THUNDER BAY – NEWS – The Canadian Rangers have a new rifle. The Sako rifle will be manufactured in Canada at the Colt Canada facility in Kitchener Ontario.
The Canadian Army in a media release says, “The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reserve. They are effectively the military’s eyes and ears in the sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada that can not conveniently or economically be covered by other parts of the CAF, providing patrols and detachments for national-security and public-safety missions in these locations.
“Today there are approximately 5000 Canadian Rangers living in over 200 communities. Given the critical role the Canadian Rangers play in the safety and security of our Northern communities, and the sovereignty of our North, they require well-functioning reliable supplies and equipment. Rifles are critical tools for the rangers’ work. The model currently used is the Lee Enfield. While the stock of rifles now in use are excellent tools for an Arctic environment, their replacement parts are becoming less available and may be completely unavailable after 2017. The Government of Canada is therefore replacing the Lee Enfields with modern rifles to meet the Canadian Rangers’ needs into the future”.
The Lee–Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire andCommonwealth during the first half of the 20th century. It was the British Army’s standard rifle from its official adoption in 1895 until 1957. The Canadian-manufactured Lee Enfield went into service during WWII and has been used by the Canadian Rangers since 1947.
The new rifles are designed for the conditions that the Canadian Rangers face.
Canadian Rangers require a specialized, robust rifle that can perform reliably in temperatures well below freezing. There will also be unique cosmetic elements to help CAF and Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel identify an official Ranger Rifle from a distance, leading to a specific design for these rifles as opposed to purchasing off-the-shelf stock.
The ownership of the intellectual property of the design will remain with the selected design firm, and Colt Canada will acquire a manufacturing license for the design on behalf of Canada. As the rifle manufacturer, Colt Canada will be required to change or update the technical data package periodically, for example in the event a particular part becomes obsolete. Updates are required as, historically, DND’s small arms have a service life of between 30 to 70 years.
These two contracts will support the continued employment of 95 jobs and contribute to the creation of up to approximately 30 jobs in the Kitchener, Ontario region.
The Government of Canada issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in 2014 for a new Ranger Rifle design, and the contract was awarded in early 2015. Following testing, and any necessary design amendments, Colt Canada will produce more than 6500 rifles, which will be phased into use by the Canadian Rangers between mid-2016 and late-2019.
A Call for a Rifle Design Suitable for Canada’s North
The Government of Canada will turn to a long-established Canadian expert in the weapons industry, Colt Canada, which holds a solid track record in supplying and maintaining small arms, including rifles. Colt Canada assisted the government to competitively select a rifle design and then will manufacture them. The company, previously called Diemaco, has been Canada’s Small Arms Strategic Source and Centre of Excellence since it was competitively selected in 1976, under the federal Munitions Supply Program (MSP). As such, Colt Canada is an experienced and efficient manufacturer and supporter of small arms for Canada, including the men and women of the CAF. This stable Canadian small arms manufacturing and maintenance capacity is considered key for the constant readiness of the CAF for domestic and international operations. The Government of Canada remains committed to the MSP.
The government will in fact issue two contracts to Colt Canada. The first contract, valued at approximately $1.5 million, is for Colt Canada to manage the design competition, as well as the delivery of up to 125 test and evaluation rifles. Colt Canada itself will not be a contender for the rifle design. The Department of National Defence (DND) and Public Works and Government Services Canada will fully participate in evaluating the design bids, along with Colt Canada as the competitively selected manufacturer.
The second follow-on contract will enable Colt Canada to buy the technical data package and a manufacturing license agreement for the design which will be manufactured at Colt Canada. This contract also includes quality control, the production of spare parts, and accessories such as cases and trigger safety locks. Canada will contract General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, also an identified partner through the strategic source agreement with the MSP, to supply the ammunitions. The production contract is expected to be awarded in early 2016.