Osprey's The Sterling Submachine Gun


Chris McNab


Osprey Publishing


$20.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1967-3

The submachine gun is one of those weapons which was mostly replaced by the assault rifle. While they were very popular during WWII as a weapon of choice for those troops who were not on the front lines and needed some sort of self protection, post war, they generally fell out of favor. The last US submachine guns were the Thompson and the M3 'grease gun'.

However, the British felt that they had a need for a new one and so the Pachett/Sterling came into use. Unlike the previous Sten, this new gun was a more sturdy construct and fairly impervious to mud, sand and general glop. It could even be operated under water for periods of time. The short length of the gun made it perfect for second line troops like military policemen who were constantly in and out of vehicles. It also proved to be fairly accurate for its type, though any thought of it being a truly long range gun needed to be left behind as that is not for which it was designed.

The development of the gun was fairly long and drawn out as there were numerous competitions with other manufacturer's offerings. These comparisons always had the Sterling come out the best. Then there was the in-fighting of sorts between the designer and the company that built the gun to add to some interest for historians. However, despite all of this, it emerged to be the pre-eminent weapon of its type in the British military for over 40 years.

The gun was also used by a variety of other nations and services. In some instances, both sides of a conflict were armed with this gun. While it has been overshadowed by newer pieces by Heckler & Koch as well as Uzi, the Sterling will undoubtedly have more decades of use ahead of it.

Typical of the series, the book starts off with a background of submachine guns and then goes into the need for this specific type. It then covers the development of the type as it was improved from model to model.

A goodly portion of the book is devoted to the operation of the weapon as well as the tactics used in different situations. This is all quite interesting reading  and adds to the book. As usual in this series, there are well chosen photos as well as some nicely done art work to help illustrate all that is covered. Fans of this series will find they have another winner on their hands.

December 2018

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