Airsoft Sten MkIII

Complete builds, Custom builds, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

I’ve both seen and built quite a lot of different models of Stens. From the original Sten MkI, to the obscure Sten MkIV and the frankly weird Cornershot Mk5 I’ve built a few.

One thing I have never seen is an airsoft Sten MkIII: These were quite common in the Northern Europe campaign and were as simple as British-built Stens ever got. With the exception of the trigger group, bolt and barrel parts, these were entirely stamped steel; making them ideal for mass-production, though presented some difficulty in reproducing in my workshop as a result.

The base parts for this build came from an AGM Sten MkII, the gearbox and modified hop unit.

Inside the receiver the hop unit had to be turned down on the lathe to fit the narrower tube.

_DSC9523

The top bar on the original, which holds the foresight, is a seam which is spot welded. On this build this is a separate part welded onto the tube as this is far easier to make without a press-brake.

_DSC9522

The receiver has been made from 40mm ERW tube, I milled out the feed port, ejection port and operating handle slot. I used the original lower reciever and buttstock as these were pretty suitable already.

_DSC9526

The back-cap is a modified MkII cap. I ground it down to give it the rounded look of the stamped piece and moved the rear sight to the front of it. I have fitted it with a flat locking screw to replicate the button on the real thing.

_DSC9527

Finally, I made the front barrel bushing and cocking handle on the lathe and oil finished the other steel parts. I left most of the welds quite rough-looking to try and carry over the overall feel of the originals.

 

If you are interested in this build you can see the rest of the project here. If you have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy VA products on the website where this will be available.

Sten Mk5: Folding stock experimental model

carbine, Cold War, Complete builds, Custom builds, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

On a Facebook group a few months ago, someone shared a picture of something I had never seen before. As time has gone by, it has become rare for this to happen to me in the world of firearms.

49343124_2019959264791945_2984784421388812288_n

Yes, that is a Sten Mk5. Yes he is shooting it around a corner using a folding stock.

CNN2S_zVAAQM_Mg

Although it’s not really practical for airsoft, where shooting without looking (blind fire) is a banned practice, it was such a distinctive and interesting idea it had to happen. This is what a Cornershot carbine looks like in the late 1940s.

At first glance, it looks like a standard Sten Mk5. I turned down the barrel to make it slimmer and more shaped like the original.

_DSC9664

From the side, you can see the slightly longer joint for the buttstock.

_DSC9667

The wood pattern is pretty much identical.

_DSC9665

The swivel function is controlled with the silver button. This is depressed, the stock is swivelled 90º one way or another and the spring-loaded button locks into place. At the same time, the foregrip is loosened with the thumbscrew, moved into place and tightened down. This is one area where I have deviated from the original which used a hex nut: carrying a spanner around in the field wouldn’t be practical.

_DSC9668

You will notice that there is no prism sight on this. I looked into getting a pentaprism as used by the original, but the cost would have nigh-on tripled the price of the build.

_DSC9670

To round off: a couple of views of it folded different ways.

_DSC9673

_DSC9672

 

So far as I can tell these were never properly trialled beyond the one prototype. I imagine that managing recoil and maintaining a sight picture would have been tricky, the prism would have been expensive and limited the soldier’s field of view.

If any reader has any information on these carbines, better quality original photos or recognises the magazine the snippets above have been taken from I would be very much obliged if you would get in touch on the email below.

If you are interested in this build you can see the rest of the project here. If you have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy VA products on the website where this will be available. 

Sten MkIV: Build

Custom builds, Sten, Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The first major hurdle for me was that my Sten was missing the massive chunk of aluminium that houses the barrel and hop up unit. I measured up one from another gun and created a 3D model to be printed. I added a section to the front for the flash hider which is a separate piece. Running through this and the other part is some 16mm steel tube for strength.

_DSC7456

The stock is made from pieces of laser cut steel. For the very sharp bends I made cuts with the angle grinder, made the folds and welded them up.

25286946_10213410104599833_1018159191_n

The locking bar is kept in place with two screws. These ride in slots that stop it from travelling too far back or forwards.

25346365_10213410104799838_380360761_o

The pistol grip slotted into place, welded on the bottom which was then ground flat to allow the stock to pivot. The trigger guard is huge, the bend was made with wooden formers and the shape was checked against my paper template.

25344367_10213410107479905_1901161622_o

A close-up of the locking system. This is a pretty solid system, with only the wobble you would expect from a typical Sten stock.

25397994_10213410106679885_612810655_o

Once the stock unit was welded onto the backplate, this really started to take shape. Shown below with the stock stowed.

25353157_10213409215617609_250685353_o

And the stock deployed. So far it’s more comfortable than it looks, the next step is to make the wooden grips.

_DSC7579

These are made from some leftover walnut I had sitting around. I printed a paper template, cut them out and drilled the screw holes. Then fine fitting and shaping was done with files and the electric hand sander.

_DSC7590

Then it was time to strip everything and finish her up.

_DSC7592

The grips got a quick soaking with some dark red woodstain, followed by hardwax oil.

_DSC7594

All that’s left now is reassembly, fitting a foresight and doing some internal work on the Sten. I’ve swapped the barrel out already for a shorter one but the trigger needs some TLC.

You can see the complete item here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

Sten MkIV: Introduction

Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The Sten MkIV has very little written on it, so this introduction will be rather short.

11. Mk 4 sn 3_Web

It was an experimental design to make Britain’s Sub machine gun more compact. This has several possible reasons, but the most likely seeming to my eye (lacking access to original documents) is the Airborne theory. A more compact sub-machine gun than the standard Sten MkII and MkII would make sense for airborne troops and this definitely meets that requirement.

This was ultimately met by the Mk5, which could have its buttstock removed and replaced with a blank backplate.

There were two versions of the MkIV, the ‘A’ which had a hand guard style trigger guard (some say to accommodate arctic mittens) and the ‘B’ which has the trigger and pistol grip advanced to halfway down the receiver. This was apparently an improvement but not enough it would seem!

fjktqa

The reason the MkIV was rejected during trials was that it was ‘uncomfortable to fire’. This does seem a little bit ironic seeing it was designed to replace the ergonomics-violating MkII and MkIIIs, but judging by what was eventually adopted the general effort was towards a significantly better gun comfort wise rather than a slight improvement.

 

The other possibility is that, being much smaller in the body than a ‘normal’ Sten (especially in the barrel) the recoil, muzzle blast or ejection may have been pretty bad. It’s pretty much impossible to say without access to trials reports or getting to fire the (so far as I can tell) only remaining piece at the Royal Armouries. I suspect it will grow legs and walk out before I am allowed to do that however!

large_DI_2012_0648

I’ll be making a MkIVa replica based on the example in the Royal Armouries, as a bit of  change of scene from the bolt actions and machine guns I’ve been building a lot lately!

You can see the build and completed item here. You can see more Sten projects here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

P.S.: Bonus photo of a suppressed MkIVa apparently in the NFC, Leeds.

Suppressed Mk 4A(S)Sten - National Firearms Centre, Leeds, UK (Photo by Frank Iannamico)

Sten MkIV: Complete

Complete builds, Products, Sten, Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The completed Sten MkIV. Perhaps not a looker, but definitely one of the most practical SMGs I have built to date. When folded, this easily fits in a backpack making it a much more portable choice than my usual long rifles.

_DSC7835

The large trigger guard makes it ideal for use with gloves in cold conditions.

_DSC7836

The buttstock when folded also makes a handy foregrip. In CQB this is very practical for when poking round corners.

_DSC7838

When  you want a little more shooting precision, just grab the inner tongue and pull it towards the buttstock.

_DSC7840

You can then unfold the stock and lock it into position at the back.

_DSC7844

This is pretty comfortable in this layout, though I am not sure if recoil would be easy to control. I can see how the flat steel would be uncomfortable for prolonged periods of shooting, but no more so than many of the previous models of Sten gun. Frankly compared to the prolific T-stock this would still be a huge improvement so I don’t understand how this was rejected due to being uncomfortable while shooting.

_DSC7846

 

If you missed it, you can see the build post for this project here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

The Sten MkV kit in action

Add-on kits, Customer Reviews, Products, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

Many of VA’s followers are also on the UK WW2 Airsoft forum and will know regular contributor Ken by his handle ‘Kendo’. Ken was one of the first people to buy one of my ready-designed kits and has been using it heavily for well over a year now. I caught up with him recently to get some feedback:

“I was first made aware of Vintage Airsoft’s MkV Sten kit through the WW2 Airsoft forums, perhaps better known to some as ‘Comrades in Arms’. Dom had posted his prototype MkV build, and was looking to put together some more kits for those of us stuck with the perhaps not-entirely-accurate MkII Sten, especially for the many folks like me that portray the iconic late-war British paratroopers!
The idea was inspired: a hand-built, wooden stock, comprising a mounting bracket and pistol grip, that slotted directly onto the receiver of the AGM Sten, replacing the standard T-stock; the kit would be complete with a wooden foregrip that bolted to the Sten barrel shroud, and topped off with a metal front sight that slipped over the outer barrel. As if that wasn’t enough, the wooden stock was hollowed out and wired, meaning the Sten was no longer bound to tiny batteries. All of that for a fraction of the price of a full custom gun, and you could swap back to the old MkII components without any permanent modifications.

0_A3_O4412

I jumped at the chance, and I’m pleased to say after a solid year of near constant use in all weather, the kit has held up admirably. It’s been dropped, fell on, submerged in nasty bog water, and survived me crashing through foliage in full combat kit, with the only appreciable outcome being a slight looseness at the stock mounting (which was subsequently fixed with the liberal application of B&Q’s finest super glue). I’ve found it to be a very comfortable weapon to hold – a far cry from the plumber’s nightmare that was the MkII – and the battery compartment in the stock is truly a godsend; battery switches can be done in a flicker of the time, and without dismantling the gun to boot.

Now, being a drop-in kit, as it were, all of the pieces are obviously made to be easily installed or removed without modifications to the base gun, and there are some drawbacks to this. The front sight, for example, was initially held on by friction, meaning that knocks and bumps to the gun would frequently misalign it with the rear sight. I also found that the paintwork of the metal band that fits around the barrel shroud would wear away very easily, due to the steel fitting of the sling rubbing against it with use. The nature of the kit also means that certain aspects of the real MkV cannot be replicated – the rear pistol grip sits further back, most tellingly, although this is a small price to pay in my opinion.

13130983_495867643943213_1781590228028683325_o

The front sight issue can be easily solved: boring and tapping a small hole through the underside, then using a pointed screw to tighten it against the outer barrel of the Sten would help immensely. Indeed, the user could go one step further and drill a shallow hole into the outer barrel itself for the tip of the screw, which would eliminate the front sight shifting altogether, and with minimal modification to the base gun.
The barrel band, meanwhile, I would most certainly improve by chemical or oil blacking, rather than painting. This will allow it to resist the worst of the wearing the sling attachment subjects it to, and means I won’t have to keep repainting the bloody thing!

I have been let down by certain individuals in this line of work in the past – sometimes criminally so. I am very pleased to report that my experience with both individual and product in this case has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s safe to say I have put the MkV kit through its paces from day one, and it has rarely let me down, with Dom always on hand with troubleshooting should I need it.
Truly though, in a hobby dominated by yet more M4 derivatives and Multicam FAST helmets, nothing beats attacking an objective in full British airborne kit with a proper MkV Sten in your hands. I have Vintage Airsoft to thank for that that one.”

 

I have reproduced Kendo’s full review here, unedited for full disclosure! Feedback like this is really appreciated and we’ll be improving our product accordingly by oil blacking the foregrip band and tapping the foresight mounting. This sort of feedback can only be gained after the sort of heavy use Kendo has subjected it to!

 

You can buy our Sten MkV kit and many other items from our Etsy store.

 

A big thanks to Syfer Airsoft Photography for use of their fantastic photographs. Check out their page for great kit and action photos.

Lanchester to T100 conversion: Complete

Complete builds, Custom builds, Products, Sub Machine-guns, T100/44, Weapons, WWII

This has been such a good build. A really enjoyable conversion where I could take time shaping a beautiful, authentic stock and assemble some simple fittings to produce a reasonably authentic and very distinctive piece. Another enjoyable aspect was learning about a gun I didn’t know much about before, from a firearms design culture somewhat divorced from what I am used to in the west.

_DSF7260

First picture: The completed T100 with the Lanchester parts it came with (not made by me but a home-build Sten project).

_DSF7254

And a view of the T100. As you can see, this has a new fore-end and a standard Sten magwell.

_DSF7255

Close-up on the front band, on which the foresight post and front sling mount is placed. Underneath the paint the sling mounts have been oil blacked to resist wear for longer.

_DSF7256

The rear sight is not correct for the T100, this came with the Lanchester but would need entirely removing to be more correct. Early T100s came with a laughably small tangent sight at the very back of the receiver tube, but when I make another T100 I will equip it with the later fixed peep sight, which is more suited to such a gun.

_DSF7258

A close-up of the new trigger, guard and the cavalry sling mount.

_DSF7257

_DSF7259

And a final view of the far side of the stock and rear sling swivel. You can also see clearly on this side the join in the stock used by the Japanese to improve material use efficiency.

 

This is clearly not a 100% true replica. In terms of inaccuracies, I have already mentioned the rear sight. Also, the T100 fed from a curved magazine with the magazine housing inclined slightly forward. This is a project for the longer term. The operating handle and the slot it runs in is higher while the ejection port is lower. The overall shape is slightly lower profile but there would be no way of using the Lanchester without massive, irreversible modifications which somewhat defeats the point!

 

For use, I think the gun’s owner will be very please with the ergonomics, coupled with the Sten’s excellent internals it should serve very well.

 

If you like the look of this gun and would like one, or a build of your own that we don’t currently offer please do get in touch! Email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or get in touch via our Facebook page.

Lanchester to T100 SMG

Custom builds, Sub Machine-guns, T100/44, Weapons, WWII

History

The T100 SMG was a Japanese sub machine-gun produced during the Second World War. Two versions were made, the earlier T100/40 was excessively complex and quite frankly, a bit useless. Later on in the war the T100/44 was brought in to massively simplify production and produced a faster-firing and much more reliable weapon.

Type_100

T100/40. Note massive bayonet lug and bipod.

 

34667

T100/44. Image courtesy of James D Julia (Maine).

17332661_2

T100/44. Image courtesy of James D Julia (Maine).

The build

This build will be a lookalike gun made for WWII Airsoft games set in the Pacific. The client has supplied me with a home-built Lanchester based on an AGM Sten to work from.

First step is to remove the recess for the action to go. The trigger mechanism housing on the donor gun has been heavily modified already to reduce its bulk which is helpful this!

_DSF7053

Then the rest of the buttstock can be glued on. Most if not all Japanese firearms were made in this way due to material shortages.

_DSF7054

While this is drying, I can get to work on the barrel shroud.

_DSF7055

The template guides where the holes go accurately. All the tubular components together below:

_DSF7056

And brazing the muzzle brake:

_DSF7059

One really nice feature of the T100 as far as manufacturing goes is that all the accessories mounted on the barrel shroud are on this band at the front. This makes it very easy to place everything without wielding the large workpiece.
_DSF7064

Now dry, I can get to work marking out the body of the stock.

_DSF7066 _DSF7067

Which is roughed out on the scroll saw before proceeding with shaping.

_DSF7068

 

_DSF7069

 

_DSF7070

And routing out the slim finger grips at the fore-end.

_DSF7071

Fitting the Lanchester action to the stock is, as always, slow work!

_DSF7078

But eventually it is there.

_DSF7079

Once tightened down with the mounting screw it sits very snugly in the stock. The balance of the gun is set very high due to the action being sat high-up on a slim wooden stock. You can also see the new trigger in its initial stages.

_DSF7080

The new trigger guard in place and recessed into the stock.

_DSF7082

At this point the stock is sanded down, ready for oiling and the buttplate fitted.

_DSF7084

In this photograph you can just about see the join between the two pieces of wood that make up the stock.

_DSF7086

The buttplate is, unconventionally, wooden as well. Attached with two panel pins. Although this seems a bit pointless, the side grain of the wood is less likely to be damaged by grounding the stock than the end grain, which would splay and splinter with repeated exposure.
_DSF7089

After several coats of danish oil followed by a coat of Hardwax oil the stock is looking pretty fine. The join between the two stock pieces is subtle, perhaps a bit too much to be authentic but the oil does boost the contrast in the grain very well and the butt plate shows up nicely.

_DSF7107
_DSF7112

Skipping ahead, the barrel band is welded together. Underneath is the bayonet lug and on the right side is the unusual sling swivel arrangement. The parts of the swivel are oil blacked as they will be worn much more heavily. The rest will be painted as it is quite a large item to try and oil black.

_DSF7238
_DSF7243

The remaining small parts are oil blacked and fitted to the stock.

_DSF7244

On the left of the stock is an unusual sling arrangement which I have reproduced. The position and design is very much in the style of a cavalry carbine. Although this particular sling swivel is non-functional it does rotate much like the original.
_DSF7246

Now it is time for final assembly and fitting, plus a couple of last details. Pictures of the final product to follow!

 

Like this gun? Why not email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to find out more. Also, why not check out our Etsy page where we have ready-made kits and accessories?

The Sten MkI/MkI*

Add-on kits, History, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

History

After the swift and brutal defeat of the British Expeditionary Force and their allies in the Battle of France and the retreat from Dunkirk across the channel, Britain was desperate for equipment and armament. All heavy weapons, vehicles and most small arms were left behind.

Dunkirk_26-29_May_1940_NYP68075

As a result there was a huge push to re-arm as quickly as possible. As well as all of Britain’s manufacturing being turned to the war effort, the War Office bought every Thompson sub-machine gun the USA could build. The US couldn’t keep up with demand however and with losses to U-boats in the Atlantic Britain needed to produce their own sub-machine gun.

churchill_decides_to_fight_on

The result of this was the Sten Machine Carbine. The prototype was a complex piece of engineering, requiring a multitude of machining actions to produce. When handed over to the Singer company to produce, a host of improvements were made to make the gun suitable for mass production.

tumblr_mky4fuYlFr1s57vgxo1_1280

I wanted to develop a kit to temporarily modify the AGM Sten MkII to a MkI/MkI* for early war impressions and, frankly, for an interesting regular game gun.

The build

Step one was to build the flash hider/muzzle rise compensator. This large scoop is formed from a piece of steel cut to shape and beaten on a former.

_DSF5319

This could then be welded shut and a short piece of tube welded on the back to mount it. The sling loop is a piece of thick wire, welded shut. I turned a piece of nylon bar to size to fit round the mounting tube and inside the heat sleeve.

_DSF6353

This can then be slid into the heat sleeve. The photograph below shows the front sight mounted. This is mild steel, laser cut to shape and bent by hand.

_DSF6991

To create the buttstock, I needed to bend steel tube to shape. As I don’t have a tube bending jig and a spring bending system would produce too shallow a bend. Cutting out a section like this, bending to shape and welding closed makes for a neat, controlled bend.

_DSF6976

This could be welded onto the backplate and buttplate. The top tube also functions as the battery tube and the plan is to have the battery accessed from the back.

_DSF6985

At this point, this is pretty well what the MkI* looked like (as far as one can tell, photographic evidence is limited) as it has all the woodwork removed for simpler manufacture.

_DSF6984

Woodwork is needed to complete the MkI of course, the foregrip being an important part of the design that was sadly deleted on later models until the introduction of the MkV.

I made this woodwork right back at the beginning on Vintage Airsoft at the end of 2014, it has been sitting waiting for me to finish this project all this time!

_DSF6988

_DSF6987

There are a few last bits to finish, namely removing the MkII fore-sight and stamping the magazine well with the correct information. The only major inaccuracy will be the safety catch location. On the MkI Sten this was actually below the operating handle slot but was moved to the top on all later models.

More photographs to follow with the completion of the build!

Like the look of this build? Why not email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to find out more. While you’re in a gun mood, check out our Etsy page where we have ready-made kits and accessories.

P.S.: I am looking for any original images of the Sten MkI or MkI* in use by soldiers. These seem to be almost non-existent so if any readers have such images please do send them in.

P.P.S.: For more information on the development of the Sten Machine Carbine and some beautiful pictures of an original Sten MkI, see here.

ASG Sten-Safety catch

Add-on kits, Products, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, WWII

_DSF6334

First things first, the new operating handle. Although the one provided with the ASG Sten is close enough to correct, I preferred the small, rounded operating knob as it is less likely to catch on clothing. For this build it is perfectly possible to use the original handle.

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 17.08.38

In order to make the gun ‘safe’, the operating handle is pulled a little further back than the regular ‘cocked’ position. It is then pushed up into the lug above the channel where it usually runs when firing. On the real steel Sten, this simply stops the bolt from being able to reciprocate and therefore ‘safe’. In reality this was a far from perfect system and these guns still had a reputation for going off when dropped.

As this is an AEG, this safety mechanism uses a microswitch to control current flow.

SAFE:

_DSF6335

 

FIRE:_DSF6336

The operating handle will be oil blacked for use, but it wouldn’t have shown up for the photos here to demonstrate so I left it unfinished.

 

If you liked the look of this, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss or find us on Facebook. Don’t forget you can follow the blog and get updates straight to your email inbox!