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Canada's Arctic Rangers Get New Rifles

Lee Enfield RifleThe Canadian Department of National Defense announced earlier this month that it issued a contract to Colt Canada to design and produce 6,500 new rifles for the military's Arctic Rangers.

The unit is armed with the .303 Lee Enfield rifle bought back in 1947. The rifles have gotten so old, the Canadian force can no longer buy parts to fix the rifles that are quickly falling apart.

The Rangers are a unit of about 5,000 Reservists who are spread across the northern most territories in Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently visited a Ranger unit and was photographed firing one of the Lee Enfield rifles. 

Soon after the trip, a memo was released stating the urgency required to replace the rifles.

"While Rangers are given rifles in pristine condition (i.e. new from the box from special storage), Canada's stock is diminishing and a replacement needs to be identified within the next four to five years," according to a memo written by Harper and obtained by the Canadian Press.

It's unclear what type of rifle Colt Canada will design for the Rangers, however it better be able to operate within extreme arctic temperatures. The Canadians stuck with the .303 Lee Enfield for so long because it operated so well in the cold.

Colt Canada will provide the Canadian military 125 different designs to test next summer at the Operation Nanook training exercise. The 6,5000 rifles will then be delivered between 2015 and 2019.

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