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.
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.
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.
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. [Update: on further research and discussion with Dutch sources the C7 pattern rifles have now been confirmed to be of Dutch origins. The key identifying characteristic being the small QR code tags seen on the right side of the magazine housing. We will have a more detailed article on this in the future.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Update – 30/01/23: The Belarusian Kalinouski Regiment, serving with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, has shared a photo of a Dutch Diemaco C7A1. Note the C79 ELCAN and original Thermold magazine which were shipped with the guns. The armory QR code tag can be seen on the magazine housing – identifying this rifle as of Dutch origins.
Update – 15/02/23: Another recent photograph showing a Dutch C7A1 rifle with an ELCAN Hi-Mag optic, originally used on Dutch light machine guns.
Update – 26/02/23: Elements of the Azov Brigade have been equipped with Dutch C7A1 rifles (and ELCANs). Azov released these training photos a couple of days ago, on 21 February.
Update – 12/05/23: Ukraine’s SBU shared photographs showing personnel armed with C7A1s
Update – 17/05/23: Some recent examples of stock C7A1s being adapted with aftermarket furniture to increase the rifle’s modularity.
Find the follow up to this article, documenting how these C7A1 rifles came from the Netherlands, below:
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