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C2A1: Canada’s Squad Automatic FAL

C2A1: Canada’s Squad Automatic FAL


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on Forgotten Weapons.com. 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.


Reader Comments

  1. The rear sight is marked with "meter" letting you know its an inch pattern rifle…lol

    Using a bulked up rifle as a SAW is not actually a great idea, but it is a better idea than just using a normal rifle as a SAW. Still not nearly as good as a deticated (typically) belt-fed weapon.

  2. These guns got so hot after a few mags that they kept firing even after you took your finger off the trigger. Unintended mag dumps were a regular occurrence. A quick change barrel and open bolt action are essential components of a good LMG design.

  3. I don't know why but I find something fancy or satisfying in these old cold war era guns. They have a vintage glamour it never gets old for me.

  4. C2A1 also has a heavy extractor. Since the breach blocks were interchangeable with C1 it was a crap shoot if you got the correct one for the C2. Also, the drill was to put the sling around the small of the butt to aid in carrying. The front sling swivel rotates 360, unlike C1.

  5. AFAIR: The A1 designation also included a change to gas regulator.
    FN FALs rear sights were /originally/ in Yards. and /later/ upgraded with a rear sight in Meters. (Edit: See full explanation 5th comment below, on why no C2A2 re-designation)
    Trigger guard, remove it then flip front metal piece behind wood piece and install back into pistol grip which is hollowed out for the metal trigger guard.

  6. Considering they had total access to the mg42 design and tooling. This is a interestingly poor choice. And that rear sight would be a nightmare in combat.

  7. Critique all you like Ian. That's the sexiest military rifle I've ever seen. Sleek like a Vegas dancer and all business like a Navy Seal. Fine details like heat dissipation make…me……
    sleepy.

  8. Used one back in the day. The brazier was really hard to draw the magazine out. It should have had a larger cut out. 30 rnds went pretty fast.

  9. In the Australian army they were commonly uses in support units we couldn’t get M60s. M60s were issued to infantry units. We also had access to 7.62mm rechambered Bren guns.

  10. So first I get to watch a apocrypha video of Ian making Alton Brown's ( Love that guy, glad he's back again ) aged eggnog recipe where gun Jesus forgoes the addition of French cognac and sticks with half again as much good old American bourbon and Jamaican rum instead and NOW a Canadian vintage C2A1 SAW ( I am Canadian though I did serve in the Army Reserves after they converted to the C9A1 SAW )… It's a sign! I'm making me some eggnog tonight! I'll let you know how mine ages Ian if you let me know how yours ages! Deal?

  11. The reason why the FAL has such a dodgy service history is because it was originally intended to use the 7.62-S. This gun would absorb a lot of the recoil from that round and be more pleasant to operate because of it. The reason it was chambered in 7.62 NATO was because the US was pressuring NATO members to adopt it's proposed ammunition for their respective standard issue rifles.

  12. So with the barrel, tuning up the trigger and proper ammunition along with a scope…does one of these have the possibility of very good long range performance?

  13. You're the man, Ian… I've been waiting for this ever since I saw it on the wall behind you in Toronto…. 👍🍁👍🍁

  14. To properly configure the trigger guard assembly for Winter Operations…. The metal Trigger Guard rotates inwards and is stowed in the hollow interior of the walnut Pistol Grip.

  15. I don't know anyone who had to hump one of these around in the field, that liked them (myself included). On the range however, loads of fun!! Just one point about the "Arctic Trigger Guard", once it's removed the guard was folded back and the plate was screwed back on. The trigger guard was now stowed inside the pistol grip. Another great video that brought back somewhat fond memories, thanks for that.

  16. Burnt my hand on them many times. On one course teaching 6 C2's, they let rip on a gopher at the 100m mark (we were at 600) after the dust cleared, a very terrified but untouched gopher frozen into position remained, I made all the gunners run with the gun over their head for missing. When newish, they were accurate, but with to much auto fire their barrels would wear and accuracy would fall off. the bipod was annoying.

  17. Aww please can you mind put closed caption english. Be honest I never seen Canada weapon in something 1966 to 1968? I'm sure canada military have been watch during Vietnam. Seem like how much firepower weapon etc. I just wonder myself. Those weapon is perfect example show. Wow!

  18. Carried an L2A1 a few times during (Australian) Army Reserve training. The 30 rd magazine made it awkward to carry as it dug into you leg as you patrolled along. Compromise was to use a 20 rd magazine when patrolling with weapon if you could persuade one of your mates to lend you one

  19. Used one of these as a"Terri" in the RNZA in the mid '70s. Fire a burst and then have a cup of tea while it cooled down.

  20. Actually Brazil and Argentina also have heavy barrel versions of the FN FAL, called "FAP" (no pun intended) for "Fusil Automático Pesado" (Heavy Automatic Rifle)

  21. The concept of using the same family of service weapons into a squad automatic weapon to support the squad or section. Was way ahead of its time. The Canadians were thinking of commonality of magazines and ammunition with using the same weapon system. They got this from their use of first using the same ammunition with their Lee Enfield rifles and Bren Guns during WWII. The Canadians after Korea using one system but two different roles within the Infantry squad. The Americans did the same with the M-15 and M14E2 borrowing from the Canadian concept of the squad automatic weapon using the same receiver design with a larger magazine capacity. The US Marines today what the Canadians did and the US Army did in the mid 1980s by issuing bi-pods to M16A1 riflemen designated to be automatic riflemen. Units from the 82nd Airborne burned up a lot of M16A1 barrels during training along with Germany based US Army Infantry units in all Infantry and Armored Units. The Canadians were thinking after combat in Korea along with the US.

  22. Carried this in Australia for a few years, it was great, so reliable; from memory Australian L2A1 were heavier barelled them that one. I then got a 60….it was SO unreliable and would even fall apart.
    L2 FTW

  23. Do you know how to find out what year this gun was created?
    Youtube video:
    Will these Sears .22's from 1932 still work?
    Link source:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASg7r8ahuio

  24. Interesting – I KNOW (as in I saw them) that South Africa also had some – not like that, but more like the R1 rifle.

    And – as you say – not greatly liked – only one 30 rnd mag per rifle – using the other riflemen's mag …

  25. Hey Ian are you going to be at Taccom this weekend considering you are in Canada at the moment in the area It is Well by the looks of it

  26. interesting video , well done Ian , just that brief lookover leaves you thinking "give me a Bren any day" Although the FAL is my favourite battle rifle , thanks.

  27. the last time I saw one of these I was on exercise in Germany in the late 60s when one night up rolled several  humongous APC's the size of which we had never seen before the back door opened and out pilled a bunch of what only can be described as Canadian lumberjacks one carrying one these C2A1 things never forgot that night :>)

  28. A lovely video, rock solid delivery of the kind of thing Ian does so well week in week out while doing the book and research stuff. Please keep up these core videos Ian. Thanks!

  29. Fun fact: the last version of the Bren Gun used the same magazines. Rhodesia used these Brens and the C2A1 side by side in very limited numbers, and you can find chest rigs in Rhodesian jungle camo for holding four of these mags.

  30. Inch pattern weapon with metric sights – I'm an inch/foot/yard guy myself, but I've always thought the attempts to convert to my measurements were silly. I can use metric if necessary.

  31. All that wealth of experience the Canadian armed forces had of the BREN and they adopted this?
    I wonder what the troops thought about the decision?

  32. "Only about 2700 were produced, and it was ultimately replaced by the C9 (FN Minimi) in the 1980s."
    so you're telling me they only used 2,700 MG's for over 20 years?
    I feel bad for those armorers, imagine how clapped out they'd be once the Minimi finally showed up

  33. Or like Australia you can have your L2A2 and a BREN gun by remembering it in 7.62 and have mags that fit both as well as your SLR. From my memory it wasnt universally hated. It was more a person hated either the weight of a Bren, just hated the FN MAG for same reason, or the L2A2. It was more individual hatreds of one over the other. But year, Minimi arrived, everyone loved that

  34. Australia also had an iteration of this as the L2A1, manufactured by the Lithgow small arms factory, who also remade Brens into L4A1 BREN guns.
    Australia also had the winterised trigger on both L1A1 and L2A1 rifles. We used WW2 37 pattern been pouches however for the 30 round magazines. I trained on all these in the late 70's and again in the late 80's. Also the F1A1 9mm SMG, which wasn't well liked by a few.

  35. I can say, without the shadow of a doubt, that these things were a serious pain-in-the-butt to clean. Also, getting 'barrel-burns' weren't uncommon either, especially during advance-to-contact drills. Nonetheless, two of these in each 8-man squad provided some much needed automatic fire at the time. Was really happy when the C9s came online though…

  36. You should rename the channel to "Remembered Weapons" If they were forgotten you wouldn't be able to make videos about them.

  37. I may be mistaken, but I think when I was at a range with the Greek military. I thought they also had a heavy barrel FAL?

  38. Should have kept the Bren in 7.62mm NATO. I have fired the Aussie SAW version and it jammed a bit more than you would like and shooting it on full auto was an experience.

  39. It's very interesting hearing Ian speak on this and similar rifles like the RPD. The generalizable truth that comes out of it, to me, is that many times a good idea can be ruined or made immortal by small, seemingly minor design choices.

  40. This was my old Canadian Armed Forces Infantry Weapon back in the day. Nice to see it again. I kind of hated the bipod, as they always seemed to spring open if whacked through brush. It wasn’t as sleek as the C1, and the magazine bra hurt like blazes if you had to slam to ground and, well, forgot how much it could hurt. Loads of weird bruises from that.

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