Since their formation in 1947, the Canadian Rangers, Canada’s Arctic defense/surveillance militia, have been carrying .303 chambered Lee Enfield rifles. Today, more than 60 years later, each Ranger is still issued with a Lee Enfield No. 4 rifle and each year are provided with 200 rounds of .303 ammunition. Because parts are becoming scarce, the Canadian Forces have decided to replace the Rangers’ Enfield inventory by 2014 with a rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm. Canada.com reports
Earlier models had been in service with the British army since 1895, according to the Juno Beach Centre, which commemorates the effort made by all Canadians during the Second World War. On its website, the centre noted that during the First World War, Canadian troops threw away their government-issued Ross rifles in favour of Lee-Enfields they picked up on the battlefield.
Thompson said after consulting with the Rangers, it was agreed that the new rifle would be in the 7.62mm/ .308 Winchester calibre, as this was best suited to meet the Rangers’ requirements. He noted that “.308 Winchester refers to a specific cartridge that is very similar to the 7.62 x 51 (NATO) cartridge, and is made by several companies.”
They were originally issued to the Rangers, along with 200 rounds of ammunition, to ward off incursions into Canadian territory. Today the Rangers are not expected to engage invading armies, but they still carry a rifle for personal protection and survival in the harsh Arctic territory they patrol.
[ Many thanks to Louis for emailing me the link. ]