New Canadian Rangers’ Lee-Enfield Replacement Designated C-19

This is one of the first images released of Canadian Rangers training with their new rifles, designated C-19.

This is one of the first images released of Canadian Rangers training with their new rifles, designated C-19.

The first new rifles in the prototype batch made by Sako in Finland have been issued to Canadian Rangers, and initial reports are positive. The rifle, which has been designated “C-19”, will replace the venerable but aging .303-caliber Lee-Enfield rifles that have served the Rangers since 1947. The Canadian Armed Forces website reports:

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories — The Canadian Rangers are bidding adieu to the hunting rifle that has served them well for nearly 70 years and reactions to its replacement are positive.

The new prototype rifle, the C-19, was designed by Finland’s Sako, based on its Tikka T3 CTR model. Manufacturing will be done by Colt Canada.

As a hunter with a gunsmith background myself, I was pretty impressed, says Warrant Officer Luke Foster, who was part of the process through which the Canadian Army selected the C-19, which will start initial deliveries in 2016.

I visited the factory, WO Foster adds. Their quality assurance is outstanding. I have no doubt Colt Canada will be able to match the standards that were set by this rifle.

The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reserve Force. The mission of the Rangers is to provide lightly equipped, self-sufficient, mobile forces in support of the CAF’s sovereignty and domestic operation tasks in Canada. They act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the CAF in remote locations and share their expertise and guidance during operations and exercises with Primary Reserve and Regular Force soldiers.

There is also a Junior Canadian Rangers program, which offers youth aged 12 to 18 the opportunity to acquire a wide range of skills and learn under Canadian Rangers’ supervision. Their activities help to preserve the culture, traditions and customs of their communities and foster good citizenship, community responsibility, personal health and welfare and increased self-esteem. Although Junior Canadian Rangers are taught the basics of marksmanship, they do not carry weapons.

Canadian Rangers have been equipped with the Canadian-manufactured Lee Enfield .303 since 1947 and WO Foster explains that its replacement includes many of the same features; an indication of the old warhorse’s enduring qualities.

Nonetheless, its advanced age means replacement parts are increasingly difficult to find and may even be altogether unavailable by 2017. Because of that, damaged rifles have had to be replaced entirely rather than repaired in recent years and stocks are near depletion.

[The Lee Enfield] proved its worth but it’s time for that rifle to retire, says WO Foster. It was an absolute necessity.

The .308 C-19 improves on the Lee Enfield in pure power, which is an important factor in the Rangers’ operational areas where the most present threat is from dangerous wild animals.

We really took that worst-case scenario into account in our testing, says WO Foster. We’ve tested the bullets with a surrogate target to make sure they’re going to have the stopping power. We wanted to make sure it’s more than enough to stop an angry polar bear. We’re confident the bullet will outperform the current .303.

The C-19’s quick acquisition sight, which was built by Sako specifically to meet Canadian Armed Forces requirements, will also help in this regard, allowing them to identify such threats early and quickly from up to 600 metres away.

It has a circular front sight housing that perfectly matches the aperture in the rear, WO Foster explains. When you bring the rifle to your shoulder, your eyes just automatically align to those circles. So you can take that sight picture very quickly.

The C-19 is also lighter, shorter and, says WO Foster, considerably more accurate. Its robust barrel is thicker and more durable. Durability was, of course, a key consideration: The C-19 rifle was fired 8,000 times in testing without significant failures. And it continued to keep its high precision throughout those 8,000 rounds, he notes.

Parts that would be plastic on other hunting rifles are aluminum alloy on the C-19 because of cold temperature requirements. The rear sight, WO Foster says, is heavy-duty machined steel.

Testing was NATO standard for military rifles and also included salt water immersion, and heat, extreme cold and humidity testing. This is normal testing you would do for any military rifle, but this is a hunting rifle. It’s a far more robust hunting rifle than you would ever buy on the civilian market, that’s for sure, WOFoster says.

The Canadian Armed Forces’ Small Arms Modernization Project has been underway for the past five years. Rangers were surveyed to determine what they would like to see from a new weapon. More trials are planned and further feedback will be sought from Canadian Rangers to determine if more can be done to improve upon the prototype.

Overall, the feedback has been extremely positive, WO Foster says. [Canadian Rangers] were very happy with the rifle. We’re very comfortable issuing this rifle to the Canadian Rangers knowing we’ve done our due diligence to make sure it’s going to perform when it’s needed the most.

Fort Smith Ranger Sergeant Brenda Johnson, a member of the 1st Canadian Rangers Patrol Group for over 20 years, agrees that the C-19 is a welcome addition.

I actually really like it so far. I think it’s going to be a great rifle for us.

In addition to reduced recoil, Sgt Johnson says she appreciates the C-19’s oversized bolt handle, which makes the rifle easier to operate while wearing warm gloves. Its stock, she adds, can be adjusted to suit the user’s arm length.

While Sgt Johnson says she’d like to see some minor changes to the quick acquisition sight, she adds she finds the C-19 a lot handier, more convenient.

I think, overall, the general opinion is that it is a very nice rifle; a nice addition, that’s for sure.

The Lee-Enfield pattern is one of the most sound and tried and true firearms in history. The basic action that would become the Lee-Enfield rifle was designed initially in the late 1870s by James Paris Lee, a Scotsman who emigrated to Canada, and later the United States as a grown man, and subsequently adopted in various forms by the US Navy and tested by the US Army. In 1888, a variant of this design, in a smallbore .303 caliber smokeless cartridge, and with an 8-round single stack magazine, was adopted as the Lee-Metford. Less than ten years later, the Lee-Metford would be replaced by the newer Lee-Enfield pattern, which had the 10-round double column magazine first implemented in the Mk. II Lee-Metford, and a new rifling pattern more well-adapted to smokeless ammunition*. The Lee-Enfield, going through virtually countless variations and changes would be produced into the 1950s, and continues to serve today, most significantly with the Canadian Rangers. Once the Rangers fully implement the C-19, the Lee-Enfield will remain an option for those Rangers wishing to stick to the old, venerable standby. With nearly 150 years of use, the Lee pattern continues to go strong.

The new Colt Canada C-19, however, looks to be a worth successor.

*According to Rob of britishmuzzleloaders, the Lee-Metford was designed for smokeless ammunition from the first, and the blackpowder .303 British ammunition was only an interim measure until it was soon replaced by the cordite-loaded round. Rob calls the blackpowder .303 ammunition “a red herring”, as many assume that since the initial ammunition was loaded with blackpowder, that the caliber and rifle were designed for that propellant, which is not the case.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Jsim

    Are there any plans to start selling them in the US?

    • Not_a_Federal_Agent

      It’s a Tikka CTR w/ an ugly laminate stock and iron sights added.

      They’re for sale already in your choice of stainless or blued in .260 or .308 with the black factory stock

      • Jsim

        For me the iron sights are what makes the Canadian one desirable

        • J-

          I second that.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        It’s my favorite rifle.

        There is literally no better value in precision rifles out there. It smokes any stock Remington, the mag the trigger the action are all incredibly smooth. Mine is a 1/2 MOA gun with lazy reloads. It’s just excellent.

        It’s such a good gun, I’m almost shocked to see Canada select it.

        • Joshua

          hey, even a blind pig has to find an acorn sometimes

        • iksnilol

          Very expensive as well. Won’t lie, it is attractive and is lighter than the Sauer I use. Then again the Sauer isn’t intended for hunting so I digress.

          Screw it, I will most likely go with a Mauser build. I can get a M67 mauser for next to nothing.

      • Dan Atwater

        The iron sights are a pretty big difference, for my anyhow. I’ve got my eye on the CTR but I’d definitely rather have irons.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Iron sights is what makes this gun awesome, the lack of iron sights on any major bolt action sold in the US is pretty awful

  • HenryV

    I hope it works out well for them. 🙂

  • iksnilol

    How does the Enfield action treat cases? I heard something about it stretching them or something. Is there any truth to it?

    • Darkpr0

      Enfields often have pretty generous chambers, but this is both a blessing and a curse. We have the same factor with Ross Rifles as well, where some have chambers that were reamed out in the field, often with field-expedient precision. The bad news is that this does blow the brass out of spec, so if you keep resizing the case into spec you’re probably going to maul the brass (depending on the shape of your particular gun’s chamber). What you can do is keep the brass specific to that gun, only neck resize it to accept a projectile, and just reload it as is. It works the brass less, and probably helps a bit with accuracy in the old guns. But you probably don’t wanna use that fire-formed brass in any other guns.

      • Joshua

        usually you can’t use the brass in any other gun, it just won’t chamber

        • Darkpr0

          Factory-reamed chambers are often alright as they are reamed to the same spec. Field-reamed chambers will not be as forgiving.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Reloading fired .303 brass from a milsurp Lee-Enfield is really kind of a waste of time and can get dangerous with the increased potential for case ruptures. If you rechamber the rifle with a new barrel that will solve the problem, except that you’ll burn in hell for doing such a heretical thing. It’s best just to enjoy the Lee-Enfield for what it is and just recycle the brass instead of reusing it. If you want to play reloader best to go with 20th or 21st century cartridges.

      • iksnilol

        What about rebarreling a sporterized 308 Enfield?

        • ostiariusalpha

          If the crime has been committed by someone else already, you’re mostly in the clear to replace it with a tighter chambered .303 barrel. In fact, you can claim that you’ve redeemed the rifle somewhat. Is .303 surplus really cheap enough to justify the investment where you are though?

          • iksnilol

            I was thinking of a 308 enfield. 303 is hens teeth in Norway.

            But I think a Mauser build using AICS mags is a safer bet.

        • MR

          If it’s already sporterized, and you keep it tasteful, I don’t see the harm.

    • HenryV

      Reloading .303 is not for newbies.

    • Tassiebush

      My understanding is that they definitely stretch due to the rear locking action allowing more flex. You want to full length resize them rather than just neck size them when reloading. But rest assured people definitely do reload them.

  • Darkpr0

    Colt Canada has recently started selling their products to Canadian civilians. I think there are a lot of us waiting for this to appear. A couple made their way after the trials and went very fast, and as far as I know the owners are very happy with them. Personally I’m just in love with the iron sights, and if I’m after a 308 bolt action rifle, this is probably it.

    • J-

      I’ll take two please!!! this is a better iteration of the “scout” rifle than Savage, Steyr, or Ruger puts out (the Ruger wound’t be so bad if it came with a 20 inch barrel w/o the flash hider and a full length scope rail). If this hits the US, I’m buying.

      • Darkpr0

        The Steyr prototypes that did not cut the mustard in trials were also sold to Canadian civilians. They sold like hot cakes made of gold. I wanted one of those, but they weren’t cheap. Looked beautiful.

      • Dracon1201

        The 16.5″ barrel is part of the scout concept, as is the forward optics mount. You can put a full length on, but then it isn’t a scout rifle.

        • J-

          I am aware of what Jeff Cooper’s idea of a scout rifle should br. I just think the design is bad. 16 inches of barrel is too short for a 308. Too much muzzle blast. The 308 benefits from at least 18 inches of barrel and 20 is optimal. It’s why the M14 and AR-10 were designed around 20 inch barrels. Also, the forward scope mount is bad in execution. It’s not much faster than a traditional scope. But you lose a lot in accuracy with the long eye relief and poor cheek weld. The scope options for scout scopes are poor too. I think a better execution of the scout rifle is 20 inches of barrel, good iron sights, and a receiver scope mount with a med power adjustable optic (2-7 or 3-9) with an illuminated reticle on QD rings. That is what this rifle is and why I want one. B

          • Dracon1201

            I, an owner of the Ruger, would disagree. 16 inches is perfect in a gun only meant for a gun <300 yards. The loss in mobility going to a 20 in barrel is astounding. The forward mount is definitely faster, and when used correctly gives you many benefits over a traditional scope, including the use of your peripheral vision. I don't know what poor cheek weld you are talking about, as I have never had the issue, and quite frankly enjoy every aspect of the excellent scope offerings from Burris and Leupold. To each their own, but I think the original concept is amazing and wouldn't change a thing.

          • Tassiebush

            What’s the 16″ barrel like on the ears in the field? It’s probably my biggest worry about the ruger scout.

          • Dracon1201

            It doesn’t feel good, I’ll say that! Whew! No matter what, I always tend to wear electronic earpro, so I’m usually okay with it.

          • Tassiebush

            Fair enough. It’s always going to be a trade off of desirable qualities vs negative and that type of ear pro certainly is a great solution. I don’t know if it’s just cos mine isn’t very good but I just don’t feel connected with electronic earpro for hunting. but if it works for you then that’s good.

          • iksnilol

            I prefer 18 inch barrel with a suppressor that extends 4 inches. Is still handy and is tolerable without ear pro.

          • J-

            I had a savage scout and never really liked it and eventually sold it. I have a Springfield scout and like it but only have an Aimpoint on it. I tried various scout scopes on both rifles and never found a magnified scout scope that appealed to me. I have never found a 20 inch barrel to be any more cumbersome than a 16 in barrel with any of my ARs. The muzzle blast on a 16 inch 308 to me is so noticeably worse than an 18 or 20 inch barrels I won’t touch a 16 inch 308. 16 inches is not enough barrel to fully burn all the powder in a 308. I much prefer this style to the cooper scout rifle and would buy this if it came to the US.

          • Dracon1201

            Fair enough, to each their own. SAWC is always more important to me than muzzle blast or the full powder burn. I was running a red dot on mine for a while, and would do so again, but with a modified semi version of a scout rifle.

          • iksnilol

            Why bother with 308 if you are going for such a short range? A handier gun in your case would be a SBR bolt action in 300 BLK or 7.62×39. Something like a mossberg MVP in 300 blk with a 9 inch barrel would be way handier and do the same thing.

          • Joe_Mahon

            They mentioned polar bears in the article:-)) The .308 would be at the bottom of my list; the shorter 30-30 clones are not even on the page.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but if you’re in the United States and aren’t in Alaska polar bears are the least of your worries.

            Besides, 308 or 30-06 with the right bullets is good enough for Svalbard where polar bears are a daily threat. 7.62×39 should be fine for black bears. Wouldn’t recommend it for grizzly bear, obviously. So if you’re in an area where the “worst” thing you’ll meet is black bears, I see few reasons to not go with a SBR bolt action in 7.62×39 or 300 BLK. The Mini-30 is also pretty lightweight, it could work for a “scout” rifle thingy.

          • Dracon1201

            I prefer the selection of .308 to that of either. I tend to run high quality ammo through mine, not just plinking loads. Also, contrary to popular belief, .308 and 7.62×39 are not the same thing out of a 16 in barrel.

          • iksnilol

            I never said that they are the same, it’s just that most things (emphasis on most) can be handled with both.

          • Dracon1201

            Lol, that’s just usually what people are getting at when they ask that question. I looked into it, and for the intended purpose of being able to take larger game (Like Cooper wanted), I would rather have the .308.

        • MR

          A stripper clip guide is part of the scout rifle definition, too.

          • Dracon1201

            There were things I did not add to my definition. I only mentioned things in rebuttal.

          • MR

            You mentioned that if the barrel is longer than 16″, it doesn’t conform to the scout concept and therefore isn’t a scout rifle. I would say that if it doesn’t accept stripper clips, it doesn’t conform to the scout concept, and isn’t a scout rifle.

          • Dracon1201

            It’s true. That’s why Ruger changed to the wider plastic mags. It could be fed like that if you make some stripper clips for it.

        • TheGrammarMan

          As has been said in the past, “The scout rifle is a pistol expert’s idea of how to build a rifle”.

          • Dracon1201

            You can say that, but from my experience the pistol shooter didn’t do a bad job.

    • Wetcoaster

      I thought it was the 10 Steyr trial guns that were sold. I would have thought they would keep the Sakos for further long-term testing

  • Joshua

    the Lee-Enfield and the Lee-Navy have no commonality in their design, which seems to be what your last paragraph is implying, the Lee-Navy is a (weird form of) straight pull bolt action while the Lee-Enfield is a more typical turn-bolt gun, just because they come from the same designer doesn’t mean they are the same, indeed even the magazine, the thing that Lee is best known for is not at all similar on the two guns, the Lee-Enfield uses a semi-detachable double stack double feed box, while the Lee-Navy uses a single stack single feed En-Bloc type magazine.

    • I didn’t mention the Lee-Navy in the post at all.

      • Dan

        Well the word Lee and the word navy both appear in the same post so….2+2=5

      • Joshua

        you are referring to the Lee Model 1879 rifle then? that’s not a very well known rifle, I apologize that I did not think of it when you were talking about it, but it never crossed my mind, I jumped to the better known rifle

  • jussi

    poor lefthander guy in the picture

    can’t they get 1/10 in LH , SAKO does make LH Tikkas so? it is not optimal for a LH to shoot a RH weapon, and if you are facing a charging polarbear?

    • Darkpr0

      They didn’t make LH Lee Enfields, that dude is probably so used to RH action by now he’d feel awkward with it.

  • Will

    I hope we can look forward to an in-depth T&E of this rifle in the not too distant future.

  • Zang Kang King

    Sell this exact rifle to Americans please Tikka.

  • Don Ward

    I love my Tikka 3 so now I can sharpen my Internet gun guy e-peen by pointing out how it is basically serving in the Canadian Rangers.

    Any word on the magazines and how they will issued (other than one magazine for one rifle)?

    The one minute quibble I’d have is that the old SMLE’s were able to use stripper clips with a ten round magazine which makes it a slightly better military rifle (assuming the C19s don’t have unlimited magazines and have to handload individual cartridges into empties). This is also keeping in mind the reality that most of these weapons will just be used to pop caribou, moose and the odd bear that roams into the village.

    • Tassiebush

      Going on a previous article the package for this gun includes two mags per gun. I’m a Tikkaphile too btw so also enjoying the kudos this brings our beloved rifle.

    • Southpaw89

      I’ve got a Tikka in .223, I can easily see that rifle with a 16″ barrel and a 10 round mag. Not that I’d mess with the one I’ve got, but if they market a scout in .223 or .308 I would be very interested, especially since Tikka’s so good about making lefty versions available for a reasonable price.

    • iksnilol

      Couldn’t one cut a clip guide in the Tikka? 308 stripper clips are common.

  • Nimrod

    Yeah, give those hosers a bolt action rifle eh? Sose they can show what they’re really aboot. Now, take off!

  • Tassiebush

    There’s a tiny part of me that thinks it would have been really awesome if they’d taken a really different approach and adopted a Drilling instead.

    • iksnilol

      No frills and drilling in the same sentence is a first.

  • Major Tom

    So when can I get one in Colorado?

    • Don Ward

      Wait until Canada conquers Colorado and get colonized?

  • Jas

    Hmmm, if I recall correctly the Lee-Metford (with its peculiar rifling) was designed as a black powder rifle, for a 303 black powder cartridge (compressed charge and all….). It is only when the Metford was already in service that Cordite loaded 303 ammunition became available. This ammo quickly ate up the blackpowder Metford barrels so very soon the system was replaced by a rifle with a barrel designed and produced by Enfield. The Lee-Enfield.
    Though Metford rifles with nitro-proof do exist, they do not stand up to the punishment given them by the Military Cordite 303 ammo.
    As for the C19: That is one heck of a rifle. I love the fact that they replaced all the plastic parts by aluminum ones. Sure hope that soon a civilian (if not civilized) version becomes available.

    • Secundius

      @ Jas.

      While “Cordite” is NOT effected by Extreme Cold Temperatures. It IS affected by Temperature “Difference” from Room Temperature to Extreme Cold Temperatures. So unless you plan to store your Ammunition Outside, this is Probably the Reason for “Black-Powder” Usage…

  • Just Sayin’

    Circular front sight housing is a bad idea in the frozen north. Fills up with snow flakes really fast. If you’ve ever hunted with a Mosin in the winter you’d know this. The Finns must have known this as nearly all their Mosins omitted it.

  • John

    Well, the Alaskan forces would likely be SOCOM and the rest of the U.S. Department of Defense, so they would probably win right off the bat.

  • Lynn Cournoyer

    The new firearms look real nice. The Rangers better hurry to get them, If the libs get in they probably will only get slingshots.

  • Fegelein

    Proschai, vintovka Leeya. Farewell, Lee-Enfield. Hello, replacement. *Hiss*

  • It’s a civilian tactical rifle for people far too manly to use semi-autos, of course, MZW! You know that!