Sterling submachine gun

The Sterling submachine gun is a British submachine gun. It was trialled with the British Army in 1944–1945 as a replacement for the Sten, but it did not start to replace it until 1953. It remained in use until 1994, when it was phased out at the end of the phase-in period of the L85A1 assault rifle.

Sterling submachine gun
Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer Sterling Armaments Company
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1944
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Egypt 1956 1956 View
Egypt 1963 1967 View
Iraq 1990 1991 View
Ireland 1968 1998 View
Malaysia 1963 1966 View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1939 1945 View
Vietnam 1955 1975 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Sterling Armaments Company 1944 400000 View

In 1944, the British General Staff issued a specification for a new submachine gun. It stated that the weapon should weigh no more than six pounds (2.7 kg), should fire 9×19mm Parabellum ammunition, have a rate of fire of no more than 500 rounds per minute and be sufficiently accurate to allow five consecutive shots (fired in semi-automatic mode) to be placed inside a one-foot-square target at a distance of 100 yd (91 m).

To meet the new requirement, George William Patchett, the chief designer at the Sterling Armaments Company of Dagenham, submitted a sample weapon of new design in early 1944. The first Patchett prototype gun was similar to the Sten insofar as its cocking handle (and the slot it moved back and forth in) was placed in line of sight with the ejection port, though it was redesigned soon afterwards and moved up to a slightly offset position. The army quickly recognised the Patchett's potential (i.e. significantly increased accuracy and reliability when compared to the Sten) and ordered 120 examples for trials. Towards the end of the Second World War, some of these trial samples were used in combat by airborne troops during the battle of Arnhem and at other locations in Northern Europe where it was officially known as the Patchett Machine Carbine Mk 1. For example, a Patchett submachine gun (serial numbered 078 and now held by the Imperial War Museum), was carried in action by Colonel Robert W.P. Dawson while he was Commanding Officer of No. 4 Commando, during the attack on Walcheren as part of Operation Infatuate in November 1944. Because the Patchett/Sterling can use straight Sten submachine gun magazines as well as the curved Sterling design, there were no interoperability problems.

Type Submachine gun
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1944–Present
Used by Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Kenya, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Wars World War II

Suez Crisis

Aden Emergency

Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation

Cold War

Vietnam War

Falklands War

Northern Ireland

Gulf War (final batch)
Production history
Designer George William Patchett
Designed 1944
Manufacturer Sterling Armaments Company
Number built 4,00,000
Weight 2.7 kilograms (6.0 lb)
Length 686 millimetres (27.0 in)

Folded stock: 481 millimetres (18.9 in)
Barrel length 196 millimetres (7.7 in)
Cartridge 9×19mm Parabellum

7.62×51mm NATO (Battle Rifle variant)
Action Blowback and Lever-delayed blowback (Battle Rifle variant)
Rate of fire 550 round/min
Effective firing range 200 metres (220 yd)

Suppressed: 50–100 metres (55–109 yd)
Feed system 34-round box magazine
Sights Iron sights

End notes