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A Sterling Submachine Gun Found In Darra

Updated: 1 day ago

The Sterling submachine gun is a well renowned submachine gun of British design by George William Patchett – the head arms designer at Sterling Armaments Company in Dagenham, England, UK. The weapon is a select-fire, blowback operated submachine gun, utilising advanced primer ignition design and is chambered in the widely used 9×19mm cartridge. It is fondly remembered as a very reliable and rugged platform to this day by its users. It was initially adopted by the UK armed forces starting around 1953 replacing the earlier and more infamous STEN submachine gun and ended up being removed from active service in around 1994, replaced by the 5.56×45mm SA80 self-loading rifle. This platform of SMG has been used by a wide variety of countries across the globe and has also been manufactured by the UK, Canada, India and also Chile.

Fig.1.1. Left face: IOF Sterling SMG (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection) Recently, a colleague of ours based in the well renowned town of Darra Adam Khel, in ex-FATA,

Recently, a colleague of ours based in the well renowned town of Darra Adam Khel, in ex-FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, shared with us an image of a Sterling that was for sale with a friend of his locally. It was in rather worn condition, possibly having been refinished at some point which can be gathered from the light pitting underneath some areas of finish. Interestingly, this was shown with a STEN magazine inserted rather than a standard curved, double stack, double feed, Sterling issue type and this is due to the rarity of the magazines themselves.

As this is only one of three we’ve ever seen in Pakistan, we acquired a video of the Sterling to look at it a little closer. We also included a short test-fire, however, the STEN magazine failed to work properly in its automatic mode so was fired mainly in semi-automatic only. This particular example appears to be of Indian manufacture and origin as the grips bear the initials of IOF. This would make it a 1A1 Carbine, rather than a commercial Sterling Mk4 or a British L2A3 or Canadian C1. This would most likely make the submachine gun a capture by non-state groups who may have fought in one of the Indo-Pak wars.

Although the Sterling pattern of submachine gun isn’t common at all and in fact quite a rarity for both Pakistan or Afghanistan, there are still a few floating around in Pakistan’s arms bazars, especially those in both Darra and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.