Friday, September 19, 2014

Colt Canada SA20 - civvie version of the C7A2

Talk about a rocky introduction of this rifle to the Canadian firearms market. I first heard of the Colt Canada/Diemaco C7 for civilian sales back in July, and was pretty excited to hear about it because the initial spiel was that Colt Canada was expecting a market because police officers and military personnel have inquired about acquiring their own versions for shooting and practice.

The summer of 2014 was probably the best time in recent years to get into an AR, and probably not the best time to introduce a new rifle to the market and try to sell it as a premium rifle with a premium price. With business like Wolverine Supplies, SFRC and in the middle of a price war, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason NOT to buy an AR. Prices in the US were dropping dramatically because supply finally caught up with demand, then passed it, leaving manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers grossly overstocked with ARs. The effect crossed the border and we started to see Colt ARs from irunguns go for about $1,000 or less (when they have historically been seen to sell at $2,500), which was now on par with Walmart USA pricing. Irunguns also started bringing in DPMS rifles for about $550-600, either used, new, or in kit form. Wolverine started selling Daniel Defence starting at $1,000 and then SFRC started blowing out their NEAs. This led a big part of the community guessing that the new Colt Canada rifles should be at the most $1500 or less. The days of buying Norinco ARs because they were the cheapest around ($700) were over, and even they saw some price drops, though not as drastic (about $600 for a Norc now).

When Colt Canada finally revealed their new rifles as the SA20 (C7A2) and the SA15.7 (C8A3), gun owners in Canada collectively held their breath as the retailers revealed the MSRP, and collectively let out a big WTF when it was announced that the SA20 will sell for $2,099 and the SA15.7 will sell for $2,299. HUGE debates were held on the major Canadian gun forums, arguments back and forth, numerous threads were locked, members were banned, and a lot of bad blood was spilled on those forums.

I don’t really want to go into too much detail here, and start an argument with myself, but the jist of it was that the new Colt Canada SA20 and SA15.7s were presumably excellent rifles if their LE/MIL versions are a testament to their potential performance. Was $2k+ what people wanted to pay? No. Were they $2k+ rifles? Debatable. Maybe before the price war, but definitely not during this past summer. LE/MIL members were still left to hold their breath because many thought Colt Canada could not possibly think that $2k+ is something the average member would spend to buy equipment to practice on their own time.

Rumours spread about an IOP (individual officer program) and that an LE/MIL discount was on the horizon. Meanwhile, the non LE/MIL were still arguing back and forth on the MSRP. A lot of bad things were said of Colt Canada, and the Korth Group (distributors for Colt). Even retailers were heard to grumble some nasty things about them as they were not able to move many rifles. Word got out from one of the retailers that the Korth group were probably making quite a bit of money from these rifles, and the blame could not be placed on Colt Canada. In fact, word got out on exactly how much they were making, because it didn’t take long for friends of retailers to figure out what their cost was. It was chaos.

To pour more fuel on the fire, some incorrect information was released by an uninformed employee stating that there would be no individual officer program, there would be no LE/MIL discount. Chaos had turned into outright Armageddon. Cries of false advertisement and bait and switch were heard throughout the community and I’m sure sales of these rifles reflected it. It didn’t take long for Colt Canada and the Korth Group to make an appearance to salvage the situation. Representatives from Colt Canada like Matt Kirkpatrick soon joined Canadian Gun Nutz to distribute technical data and other information regarding their products, and a very helpful Andres Gonzalez became the official representative from Korth Group to assist members of Law Enforcement and the Military. These two gentlemen probably saved the release of the SA20 and SA15.7 from total disaster.

The MSRP was adjusted shortly after the IOP was announced, and the new prices were $1,799 for the SA20 and $1,999 for the SA15.7. Prices for the IOP were not announced publically, and that will be between members of LE/MIL and the Korth Group. There were still grumblings on the forums, but not nearly at the same capacity as before. Also, with Colt Canada on board at CGN, a lot of old wive’s tales were dispelled and it became painfully clear that a comparison between Colt Canada’s rifles and Colt USA was not exactly on the same playing field. For reference, go to CGN and look up Colt Canada’s posts on the specs of these rifles over their US-made counterparts. Another great reference is Guns and Ammo, The Book of the AR15, issue August, 2012. There’s a very detailed article indicating the differences between Colt Canada and Colt USA products, advantage, Colt Canada!

Anwyay, that’s my long, drawn out background history about Colt Canada’s first offerings to the civilian market. There was no way I could pay $2,099 for an SA20, there’s still no way I could pay $1,799, and I can barely scrape by at the IOP rate, but I swallowed the pill and took the plunge.

The rifle came shipped in a plain cardboard box......

......inside another cardboard box, haha!

Actually, I'm glad it came that way.  I don't always keep my boxes, but I think I'll keep this one.  Nice, huge sticker indicating the Diemaco brand and Made in Canada with a big Colt logo in the background.

It would have been nice if it'd came in a hardcase like Daniel Defence rifles, but that would just drive costs up, and I'm fine that they used cardboard to keep costs low.

Everything was well packed, in individual plastic bags.  I wish I could afford to buy mutliples of this rifle, and keep one "new in box:".  That's the geeky collector inside me that buys toys but doesn't play with them.

The rilfle came packed with goodies, including a magazine lock, a very well equipped Otis cleaning kit, a sling (that I will probably never use), one standard STANAG magazine (with a plastic follower...nice touch), the owner's manual and a Colt Sticker. 

It also came with a super-duper muzzle cap, good for keeping dirt out of the muzzle, but this rifle probably won't be accompanying me on many patrols to warrant it's use.

Some people were moaning about the finish on the front sight triagle.  Yeah, it's a bit rough (actually, more rough that my Norinco).  I suppose they left it as is for a number of reasons, maybe to cut costs, or to give it that “military” utilitarian look, but the sight post itself is nice and thin, and much finer than the one on my Norc.

The roll marks aren’t identical to the C7A2 that I use at work, but it’s nice to see the maple leaf there.  I thought they might have stamped Made in Canada in English and French at least, but that was not to be.    

An observation made by many was the backwards installation of the back up iron sight.  Some guessed maybe it was because they wanted the shooter to see the Colt lettering, others claimed it was because of the smaller aperture (not sure why they would think this since it’s adjustable anyway), but Colt Canada came on and said it was simply just a mistake.

Still in it's original packing oil from the factory.

The bolt carrier appears to be a standard AR-15 version, not the M16 full-automatic carrier commonly seen on US-made Colts.  Now, for those of you who are reading this and are not familiar with AR bolt carriers, having a full auto bolt carrier will not alone enable the rifle to engage in automatic fire.  Some users simply prefer it because there is more material on the carrier and believe it is more durable. 
As for the lower receiver pocket, it does not have the partition like the Colt LE6920 or M4 Carbine (civvie version) but I’ve got some comparison pictures up in another post you can see later on. 

Colt Canada has indicated that the “claw” charging handle and the issued C7 sling plate are no longer in production, so they have included their new sling plate and a standard charging handle.

Stripped and cleaned for inspection....thank God I don't have to go through that again.  I'm also thankful that I won't have to worry about some other nugget messing with my rifle.  This one truly is mine, and will not be shared with strangers going through BMQ, gouging the $hit out of it in an effort to get everything clean.

A minor detail, but apparently an important one for many.  The “D” mark indicating Diemaco.

6 position buffer tube, as opposed to the 4 position as originally indicated (and found on the US Colt LE6920 and other models).

The green furniture was an added bonus for members of law enforcement and military, and only available through the IOP. 

These rifles are considered by Colt their 30th anniversary limited editions. They say that only 1,000 of these rifles were manufactured, 500 SA20s and 500 SA15.7s. Ten of each model were reserved for Colt Canada’s internal uses, so 490 per model will be sold to the public. Further models and milspec components are planned for release this year.

So I’m not sure how smart it was to jump on one of these for a clone of the work rifle to practice with on my own time. Should I have waited out for a cheaper model with similar specs to be released or was it better to grab one while they were still available? Who knows, but with the IOP, it made it a lot easier than trying to justify to the wife that I absolutely needed to spend $2099 so I could buy a copy of the work rifle, spend my own ammo, and my own personal time, unpaid, just so I could practice my marksmanship skills for queen and country.

My personal preference would have been that they simply mass produced these rifles instead of limiting them to 490 rifles of each model. But because they have called it a limited edition, and because I know they will be coveted by collectors, I am hesitant to use the rifle and put it through the same abuse I put the work rifle through. I now have the unfortunate mentality to baby it and treat it like a safe queen. Damn, I wish I had enough money to buy them in multiples, haha!


  1. My C8 should be here this week....

  2. Nice! Post some pics up on CGN if you can!

  3. I recognize your username from Arfcom. Great review, great Rifle. I found your blog looking for pictures of a Colt 6 position receiver extension. Yours came up. I recently bought one advertised as Colt but think they were mistaken. Yours has the reinforcement on the stock rail toward the threads like a 4 position. Mine is smooth forward of the stock adjustment rail. Oh well $24 won't kill me. imdbman


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