Canadian Small Arms & Light Weapons In Ukraine

After seeing a considerable number of Colt Canada C7 rifles and C8 carbines being used in Ukraine I decided to investigate their origins. I reached out to various Ministries of Defence to enquire if they had provided the rifles. The Canadian Ministry of National Defence not only confirmed that they had provided various small arms but their spokesperson was also kind enough to confirm some of the types of small arms and light weapons which Canada has transferred to Ukraine since February 2022. 

Due to operational security the quantities of weapons transferred obviously couldn’t be confirmed but there’s some interesting weapons in the list that might not be what was expected. 

Canada aid arriving in in Ukraine (Ukrainian MoD)

In terms of anti-tank weapons we already know that at least 100 Carl Gustaf M2 Recoilless Rifles were transferred, along with 2,000 rounds of 84mm ammunition. We have seen a number of M2s which are potentially of Canadian origin in the field. Also confirmed back in March was the transfer of as many as up to 7,500 hand grenades and up to 4,500 M72 LAW anti-tank weapons. These have probably been seen in the field but without close ups of markings and with so many countries transferring LAWs its difficult to ID them specifically in imagery from the field.

A potential Canadian Carl Gustaf in Ukraine (via Social Media)

In terms of small arms things get interesting, as mentioned C7A1 rifles have been seen in a considerable number of photos and videos from Ukraine. Produced by Diemaco, now Colt Canada, it seems obvious that these rifles originated from Canada. However, the spokesperson from the Ministry of National Defence confirmed that Canada has not provided any C7 pattern rifle. Instead, they confirmed that Canada has only provided C8 carbines. Sources familiar with the carbines sent to Ukraine noted that the weapons were C8 SFWs with a railed forend. So far the only photo which may visually confirm the presence of Canadian C8 SFWs is this one of some Ukrainian SSO operators. An operator in the middle of the photo (see below) has a C8 with a railed forend, with a vertical front grip attached. Other operators around him have C8s with the earlier non-railed handguards.

73rd Naval Special Purpose Center operators with what may be a C8 SFW, along with earlier unrailed C8 carbines (via Social Media)

It was also confirmed that both C9 light machine guns and C6 general purpose machine guns have been transferred. The C9 is Canada’s designation for the FN Minimi while the C6 is their designation for the 7.62x51mm FN MAG. Canada currently uses the upgraded C9A2 with a 4 position stock and longer rail.

Colt Canada C8 Carbines in Ukraine – these C8s were not provided by the Canadian government (via Social Media)

The spokesperson also confirm the types of precision rifle transferred to Ukraine noting that “both medium .308 and .338 calibre, and heavy .50 calibre sniper rifles were provided.” Earlier media reports had suggested that .50 calibre sniper rifles were transferred but there had been no mention of medium caliber rifles. It was not stated whether the .338 rifles were .338 Norma Magnum or .338 Lapua Magnum.

While the Canadian military currently fields the C15 Long-Range Sniper Weapon (the McMillan TAC-50) the Ministry of National Defence did not confirm what exact model had been sent to Ukraine. There have been a number of sightings of TAC-50s, and while a number of countries field them, some of those seen in Ukraine may have originated from Canada.

An anonymous source familiar with the program to transfer weapons to Ukraine confirmed that CADEX Defence CDX series rifles had been sent to Ukraine from the stores never sent to Kurdish forces. These are believed to have included CDX TAC rifles in .338 and CDX-50 Tremors in 12.7x99mm.

The weapons initially sent to Ukraine were reportedly drawn from a selection of weapons worth an estimated $10 million, which had originally been procured in 2016 for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Iraq. The plan to arm the Kurds stalled in 2017 and since then the weapons have been in storage at the Canadian Forces Supply Depot in Montreal. This equipment included sniper rifles, 60mm mortars, Carl Gustaf anti-armor weapons and small arms. It is from these stores that many of the sniper rifles have been drawn. In February, just before the Russian invasion was launched it was reported by a number of Canadian media outlets that the weapons sent to Ukraine came from the stores originally destined for the Kurds.

CADEX CDX photographed in Ukraine in March (via War_Noir)

In the past Canada has also provided Ukraine with .50 caliber LRT-3 rifles from PGW Defence Technologies, this type may have again been provided either via the Canadian government’s transfer or privately donated by Canadian citizens.

Based on information from sources familiar with the transfer the ‘.338’ chambered medium caliber rifles are believed to be CDX TAC rifles from CADEX rather than the C14 Timberwolf MRSWS (Medium Range Sniper Weapon System) from PGW Defence Technologies, which is currently in use with Canadian forces. The .308 chambered rifle mentioned is less clear, it may be a reference to the 7.62x51mm Parker-Hale C3 sniper rifle which is still in service or possibly a .308/7.62x51mm chambered rifle from PGW or CADEX. They are unlikely to be Tikka T3s which recently entered service with the Canadian Rangers as the C19.

Interestingly, the pistols which were transferred were not Browning HiPowers, which is Canada’s current standard service pistol – soon to be replaced by the SIG Sauer P320, but Glock 17s. Very few images of Glock 17s in use in Ukraine have surfaced so far. Sources suggest that the Glock pistols were also a part of the selection of weapons originally destined for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS.


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Bibliography:

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2022/02/canada-sending-additional-25m-military-aid-to-support-ukraine.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2022/03/defence-minister-anand-announces-additional-military-support-to-ukraine.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/operations/military-operations/current-operations/operation-unifier.html

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