Rate of Fire: 500-600 rounds/minute
Effective Range: 100yds
Feed System: 32 round Magazine
Action: Gas operated blowback, open bolt
Calibre: 9mm Parabellum
The Sten Gun was introduced in 1941 and takes its name from its principal designers and the factory in which it was made. It was designed and produced in order to meet a requirement in the British Armed Forces for a submachine gun, identified in the campaigns in Northern France and the Low Countries in 1940 and the subsequent actions in North Africa and elsewhere. Although the Thompson Submachine Gun had been purchased in large quantities from the United States, small quantities even used in France in 1940, there was not sufficient supply to meet the British and Empire/Commonwealth demand.
Similar in many ways to the Lanchester in use with the Royal Navy, the Sten had something of a more rugged and purposeful finish, the efficiencies of wartime necessitating that it was not manufactured to the same standard as the Senior Service's pre-War weapon.
There were 6 marks of the weapon (the one shown above the common Mk II), generally designed to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process, though the first and final marks were of a more refined nature than those in between. Indeed, the Mk III was said to have been produced in just 5 hours. The basic nature of the design meant that the weapons could be produced in small machine shops throughout the UK, with the constituent parts shipped centrally to the Royal Enfield Factory for the final assembly process.
Their use in the British Army was largely restricted to Officers, NCOs and other specialist trades. This was due, in part, to the combined factors of their reduced accuracy and range as well as the need to conserve ammunition, the weapons being given only to those who could be trusted to use them responsibly.
A somewhat temperamental weapon, the Sten was prone to issues such as rounds becoming jammed in the chamber whilst the magazine feed was also a well-known issue. Contrary to many photographs of re-enactors and shots from films, the magazine was not usually used as a handle by which to hold the weapon when firing - the magazine feed was known to be unreliable and the pressure applied by the hand to the magazine when used in this manner could cause the magazine to shift and the rounds to fail to chamber correctly. Accounts also exist of the weapons firing when dropped or when laid down whilst cocked, the trigger untouched, the movement of the weapon causing the seer to slip.
Despite its shortcomings, the Sten remained a popular weapon, used to equip British and Commonwealth forces, with millions produced. It was cheap to manufacture and easy to maintain, with many thousands more smuggled to Resistance fighters within occupied Europe.