British STEN Gun

[su_heading size=”30″]A Classic Machinegun from WWII[/su_heading]

This classic piece of weaponry shoots from the open bolt position with the capability of sending rounds down range on semi and fully automatic. If you’re not familiar with the STEN gun history, here’s the short scoop on it.

During WWII, the British needed a submachine gun similar to the U.S. Thompson machine gun, which they were buying from the U.S. But due to the demands because of great hardware loss. The British had to come up with a solution.

British Royal Arms factory came up with the STEN gun which was an easy design, easy to operate and quickly manufactured in huge quantity greatly helping the fight in WWII.

If you haven’t shot one, have a look at Hickok45 shooting it and taking it apart. This piece of weaponry is easy to operate from shooting to disassembling.

[su_heading size=”30″]Video Transcription[/su_heading]

Hey, Hickok45 here, got some World-War 2 vintage stuff on the table. Hardware, 1911 and a thompson sub machine gun. I believe this one was carried through France and Germany, by two or three different soldiers in World War 2. Took good care of it, didn’t they? Look at that. Beautiful gun, beautiful gun. Haha, actually this is an Auto Ordinance, it’s not an original World War 2 Thompson, but it’s a nice one, isn’t it? Not nearly as pretty as this gun, though.

STEN gun, the British STEN. Beautiful gun, huh? Lookit that wood, look at that walnut grain, is that gorgeous or what? [laughing] Now this is about the British STEN and uh, this is an interesting firearm. We’re gonna take some shots with it, it will fire in semiauto or fully-auto. So. It’s a 9mm. Let’s see if it works, how’s that? I’ll put my ears on, whether it’s shooting fast or shooting slow, it will be loud. So, let’s do that. We have it on the fun switch right now, so let’s just play a little bit! Take a couple of shots at… Hey I see some clay pots! Wonder if I can hit those.

[Auto fire] [laughter]

[Auto fire] [laughter]
Sweet, sweet.

Aw is it empty already? Lookit that! That’s the problem with full-auto, let me grab this other magazine here. Haha. Oh man, I’m gonna take a couple more shots. Pull the bolt back. Alright. We’re in full-auto mode, let’s try a burst here on that propane tank.

[Firing] [laughter]

Even though it’s full auto, you can get by with two or three shots if you want to, or you can get more out!

[much more fire]
[laughter] tried to get away from me!

Okay. oop, slipped the handle off, here somewhere. Let’s go, there we go. pretty cool, pretty cool. So, she’s empty. That is an interesting gun. You might have seen it verses a 55-gallon drum already, and so far we’ve had no issues with it. I think I might’ve pushed the button there on that stock, I don’t know. Very very interesting firearm with, of course, interesting history, because you know it’s all-auto action in world war 2, and even in Korea. Let’s take it over here, maybe we can take it apart and show you a little bit about it. I mean, it’s simple enough to blow up something with one, but I’d like to give you a little bit of information. I’m not an expert on these, but uh, pretty interesting.

The British were buying Thompsons-speaking of Thompsons- from us, and of course we entered the war, and the demand was great for those, and then from what I have read, the allies, the British lost a lot of allies, a lot of hardware. Small arms, large arms, and everything at dunkirk, and it just really hard-pressed needed firearms.

And they commissioned the Royal Arms factory over there to come up with something, and to more or less duplicate or replace the Thompson, and this is what they came up with. They needed something simple, something quick to produce, that would work, that’s functional. And the STEN pretty much served that perpose [laughter]. I was just joking, it’s really not that pretty- In a way, it’s a functional –you could consider it pretty, I guess– let’s let you take a look at how it works here.

So you push this button, and you slide the stock down -and that’s what happened over there a minute ago, I don’t know what went on with that- oh and then uh -we are clear, of course- If the bolt is forward, guess what. It’s [laughter] it’s going to probably be empty, because it fires from an open bolt, if you noticed, mkay. So it’s a different design, if you’ve never fired from open bolt. Even if I fired it semi-automatic, when I pull the trigger it shoots from right here, it fires from that configuration, the bolt’s gotta fall forward. So let’s releast the bolt, and let’s take the back out. You just take the handle off, you turn that about a quarter turn, take the spring out with this little cup and everything. How’s that for pretty cool?
And bring the bolt back, pull out on it -the bolt handle- and bring it back here, and you pull that out, right there, it’s a certain spot, just like the Scar 17. In fact, this gun is a lot like the Scar 17, isn’t it? Was that funny, or was that not funny? I told you I’m gonna be a comedian when I get old. Uh, and that’s the bolt. It only weighs about probably 40 pounds, that’s an incredible bolt, but it’s a blowback gun, you know, there’s no fancy gas systems or anything, and uh, that’s just a heavy bolt. As long as it’ll knock the bolt back, that’s all you need. And you can see right through there, it’s just a piece of tubing, with a barrel attached to it. I mean, John and I have made these in the barn several times. -No, just kidding, just kidding! Do not call the ATF, we would not do that.- But it does look like something you could almost put together in your garage. You know, like Steven Jobs could do, probably. If he hadn’t wasted his time making computers, he could’ve been coming up with one of these. See, it’s just really simple, let’s take this off the barrel, let’s see, this has to be down, you pull that out, move that around, take off the barrel shroud? D’you reckon it’s a barrel shroud? There we go. And there’s your barrel. Reminds me of an Uzi in that sense, the way it works, and I got the bolt out– y’know, there’s not much to it. It really doesn’t– it’s similar to the American Grease Gun, isn’t it? Really looks like a Grease Gun. Put a tube in it, take it to home depot, and there you are. You’re ready to go.

Just simple to manufacture, just stamped, with welds here and there, totally different from the Thompson. So they were able to produce quiite a few of these. I think around four million throughout the war. Then the germans later made something similar. So, lots of variations of it, and some of you know more about it than I do, but it is an interesting, interesting gun.

Now let’s put it back together, put the barrel back in, and the shroud back on there. You see these in the movies, don’t you? That’s what’s neat about things like this, this is actually a firearm that was used. And you can, they’re not cheap. We’re appreciative of Eric from NC Silencer, happened to be in the neighborhood again! He just drives by here every now and then, and he’ll have a truckload of firearms sometimes, so we’re glad he gets lost and ends up here. Of course, he has licenses for all this stuff, and we’re able to shoot it, so it’s pretty cool! Pretty cool. There we go. So that’s ready, I’m gonna put it forward, the bolt. Put the mainspring back in there. Always good to have that. And put the cap on. Really simple design. Don’t you just love something that’s simple and works? At least it seems to work. Stock back on. Isn’t that a beautiful stock? [laughs] Needs a walnut insert, doesn’t it?

And there you have it. Turn this back around. Ooh. You have to fire it from that position. Now I’m not putting –put my magazines back, that were magically reloaded somehow– magazines are gonna be loaded from the side, I’m not doing that just to look cool. Oh man. How’s that. That’s the way it operates, even though this spins around, that’s just for storage. Pull out on that -really tough to do- hat’s just for storing the gun. Doesn’t really– you cannot get the magazine up in there for enough, it just won’t work that way. So, not trying to be cool, it actually needs to fire from right there. One of these magazines is a little bit stiff, sticks a little more than the other one does.

Ok now the safety, in case you were gonna buy one of these at walmart or something, you need to know a little bit about it. Pull out the bolt, like I’ve done it before, just forgot myself there. Then you lock that in. That’s a pretty good safe, you can see, it’s pushed into there by the mainspring. So when you push the magazine in, you’ve got the rounds there, vicious looking rounds there and everything, ready to go, but pulling the trigger will not do anything. I’ll show you.


See, it will do no good. That’s not gonna fire. But that’s really the only safety that I can see on this thing. So you just gotta keep the bolt locked back. Alright, Pretty interesting gun, let’s take a few more shots with it, and… I know what to do! Since it does work semi-automatic as well, let’s put it on semiautomatic, we’ll take a couple shots with it, see if we can hit anything.

Now you’ll notice, see, again, though it’s semi-automatic, the bolt– bolt’s gotta fall, pick up the cartredge, and then fire it. [laughter] So all that has to happen when I pull the trigger. Alright, so, I’m not sure this’ll be a great four-hundred-yard precision rifle. Let’s uh, let’s try the gong. I believe I determined I need to shoot a little bit low. [FIRE, RING] There we go! Hit the gong! [Firing] and again! [firing] [laughter] let’s try those pigs over there. [firing] Alright. [more firing] alright! [firing] [laughter] Oh boy. Oh, I’ll really get brave, try the red plate. [firing] [laughter] So it will fire that way! In fact I’ll try a twelve-ouncer here. [muttering, firing] There we go. [more firing] [laughter] Let’s put it on full-auto. Ok. [sigh] Oh I know what I was gonna do! We’ve got a paper target here, we gotta get started putting those back on Ebay for some project after the Wounded Warriors fiasco, we kinda got away from doing that, so let’s just put some STEN rounds on that target! [Firing rapidly]

There you go! Alright! We’ll sign that dude, and you’ll see it on eBay! Oh, I’m out of ammunition! Let’s see if we have another magazine over here on the table. I should’ve had that in my tactical magpouch but I neglected to do it. So we’re still on full-auto, notice we’re on safe, that’s our safe, it’s a pretty good safe, it’s easy to see and it works. Let’s try this two-liter here, and the drum behind it. [Rapid fire] I’ll shoot another two-liter. [More rapid fire] [laughter] Uh-oh, I’m outta ammo. [Pistol shot] Ok. That’s why you carry a sidearm, ‘cuz you always want to be prepared. You never know, do ‘ya? So that is pretty neat. That is interesting. Again, the simplicity of it. Look at that, you know? Just that big ‘ol spring, looks like something you pick up at Wal-mart, doesn’t it? Just a big ‘ol spring, heavy bolt, and a tube of steel. With your welding holding it together. I wonder how long it took to make one of these things. They probably had it down to a science where it was– who knows? Just a couple hours, I don’t know. But they turned out a lot of them. Again, I think it was about four million. You know, when it comes to war, you’re in battle, chips are down, you need the firearms, the most important thing is that you have something that works. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s ugly, whether it has beautiful walnut or not, look at that front sight. I mean is that class or what? That’s something you think you could buy at Brownells to put on your 1911 or put on one of your other custom guns? [laughter] Man, that’s cool.

Hey, didn’t even know that magazine appeared over here. Well let’s take some more shots! What have we not shot? Oh we’ve got a few things that need working over, I think. I tell ‘ya I wouldn’t mind having one of these. Not bad– oop, you know what, I didn’t have– I should’ve had that bolt right there when I put the mag in. You watch me now, I mean my finger’s not on the trigger, but you wanna be plenty safe, here. Now we’re figing, just so you know, this is not special world-war-two ammo or anything, we’re firing a mixture of some of this, some Aguila and Winchester white box, we just discover that anything we put in this thing seems to work. It’s, I think it’s all been fifteen-grain ammo, but it seems to work. So uh, there’s apparently no need for any specialized ammo. Mkay. At least in this one. So. Who do I wanna shoot? I think I wanna just go down here and– let’s go ahead and shoot this watermelon. He needs to be shot. He really does. [rapid fire] [laughter] Mowed him down! Let’s go over here after these 12oz-ers here, I’m really not even gonna use the sights, just [rapid fire] maybe I should. [click] [laughter] Should use the sights. That’s the only problem with full-auto, got one round there– oh, we’ve got a couple more rounds! Definitely runs out early if you don’t get all your rounds fired. So let’s try that 2-liter down there, sitting on the stake. [Firing] There we go. Alright.

Now for those of you who have not fired a full-auto anything, it is fun, and of course holding it in one place even with nine-milimeter is not extremely easy. But by and large, a firearm like this, firing nine-milimeter, it’s not that hard to maintain. This has a cycle rate of about five-hundred rounds per minute. Now that doesn’t mean you can fire it for a full minute unless you have a magazine that’s about as long as from here to the gong. But that’s just how it’s rated on the rate of fire. If you had a magazine that long, you would get five-hundred rounds per minute. That’s relatively slow, you notice it said ‘poppoppoppoppop’, which makes it fun actually. There are other firearms that fire on full-auto that can crank ’em out twice that fast or more. And very difficult to hold on target, even at 9mm, so don’t make fun of the slow rate of fire of a firearm like this, there are some that are even slower, because it really does enhance your ability to keep it on target, and it makes it more fun, honestly. Alright, so, we’ve got a few more targets right here that are desperate to be shot! And we’ll keep it on full-auto. I mean, we have to, don’t we.

Alright. We’ll get that two-liter and the cowboy and the pizza-pan! Anything that’s in the way! [firing] Ha! Shot the target over. I know what to do with the last rounds in this mag, let’s see– I’m gonna put ’em on that tombstone, let’s see if I can hold ’em on there, on the tombstone. [rapid fire] Ok! I think most of them did, honestly, I was actually using the sight a little bit.

So. British STEN gun. Pretty cool gun, you would call it ugly, probably, I– maybe? But the thing has functioned. We’ve had really no major errors with it, couple of things, maybe, I’m not sure, maybe I did something, but by and large the thing has worked, and I don’t know if you have one or you know a lot about them, if there are any other peculiarities that you notice with your friends or people that have them, but they seem to be pretty functional, and operate pretty well.

Tell you what, that’s the kind of thing you could carry around, and you could take the stock off, put it in your pouch, couldn’t you? Not a lot of trouble. And there you’ve got a select-fire 9mm. Pretty cool, pretty cool. Kinda like the grey finish and everything. S’nice. So, British STEN. Saw extensive use in WWII and even in Korea, and at the Hickok compound, actually, today, right? So uh, glad you all could come on out, and have some fun with me and help us enjoy this interesting piece of history, and kind of a different 9mm, right? So, life is good, do I have to tell ‘ya? [Slow-mo firing]

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