The Sten

#1
Gents some one just raised the name of the first loaded weapon I had pointed at me.
I was always given to understand that The STEN was intended to be a 'Brit' copy of the German 'Smisherr' (Spelling again) but they copied a WW I weapon instead.
I have been told by the old and bold who where in when I first joined up that really it was not a bad gun but was let down by it's magazine which was badly made.
Any comments by the Boards more knowledgeable members.
john
 
#2
I believe the Lanchester (used by the RN and similar in appearance to the Sten) was a copy of the MP18/MP28, (the latter designed by Schmeisser) whereas the MP38/MP40, although commonly referred to as the Schmeisser, was not designed by him. The numbers refer to the design or production years.
 
#3
Magazine on the Sten was indeed poor. They were normally kept fully charged so the spring went flat. Squaddy response was to remove and stretch. Some like piano accordians so again not enough push. Sand and other debris easily blocked business end of mag. Possibly their greatest defect was that earliest models lacked any safety mechanism to prevent piston operating if carried upright in a vehicle which went over a bump. If mag was on - as in aggro areas - this led to round discharge. However, many deaths resulted from fact that this had still left a round in the breech which was overlooked in panic after weapon firing on bump start.
The Mk II cured the safety problem but in a way that meant safety was not always effective if not applied manually. Then the skeleton frame was changed to wood butt (MkIII maybe?) which was much safer. The Aussies had varient - think it was called an Owen which was OK in most areas where Sten was naff. I think we replaced the Sten with Patchett Sterling that had been around anyway (Arnhem?) but not distributed as there were zillions of Sten available.
Hey - all of that out of a very old brain! Good eh?
Bt comparison - this is what Google does http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/owen.htm
 
#5
As a young lad I remember one the older full screws who had been in Aden during the last couple of years, give me a lesson in weapon safety.
I had a mag on my SMG, we where down the ranges. He had spoken to the range officer about a demonstartion for us sprogs.
Safe young john, yeah right it is safety catch is on. He took my SMG and with barrel inclined up but slightly down range and out to sea, Tregantle Plymouth, he smacked the SMG down on it's end, butt was folded and it fired a round. The bolt came back far enough not to engage yet far enough to pick up a round going forward. He had the mag off imediately, before it could run away. This was before the days of "Pakistani ammunition".
A demonstartion that even with the Saftey Catch applied a SMG could still fire a round if conditions here wrong.
On our First deployment to NI, L/Cpl Willy was sent with an old Trooper RTR to collect a extra Fuel Bowser.
Typical young lad first time out with a loaded weapon. I kept it on my knees on the way back, mag on and notice one or two looks from ancient old trooper. The more he looked the more I fumble with MY GUN.
If you don't take that mag off and put that gun away, I'll stop this waggon and shove it up your arse. Mind you he not quite that polite.
I was not a little lad but niether was he and I knew he ment it.
Mag off and away.
john
 
#6
OldRedCap said:
If mag was on - as in aggro areas - this led to round discharge. However, many deaths resulted from fact that this had still left a round in the breech which was overlooked in panic after weapon firing on bump start.
So how would it have a round in the breech ? The sten fires from an open bolt so are you saying it would rechamber a round but not fire it ? Cant see how that would happen as the "firing pin" such as it is is milled into the breech face. No that I doubt your information just this bit is a little ambiguous.
 
#7
Any submachine gun which does not have a method of firmly locking the bolt in the forward position can go off when dropped. For instance, the Germans used a leather thong on the MP 38 to prevent this happening. Many submachine guns have a locking bolt (usually part of the cocking handle) to lock the bolt in the forward position.

Whereas the Lanchester is an almost direct copy of the MP 28 (with a few British features), the STEN was a heavily modified version of the same weapon, adapted for cheap mass production.

ORC: the wooden butt version was the mark 5, and I am not aware of any extra safety devices that it had that later mark 2's did not have. Also, on an open bolt submachine gun, if there is a round in the chamber that has not gone off, it is either a misfire or something has gone very wrong!
 
#8
The Sten was an original design (Shepherd & Turpin at ENfield = STEN), since by the 30s the principals of blow-back submachine carbines were well understood. It was quite ground-breaking in being one of the first weapons to be made of cheap stamped parts and welded construction, with precision engineering being used only in the essential parts (barrel, etc). A lot of modern German-worshippers claim this was a German industrial development, but most of their similar weapons came along after they'd encountered the Sten. In fact the Germans actually directly copied the Sten itself to produce a cheap lookalike that was one of their last-ditch weapons (someone will remember the model name).

The Sten's weak point was in the production engineering of the magazine housing: a slight dimensional error during manufacture, and the magazine lips would not be seated at the correct spot - leading to misfeeds which caused the jams. Stens were built as parts by 100+? different contractors, most of whom knew nothing about firearms functioning, so it was not surprising that critical components were sometimes buggered up. The magazines were initially blamed (which is why the later Patchett/Sterling had such an elaborate roller-feed and curved magazine), but later they functioned just fine in the improved Sten models. Sten mags were in fact directly copied and used as originals in many post-WW2 submachine guns - particularly in France & Belgium, where they had zillions of Sten mags in stock.

Like the Sterling, the Sten fired from an open bolt, which means it picks up a round after the trigger is pulled (GPMG does the same). Early Stens just had a slot into which the cocking lever was placed as a crude safety.

After the initial production rush, Stens were made with better quality control. The MkV used at Arnhem (which had a proper safety, No4 rifle foresight, and often a wooden stock and foregrip) was a good weapon that lasted in service well into the 1960s. Unfortunately for Tommy, numbers of unreliable earlier weapons were not weeded out of general service, so some fellows were left helpless toe-to-toe with Fritz.

I've fired most of the Sten models. Apart from the odd, agricultural construction, they feel more or less like a Sterling to fire. I assume that most Tommies would have sorted out their magazines, etc, before going into combat, so I'd say it is a perfectly sound weapon. Given the situation of its introduction - Britain threatened with invasion and needing thousands of automatic weapons in no time flat - it is a true design masterpiece.
 
#9
In fact the Germans actually directly copied the Sten itself to produce a cheap lookalike that was one of their last-ditch weapons (someone will remember the model name).
Potsdam Gerat or Mp3800 I believe. Stand to be corrected.
 
#10
The tales I told took place in 69 one say June the other in August in NI.
I remember the first death in NI of a Brit sqaddei on that deployment his "mate' shot him with an SLR, while he was phoning home. Pie & Ear corpes True.
The second shooting was of an officer from a cavalry regt 17/21 st where there down at Omah but I canot say it was their Regt.
The officer was checking veichal docs and a L/Jack came in the opposite door. The cocking handle on his SMG caught on the car and was drawn back, he got wepeon free and the bolt went forward and the officer was shot through the kidneys. I never knew if he lived or passed on.
john
I occasional get annoyed about Pistols. I see no use for them, SF excepted.
I have twice been in next room when someone let one loose unloading. When I was in Brunei I knew the SASC WO II quite well, he said to me one day Pistols F-ing usless, only good for shooting your mate with.
 
#11
The germans also made a copy with a vertical magazine, the MP.3008. There's one in my local museum, which has been wrongly labelled as having been made by the local resistance despite the obvious 'B&V' trademarks. Actually a very good looking gun despite it's late war manufacture.
 
#12
old boss of mine had a bit of a WW2 SMG collection, my fav 'emergency production for the NME at the gate' was the Aussie Owen, great bit lump of a thing, looked as funny as with its mag sticking vertical, but had a rep for being reliable and was very controllable in use.
the design was carried on to the F1 smg, again heavy compared to the Stirlings we used in the NZ army, but a great bit of kit all the same.

speaking of SMG's and its modern moniker of PDW, there is a dire need of one for todays support troops and vehicle crews.
 
#13
Jonwilly wrote-
"The second shooting was of an officer from a cavalry regt 17/21 st where there down at Omah but I canot say it was their Regt.
The officer was checking veichal docs and a L/Jack came in the opposite door. The cocking handle on his SMG caught on the car and was drawn back, he got wepeon free and the bolt went forward and the officer was shot through the kidneys. I never knew if he lived or passed on."

Not 17/21st, though we were in Omagh then.
 
#14
gibson097 said:
OldRedCap said:
If mag was on - as in aggro areas - this led to round discharge. However, many deaths resulted from fact that this had still left a round in the breech which was overlooked in panic after weapon firing on bump start.
So how would it have a round in the breech ? The sten fires from an open bolt so are you saying it would rechamber a round but not fire it ? Cant see how that would happen as the "firing pin" such as it is is milled into the breech face. No that I doubt your information just this bit is a little ambiguous.
Jonwilly details the rebound round better than I. Extractors were another problem. I'm going on my recollections of 1952'ish in Canal Zone. Blokes in back of 3 tonners on bumpy roads were the ones mainly suffering. JWs tale of the older guy commenting on his drills very valid as to attitude towards this damn weapon.
 
#16
Very underestimated gun, apparently cost 30shillings each to make(one pound, fifty). Numbers manufactured unknown, some estimates put it at 5 million - one factory in Speke, Liverpool made 20,000 a week.
The Army had considered SMG's to be 'gangsters guns' and not suitable for a decent Army - the Germans use of them soon changed their minds and the Lanchester was chosen with 5,000 being ordered. This, however, soon proved to be costly and difficult to manufacture, so enter the Sten. Apparently, the designers were working on a disposable gun and the design suited quick and cheap production. The mag was a direct copy of the one used by the German MP 38 - which had the same jamming problem.
 
#17
One old timer said 25 shillings to me and he also said that some where made useing 'Concrete' as the bulk of the wieght inside the metal bolt.
john
I think it may have been tried but I doubt it would be sufficently heavy duty.
 
#18
Rumour abounded around the Sten, some claimed it was made with gas pipes. Certainly, any light engineering firm could turn them out, one Mark(the IV, I think)was manufactured by a Toy Co. It has been copied by many 'un-official' groups, including Loyalists in NI, in back-street workshops - the difficult part being the rifled barrel, so smooth-bore versions have been seen.
The war-time Stens certainly suffered from a lack of quality control and it was wise to 'shoot them in' before any action. If you did - and were careful in your selection of mags - you had a very robust and reliable gun.
It could take a lot of dirt and still work. Another rumour about the Sten was that it was the only gun to pass the 'liquid mud' test, where is was dropped into mud, left to soak before given a few shakes, then fired!
 
#19
The Owen SMG, whilst similar in some respects to the Sten is not really a member of the Sten family. A vertical mag above the weapon (a la Bren), different trigger mech and a quick release barrel are the most obvious differences, although there are others. The provision of a Cutts type compensator and a finned barrel, similar to early models of the Thompson SMG show the quality and complexity of the of the design in comparison to the brutal simplicity of the Sten. The Aussies loved the Owen, which although fairly heavy was renowned for its reliability, and I heard some even made it to Vietnam.

Incidentally, the Aussies DID produce a Sten variant, with the blindingly original name of the AUSTEN. The AUSTEN was different in that it had its mainspring and folding stock copied from the MP40, and two pistol grips, one underneath the mag housing so you didn't hold the mag or burn your hand on the barrel shroud. It wasn't rated by the troops, apparently.

The Lanchester was a direct copy of the Bergmann MP28, but made to pre-war standards with a Butt from the Lee Enfield, a Brass Mag housing and a bayonet boss for the SMLE 18" bayonet. A very well made weapon that was produced at the same time as the Sten amazingly.

Do I get crossed SMGs on my anorak sleeve now?
 
#20
There was another British SMG - the Welgun. Apparently successfully trialed but not put into production.
"The Welgun was designed by the SOE workshop in Welwyn Garden City, from which the weapon received its name. The submachine gun was first developed for use by SOE undercover agents but then made for use by airborne troops. The Welgun featured an unusual bolt, attached to the recoil spring around the barrel, which, with a stock that folded across the top of the receiver, allowed the submachine gun to be extremely compact''.

Do I get doubled-crossed SMG's on my anorak sleeve?
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
Dale the snail The NAAFI Bar 4418
WEATHERMAN1956 Multinational HQ 0
F REME 36

Similar threads

Latest Threads