Bloke on the Range videos

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
I joined the Army in 85, and my first posting as an armourer was to Depot Queens Div in Bassingbourn in 86. At that point, there were nearly as many SMGs in the armoury as there were Rifles (1200 SMGs, 1400 Rifles IIRC). My personal weapon was the SMG, and being a keen young Craftsman I often volunteered or was voluntold to conduct the range tests on repaired weapons. I could easily get hits on fig 12 targets at 150m (the max length of the baffled range on the airfield at Bassingbourn) with the SMG; over two years I fired hundreds of 25-30 year old Sterlings, and I don't remember ever having a stoppage that wasn't caused by damaged mag lips, damaged ejectors or ammo (mainly ammo).

As far as I am aware, the fabled British Squaddies' antipathy toward the Sterling was an accumulation of various mistruths and mistaken identities, along with the oft referenced "Indian Ammo". Partly thanks to old wives' tales told about the Sten (and in one case, the Thompson), it garnered a NAAFI bar reputation as unsafe ("if you drop it it'll fire off the whole mag" - Sten), cheap ("It only cost £X to make" - Sten), unreliable ("the mags are crap" - Sten), plus "it always misfires" - Indian Ammo/Sten mags), inaccurate ("No one can hit anything" - early Stens?), and underpowered ("A wet blanket will stop the bullets" - Thompson, but possibly Indian Ammo as well).

By the late 80s, a big part of the SMG hate was snobbery that it was seen as a Remf's gun; if the chefs and spanner ******* got it issued it must be crap, and how could steely eyed infanteers be expected to use it? Rambo never used one, so the Blankshires and Loamshires should be issued Uzis forthwith and leave the old fashioned looking Sterlings to the attached arms.

I was posted to an Infantry Bn in 88, which was already kitted out with SA80, and we promptly went off to NI. Sterlings were issued for drivers (along with an 8 shot folding stock Remington Wingmaster for the escort!), with 10 round mags - a local mod I was dicked with producing prior to the tour. Once again, test firing with the diddy mags I experienced no stoppages at all.

As for the oft repeated "wet blanket" line about stopping power, my response was always the same: "Fair enough, you hold the blanket, I'll have the SMG". I read (somewhere) that this trope originated with the .45" Thompson SMG, where a wet blanket hanging loosely from a line sometimes could stop the slower moving bullets by absorbing the KE, but to be honest I don't give it much credit. Back to 9mm, a lot of confidence was lost with the 70s purchase of Indian 9mm, but by the 80s, I believe it was removed from stock. The NAAFI bar knitting circle still held on to the line that an SMG would either explode or the barrel would fill with spent bullets. Strangely the exact same 9mm ammo was considered to be a man stopper when fired from the much more tacticool L9A1 Browning pistol

The Sterling SMG was a robust, reliable and effective weapon which apart from being a cam net magnet was ideal as a personal weapon for support troops, crew served weapon operators, signallers, commanders and the like. The magazines were excellent (if heavy), the folding stock was rigid in place and folded neatly out of the way, the change lever was simple and well situated, and the trigger mech was bullet proof. In full auto it was easily controllable, and on Rounds you could get surprisingly accurate results for an open bolt weapon (with practice).
Except on Banner, I carried the Small Metal Gun for most of my career, in AAC Sqns they were distributed to SNCOs, most REMEs, clerks, drivers and aircrew (pilots got pistols). With the butt folded, and a hydraulic blanking plug in the barrel it sat nicely on the poncho roll, leaving hands free for tool box, grease guns and unhooking cam nets, no fear of poking it through the canopy or onto the rotor disc either.
Widely slagged off as a weapon (full auto when dropped, wet blanket etc) but surprisingly the same round in a similar barrel becomes a (non stormtrooper) instant death ray in the hands of ‘them’... never had a stoppage, never had one break and always passed APWT despite being a leftie. Added bonus - no BFA or blanks so less cleaning.
 

4(T)

LE

Oooh, you've put the bands back on the wrong way around! (All screw heads should be on the left side)


As with the trials results, I've never myself found any particular correlation between centre bedding and improved accuracy. In fact, out of several hundred No4s I've tested/zeroed, the top dozen or so were all standard SRa (the best being a very tatty beater).

(Oddly the absolute best 1,000 yd rifles still seem to be fully-packed SRb No1s. These are getting a bit rare now, as replacing a worn barrel seems to wreck the "magic" that made the rifle work.)

I have a feeling that a lot of centre-bedding was done simply so that a gunsmith could sell a No4 with nice matching wood, instead of replacing or fixing a warped forend. Ditto shims - which, IMHO, just show that the builder couldn't or didn't want to fit a new forend.

I've always been a bit cautious discussing bedding work on t'forums, as it seems to cause a lot of people over the pond to start chopping their nice SRa No4s up in the mistaken belief that they can improve the accuracy!



Where centre-bedding does seem to make a big difference is with 7.62mm No4s (military configuration, not target). You could have abig research project + video if you could get hold of a Sterling, Charnwood, DCRA, 7.62CONV (prototype), or one of the Belgian barrelled conversions to test.

Centre-bedding seems to be suited to the different barrel harmonic of 7.62mm, even if its a .303" barrel profile.



 

R0B

War Hero
Question for the Old and Bold such as @ugly re. issue of SMG in theory in practice.

Who was meant to get it?
Who actually got it (or ditched it for a rifle)?

The classic World's Most Unflappable Cpl training film on section battle drill has him carrying a rifle, for instance, and having gone through the 1975 pam, to me it seems that it's not set up to teach the SMG as a primary offensive wpn...
In the UK I seem to remember the RAF Police using them in the "Supplementary Storage Area" (Nukes). Apart from that as @Drlligaf says mostly MT drivers where an SLR wasn't really practical. I only saw officers get issued a Browning 9mm.

ETA. Just realised I replied to something from a long time ago.
 

Blogg

LE
I've always been a bit cautious discussing bedding work on t'forums, as it seems to cause a lot of people over the pond to start chopping their nice SRa No4s up in the mistaken belief that they can improve the accuracy!
I know somebody who, having found this, with a really ratty Mk3* and far too much time on his hands, decided to "have a go"


After much careful work and endless adjustments boolits emerged from the front end and went in direction of target with considerable improvement, but after a few shoots returned to pretty much original,
 
Except on Banner, I carried the Small Metal Gun for most of my career, in AAC Sqns they were distributed to SNCOs, most REMEs, clerks, drivers and aircrew (pilots got pistols). With the butt folded, and a hydraulic blanking plug in the barrel it sat nicely on the poncho roll, leaving hands free for tool box, grease guns and unhooking cam nets, no fear of poking it through the canopy or onto the rotor disc either.
Widely slagged off as a weapon (full auto when dropped, wet blanket etc) but surprisingly the same round in a similar barrel becomes a (non stormtrooper) instant death ray in the hands of ‘them’... never had a stoppage, never had one break and always passed APWT despite being a leftie. Added bonus - no BFA or blanks so less cleaning.
This sort of thing, a compact weapon that stays out of the way and meant for people whose main job doesn't involve shooting people, is today called a PDW.

The hydraulic blanking plug in the barrel sounds like a really clever idea by the way.
 
 
Had it out at 100 and 200m this evening :)

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rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Last edited:
 
Did this for the young gentleman on the Weapons, Equipment and Rations forum asking about C8 multitool features. Might be interesting to those who've never seen their way around an AR15/M16-type rifle (it's unedited, just the raw footage)

 
If you want to make your eyes bleed, have a look at the pinned comment thread under this old one:

 

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