C2A1: Canada’s Squad Automatic FAL

Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on Forgotten I’m Ian McCollum, and I am here today at
Movie Armaments Group up in Toronto, Canada, taking a look at a Canadian C2A1
light automatic rifle, or automatic rifle. And this is basically the heavy barrelled
Canadian military version of the FAL. Now, Canada … in fact I think they were the
very first country to formally adopt the FAL, the 7.62 NATO cartridge was
only standardised in early 1954, and the Canadians had … finalised a licencing
agreement to manufacture the FAL in Canada by the middle of 1954. So they
got on this pretty darn quickly. By ’55 or ’56 they were actually producing
rifles, and they started with the C1 rifle, which is basically the standard inch pattern FAL.
And by the way, it’s the Canadians who first converted the Belgian FAL blueprints over to inch
measurements for production in Canada. In fact production by Small Arms Limited,
which is basically the old Long Branch Arsenal. Anyway, they started with the standard rifles
and then in 1958 they started producing C2 rifles, which is the heavy barrelled full-auto version. The Canadian C1 FALs were, with one exception
for the Navy, they were all semi-auto only rifles, where the C2 was actually a select fire weapon. It was
intended to be basically the squad automatic weapon, the light machine gun, the support
weapon to go along with the FAL. So during World War Two, of course, Canada
had used the Lee-Enfield rifle and the Bren gun. And in the aftermath, as we got into the Cold War,
they decide to replace those with the FAL and the heavy barrelled FAL. The FAL is
definitely a big step up from the Lee-Enfield, but I think it’s pretty universally agreed that
the C2 here is a step down from the Bren gun. This was a lighter weapon, this weighs
about 13.5 pounds, that’s like 6.1 kilos unloaded, but it lacks a lot of the capabilities of the Bren
gun. It’s a harder gun to shoot because it is lighter, the magazine loading from the bottom is not nearly as
practical for a light machine gun as the Bren gun’s top loading. These guns heated up faster, they had lighter
barrels, they didn’t have interchangeable barrels. This was not a particularly popular
weapon among the Canadian armed forces. It would serve from the late 1950s,
when they first started being produced, all the way until the late 1980s, when they were finally
replaced with the C9. Which is basically the FN Minimi. We have a couple of markings we can see here on
the side, C.A.L. stands for Canadian Arsenals Limited, which was the new corporate name.
This was a government owned corporation which was basically the Long Branch Arsenal. This is dated 1968 which is pretty darn late for a C2A1… So the serial number here is not military, but this
is a factory C2A1. And the explanation behind it… (by the way, the military serial numbers are 6 digits: a 2 digit block
number and then the letter “L” and then a 3 digit serial number), … the story behind this serial number came
from actually a shooting club in Ontario that made a purchase of C1 and C2 rifles direct from the
arsenal … decades ago when this was still legal and possible. So the guns were produced but they were given civilian
serial numbers instead of military block serial numbers. On the other side here we have the main marking,
Rifle Auto 7.62mm FN (it is an FN pattern gun) C2A1. The early ones were actually marked C2.
When they were upgraded or retrofitted some of them were then hand stamped with the A1, some
like this one … were manufactured after that update and so they have original factory markings that are C2A1. That upgrade was a pretty simple thing. What they did was
replaced wooden carry handles with plastic, like this one, and they replaced the single piece firing pin with
a two piece firing pin to prevent slam fires, so. Those two retrofits changed
the designation from C2 to C2A1. And the exact same thing happened at the same time
with the C1 rifles, which of course became the C1A1 rifles. Now, taking a closer look here, we have a three position
selector switch, this is safe, semi-auto and full-auto. Of course, as a squad automatic weapon this was
intended to be used in fully automatic, unlike the rifles. We have a really nice big magazine release
here, this is of course the bolt release. This guy, which runs all the way across … the front
of the trigger guard there, that’s the magazine release. The standard magazine for the C2 was
this guy, this is a straight 30 round magazine. Has a big inch pattern locking lug. This round feature on the back is unique to the Canadian C2A1
magazines. This isn’t quite the same as a British L4A1 magazine. The British of course updated … their Bren
guns and rechambered them to 7.62 NATO and continued to use them instead
of going to a heavy barrelled FAL. The Canadians instead went to the FAL. These magazine are interchangeable with the
standard Canadian, or any other inch pattern, FALs. We have a fairly distinctive
front handguard sort of set up. There is no upper handguard at all, this does
have an inch pattern type 11 position gas regulator. And then the handguard is actually the bipod legs.
So these have these nice walnut panels on the legs, you can squeeze them together and drop them down, and they pop out like so. Non-adjustable, but they do give you a little bit of
a pivot. No rotation … just a little bit of wiggle there. So, folded up they don’t make that great of a
handguard, folded down they do OK as a bipod. The muzzle device is pretty standard inch pattern FAL.
It does have a bayonet lug on it, and that long flash hider. The same as the standard C1 rifles there, by the way. The front sights have these kind of distinctive
protective wings that bump out to the sides. And then the rear sight is really
quite distinctive. It’s this big, flip up disk. It does flip down when you are not using it,
fortunately, so that it doesn’t get snapped off. But you can rotate this for apertures from 200 meters (this one’s pretty tight, there we go,
we’re headed the other way), out to 1,000. So there’s 2, and then there’s a
setting for each in between, there’s 3. Yeah, that’s a really tight fit
on that, but you get the idea. All aperture sights, different
heights to give you different zeros. And conveniently marked “metres” to
remind you that this is, in fact, metres. The C1 rifles have a similar sight, but it
goes from 2 to 6, instead of 2 to 1,000. Just a couple of other things to point out here, the
standard top cover on the C2s, as well as the C1s, had a stripper clip guide on it so that you could
refill magazines while they were in the gun. Charging handle is this folding type. And, of course, the carry handle
was standard on all of the rifles. And the pistol grip actually has a removable
trigger guard. So I’ve already loosened this screw we pull this the rest of the way out (there we go), this lifts out, this little tab
up here locks it in place into the pistol grip. You can then pull this out, and that allows
you to more easily use the rifle with mittens. And lastly, we’ll just show you the
bipod locking. There is a lug right here, this doesn’t positively lock the bipod,
it just holds it in there by spring tension. The bipod feet have these little
L shaped brackets right in there, so clamp the bipod feet together, snap them up into that locking bracket, and there they will stay, mostly,
unless you bump them hard. Or you deliberately grab them, squeeze
together, and lift up to deploy the bipod. Of course we couldn’t finish off
this video without showing you the official issue Canadian
“mag bra”, as they call it, for the C2. Nice old school (what’s that, 1966 there), chest
rig holding 4 of those 30 round C2A1 magazines. All in all, a total of 2,713 of these were produced, I guess they were not a particularly popular gun, and I think everyone was pretty happy
when they were replaced by the FN Minimi. They are a cool piece of FAL
history of course. One of very few, in fact there were only two
countries that actually adopted a rifle like this. The other one being the Australians, who
had basically the same pattern, in fact they got the bipod legs from the Canadians for
construction onto their own heavy barrelled FALs. They weren’t particularly happy with them either. The heavy barrelled FAL was
really kind of an afterthought by FN to add an extra thing to its product
line, a companion gun to the FAL. Really to promote the FAL to more countries, like “Hey, we
can produce your rifle and your squad automatic weapon, and they’ll be the same pattern and the same
manual of arms, and a lot of interchangeable parts.” And that sounds good on paper until
you actually have to use one of these, and then you wish you could go
back to a Bren gun or a Minimi. So anyway, a big thanks to Movie Armaments
Group for letting me take a look at their C2A1 here. And thanks for watching.