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9mm Sten Machine Carbines with Photos and Manuals

Blowback-operated, the 32-round British Sten fires from an open bolt which remains to the rear on being cocked, and has a fixed firing pin on its face. Pulling the trigger releases the mainspring to drive the bolt forward, strip a round from the magazine, chamber and fire it with one motion. Having no breech locking mechanism, bolt recoil is stopped only by the spring and inertia.

Using simple stamped components the Sten provided small units the volume of fire needed after Dunkirk, helped Jewish partisans establish the state of Israel after WWII, and was used by China's Guerilla Army when they first intervened in Korea. Cheap and plentiful, the faster cooling Mark II was very effective at close range in desert conditions if chamber and magazines were kept clean.


Manual: Sten 9mm machine carbines, 1942: Mk I; Mk II; Mk III

TM9-2200 (html): Technical Manual for WWII Small Arms


Sten Submachine Gun

Machine Carbine, 9mm Sten, Mark I shown above Mark II

Sten Submachine Gun

Sten Mark V, without and with the controversial wooden butt.
Each weapon in the series represented minor changes from the basic design.

Overview of Principle Weapons used in Korean War

Operation: Selective Fire, Blowback
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Length: 30 in ( 762 mm)
Weight (unloaded): 6 lb 8 oz(2.95 kg)
Barrel: 7.75 in (196 mm), 2 or 6 grooves, right-hand twist
Magazine: 32 round detachable box
Ammunition: 9mm Parabellum, bullet 115 gr, charge 6 gr
Rate of Fire: 550rpm
Muzzle Velocity: 1250 fps
American Prisoners

I've linked one Chinese propaganda photo showing American prisoners, captured in North Korea when the CCF first struck our over-extended forces. One of the CCF soldiers, shown in this thumbnail, was covering the prisoners with a Sten Mark II. The submachine gunner has spare magazines in a carrying pouch hooked to his webbing. In the full photo the rifleman has their standard stick grenade carrier.



The United States entered the Korean War with virtually no knowledge of the enemy's military capabilities. First we found ourselves facing a North Korea armed with Soviet infantry weapons, tanks warplanes and artillery. Then we were precipitated into a desperate struggle with a China armed with virtually every kind of weapon manufactured until that time.

Among the more favored British weapons used by the Chinese Communists was the Sten Submachine Gun, the first example of a new breed of cheap and simple full-auto infantry weapons that came to be adopted by many of the world's armies. First produced in June, 1941. It was designed by Vernon "S"heppherd and Harold John "T"urpin and developed at "En"field, the government arsenal. Total production of the Sten in various marks, from mid 1941 to late 1945, was 3,750,000.

The Sten Mark II was simplicity itself, being easily dismantled into its component parts. The mechanism was little more than a bolt and spring with the most basic trigger and fire selector equipment. Sights were fixed for 100 yds and could not be adjusted for zero. The magazine held 32 rounds, but was generally loaded with 30 to minimize strain on the magazine spring and hence reduce jams, and had to be filled with a special filler. The horizontal magazine permitted controlled firing while completely prone. Georg Luger originally developed the 9mm Parabellum cartridge in 1902. The cartridge case is rimmed with a slight taper from rim to mouth which enhances feed reliability, but the Sten was notorious for jamming, as well as firing accidentally when bumped, especially when dropped. Jamming was reduced somewhat by loading the magazines with the successive rims alternately "over and under."


Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation

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