Fourteen of Iqaluit’s Canadian Rangers gathered just outside of town Monday to train on their new, long-awaited rifles.
Training took place all week, June 14 to 20.
“We’re just getting the feel of it, now. They’re a lot better than the .303. They’re shorter. They’re lighter. And better sights,” said Patrol Sgt. Kevin Kullualik.
The C-19 rifle is based on the Tikka T3 and replaces the .303 Lee-Enfield Mark 4, in service in the North since 1947.
The smaller weapon is salt-water tested, cold-weather tested, has a better punch power, and fires longer bullets.
The conventional military weapon is a gas-operated semi-automatic, which is not ideal for the Arctic.
“In the Arctic you want to use a bolt-action weapon that has minimal moving parts,” said Canadian Forces Master Warrant Officer Ryan Mitchell.
“It will perform in an austere environment when it’s -50, -70.”
The bullet is a .308 and will be produced for many years. They can also be bought directly by Rangers. Finally, the trigger guard is larger and can accommodate heavy gloves.
Sgt. Louis Robichaud says the weapon has “good longevity.”
Parts are readily available for repairs, unlike the old Enfield.
Robichaud says 1 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group was overdue to receive these new rifles.
“Now that the rifle’s getting issued, they’re happy. They’re enjoying having some new equipment and trying it out,” he said.
The Rangers will have opportunities to comment over the next year or two on how the C-19 performs.
For now, Kullualik says they seem like an awesome rifle, and appear to be easier to take care of.
“We’re training on that, how to clean them, how to maintain the rifle,” he said.
About the Lee Enfields, Kullualik says since the 1940s they’ve been passed on from Ranger to Ranger.
One of the Rangers’ responsibilities is to look out for Canadian military personnel on Northern exercises, which includes watching out for predators.