Colt Canada / Diemaco C7 Rifles & C8 Carbines in Ukraine

We’ve seen a large number of different small arms being transferred to Ukraine. The large number of different 5.56x45mm chambered rifles is especially interesting. This is the first of a series of videos examining the variety of different 5.56x45mm rifles which have been seen in the field. These range from US M4A1s to FN F2000s and everything in between. 

We’re starting the series examining the use of Colt Canada produced rifles and carbines. We first began to see Colt Canada C7 rifles appearing in the hands of Ukrainian personnel in May. They have continued to be seen in use with units including the Belarusian Kalinouski Regiment, International Legion Units and most recently one was seen in the hands of Ukrainian special operations forces landing on the Kinburn Spit. 

International Volunteers with C7A1s fitted with ELCAN C79 optics (via Social Media)

Diemaco, renamed Colt Canada in 2005, began producing the C7 in 1982. These were derived from the US M16A1E1 programme which led to the development and adoption of the M16A2. The C7 differs from the M16A2 in a number of ways but principally in that it retains the M16A1’s rear sight set up and its semi- and full-automatic fire modes, rather than the A2’s 3-round burst. The versions seen in use in Ukraine are C7A1s, which replace the fixed carrying handle with a modified Weaver rail for mounting optics.

The primary users of the C7A1 are Canada (who have since moved to the C7A2 and C8A3), Denmark who issue the C7A1 as the M/95 and the Netherlands who adopted the C7A1 in the early 1990s. All of the countries also use the C8 carbine with the improved Integrated Upper Receiver. The Netherlands field the C8 as the C8NLD and the Danish Army uses it as the M/10. the United Kingdom currently fields the C8 SFW as the L119, and may have other earlier variants of the carbine in inventory.

Combatant from the Kalinouski Regiment with a C7A1 rifle fitted with a Hi-Mag optic (via Social Media)

I reached out to the Dutch, Canadian and Danish defence ministries and while the Dutch and Danish ministries declined to comment the Canadian Ministry of National Defence responded to confirm that Canada has not, to-date, provided any C7 pattern rifles. Instead, the Canadian spokesperson confirmed that Canada has provided an unspecified number of C8 carbines. 

Another indicator of this is that some of the photographs show the original Diemaco stylised ‘D’ roll mark on the magazine housing. Canadian C7A1s have the ‘D’ roll mark above the trigger, with a Canadian maple leaf engraving on the magazine housing. Sources state that Colt Canada refitted most of Canada’s C7A1s into the C7A2 configuration, with a collapsing buttstock, in the 2010s. The available imagery isn’t clear enough to make out smaller national markings to differentiate where they originated from.

Ukrainian combatants with C7A1 rifles fitted with Hi-Mag optics (via Social Media)

This means that the C7A1 rifles seen in Ukraine were likely provided by either the Netherlands or Denmark. The Netherlands adopted the C7A1 and fielded it with ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x (C79). Interestingly, there has also been at least two sightings of a 6x ELCAN Hi-Mag on a C7A1 in early October. The Hi-Mag was adopted by the Dutch military as a machine gun optic which may point to at least some of the rifles coming from a transfer from the Netherlands. I have not been able to find any mention of the Danish armed forces using the Hi-Mag.

The C7A1s have been seen fitted with a mix of ELCAN C79s, Aimpoint Comps, various reflex sights and some with original Diemaco/Colt Canada rear iron sights. Some have already been adapted with some pretty interesting paint schemes and fitted with suppressors.

Various C7A1 rifles with suppressors, iron sights and paint jobs (via Social Media)

It is also unclesr where the C8 carnines seen in Ukraine originated from. While the Canadian Ministry of National Defence confirmed C8s had been sent to Ukraine, an anonymous source close to the programme to transfer the weapons noted that the carbines sent were in the C8 SFW configurations with a railed forend. The C8s seen in the field, with the earlier non-railed handguards, may be from Denmark or the Netherlands.

The first appearances of C8s in videos shared to social media that I could find date to September, but they’ve likely been in use prior to this. This piece of combat footage which was shared on social media around the 19 September is especially interesting as we see C8 carbines with ELCAN Specters but at least one has a red dot and magnifier set up. We can also see TRIAD rail mounts which are attached around the front sight base. This may indicate the carbines are C8A3s but its difficult to make out the other defining features of the A3. The TRIAD was developed to allow attachment of accessories without changing out the hangdguards, in this case most of the guys appear to have fitted vertical front grips.

Ukrainian combatant with a C8 carbine, note the Triad rail attachment (via Social Media)

An individual on the Kherson front has also shared numerous images and videos featuring his personal weapon – a C8 with a suppressor and what appears to be a more modern ELCAN Specter. The individual also shared some footage of himself and others running a contact drills.

Member of the Ukrainian 73rd Naval Special Purpose Center with C8 (via Social Media)

The 73rd Naval Special Purpose Center, part of Ukraine’s SSO (special operations force), with a Colt Canada/Diemaco C8 carbine. The C8 is easily identifiable by its thicker buttstock. It also appears to have a vertical front grip just visible, attached to a Triad rail mount under the front sight post.

Another photo of the operators from the 73rd Naval Special Purpose Center may be the first image of a C8 SFW – the carbine appears to have a railed forend with a laser/light module fitted along with a vertical front grip.

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

In future articles/videos we will explore the plethora a 5.56×45mm chambered rifles, carbines and light machine guns transferred to Ukraine.

Thank you to War_noir on twitter and StreakingDelilah on Instagram for sharing several additional photos of C8s.

Update – 01/12/22

Ukrainian SSO have shared a video with an operator discussing recent operations which gives a good look at his C8 carbine.


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Diemaco/Colt Canada M203A1

The Diemaco M203A1 is a development of the M203 40x46mm low velocity grenade launcher. The M203 was initially developed by AAI to replace the Colt XM148 which proved overly complex when tested in Vietnam.

The Diemaco M203A1 improves on the earlier launcher by incorporating its sight into the mount rather than being atached to the top of the barrel. The Diemaco M203A1 should not be confused with the Colt-manufactured M203A1 in US service. The Diemaco launcher is offered alongside the C7 and C8 rifles made by Diemaco (now Colt Canada).

Navy_SEALs_coming_out_of_water.JPEG
SEAL members emerge from the water during tactical warfare training c.1986. The SEAL member in the foreground is armed with an M-16A1 rifle equipped with an M203 grenade launcher (US National Archive)

Diemaco developed the M203A1 so it has a longer action, with the breech opening further to allow the firing of all 40×46 mm LV grenades including less than lethal baton rounds. It can also be mounted on all AR-patterned rifles as well as the Steyr AUG.

Like the original M203 the launcher can be operated by either a left or right handed users. The original model had an iron sight assembly has dual azimuth adjustment knobs and an elevation dial, this model, however, has a simplified tangent sight. Diemaco stated that the M203A1 has a maximum effective range of 400m (440 yd) with a muzzle velocity of 78 m/s (260 ft/s).

diemaco M203a1 brochure
Diemaco brochure cover showing M203A1 on a C7 rifle (Colt Canada)

The M203A1 was tested by the UK’s special forces in the late 1990s, when they evaluated the Diemaco SFW carbine, which was subsequently adopted as the L119A1. The Heckler & Koch M320 GLM (HK AG36) has since been adopted by the British Army.


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Specifications (From Diemaco Brochure):

Calibre: 40 mm
Loaded Weight: 2.15 kg (4.74 lb)
Empty Weight: 1.85 kg (4.08 lb)
Overall Length: 318 mm (12.52 in.)
Barrel Length: 228.6 mm (9 in.)
Overall Height: 140 mm (5.51 in.)
Rifling: Right Hand Twist – 6 Lands
Rate of Twist: 1 turn in 48 in. (121.9 cm)


Bibliography:

Diemaco M203A1 Product Brochure, Diemaco/Colt Canada, c.2000

Diemaco M203A1 for SFW carbine, Royal Armouries, (source)