Living as a firearms owner in the Great White North means having to deal with silly gun laws. It means having to apply for permits, registering some firearms and not others, and limiting some magazines and not others. It means that you can only shoot your handguns at a range, and that the guns your grandfather used to defend your country are unlikely to get handed down to you.
It means living in the shadow of the United States, with all that freedom bubbling just south of the border.
But there are some things we get in Canada that you don’t see stateside—and that’s what this article is about. In fact, Canada has lots to offer its firearms enthusiasts.
Our government is awfully concerned about automatic conversions, but beyond that it doesn’t care much where guns come from, or how many of their parts are made overseas. That means we can import and own the following unique foreign firearms—and more.
1. FAMAE SAF
Patterned after the Sig SG 540 and built in Chile, the SAF bears a marked resemblance to the classic MP5. There’s no tax stamp on these, even on the K-style PDW, but they do have to be registered with the government and can only be fired at an approved range. A five-round magazine limit can suck some of the fun out.
2. FAMAE SG 542
The bigger brother of the SAF, this .308 is one of the few battle rifles that escaped being banned by name or design by the Canadian government. There are no “civilian-legal” G3s or FALs in Canada, but the FAMAE fills the gap nicely.
3. Norinco T97
A semiautomatic-only version of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-issued QBZ rifles, the T97 is the most affordable bullpup on the market. It’s only $1,000 (CAD) MSRP, and ambitious shoppers can find used models as low as $750. This semiauto piston-driven unit is a communist creature with capitalist overtones. Unlike its QBZ counterparts, it’s been chambered in .223 and accepts USGI AR-15 magazines.
4. GM6 Lynx
Bullpups are big in Canada, and this is the biggest. The semiautomatic GM6 Lynx is chambered in .50 BMG, feeds from a box magazine, and has an unusual recoil reduction system that utilizes a moving barrel. At $14,699 it’s the most expensive rifle on this list, but fills the gap left by the now-banned Barrett M107.
5. A variety of short-barreled shotguns
Canadians may not be allowed to carry handguns for protection from wildlife, but we have cheap and plentiful pump-action shotguns with barrels as short as eight inches that can fill the role. Backpacker shotguns come from all over, and are extremely popular Canadian “camp guns.” Tube-fed or mag-fed, single-shot or side-by-side, you can find whatever you’re heart desires for well under $500.
Canadian gun enthusiasts also have access to a host of foreign-made clones of well-known firearms. While the Philippines can produce a surprisingly good 1911 for $500, the vast majority of Canadian-available knock-offs are produced by Norinco in China. Here’s a few you might recognize:
6. Norinco M305
The M305 is a clone of the M14 that sells for $450. It’s affordable for almost anyone to own, and flexible enough to fulfill many different roles. New shooters who like plinking can buy a rifle for $450 and get a 1,000-round crate of surplus .308 for another $450. Hunters can add an optic mount, and use the full range of .308 loads for big game in Canada. Guys who want a hard hitting DMR-style setup can get into the game cheap, and put the rest of their budget into aftermarket parts. The M305 has a unique but well-established niche in Canada.
7. Dominion Arms (Norinco) P762
This might look like a Sig P226, but this little Chinese monster is actually chambered in the Russian 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge! Lots of surplus ammo makes this an affordable way to get lots of rounds through an already-affordable gun (they sell for around $400) that’s got the core mechanisms of an established firearm. The aluminum frame accommodating a double-stack magazine means this gun has a hefty grip, but it’s built from the ground up to reliably shoot the old Russian round.
8. Dominion Arms (Norinco) 556 or CQA
The American classic—except not. Norinco’s take on the AR-15 is not without some issues. These flattop uppers come from the factory with a carry handle and standard handguards, and are offered in 10.5- and 14.5-inch barrel lengths. From there, its up to the user to remove some of the lower-quality parts and start the AR-15 Lego process. Surprisingly reliable, these $600 rifles get the job done, but aren’t going to look like much compared to a high-end US-maderifle.
Canadian firearms laws need to improve, there’s no doubt about that. But in the meantime we can still get some interesting and unusual guns for private ownership.
Canadian readers: there are definitely a few more exclusive firearms that aren’t on this list. What are some of your favorite Canada-only guns?