The Canadian Rangers New C-19 Is Available
From Tikka As The T3x Arctic Laminate .308.
By Dave Anderson
An unusual organization, the Canadian Rangers formed in response to unusual circumstances. Canada is a vast country with a relatively small population. Though the Rangers are considered part of the armed forces reserve, they are more like a citizens’ militia. In fact they are modeled on the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR) of WWII.
The Rangers are volunteers who live in remote areas and who work in outdoor industries such as fishing, lumbering, mining, trapping, oil and mineral exploration. Their primary role is to be the “eyes and ears” of the military, and their motto is “Vigilans”—The Watchers.
Currently there are about 5,000 Ranger volunteers living in some 200 remote northern communities. Many are indigenous people whose heritage includes thousands of years of living in a harsh environment.
In addition to observing and reporting, they take part in emergency services such as search and rescue. They conduct sovereignty patrols to establish a military presence in remote areas. Another role is teaching arctic survival skills to regular armed forces members.
Their rifles are primarily for survival, to take game for food in emergency situations and for defense against large predators. Since 1947 when the Rangers were formed, the issue rifle has been the legendary Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk. 1 in .303 British, but with spare parts depleted, these are no longer practical.
What the Rangers need is a hunting rifle, but a very tough, durable, hard-working and reliable rifle, powerful enough for big-game hunting, reliable in extremes of heat, cold, salt air and water. Compact size is desirable for ease of storage and transport.
The new rifle, military designation C-19, is based on the Tikka CTR. The most obvious differences are the laminated stock instead of the synthetic stock of the CTR and the iron sights. The barreled action for the C-19 is made by Colt Canada under license from Tikka. At this time there are no plans for Colt to market the C-19 for commercial sales.
The model available for commercial sale, the “Arctic Laminate” (AL), is made entirely by Tikka in Finland. The only difference I can see is in the stock. The C-19 laminated stocks have more reddish highlights and are stamped with the Canadian Rangers logo. Other than these cosmetic issues, the AL is identical to the C-19. Both are chambered for the .308 Win, a more powerful cartridge than the .303 British. As the C-19 barrel is 5 inches shorter than the No. 4 barrel, actual velocities are quite similar.
Just reading the specs of the AL, I had two questions: why does it cost so dang much, and why is it so dang heavy? With 10 cartridges in the magazine, overall weight is a bit over 9 pounds. I figured out why it’s heavy. It has a medium contour barrel and laminated stock. A better question is, why do the Rangers want a 9-pound rifle?
The Tikka T3x Arctic Laminate is the commercially available version of
the new C-19 rifle issued to the Canadian Rangers. It is based on the
stainless steel T3x CTR in .308 Win with a laminated stock, detachable
magazine, iron sights, 2-stage trigger and 3-position safety.
Questions aside, I can say this is a most impressive bolt action. The laminated stock is virtually impervious to humidity, heat and cold. Wood feels more pleasant against the cheek than synthetic in extremes of heat or cold. If the bright colors seem out of place on a military rifle, remember the Rangers want to be seen, unlike combat soldiers. The already strong stock is further reinforced by a massive stainless steel crossbolt behind the recoil plate recess.
Not sure I believe this, but there is a rumor about why the Rangers insisted on a wooden stock. In a dire emergency the stock is a source of dry wood for starting a fire. Things would have to be fairly grim before I started hacking kindling from my rifle stock, but surviving in hard country sometimes requires extreme measures.
The 2-stage trigger is absolutely splendid. Out of the box it had a light, smooth takeup of the first stage, followed by a crisp break at 3-1/2 pounds. For a rifle to be used in cold weather, I wouldn’t want it any lighter. It can be user-adjusted over a range of about 2 to 4 pounds. At its lightest setting the trigger on the test rifle broke at 1-1/2 pounds, as crisp and clean as a target rifle trigger.
Atop the receiver is a Picatinny style rail, secured by four large screws as well as two reinforcing pins. It is similar to the rail on the CTR except it is about 2 inches shorter, leaving a section of the receiver open for attachment of the rear sight.
The excellent iron sights are strong, precise, beautifully made and clearly intended as primary sights, not just as backup. Sako designed them specifically for the C-19 rifle. The muzzle of the AL is threaded with the American standard 5/8×24 thread. The front sight assembly turns onto this threaded portion, then a screw in the base tightens into a slot cut in the threads to keep the sight vertical. Finally, a heavy cross screw clamps the base tightly in place. Talk about belt and suspenders! The post sight itself, protected by wings, is click adjustable via a slotted screw for elevation. Each click moves point of impact 1/4 MOA.
The steel rear sight fits the grooved receiver and is pressed against the Picatinny rail, and acts as a recoil shoulder. Four setscrews are then tightened down with the provided screwdriver to secure it. There are 1/4 MOA click adjustments for windage and, as with the adjustments of the front sight, they are accurate and repeatable.
A rotating wheel has 6 apertures, marked for ranges from 100 to 600 yards. Aperture size varies with the range setting. The 100-yard aperture, intended for fast use at close range (like the “battle sight” on the No. 4 sights), has a diameter of about 5/32 inch. The 200-yard aperture, as close as I can measure, is 3/32, while the 300- to 600-yard apertures measures 5/64.
Each range is marked on the dial, though I found the markings hard to see without close examination. They would be more visible if the numbers were undercut and filled with gold wire, though I’ll probably settle for a bit of white paint. Overall these sights are amazing, the best iron sights I can recall seeing on a sporting rifle.
The Lee-Enfield No. 5 Mk. 1 carbine in .303 British (left) didn’t achieve
much success as a military arm when it was introduced in 1944, though its
compact size, fast handling, rugged reliability and full-power cartridge
would later make it a respected hunting rifle. It is remarkable to see its
features reintroduced in modern designs and materials including (center)
the Ruger Gunsite Scout, and (right) the Tikka Arctic Laminate, both in .308 Win.
This 5-shot group at 100 yards from the Tikka T3x AL using a Nightforce
NXS 2.5-10×32 scope, shooting Black Hills Match ammo with 168-grain
bullets measured around 0.70 inch.
I’ve gone into some detail since the iron sights, the 2-stage trigger, 3-position safety, and laminated stock are the main differences between the AL and the less expensive stainless CTR. Frankly if you don’t want the iron sights you’d be better off getting the CTR.
I don’t know what the sights add to the cost, or if there are plans to sell them separately. I do know Sako tends to be mighty proud of spare parts. On the Beretta USA website a set of emergency iron sights for the TRG 22/42 rifles lists at $478, and the rear sight is a simple, non-adjustable component not nearly as sophisticated as the C-19 sight.
It’s only a rough guess, but I suspect the iron sights account for $600 or more of the price difference between the CTR and the AL. If you don’t use iron sights it hardly make sense to pay this kind if money for them. On the other hand, if you do use iron sights on a rugged, heavy-duty hunting and survival rifle, these are the ones you want.
My only criticism of the AL is the length of pull. At 14 inches it is an inch longer than I like for a rifle to be used with cold-weather clothes, so the three aluminum spacers provided aren’t of much use to me. As for the 14-inch LOP, from what photos I’ve seen of Ranger training they shoot prone almost exclusively, so the longer LOP is not a bad thing for them.
I figured out why the Canadian Rangers wanted a 9-pound rifle, by the way. It is within an ounce or two of being the same weight as the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk. 1 which served them so well for 70 years. Like the No. 4, it has a 10-round detachable box magazine, a 2-stage trigger, excellent iron sights (including a large-aperture battle sight), short bolt lift for easy operation with a gloved hand, and rock-solid, durable construction.
I can see the Rangers not worrying much about weight since they seldom travel far by foot. One look at an aerial view of the endless Arctic vistas will explain why. They wanted their beloved Lee-Enfields, only more compact and more resistant to extreme weather conditions. That’s what they wanted, and that’s what they got.
T3x Arctic Laminated
Maker: Tikka, SAKO Ltd,
P.O. Box 149, 11101 Riihimäki,
IMPORTER: Beretta USA,
17601 Beretta Dr., Accokeek, MD 20607,
Action: Bolt action, right hand only
Bolt: Two locking lugs, hook-type extractor, plunger ejector
Cartridge: .308 Win
Barrel: 20 inches
Capacity: 10, (detachable box magazine)
Weight: 8 pounds, 10.5 ounces
Overall Length: 40 inches
Length of pull: 14 inches
Materials: Stainless steel barreled action
Stock: Laminated wood
Front sight: Post, elevation adjustable
Rear sight: Windage adjustable, rotating, 6 elevation settings 100 to 600 yards, Picatinny rail provided