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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

Lanchester MkI*: Complete

Complete builds, Custom builds, Lanchester, Products, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

So, the Lanchester is finished! And I am in love, though I say so myself.

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Details, the new magazine well closely resembles the original and is an improvement on the Sten original. I have brazed the mag catch head so that when it wears it looks brassy.

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The foresight and bayonet lug. This should take a rubber SMLE bayonet if the owner decides to do so!

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The trigger is set back, the pull is a little unusual but not bad.

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The buttplate, steel, though a brass SMLE buttplate could be substituted in here.

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The rear locking lug is just for looks on this. A hinge is quite hard to do but may be doable in the future. For now you can remove the lock and back cap to replace the battery. Unfortunately the wrist of this stock is too slim to drill through to a larger battery compartment in the buttstock.

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You can check out the build process for this gun here.

 

If you like this build, you may like to take a look at where it came from, the MP18 and its extended family.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or join us on Facebook for more! You can buy some of our ready-made products on Etsy. You can also email to enquire about custom or special builds on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

 

P.S.: If anyone wants a Lanchester with this awesome period tac-light please DO get in touch. 

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Lanchester Build: Part 2

Custom builds, Lanchester, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

Since the last post, I have welded the rear sight unit and fitted the buttplate into place.

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With the buttplate screwed down, I can do the last bits of shaping on the stock. I always leave a bit of excess to make this fit as close as possible.

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I also took the opportunity to fit the action lock. In the original this stops the receiver from tipping forward on the hinge under the magazine well. As the receiver is screwed into the stock on this it is merely there for the aesthetic.

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The rear sight is permanently affixed. For an SMG adjustable sights are generally overkill.

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This side picture shows how much further back the trigger is compared to the Sten original.

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I then applied finish to the majority of the parts. I am using hardwax oil for the wood as it picks up a patina nicely and looks the part for these period weapons.

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The metalwork is sprayed black enamel on the whole.

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The smaller parts have been oil blacked where possible as this is more wear resistant.

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The trigger contacts gave up the ghost as they do tend to, so I have replaced this with a switch and advised a mosfet. 

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With the mosfet in place, I re-assembled everything and ran my tests. Pictures of the finished item to follow!

 

If you like this build, you may like to take a look at where it came from, the MP18 and its extended family.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or join us on Facebook for more! You can buy some of our ready-made products on Etsy. You can also email to enquire about custom or special builds on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

Lanchester Build: Part 1

Custom builds, Lanchester, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

First things first, I draw out the stock template on the wood.

I took the drill to the stock and took out the detailed bits, then sawed through the rest. I’m very much looking forward to the day when I have a bandsaw to do this job…

Over in the metalshop, I bent, tacked and welded the steel parts together. On this build I am making a new magwell, but will be using the original magwell sleeve.

The fore-end of the Lanchester, showing the foresight and sight guards. These will need to be hardened to be much use I think.

Fitting the action to the stock. This is always a long job, but having recently got a hold of some lovely blue oil paint I’m improving my fitting technique and speed quite a lot!

Showing the bottom plate, which I am going to draw around to cut a nice, deep recess for.

I have cut the recess for the bottom plate deep so that the trigger reaches through to the correct depth in the trigger guard. I may need to tweak the trigger design though as at present it is a bit sticky. Far from ideal in an automatic airsoft gun!

I can finally get to my favourite bit: Shaping the stock. The Lanchester has a very slim, feminine wrist on the stock reminiscent of a P14/17 rifle. As a result it will have to rely on Lipos in the back of the receiver which is unfortunate but better than sacrificing the stock strength at the weakest point further. Even when I have carefully selected the grain to flow down through this for maximum strength there’s only so much you can do to keep it strong.

The Lanchester, pretty much roughed out. Now onto the rear sight, locking lugs and detailing!

 

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 complete products via Etsy.

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.

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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.

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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.

Sten MkI/MkI* : Complete

Add-on kits, Complete builds, Products, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

Some images of the completed Sten MkI and MkI*. Firstly a picture of AN original for comparison. I should point out that you can find differences between nearly every surviving example so this isn’t definitive:

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The main issue with this replica is that the safety catch is at the top of the operating handle slot (as this is based on the AGM Sten MkII). The only way to adequately redo this is to make a whole new receiver unit. Maybe a project for the future…

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A close up of the receiver. The new operating handle and bolt also feature the Sten safety switch kit. You can also just make out the Sten MkI stampings on the magazine housing.

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The foresight on this is very comfortable to acquire, at least in the confines of the workshop where I have tested it so far! This will be going out in the field at the weekend.

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The stock is very comfortable compared to the MkII T-stock. That said clutching a thistle is an improvement over the T-stock… But in all seriousness this is a great alternative and is fast becoming a personal favourite.

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One final feature worth noting is the battery compartment. Accessible from the rear, it can just about fit the standard stick battery in it, though a stick lipo would be a far easier fit.

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And in the Sten MkI* configuration, once it had been optimised by the Singer company for serial production:

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This kit will be for sale on our Etsy page HERE in due course. If you like the look of this gun and would like 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Sten upgrade: Replacement nut

Add-on kits, Cold War, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The AGM Sten comes with a hex head screw to attach the stock, which also contains the battery compartment.

This has three disadvantages:

  1. It looks appalling
  2. You require a tool to remove the stock/change the battery
  3. It really looks diabolical

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That’s right, it looks so bad it is worth mentioning twice. Fortunately this is easily fixed! The fix Vintage Airsoft offers also means that you can change the battery without any tools at all.

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This piece is all-steel in construction. The edges are knurled for grip, meaning that the replacement screw can be fitted very tightly with just finger strength.

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The corners are taken off for comfort of use.

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The whole piece is oil blacked, which means it has an extremely wear-resistant finish that nicely matches the original painted surface of the gun.

 

You can buy this very handy piece on the Vintage Airsoft Etsy page For a very reasonable price.

If you like this idea, find us on Facebook for more related content. If you have an idea of your own you would like to see made, do drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss.