The search for a new rifle fit for the Canadian Rangers has ended, and the replacement is surprising. Colt Canada was selected in late 2014 to provide rifles to replace the Rangers’ venerable No. 4 Lee-Enfields, which many assumed meant the next rifle would be a .223/5.56mm caliber AR-15 derivative, from the company’s lineup. Not so! While the new rifle will be made by Colt Canada, it has been derived from the Sako T3 CTR, and will be chambered in .308 Winchester:
Ottawa Citizen reports on the new rifle:
The Canadian Rangers require a hunting rifle for survival and self defence against large North American carnivores at ranges of 0 metres to 300 metres. Currently, the Rangers use the Lee Enfield No. 4 to meet these requirements but the age and the scarcity of parts for this weapon will soon make it very difficult if not impossible to maintain, according to the Department of National Defence and Colt Canada.
Because of that the New Canadian Ranger Rifle (NCRR) system is being purchased to replace the Lee Enfields.
Here are the details provided in an information sheet supplied to Defence Watch by Colt Canada:
The NCRR will be used by CRs while patrolling some of the most remote regions of coastal, central and northern areas of Canada. The temperatures will reach as high as +39C with moderate to high humidity along coastal and forested regions and as low as -51C in arctic regions. For those CRs located in coastal areas, it is likely that the NCRR will be exposed to long term salt laden air and water. The NCRR will be transported by the CR on foot, wheeled commercial vehicles, skidoos, sleds, small boats and all-terrain vehicles. It must remain operable during and following exposure to these environments.
The Government of Canada and the Department of National Defence with Colt Canada, under the Munitions Supply Program (MSP) will replace the original Lee Enfield rifle fleet with a commercially available hunting rifle. The replacement will be a bolt action, calibre .308 Winchester, magazine fed rifle. Ancillary items, such as a hard transport case, soft transport case, sling, cleaning kit and trigger lock for each rifle will be procured at this time.
Prototype rifles have been delivered to the Rangers and will undergo user trial evaluations from now till the end of 2015. Production of 6500 or more rifles is expected to commence in mid-2016 with a completion mid to end 2018.
Rifle: 1. The replacement rifle is based on the SAKO T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle).
- SAKO Ltd is based in Riihimaki, Finland.
- The Canadian supplier is Stoeger Canada from Whitby, Ontario.
- The first 125 prototypes have been delivered to Canada and they will undergo User Trials by the Rangers. Feedback from the Rangers will be incorporated into production rifles.
- Colt Canada will produce the barrel, bolt and receiver under licence from Sako. Production is scheduled to begin mid to end 2016.
- The Ranger Rifle has several Canadian modifications.
- a) Larger bolt handle and enlarged trigger guard to accommodate gloved hands.
- b) Protected front and rear iron sights.
- c) Laminated stock in unique orange or red colour with Ranger Crest.
- d) Two stage trigger with three position safety.
1. Pelican hard transport case with Ranger Crest and custom moulded internal foam supplied by Pelican Products ULC, from Edmonton, Alberta.
2. Cleaning kit, sling and soft transport case supplied by Rampart International, from Ottawa, Ontario.
3. Trigger lock supplied by The Old Co-Op, from North Gower, Ontario.
It is crystal clear that the Rangers are taking the acquisition of their new rifles very seriously, and that they seek to replicate the best features of the old Lees while reducing length and weight, and securing a domestic supply of parts and ammunition. This is probably the first time a bolt-action rifle has been put through its paces to become a standard service arm since the 1930s, at the latest. It also marks the well-deserved final retirement of the Lee-Enfield as a standardized service arm, almost 140 years since the action was designed.