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Sterling L2A1 / L2A3 / L34A1 / Mk.7

Sterling L2A3

Other Pictures:
Sterling L2A3

Sterling L34A1 - silenced version, with magazine removed

Sterling Mk.7 "Para" - shortened version, with shorter magazine

(MANUAL) Sterling SMG Mk4 Manual (.pdf)


The Sterling submachine gun is a British submachine gun which was in service with the British Army from 1953 until 1988 when it was phased out with the introduction of the L85A1 SA80 assault rifle.

In 1944 the British General Staff issued a specification which any new machine gun should conform to. To meet the new requirement, Mr G. W. Patchett, the chief designer at the Sterling Armament Company of Dagenham submitted a model. The army ordered 120 examples for trials, and a few were used by airborne troops at Arnhem and elsewhere where it was known as the Patchett submachine gun. After the war, with large numbers of Sten guns in the inventory there was little interest in replacing them. However in 1947 a competitive trial between the Patchett, an Enfield design, a new BSA and an experimental Australian design with the Sten for comparison was held. The trial was inconclusive but was followed by further development and more trials. Eventually the Patchett design won and the decision was made in 1951 for the the British Army to adopt it. It started to replace the Sten in 1953 as the Sub-Machine Gun L2A1.

A total of over 400,000 were manufactured. Sterling built them for the British armed forces and for overseas sales, whilst the Royal Ordnance Factories plant at Fazakerley (near Liverpool) constructed them exclusively for the the British military. A Canadian version was also manufactured under licence, called the Submachine Gun 9 mm C1. It replaced the later versions of the Sten submachine gun from 1953 onwards. A similar weapon, the Sub-Machine Gun Carbine 9mm 1A1 was manufactured under license by the Indian Ordnance Factories at Kanpur.

About 90 countries purchased various quantities of the gun, including Ghana, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Tunisia and some Persian Gulf states.

It is constructed entirely of steel and plastic and has a folding butt which folds up underneath the weapon. Although of conventional blowback design, there are some unusual features, for example the bolt has sharp grooves around it which cut away dirt in the receiver and help to keep it clean. The magazine follower, which pushes the cartridges into the feed port is equipped with rollers to reduce friction and the firing pin is arranged so that it does not line up with the percussion cap on the cartridge until the cartridge has entered the chamber.

Submachine Gun

9 x 19 mm Luger/Parabellum

(Loaded/Unloaded) 3.5 / 2.7 kg

(stock closed/open): 481 / 686 mm

198 mm

6 grooves, rh

Magazine Capacity:
34 rounds

In Production:

Rate of fire:
550 RPM

Effective range:
200 meters


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