

    might have to backpedal a bit on the Ruger M77 :p