According to the Canadian Press, the Canadian army is on the hunt for a new polar bear gun.
It's “on the lookout for an ‘anti-predator weapon' with which to equip both Arctic Rangers and regular-force units whenever they operate on their own in the North. In the meantime, it has issued First World War-vintage Lee-Enfield rifles to units based in southern Canada for use whenever those northern-response companies are dispatched to the Arctic.”
The predator in question? Polar bears. Which means polar bear guns.
“The roughly 4,700 Rangers-sprinkled in 178 communities across the North are the backbone of the military's presence in the region. They conduct patrols across the vast tundra and are equipped with Lee-Enfields, bolt-action, magazine-fed rifles that were standard issue during the first half of the 20th century.”
The army has been running out of spare parts for the Enfields, making their issue unreliable as polar bear guns. It has been trying to purchase new rifles for several years, but has yet to come across replacements for these polar bear guns. The Enfields, though, do have one advantage that future polar bear guns will need to match.
“The fact they don't freeze up or jam in the Arctic is part of [the Enfield's] charm, so the army made the decision last year to equip regular-force units conducting operations in the North with Lee-Enfields until replacement weapons arrive, possibly next year.”
What do you think would make for a good polar bear gun? Leave a comment below.
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They are trying to re-invent the wheel. Keep the old Enfields, as they were designed with a long heavy firing pin fall to maximize reliablity in cold weather. The caliber is very deadly in its original 180 grain loading. You could not ask for a better rifle and unlike modern made trash it is not made of junk castings, junk plastic or junk sheet metal.
They should switch to the moisin nagant. Proven arctic rifles since 1891. Finns and Russians have used them in wartime in the worst winters to hunt more dangerous prey – men! Also used to hunt bears, moose, caribou, elk, deer, seals, and whales by indegenous tribes till today. Fires the 7.62 x 54 Russian which is more powerful than .303 British. Plenty of guns, model variations, ammo and parts available. Literally millions of stocks available worldwide. Very rugged and reliable. Very low maintenance required. Just use gun oil/gasoline mix to avoid freezing in arctic conditions. Can be tuned to be very accurate – was used successfully by countless male and female Russian snipers to harrass and demoralize the Germans in WW2. Finally, very cheap! No need for anything more fancy.
It’s a bit overboard, I think, to expect that a polar bear can’t be taken down with something smaller than, e.g., a .50 Beowulf or a Marlin .45-70. My grand dad and uncles use .30-06’s with heavy solid bullets for Kodiak Browns, Wyoming and Montana Grizzlies, etc. In winter months, the guns were stripped of oils and greases and lubed with graphite. In the spring everything was washed off with boiling water and the guns re-lubed. Shot placement is much more important than big whack. If you want big whack, do it with a shotgun, treated the same way at the .30-06’s, with a honking big rifled slug.
Oh, sorry. I forgot. They’ll be buying the polar bear guns with Canadian taxpayer dollars.
If the Canadians are really hooked on the Enfield, Australian International Arms could probably supply both compatible parts, and new-made rifles. It’s what they do.
I think that I would choose either the Marlin 1895 SBL or an AR15 chambered in .458 Socom (or possibly .50 Beowulf). Both of those two choices would be ideal for protection against bears, wolves & any other predator! Obviously an AR15 would have the advantage of familiarity with the troops and full compatibility with other accessories already in use in the Canadian Army. The Marlin, on the other hand, is made entirely of stainless steel and has a reputation for ball bat reliability. It also has high quality ghost ring sights & a Picatinny rail already installed. So adding optics & white lights would not be too much of an issue. (Although some type of offset mount would be required for the light.)
Given the arctic theater of operation I would also upgrade either rifle with a Robar NP3+ finish applied to all of the internal operating components, or possibly all of the components including the receivers, in order to do away with the requirements for additional lubrication that could freeze up & cause reliability issues. NP3+ is also highly resistant to corrosion.
If it were my choice, I would personally choose the Rock River Arms .458 Socom mid-length carbine. I’m sure that Rock River would be happy to supply it with the NP3+ already applied as well as with any desired accessories already installed, and the Canadians would have the option of just buying upper receivers to use with the lowers they already have. That the troops are already familiar with the platform and wouldn’t require much if any additional training is another advantage. The semi-auto operation & detachable magazine, which has a higher capacity than the Marlin, would also be advantages, especially in a military setting. Still, choosing a Marlin would hardly be a mistake!
Just noticed the plight of the guys north of us. Enfields, I would say about time to upgrade. If I were part of Marlin’s sales team I would send their new 1895 SBL 45-70 up to the Rangers right now for testing. If it has claws and teeth this will get the job done nicely even frozen!