The loud report of a rifle echoes through Iqaluit’s makeshift shooting range.
The Canadian Rangers have their new piece of kit, and it replaces something older than most of the Rangers themselves.
Rangers across the North are now receiving their brand new C-19 rifles, designed to replace the World War II era Lee Enfield .303’s.
The C-19 is a .308, and has special changes to make it Arctic ready.
The trigger guard is bigger to allow for gloves, it can be fired from either the left or right hand side, and it can take regular ammunition right off the shelf.
Plus, there is the distinctive stock.
(The Canadian military has ordered 6,000 new C-19 rifles to replace the Lee Enfield in the Arctic. Photo: Kent Driscoll)
When asked if he thought the bold colour design on the stock was “pretty”, Iqaluit Ranger Sgt. Kevin Kullualik laughed and said, “maybe a little too pretty” before extolling the new rifle’s virtues.
“They’re a lot better than the .303. They’re shorter, lighter and have better sights,” Kullualik said.
In addition to better sights on the actual rifle, Rangers will be able to add their own personal scopes to the barrel.
Rangers can shoot well under the worst circumstances, now they have scopes.
The new rifles also keep one important feature of the Enfields, the single bolt action.
The Arctic breaks machines; simple machines work best here.
Anything more complicated than single bolt is asking for a problem.
“It’s going to take a while to find out how good they are, how much better they are than the .303s shooting wise.
“They seem to be an awesome rifle, easier to take care of, to clean and stuff,” said Kullualik.
(Sgt. Kevin Kullualik tries out his new c-19 at Iqaluit’s firing range. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN)
As the sergeant takes some practice with the Iqaluit media hovering, his fellow Rangers take the opportunity to gently heckle their leader, with catcalls of “You a celebrity now.”
Rangers are different than most armed forces world-wide, in that they elect their sergeants.
Kullualik may be getting a hard time from his troops, but they picked him to be the guy taking the hard time.
Kullualik is hitting the target, and his shots are staying together in a nice group.
For now, he is just working to finesse the sights and get a little closer to the middle of the target.
(When the rest of Canada’s military comes North, the Rangers are the ones who make sure they are safe. A big part of that is making sure polar bears don’t get anywhere near the soldiers. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN)
That distance could be life or death someday; when Canada’s military comes North, the Rangers are the ones who provide “animal control”, they make sure the Polar bears don’t get to eat a soldier.
The C-19 is a .308, stronger than the Enfield.
As a Ranger for 14 years, Kullualik knows just what the old Enfields could do.
“The Enfield, if they’re sighted right, they’re sighted for about 800 yards or so, but with no scope, you can’t see far, so it is just what you can see with your eyes.”
The Canadian Armed Forces have purchased over 6,000 C-19s and they will all be in the hands of Rangers by 2021.