The Canadian Rangers received the first opportunity to review a prototype of the new C-19 rifle that is scheduled to replace the currently used Lee Enfield rifles.
In June, Colt Canada received a $1.5m contract for the management of the design competition for the C-19 rifles.
In particular, the contract covered the delivery and testing of 125 test and evaluation rifles by the Canadian Rangers during the military exercise, dubbed Operation Nanook.
The Rangers will test the rifles in the harsh and challenging northern climate and provide feedback.
Canadian assistant defence minister Julian Fantino said: "The preservation of northern sovereignty is fundamental to national security and our nation’s territorial integrity.
"Canadian Rangers provide essential support to the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada’s north, and our government is committed to providing Canadian Rangers with the tools they need so that they may continue to effectively serve their country."
After the testing and any necessary design amendments, the Canadian Department of National Defence will award a second contract to Colt Canada for the production of 6,500 rifles, which will be phased into use by the Rangers between mid-2016 and late-2019.
A derivative of the UK Army’s Lee-Metford rifle, the 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 rifle, which will be progressively replaced as its replacement parts are becoming less available, and are likely to become completely unavailable beyond 2017.
A sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, the Canadian Rangers provide patrols and detachments for national-security and public-safety missions in sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of the country.
Approximately 5,000 Canadian Rangers are currently living in more than 200 communities across Canada’s North.
Image: Canadian assistant defence minister Julian Fantino presented the new C-19 rifle prototype to the Canadian Rangers in Arctic Bay, Nunavut. Photo: courtesy of Government of Canada.