Last week, the government announced a key step to replacing the Canadian Rangers’ .303 Lee Enfield No 4 Mk 1 rifles.

In a press release, National Defence said that an RFP had been issued to Colt Canada to solicit a new design that will “result in the award of two contracts…for the production of the new rifles.”

The reliable Lee Enfield has been a staple of the Canadian Rangers patrol kit for over 50 years, but the government acknowledged that replacement parts are becoming harder to acquire.

Under the Munitions Supply Program, the government will issue two contracts to Colt, which has been the army’s long-standing small arms strategic source. The first involves managing a design competition, and providing 125 winning rifles for testing during Op NANOOK in 2015. The second, to be issued following testing and any necessary design amendments, will see Colt produce and deliver over 6,500 rifles to be phased into use by the Rangers between mid-2015 and late-2019. Colt will also manufacture spare parts and provide accessories, such as cases and trigger safety locks. Most of the work will be performed at Colt’s facilities in Kitchener.