Sterling submachine gun
Overview
 
The Sterling submachine gun is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

 which was in service with the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 from 1944 until 1994, when it was phased out with the introduction of the L85A1
SA80
The SA80 is a British family of 5.56mm small arms. It is a selective fire, gas-operated assault rifle. SA80 prototypes were trialled in 1976 and production was completed in 1994....

 assault rifle.
In 1944 the British General Staff issued a specification for a new submachine gun. It stated that the weapon should not weigh more than six pounds
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (2.7 kg), should fire 9x19mm Parabellum calibre ammunition, have a rate of fire
Rate of fire
Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon can fire or launch its projectiles. It is usually measured in rounds per minute , or per second .-Overview:...

 of no more than 500 rounds per minute and be sufficiently accurate to allow five single shots to be fired into a one foot square target at 100 yards (91.44 meters).

To meet the new requirement, George William Patchett, the chief designer at the Sterling Armaments Company
Sterling Armaments Company
Sterling Armaments Company was an arms manufacturer based in Dagenham, famous for manufacturing the L2A3 , AR18 and SAR-87 assault rifles and parts of Jaguar cars. The company went bankrupt in 1988....

 of Dagenham
Dagenham
Dagenham is a large suburb in East London, forming the eastern part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and located east of Charing Cross. It was historically an agrarian village in the county of Essex and remained mostly undeveloped until 1921 when the London County Council began...

 submitted a sample weapon of new design in early 1944.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Sterling submachine gun is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

 which was in service with the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 from 1944 until 1994, when it was phased out with the introduction of the L85A1
SA80
The SA80 is a British family of 5.56mm small arms. It is a selective fire, gas-operated assault rifle. SA80 prototypes were trialled in 1976 and production was completed in 1994....

 assault rifle.

History

In 1944 the British General Staff issued a specification for a new submachine gun. It stated that the weapon should not weigh more than six pounds
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (2.7 kg), should fire 9x19mm Parabellum calibre ammunition, have a rate of fire
Rate of fire
Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon can fire or launch its projectiles. It is usually measured in rounds per minute , or per second .-Overview:...

 of no more than 500 rounds per minute and be sufficiently accurate to allow five single shots to be fired into a one foot square target at 100 yards (91.44 meters).

To meet the new requirement, George William Patchett, the chief designer at the Sterling Armaments Company
Sterling Armaments Company
Sterling Armaments Company was an arms manufacturer based in Dagenham, famous for manufacturing the L2A3 , AR18 and SAR-87 assault rifles and parts of Jaguar cars. The company went bankrupt in 1988....

 of Dagenham
Dagenham
Dagenham is a large suburb in East London, forming the eastern part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and located east of Charing Cross. It was historically an agrarian village in the county of Essex and remained mostly undeveloped until 1921 when the London County Council began...

 submitted a sample weapon of new design in early 1944. The army quickly recognised its potential and ordered 120 examples for trials. Towards the end of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, some of these trial samples were used in combat by airborne troops at Arnhem
Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time....

 and elsewhere, where it was known as the Patchett submachine gun. Given that the Patchett/Sterling can use straight Sten submachine gun magazines as well as the curved Sterling design, there were no interoperability problems.

After the war, with large numbers of Sten guns in the inventory there was little interest in replacing them with a superior design. However, in 1947 a competitive trial between the Patchett, an Enfield design, a new BSA
Birmingham Small Arms Company
This article is not about Gamo subsidiary BSA Guns Limited of Armoury Road, Small Heath, Birmingham B11 2PP or BSA Company or its successors....

 design and an experimental Australian design was held, with the Sten for comparison. The trial was inconclusive but was followed by further development and more trials. Eventually the Patchett design won and the decision was made in 1951 for the British Army to adopt it. It started to replace the Sten in 1953 as the Sub-Machine Gun L2A1. Its last non-suppressed variation was the L2A3, but the model changes were minimal throughout its development life.

Sterling submachine guns with minor cosmetic alterations were used in the production of the Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

movies as blaster rifle
Blaster (Star Wars)
Blasters are ranged weapons in the Star Wars fictional universe. This category of plasma bolt-firing rayguns includes various pistols, rifles, and other powerful weapons.-Production:...

 props.

Design details

The Sterling submachine gun is constructed entirely of steel and plastic and has a shoulder stock
Stock (firearm)
A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

 which folds underneath the weapon. Although of conventional blowback
Blowback (arms)
Blowback is a system of operation for self-loading firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gases created by the ignition of the propellant charge....

 design firing from an open bolt
Open bolt
A semi or full automatic firearm is said to fire from an open bolt if, when ready to fire, the bolt and working parts are held to the rear. When the trigger is pulled the bolt goes forward, feeding a round from the magazine into the chamber and firing it...

, there are some unusual features: for example, the bolt
Bolt (firearm)
A bolt is a mechanical part of a firearm that blocks the rear of the chamber while the propellant burns.In manually-operated firearms, such as bolt-action, lever-action, and pump-action rifles and shotguns, the bolt is held fixed by its locking lugs during firing, forcing all the expanding gas...

 has helical
Helix
A helix is a type of smooth space curve, i.e. a curve in three-dimensional space. It has the property that the tangent line at any point makes a constant angle with a fixed line called the axis. Examples of helixes are coil springs and the handrails of spiral staircases. A "filled-in" helix – for...

 grooves cut into the surface to remove dirt and fouling from the inside of the receiver
Receiver (firearms)
In firearms terminology, the receiver is the part of a firearm that houses the operating parts. The receiver usually contains the bolt carrier group, trigger group, and magazine port. In most handguns, the receiver, or frame, holds the magazine well or rotary magazine as well as the trigger mechanism...

 to increase reliability. The Sterling uses a much-improved (over the Sten) 34-round curved double-column feed box magazine which is inserted into the left side of the receiver. The magazine follower, which pushes the cartridges into the feed port, is equipped with rollers to reduce friction and the firing pin is designed so that it does not line up with the primer
Percussion cap
The percussion cap, introduced around 1830, was the crucial invention that enabled muzzleloading firearms to fire reliably in any weather.Before this development, firearms used flintlock ignition systems which produced flint-on-steel sparks to ignite a pan of priming powder and thereby fire the...

 in the cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 until the cartridge has entered the chamber.

The suppressed
Suppressor
A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

 version of the Sterling (L34A1/Mk.5) was developed for covert operations. This version uses a ported barrel surrounded by a cylinder with expansion chambers to reduce the velocity of the bullet to prevent it from breaking the sound barrier and causing a sonic boom, along with decreasing muzzle blast and flash. This is so effective that the only sounds during firing are from the bolt reciprocating and the barely-audible explosive discharge.

The Sterling has a reputation for excellent reliability under adverse conditions and, allowing for the fact that it fires from an open bolt, good accuracy. While it has been reported that the weapon poses no problems for left-handed users to operate, it is not recommended without the wearing of ballistic eye protection. The path of the ejected cartridge cases is slightly down and backward, so mild burns can occasionally be incurred by left-handed shooters.

A bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

 of a similar design as that for the L1A1 SLR
FN FAL
The Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL is a self-loading, selective fire battle rifle produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal . During the Cold War it was adopted by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, with the notable exception of the United States...

 was produced and issued in British Army service, but was rarely employed except for ceremonial duties. Both bayonets were derived from the version issued with the Rifle No. 5 Mk I "Jungle Carbine"
Jungle Carbine
Jungle Carbine was an informal term used for the Rifle No. 5 Mk I which was a derivative of the British Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk I, designed not for jungle fighting but in response to a requirement for a "Shortened, Lightened" version of the No.4 rifle for airborne forces in the European theatre of...

, the main difference being a smaller ring on the SLR bayonet to fit the rifle's muzzle. When mounted, the Sterling bayonet was offset to the left of the weapon's vertical line which gave a more natural balance when used for bayonet-fighting.

For a right-handed shooter, the correct position for the left hand while firing is on the ventilated barrel-casing and not on the magazine, as the pressure from holding the magazine can increase the risk of stoppages, and a loose magazine can lead to dropping the weapon. The barrel-casing hold provides greater control of the weapon, so the right-hand can intermittently be used for other tasks. A semi-circular protrusion on the right hand side of the weapon, approximately two inches from the muzzle, serves to prevent the supporting hand from moving too far forward and over the muzzle.

The primary user complaint with the Sterling series is that there are projections in all directions, and carrying it on a sling frequently results in the weapon catching on clothing, load-bearing equipment, foliage, and doorways/hatches, as well as annoying (sometimes painful) poking of the user.

Manufacture

A total of over 400,000 were manufactured. Sterling built them for the British armed forces and for overseas sales, whilst the Royal Ordnance Factories at Fazakerley
ROF Fazakerley
ROF Fazakerley was a Royal Ordnance Factory rifle manufacturing plant in Fazakerley, Liverpool; which manufactured weapons such as the Sten and Sterling submachine guns and Lee-Enfield rifle during and after World War II....

 near Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 constructed them exclusively for the British military. ROF no longer makes full weapons but still manufactures spare parts for certified end users.

A Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

an variant was made by FAMAE
FAMAE
FAMAE is a Chilean government-owned weapons producer. Its products are used by the Chilean armed forces and the police. The company produces among others the FAMAE CT-30 carbine, FAMAE SAF submachine gun, FAMAE FD-200 sniper rifle, Cohete Rayo rocket launcher and FAMAE revolver...

 as the PAF submachine gun but was different externally as it had a shorter receiver lacking the barrel shroud.

Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 also manufactured a variant under licence, called the Submachine Gun 9 mm C1 made by Canadian Arsenals Limited. It replaced the later versions of the Sten submachine gun from 1953 onwards.

A similar weapon, the Sub-Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 1A1 is manufactured under license by the Indian Ordnance Factory at Kanpur, along with a Sub-Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 2A1 which is a copy of the L34A1 integrally-silenced version. At the beginning of the 21st century, these two weapons were still being manufactured by OFB and used by the Indian Armed Forces
Indian Armed Forces
The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. They consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force, supported by three paramilitary forces and various inter-service institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command.The President of India is...

.

Variants

  • British Army
    • Unassigned: Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1 (trials commenced in 1944)
    • Unassigned: Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1 & Folding Bayonet (same as above but with folding bayonet, never accepted)
    • L2A1: (Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 2) Adopted in 1953.
    • L2A2: (Sterling Mark 3) Adopted in 1955.
    • L2A3: (Sterling Mark 4) Adopted in 1956. Last regular version in service with the British Army.
    • L34A1: Suppressed
      Suppressor
      A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

       version (Sterling-Patchett Mark 5). Held in reserve by the British Army.
  • Sterling Mark 6 "Police": a semi-automatic-only closed-bolt version for police
    Police
    The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

     forces and private sales. A US export version had a longer barrel (16 inches) to comply with BATF regulations. Beginning in 2009, Century Arms International (CAI) began marketing a similar semi-auto only carbine manufactured by Wiselite Arms. These too have a 16" barrel. They are assembled using a mix of newly-made US parts, and parts from demilitarized Sterling Mark 4 parts kits. This is often marketed as the "Sterling Sporter".
  • Sterling Mark 7 "Para-pistol": Special machine pistol variant issued to commando and plainclothes intelligence units. It had a shortened 4" / 108mm barrel, fixed vertical foregrip, and weighed 4.84 lbs. / 2.2 kg. If used with a short 10- or 15-round magazine, it could be stowed in a special holster. It also could be used as a Close Quarters Battle weapon with the addition of an optional solid stock.
  • Canadian Army
    • C1 Submachine Gun: Adopted in 1958, replacing the STEN gun in general service. It is different from the British L2 in that it made extensive use of stamped metal rather the more expensive castings used by British production SMGs. It also had a removable trigger guard (for use with gloves in Arctic operations) as a standard option and used a new 30-round magazine.
  • Indian Army
    • SAF Carbine 1A: Indian made Sterling L2A1.
    • SAF Carbine 2A1: Sterling Mark V silenced carbine.

7.62 NATO Variant

Main Article
Sterling 7.62
The Sterling 7.62 was a Battle rifle/Light machine gun variant of the Sterling submachine gun which was manufactured in the 7.62x51mm NATO calibre. It used lever-delayed blowback to handle the more powerful rounds and was fed from 30 round Bren magazines as well as 20 round magazines from L1A1 SLR's...



A variant of the Sterling submachine gun was manufactured in the 7.62x51mm NATO calibre. It used lever-delayed blowback to handle the more powerful rounds and was fed from 30 round Bren magazines. A bipod and detachable fixed stock could be added as well as a Single Point IR/Trilux nightsight. To prevent ammunition cookoff, the weapon fired from an open bolt. Acting as the Besal
Besal
The Besal was a light machine gun of British origin. The weapon was intended as a backup for the Bren gun as it was lighter, simpler, cheaper, and easier to manufacture, but was eventually deemed unnecessary.-References:*...

 LMG of World War II, the 7.62 NATO calibre Sterling was intended as an emergency standby weapon in case of attack during the Cold War.

Users

Mk 4 variant.: Mk 4 variant.: Mk 4 variant.: Mk 4 variant.: Mk 4 variant.: Produced as the C1.: Currently manufactured by the Indian Ordnance Factories. It is sold as the Sub Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 1A1. A silenced version is also available which sold under the label of Sub Machine Gun Carbine 9 mm 2A1.: Mk 4 variant.: Used by the Jamaica Defence Force
Jamaica Defence Force
The Jamaica Defence Force is the combined military forces of Jamaica, consisting of an Army, Air Wing and Coast Guard. The JDF is based upon the British military model with organisation, training, weapons and traditions closely aligned with Commonwealth Realm countries...

 as a personal defense weapon for auxiliary units.: L34 variant.: L34A1s used by Naval Special Warfare Group.: UOE
Unidad de Operaciones Especiales
The Unidad de Operaciones Especiales was the elite special operations force of the Spanish Navy and Marines from 1967 to 2009. In June 2009, the unit was absorbed into the newly formed Naval Special Warfare Force...

 special group of the Spanish Navy
Spanish Navy
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...

.: L2A1 variant was accepted by the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 in 1953. L34A1 variant entered service in 1966.

See also

  • List of submachine guns
  • F1 submachine gun
    F1 submachine gun
    The 9 mm F1 was a standard Australian submachine gun manufactured by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. First issued to Australian troops in July 1963, it replaced the Owen machine carbine. The F1 was retired in the early 1990s and replaced by the F88C Austeyr, an Australian-built version of the...

  • CETME C2 submachine gun
    CETME C2 submachine gun
    The CETME C2 is a submachine gun based on the Sterling L2A3. It is a blowback operated weapon and fires the 9x23mm Largo round.-External links:* *...

  • Sten submachine gun
    Sten
    The STEN was a family of British 9 mm submachine guns used extensively by British and Commonwealth forces throughout World War II and the Korean War...

  • Lanchester submachine gun
  • Cobray Terminator
    Cobray Terminator
    The Cobray Terminator was a blow-forward, slam fire operated single-shot shotgun, similar in appearance to the Sterling L2A3 submachine gun chambered in 12 and 20-gauges....

  • E-11 blaster rifle

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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