As Handgun Sales Slow to a Crawl, Restricted Rifles Gain Popularity

With the freeze on handgun imports and transfers introduced last year, there has been an uptick in popularity of restricted rifles amongst Canadian restricted-class PAL holders recently, as evidenced by some social media posts and growing offerings from retailers.

While most Canadian gun owners think of handguns when they think of the “restricted” class of firearms, there have always been a number of long guns in this category. The Order-in-Council of May 1, 2020 did remove one of the more popular models, the AR-15, used in IPSC 3-gun competitions and widely popular with sport shooters, especially former and current military.

However, the legal category for restricted firearms includes any semi-automatic that chambers a centrefire cartridge and where the barrel is less than 470mm (18.5 inches). This definition has always included the popular Kriss Vector and Heckler & Koch USC. Though the price point for some can be eye watering (the H&K USC starts at $2,500), they have been at least available to purchase for some time — assuming you can find them in stock.

Popular Toronto-area retailer Firearms Outlet Canada has 20 restricted rifles listed on their website for sale – 14 of which are currently out of stock as of this writing.

The lowest price option for this category is the US M1 Carbine, in this case with a folding stock. The 18″ barrel and black hardware with rails for attachments retains some of the modern features some shooters prefer, at an accessible price point of $699.95. The cartridge, .30 carbine, is not common but can be readily found through many retailers. It makes a great sport shooting rifle, it simple and easy to use.

At the upper end of the price scale on FOC’s website is the B&T APC 308, a folding stock full-size .308 Winchester rifle with a maneuverable 14.2″ barrel. It accepts the AR-10 magazine, and comes in at a price point of $5,185.

G4C Gun Store, located in Markham, Ont., has the popular CZ Bren rifles, along with the H&K USC and the futuristic FN PS90, chambered for its designer 5.7x28mm cartridge. They too are out of stock on even more restricted rifle products.

Restricted rifles can be a great niche to explore. At some gun ranges, regular rifle calibres are not permitted (looking at you, Decew). However, a rifle like the H&K USC is chambered in a common handgun calibre, .45 Auto, and would likely be within the safety parameters for any range where handguns are permitted.

Many are smaller in length than the full-size non-restricted long-guns, making them lighter, easier to use in competitive shooting, and fun to shoot. A restricted rifle chambered in .308 WIN or .223 REM will use the same ammunition that many non-restricted rifles accept, making ammunition purchasing a little easier.

For those readers and prospective gun owners wondering whether its worth taking a restricted firearm safety course now that handguns are no available it may be well worth the time to consider the restricted rifle options on the market.

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