Canadian Army Continues Small Arms Upgrades with Purchase of 3,600 GPMGs

    C6A1 - Colt Canada produced FN MAG patterned General Purpose Machine Gun (Colt Canada)

    Earlier this year the Canadian government confirmed it would be procuring a further 3,626 C6A1 FLEX General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) from Colt Canada. This large contract is worth CA$96.97 million and was awarded under the Canadian government’s Munitions Supply Program.

    The unit cost of the Canadian C6A1s, essentially a locally produced FN MAG, due to the guns being built in Canada – the government justifies the additional cost as it secures Canadian jobs and maintains indigenous small arms production capabilities.

    Private Ryan VanHorlick, C-6 gunner for 8th Platoon, C Coy., 3rd PPCLI,during an exercise in 2005 (Photo by: Cpl. Andy Hurt/USMC)

    In a statement Canada’s Defense Minister, Harjit Sajjan, said:

    “his needed investment continues our government’s commitment to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the modern equipment they deserve. This purchase will provide the necessary tools to the women and men who serve, so they can do the important work we ask of them. As Strong, Secure, Engaged promised, our government continues to modernize military equipment for our troops.

    Back in 2017, TFB reported that the Canadian Army was set to upgrade from its older C6 GPMGs to the new C6A1 standard with a purchase of 1,148 new guns at a cost of CA$32.1 million (at the time that was about $25.7 million).

    The latest contract was awarded in late January and the first guns are expected to be delivered later in 2020. This order forms part of a recent run of Canadian small arms procurements and refurbishments which also saw the purchase of 272 C20 semi-automatic sniper rifles from Colt Canada.

    The new C20 semi-automatic 7.62x51mm precision rifle (Canadian Army)

    In addition to the C20, it has been reported that the Canadian Army is about to launch another new procurement program to evaluate and select a bolt action sniper rifle, likely in a calibre like .338 Lapua Magnum or perhaps to replace the C3A1 bolt action 7.62x51mm rifle. This new bolt action rifle will be designated the C21 and it is expected that up to 229 new sniper rifles will eventually be purchased. The contract, however, is unlikely to go to Colt Canada as it has been noted that tooling up for just 230 rifles would not be cost effective – a tender is set to be issued soon.

    The C21 will augment the .338 Lapua Magnum C14 Timberwolf MRSWS (Medium Range Sniper Weapon System) and .50 BMG C15 Long Range Sniper Weapon (LRSW) currently in service. Some of the Canadian Army’s C15 rifles (which are McMillan Tac-50s) are also set to be overhauled by Colt Canada. Under the Munitions Supply Program, they will refurbish 75 C15 rifles at a cost of $281,000. These refurbished .50 calibre rifles to be completed by 31 March, 2021.

    Canadian Army Pistol training with the Hi-Power (Canadian Army)

    The final question we must ask about Canadian small arms is when plans to replace the venerable Browning Hi-Power will be unveiled as the elderly pistols are reportedly becoming increasingly decrepit.

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]