History of the Sterling Submachine Gun (L2A1)

Submachine guns were developed as early as World War I, but it was not until World War II that the British STEN, the American M1" Thompson, the Italian Beretta M38, the German MP38 and the Soviet PPSh-41 were Made a name for itself. For the British, the cheap but effective STEN turned out to be a material hero, hastily developed and put into service in 1941 due to the pressing needs of the times - so over 4.6 million production sources And dozens of users around the world were able to confirm its simplicity and robustness. The weapon is loaded with a German 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge and is fired by recoil from an open recoil.

Unique to this type by its side-mounted 32-cartridge Identify straight magazines and raw metal stocks.

By 1944, with the Allies gaining a foothold in the fighting in World War II, British authorities launched a new submachine gun initiative. This type will retain the STEN's 9mm chamber and have a similarly compact shape, while providing enough weight to serve as an accurate platform between the short and medium engagement ranges required.

A template from the Dagenham Stirling Armament Company - attributed to their chief designer George William Pachter and dubbed the "Pachter Machine Carbine" - caught the attention of the British authorities and Order it to be evaluated. It eventually became known by its more familiar generic name "Sterling Submachine Gun", although it was officially listed as "Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1" in British nomenclature.

Although very similar to the earlier STEN, Sterling is its own design. It used a tubular body that contained the action and feed and iron sights (rear flip, front adjustable). The barrel is wrapped in a perforated sleeve to help dissipate heat while also serving as a frontal heat shield.

A curved magazine was inserted into the left port in the center of the receiver. Beneath the design is a sloping pistol grip with a ring trigger unit, also near the center. The tail is covered by a folded skeletal metal stock hinged on its two link arms to fold under the receiver for a more compact travel form.

The weapon is fed from a 34-round magazine, fires 550 rounds per minute and has an effective range of 220 yards. The action is recoil, just like the STEN, and the construction is mostly steel with some plastic. While the magazine is clearly being used as a forward stop, it has been suggested that the operator should hold the weapon along the barrel cap to reduce the chance of interruption by putting unnecessary pressure on the magazine and therefore potentially interfering with the feeding mechanism .

Once the design and development was complete, early batches were sent to some special forces who could well use the new compact firearm. The British Airborne Forces at Arnhem became one of Sterling's most famous early combatants and proved their effectiveness in bloody combat during the Battle of "Bridge Too Far" - General Montgomery ended before Christmas 1944 The general plan of the war.

In practice, the sterling's good track record on the battlefield solidified their position in the post-war market. Although the well-known STEN had established itself, from 1951 the British pound was introduced as a replacement, with the post-war designation "Submachine Gun L2A1" (previously known as "Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 2"). The Sterling Mark 3 became the 1955 L2A2 and the Sterling Mark 4 became the 1956 L2A3 - which became the final production form of Sterling adopted by the British Army. The L34A1 is a special suppression variant with a fully enclosed barrel and muzzle that cancels out the bullet noise (clearly recognizable as an audible "crack").

In fact, the silenced L34A1 is said to only produce the sound of moving bolts during firing, which is the efficiency of the integrated silencer. Issued to Special Forces Command, the L34A1 has proven useful in covert operations where compactness and quietness are key qualities. Another variant, the semi-automatic-only Sterling Mark 6, was issued primarily to police forces.

The Sterling Mark 7 is a shortened variant used to increase the portability of special military units.

Like the STEN before it, the Sterling proved to be a popular submachine gun design around the world. Operators include Argentina, Canada (as C1), India (as SAF Carbine 1A/2A1), Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Zimbabwe (among others); See the Variations section below for a full list). India still produces sterling (regular and pressed form) through its Indian Ordnance Factory.

Chile used to produce pounds under its FAMAE brand, while the Royal Armouries (Fazakerley), due to strict requirements, produced pounds only for the British army. Local Canadian pounds are made under the Canadian Arsenals Limited brand label.

Gun companies responded when NATO officially adopted the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge as their standard rifle cartridge, and Sterling was one such product that was translated into firepower. This 7.62mm variant has its internals modified to use a lever-delayed recoil method, as the new cartridge itself carries a higher load than the smaller 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridges previously used.

Of course, changing the caliber also required a change to the magazine structure, allowing the 7.62mm Sterling to be used with a 30-round BREN-style detachable magazine for the LMG, rather than the original 32-round curved/STEN submachine gun version.

The L2A3 variant remained in service until 1990, when it was officially replaced by the new 5.56mm L85A1 assault rifle of the British Armed Forces. During its tenure, the L2 served the British Army well, becoming a reliable weapon in the most difficult operating conditions.

This is largely due to their fairly simple, no-frills design approach and robust construction, which made them more expensive than their contemporaries and allowed the weapons to last so long.

The L2A3 is 27 inches long (extended at the rear) and can be folded into a more manageable 19" shape with hip folds. It weighs approximately 2.7 kg and has a barrel length of 7.75 inches. Muzzle velocity is rated at 1,250 feet per second.

The suppressed L34A1 measures 34 inches in length, folded into a 26-inch form. The weight is 3.6 kg and the barrel length is 7.8 inches. While the gun still had a rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute, it had a lower muzzle velocity of 970 feet per second.

The L34A1 gained notoriety during Sterling's service - it was well used by Australian and New Zealand special forces during the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and - ironically - during the Falklands War (1982). ) on both sides of the conflict - Argentina and Great Britain.

A total of around ?400,000 was produced. In pop culture, Star Wars fans will note that it was the Stirling submachine gun that formed the basic form of the stormtrooper laser blaster.

These similarities are apparent to a trained eye, given the blaster's general shape, length, and center pistol grip and trigger assembly.

Stirling Submachine Gun (L2A1) Specification


- Stealth

- Close Combat (CQB) / Personal Protection


Total length:

686 mm (27.01 in)

Run Length:

196 mm (7.72 in)

Weight (not loaded):

2.70 kg






Rate of fire:

550 rounds per minute


Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 1 - Trial version; the other model is equipped with a folding bayonet.

L2A1 - Patchett Machine Carbine Mark 2, entered service in 1953.

L2A2 (Sterling Mark 3) - introduced in 1955

L2A3 (Sterling Mark 4) - introduced in 1956

L34A1 (Sterling-Patchett Mark 5) - Suppression variant of the British Army.

Sterling Mark 6 "Police" - Police variant; only semi-automatic fire; locking bolt.

Sterling Mark 7 "Para-Pistol" - Commando and Undercover unit variant; shortened 108mm barrel; lighter design; fixed vertical foregrip; optional solid material.

C1 SMG - Canadian Army Variant accepted in 1958; stamped metal construction; revised trigger guard for gloved hands; new 30-round magazine.

SAF Cabine 1A - Indian-produced Sterling L2A1 model.

SAF Carbine 2A1 - Indian-produced Sterling Mark V silenced.

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