By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the British produced Sterling submachine gun.
This very-well regarded weapon was an upgrade from the earlier Lanchester SMG, which was itself an improvement on the WWII Sten gun. In 1947 the British government began a serious attempt to get something better (more reliable) than the crude Sten gun.
One of the chief problems with the earlier designs was the double-column, single feed magazine. The newer Sterling uses a double-column, double feed magazine which was much less prone to jamming. It was approved in 1951 and deliveries began in 1953.
The Sterling uses an open bolt for better cooling, and a fixed firing pin. This is commonly referred to as a slam-fire gun as the bolt strips the round from the magazine, shoves it into the chamber and then fires it. Once the bolt has begun to move forward the gun will fire, unlike a hammer-fired or striker-fired gun.
The butt stock is a fold over, stamped sheet metal frame. All operations of the weapon can be completed with the right hand on the grip. It was available with either a ten, fifteen or thirty-four round magazine. The shorter ones were often issued to tank crews as the long ones were difficult to maneuver with in tight quarters.
They were produced in several variations. One of them, the suppressed L34A1, is still in use. Another version, that fired from a closed bolt and was semi-automatic, was built for police and civilian use. It saw limited distribution in the U. S.
A version was produced in Canada for their military and police and is similar, though not identical, to the British production. A version was produced under license at the Indian Ordnance Factory in Khanphur, and may still be in production there.
A closed-bolt semi-auto version was made by Wise Lite Arms in Texas using a combination of British surplus and new American parts.
The gun was used by almost 100 countries and proved to be more reliable than either the Uzi or the MP-5 in field use. It is also considered to be rather accurate (for an open-bolt gun),
Editor's Note: I was involved in a search warrant several years ago that turned up an original Sterling Submachine Gun. It was in pristine condition.