Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Canadian military to destroy 11,000 Second World War era pistols

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The move comes as the Canadian Forces confirmed it has received the final deliveries of a new 9-mm pistol as part of a $19.4-million project.

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The Canadian military plans to destroy 11,000 of its Second World War-era pistols by the end of this year.

The move comes as the Canadian Forces confirmed it has received the final deliveries of a new 9-mm pistol as part of a $19.4-million project.

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The military purchased the Sig Sauer P320, which is being distributed to units. It replaces the Browning Hi-Power pistol that has been used by the Canadian Forces for decades.

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National Defence spokesperson Cheryl Forrest said all military units would send their Browning handguns to Canadian Forces supply depots in Quebec and Alberta for disposal.

“The pistols have not yet been destroyed,” she said in an email. “We anticipate the pistols will be disposed of by the end of 2024.”

Forrest said approximately 150 Browning Hi-Power handguns would be kept for museums, but at this point none had been distributed to those organizations.

In addition, the Canadian Army is determining if a small amount of the Brownings should be kept for special purposes or specific training, she added.

“The Canadian Army keeps a small stock of older small arms and small arms in service in other countries to assist with training for emergency situations and for recognition,” Forrest said. “The Browning may also retain some training value as a simulation/training tool.”

But no final decision on that has been made, she added.

More than a million Browning Hi-Power pistols were manufactured since the Second World War and the gun has been used by dozens of militaries and police forces.

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The Canadian Forces previously removed another group of older weapons from its inventory when it provided modern rifles to the Canadian Rangers. That group had been using Lee Enfield rifles also from the Second World War era.

Around 9,500 Lee Enfields were transferred to military cadets, mostly as non-functional rifles, for use in drills or training. Approximately 5,000 of the rifles were gifted to serving Canadian Rangers.

Another 50 rifles were offered to museums affiliated with the Canadian Forces or military units as display artifacts, National Defence said.

After that, around 1,500 Lee Enfields remained and they were destroyed as the military ruled out sale of the surplus rifles to the general public.

The Canadian Forces announced it had received the final deliveries of the new P320s on March 6. The delivery involved 16,500 of what are being called C22 pistols. Those are being used by the army, navy and air force.

Another 3,200 new pistols, to be called the C24, were sent to military police units.

The federal government announced the awarding of the Sig Sauer P320 contract in October 2022. It was awarded to M.D. Charlton Co. Ltd. of Victoria, B.C.

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The Sig Sauer P320 is in use with multiple militaries around the world including Denmark, France, and the United States. The Pentagon selected the P320 in 2017 and Sig Sauer is providing the U.S. military with 420,000 of those guns.

The Canadian military had been trying for years to replace its Browning Hi-Power pistols as it was running out of parts for the weapons.

The acquisition project was stalled for years after small arms firms rejected in 2011 the federal government requirement that the new guns be built at Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ont. In addition, the companies balked at a stipulation that they had to turn over proprietary firearms information to Colt, a firm some saw as a competitor.

David Pugliese is an award-winning journalist covering Canadian Forces and military issues in Canada. To support his work, including exclusive content for subscribers only, sign up here: ottawacitizen.com/subscribe

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