Canada to Upgrade C6s with Colt Canada’s C6A1 FLEX Model

Canadian machine gunners will be receiving approximately 1,148 7.62x51mm NATO C6A1 FLEX (Flexible) GPMGs to replace current C6s throughout the armed forces in late 2018. Part of this $32 Million contract is to upgrade the components of the machine guns with polymer buttstocks, M1913 Picatinny rails, and adjustable gas tube regulators similar to the U.S. M240 “Golf” models. The other half of the deal is that the current C6s are decades old, still with wooden stocks, a throwback to the pre-Cold War era. The machine guns will be manufactured at Colt Canada’s Kitchener, Ontario facility and as claimed by the Government will add an additional 13 jobs to the plant, while maintaining around 100 jobs through the contract.

From Jane’s

Canada plans to buy 1,148 new 7.62 mm C6A1 FLEX General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) from Colt Canada under a CAD32.1 million (USD25.7 million) deal including related spares and accessories, Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan announced on 26 July.

Colt Canada will begin deliveries of the GPMG in September 2018 and will complete the order in June 2019. The Canadian Army’s current C6 GPMG has been in service for more than 30 years and a number have been removed from active service.

The operational requirement for a polymer stock was originally created because wood couldn’t be decontaminated as easily as various plastics and metals in the event of an NBC attack against conventional troops. Nowadays the polymer stock will serve to make the GPMG lighter, but much more important is the ability to attach magnified optical sights and laser aiming modules to the new C6A1 FLEX. The informational poster shows M1913 Picatinny rails attached to the gas tube, for laser aiming modules. Hopefully, these will be sufficient enough to withstand the high amount of heat produced between the gas tube and the barrel over a standard course of fire. The addition of a rate of fire regulator is something that U.S. troops were introduced to in the M240 “Golf” model, and it ended in failure as troops were too often abusing the regulator and cranking it up as fast as possible, overworking the guns.

According to the contract cost and number of C6A1s that the Government plans to obtain, the cost of each GPMG comes out to around $278,745 Canadian, approximately $219,000 U.S. This does not reflect the actual cost per machine gun, as there are numerous other stipulations separate from the unit cost. The cost per gun will probably be around the $10,000 U.S. range, as this is what the U.S. Department of Defense paid for M240Bs.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

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  • jono102

    I wonder why they went for a fixed gas regulator in the first place, when its been standard on MAG’s and L7’s since their introduction in the 50’s. If the operator can’t adjust it for the likes of the light or especially SFMG role it must be a pain to deal with.

    So it basically looks like they are getting a late 90’s/ early 2000’s MAG/L7 with an extra rail on the gas tube that’s already proven to have heat issues for PEQ’s etc. On top of that they want it capable of mounting an optic on it but don’t appear to have considered an adjustable stock/cheek piece to allow for both irons and optics. Seem’s like a case of half a step forwards and two backwards.

    • Gus Butts

      The gas regulators have three positions and you have to remove the retaining pin and take the gas plug off so you could rotate the regulator and fix it back in place. We don’t even have optics for it, or have plans to get an optic for it so I have no idea why they wanted a top rail on it in the first place besides maybe future NVG capability, which could already mount on the side of the C6 and has been for years. *thumb up*

      • Dougscamo

        Thought you “unsubscribed” for hate speech on the AK gas regulator….glad to see you back….

        • Gus Butts

          I was making a funny!

      • jono102

        Damn, that seems like a pain of a system to use and probably impossible once they get heated up even if its in SFMG with 3 spare barrels. Having your n.o.2/assistant gunner being able to easily give it 2 clicks up or down with the tip of a round to tweek the ROF is one of the top features of the system.
        I’ve seen C6’s with Elcans in the past but unsure if they were for them or 5.56 ones put on just for the magnification or the looks. From memory if we have our 7.62 ACOG’s on them dependent on eye relief we can only just fit our in-line NVD’s in front of them with the rail length and space available when the top cover is opened. That’s part of the reason when we ditched the C9 for the 7.62 version we got the long rail to accommodate day optics and in-line NVD’s.

        • Gus Butts

          Before the three position gas regulators we did indeed use the adjustable ones with 11 (I think?) positions… We’re simply going back to it because it was a better thing to have, tee hee. The current three position regulators get stuck a lot so people hammer them out and back in in, peening the metal sleeve that it fits in into the regulators, then making them impossible to remove, and makes me yell Québecois swear words when I have to take them off to inspect them and have to file down the metal sleeves. Since it has three positions it has a nice hardened steel triangle just to line it up and keep it in place… You then have peening in the shape of that triangle into the sleeves. I hate them SO MUCH.

          I guess we might get some 7.62 optics in the future (7.62 Elcans?). Getting them for the C9A1s/C9A2s was a great idea because of how far and well you can see with them, making your machine gunners way more effective, it only makes sense to also equip the heavier, farther-reaching GPMGs with them. Especially if you mount the C6 in an FS kit.

          • jono102

            Even in the light role, our MAG’s with 7.62 ACOG’s are pretty sharp. A much sharper sight picture and a lot easier to place on target especially at range.

  • Geoff Timm

    The Canadians have this thing about local production, a Government which penny pinches the military and everything is done by committee so no one is to blame. I’m told the US of A needs to replace a bunch of M240s and M249s. We live in interesting times. Geoff Who was raised on the M16A1 and M60 and notes it took 17 years to buy a handgun??

  • Brett baker

    The Mag 58 was introduced during the Cold War,1958.

  • FT_Ward

    ” The cost per gun will probably be around the $10,000 U.S. range”

    No. The cost will be at least $ 22,000 USD each. Handing out cash so Colt Canada can get the tooling and licensing to do this doesn’t change the cost per gun. Once again the Canadian taxpayer is hosed by their government via Colt’s small arms monopoly. The Ranger (Canadian Rangers are para-military coast watchers) Rifle program to replace the No. 4 Lee Enfield is being done by Colt. They’re producing 6500 modified Tikka T3s at ~ $ 3200 USD each. No optic but each comes with a hard case, a soft case, a trigger lock and an extra mag.

    The pistol replacement program has dragged on for years because the Canadian government insists that Colt Canada be licensed to produce the winner and no suitable manufacturer has taken the bait. (The current general issue handguns are Browning High Powers made in the 1940’s).

    But the Dutch (!) and Brits use the Colt Canada version of the AR. Yes that’s correct but just shows how a depressed (Canadian) dollar and government subsidies can make a product attractive.

    • Denny

      Excellent information right to the point; real eye-opener. Very much appreciated.

    • John

      >The pistol replacement program has dragged on for years because the
      Canadian government insists that Colt Canada be licensed to produce the
      winner and no suitable manufacturer has taken the bait.

      Well, it’s not as though Glock has anything to lose at this point…

      • Gus Butts

        Pulling the trigger to disassemble = automatic disqualifier for the CF pistol competition.

    • FT_Ward

      I should have added that the total program costs are not (and are never) given. Old majors, captains and sergeant majors cost about $200,000 a year to keep on staff (total costs not salary) and there must have been all sorts of trips to check out various options. There’s guaranteed to be a colonel or two supervising and well as clerks for the paperwork and troops to be testers. There will also be civilian bureaucrats involved. In any event the real cost will be millions more than advertised.

  • Harry Buttle

    After the update it still weighs 1.37 kgs more than a Vietnam era GPMG M60 (10.43 kgs), they’d be better off going to the M60E6 (9.27 kg) and get the load down for the infantry.

    • jono102

      If weight was the driving reason change guns, it would make much more sense for them to get the license for 7.62 FN Minimi’s at 8.8kg’s. They already produce the C-9 which have around 70% parts commonality so changes to production and conversion training for soldiers would be minimal. It s designed to have a central belt box rather than the seemingly ad-hoc side mounted belt box of the M60.

      Weight isn’t the key issue for them and I’d say a fair amount will be mounted on vehicles anyway with a few down to Company or maybe Platoon level for their Infantry.

      The extra weight is part of the reason that the MAG/C6/L7 has it all over the M60 when it comes to firing across the board be it sustained fire or light role. The E6 is generally classed more of a LMG than a GPMG these days and generally goes up against the 7.62 Minimi for gun trials and evaluations.

      • Harry Buttle

        If getting the weight down for the infantry isn’t their driving reason, then they just don’t understand the problem. lowering the burden of the infantry in a time of massively increased loads and a huge amount of preventable injuries derived from that load is critical. (I used the M60 as an example because it is such an old design).

  • FT_Ward

    Canadian defence spending is about votes not security, strategy or value for money. “High paying jobs” concentrated in one electoral riding (they’re about 1/10 the size of a US Congressional District) may swing an election to the governing party.

    Their worst defense boondoggle is unfolding now as they’re on track to be 234% over budget for 15 frigates and haven’t even got a design yet. DOD procurement is a model of efficiency compared to the mess in Canada.