Canadian Rangers Retire Lee Enfield

The Canadian Army has used the SMLE or Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle in .303 British since the Boer War. Until this last week, their volunteer Arctic-based Canadian Rangers were still using it. However, it has now been replaced by the Colt Canada C19 bolt action rifle which a modified Tikka T3 CTR built under license.

Canadian Rangers drilling with their Lee-Enfields

As to why the Rangers used the SMLE for so long, the National Post has this from an arms expert at the Canadian War Museum:

The Lee-Enfield’s powerful .303 cartridge was famous for killing enemy soldiers with one shot, and it’s equally good at stopping a charging polar bear.


Its wood stock makes it uniquely resistant to cracking or splitting in extreme cold. The rifle is also bolt-action, meaning that every shot must be manually pushed into place by the shooter. This makes for slower firing, but it also leaves the Lee-Enfield with as few moving parts as possible.


“The more complicated a rifle gets … the more prone you are to problems with parts breaking or jamming in a harsh environment,” said Eric Fernberg, an arms collection specialist at the Canadian War Museum.


“It might seem old-fashioned … (but) the retention of the Lee-Enfield by the Canadian Rangers was a wise choice for their role and environment.”

According to the Department of National Defence, the surplus rifles will be split between Army Cadets, museums, and the Rangers who wish to buy them.

The Lee Enfield Declaration of Surplus was approved by VCDS on January 21, 2015. Approximately 9,500 rifles will be transferred to the CAF Cadets, mostly as non-functional rifles, to complement their entitlement of drill and training rifles. Another 5,000 rifles approximately, will be offered to serving Canadian Rangers individuals as a donation/gift to preserve heritage. Up to 50 rifles will be offered to CAF affiliated museums and units as display artefacts.

I guess this means that few, if any, of these Enfields will be headed south of the border.

You can see the replacement C19 in the photo below. It will come with the Pelican case and has the Canadian Rangers shield on the laminated stock.


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