The Sten Gun Was No Junker

I recently saw a movie in which British commandos in World War II were equipped with Sten guns and others in which it saw use by members of the Czech underground who assassinated Reinhardt Heidrich. I think it looked cheap and nasty as well as awkward, yet I believe it was well thought of. Did Aussie troops use it the Sten? Was it made in Australia as well as England?
– Leonard Poole

Well cheap is right as the Sten – simple, rugged and effective, cost less than $8 to make during World War II. But nasty? Don’t let the guys who used it ever hear you call it that; they simply loved it; one soldier of fortune calling it the “Best damn lead spreader” he’d ever used. The Sten Mk IIS, silencer-equipped version saw long service with the British Army’s Special Forces through a number of conflicts – Malaya, Ireland, Korea and Vietnam. British commandoes used silenced Stens when they raided Dieppe in 1942. All told,there were five different versions of the Sten and the Germans made several imitation models of the Sten during World War II. The Sten MkII was 30.3 inches long, weighed 8.9 lbs, had a side-saddle magazine, and a firing rate of 600 rounds per minute. Effective range was claimed to be 200 yards. Stens were made in various plants in England including BSA, and factories in Canada and Australia turned out enormous quantities of these cheap submachineguns. The Americans tested it as a possible replacement for the Thompson, but chose the M3 “grease gun” instead. The Sten may have looked like a pretty rough piece of plumbing, but it was made to do hard work, a role it fulfilled exceedingly well.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.