The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to Colt Canada to solicit the new Canadian Ranger Rifle design.
The RFI will be followed by the award of two contracts to Colt Canada under the Munitions Supply Programme for the production of new rifles that will replace the Canadian Ranger's existing .303 Lee Enfield rifles, reported Ottawa Citizen.
The DND said in a statement: "While these remain excellent tools for the Arctic environment, they have been in service for roughly half a century and replacement parts are becoming less readily available.
"The Government of Canada is replacing the Lee Enfields with modern rifles to meet the future needs of the Canadian Rangers, for a specialised, robust rifle that can perform well in below-freezing temperatures.
"The value of these two contracts will be informed by the selected rifle design."
Under the terms of the first contract, the company will manage the design competition and supply 125 rifles for testing during the Canadian Armed Forces' annual Operation Nanook training exercise in summer 2015.
Awarded after testing and any necessary design amendments, the second contract would see the company manufacturing more than 6,500 rifles for induction into the Canadian Rangers' service between mid-2015 and the end of 2019.
In addition, Colt Canada will produce spare parts and also provide accessories, such as cases and trigger safety locks, according to DND.
A redesign of the Lee-Metford rifle, Lee Enfield is a bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle and was the main firearm used by the UK and Commonwealth military forces during the first half of the 20th century.
The Canadian Rangers currently use the No.4 MkI/MkI Lee Enfield manufactured at Long Branch Arsenal in Ontario, Canada.
Image: Canadian Rangers with Lee Enfield rifles in Nunavut, Canada. Photo: courtesy of US Mission Canada.