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.

The MP28

Custom builds, MP28, Products, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Development

The MP28 has its roots deep in the deadlock of the Great War. Both sides had tried great waves of infantry, poison gas, vast artillery barrages but none of these seemed to do anything to break the stalemate of the Western Front.

As history has shown us, the Tank ultimately won the day but for a while it looked as though specialised raiding parties that were highly trained, aggressive and well equipped may be the secret. The MP18 was one of the first attempts to miniaturise the killing power of the machine gun and make it portable. At just over 9lbs it was still no side-arm but it definitely gave soldiers who carried it an edge in close-quarters fighting.

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MP18 with Luger Snail magazine

The MP18 was the firstborn in a long line of submachine guns that carried on serving into the 1970s, so many people copied the design (with some minute changes) including the Chinese, Austrians, Finns and Estonians. In spite of a ban on the study and development of automatic weapons put in place by the Treaty of Versailles, from this evolved the MP28. This used a straight 20 round magazine that sat perpendicular to the barrel (later there was also a 32 round magazine made available).

MP28

MP28

This design was also shamelessly copied, with the Danes, British and Chinese all getting in on the act. The British Lanchester SMG is a copy so direct that the bolt and magazine from an MP28 can be used in it, though it wins some man-points for being able to use the 17-inch SMLE bayonet!

Lanchester with SMLE bayonet and 50 round magazine. Courtesy of deactivated-guns.co.uk.

Lanchester with SMLE bayonet and 50 round magazine. Courtesy of deactivated-guns.co.uk.

Service

The MP28 served with German forces until at least 1945. Its derivatives served with countless other nations for years afterwards, with the Royal Navy using the Lanchester until the 1980s. The MP28 saw use by riot police in the 1920s, the Second World War, its derivatives in numerous French colonial wars, by the Japanese in the Pacific, the Koreans against the Japanese at so on and so on….

Everyone killed everyone with this gun.

So, when a client asked for an MP18 or 28 I was only too happy to oblige!

As ever, if this has inspired you for a project of your own, do drop me a line on the usual email address to discuss! enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

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