They bought Thompson sub machine guns in as large a quantity as they could get (or afford), but it wasn't nearly enough. In desperation, they turned to Maj. Reginald V. Shepherd and draftsman Harold Turpin, who designed this dandy little gun at the Royal Armory at Enfield. Their initials (S and T) along with the first two from Enfield (EN) gave the gun its name.
It was the opposite of the Thompson, which was nose bleedingly expensive due to the extensive machining required in its manufacture. With only 47 separate parts, Shepherd's and Turpin's gun was made out of stamped steel, with almost no machining required and only a little welding. Basically any metal shop in the realm could knock the STEN out, and they were cheap as chips - the first ones only cost 15 shillings - maybe $10 in 1940s money.
As you'd imagine, it was butt ugly. Nothing but stamped metal, a handgrip that's, well, unique (although not uncomfortable), and a pipe stock instead of the "shoulder thing that goes up".
Nice shot by The Queen Of The World, catching multiple expended brass cartridges in the air.
This gun was not designed for long range, aimed fire: instead, it was purely a short range weapon for putting a lot of rounds down range. It did this admirably. The indoor range I shot at was 25 yards, but the STEN wasn't going to be accurate past 100 yards anyway. I usually try to take pictures of the sight picture but here it was beside the point - a front post welded on the barrel and a peep rear sight probably wouldn't have been used in action anyway. Certainly at close range it did the job:
Yeah, it's a Nazi Zombie. 80 rounds didn't take long at 500 rounds per minute. And they probably didn't weigh much more than ten rounds of 12 gauge, although as T-Bolt says a shottie is the worst anti-zombie weapon ever. For a swarm of zombies, you could do a lot worse than a STEN. You see, it's a very easy gun to fire:
There is essentially no felt recoil, and there is no muzzle rise at all. I wasn't even really braced like you normally would for hand held automatic fire, and I didn't need to be. When it counts, the Ugly Duckling turns into a swan. If I practiced with 500 - 1000 rounds then I expect I could keep all 80 rounds in a palm sized area at that range, and I'm not a particularly good shot.
And did I mention that they were cheap as chips to manufacture? You could probably pick up everything you needed to make one at Home Depot, for $50. The action is dead simple, firing from an open bolt - when you pull the trigger the bolt slides forward, stripping the next round from the magazine, chambering it, and firing it. The recoil pushes the bolt back, ejecting the case, and driving the bolt back until it is stopped by the recoil spring. Lather, rinse, and repeat until the rounds are all expended or you let off the trigger.
The "grip" is, well, unique. It's a little stamped plate welded to the gun. It's a lot more comfortable than it looks, and when I was shooting the gun I didn't even notice. You can see the select fire lever (basically a thick wire) right above the trigger. There's no safety, other than the safety that you keep stored between your ears.
The magazine loads from the left side which would be handy if you wanted to hit the dirt to avoid incoming fire. The magazine itself fit pretty loosely and if you held onto it then you'd get a lot of failure to feed jams. I held onto the 2 inch magazine insert port which is (again) stamped metal welded onto the gun. The esthetics were nothing to write home about but it worked really well.
You can also see the rear peep sight and the front post. In all honesty they probably could have left these off the gun for as useful as they would be. It would no doubt have saved another shilling that way.
The Queen Of The World took me to shoot this at The Machinegun Nest in Frederick, MD. I'm not usually a fan of automatic fire as there's really no hope for much accuracy and you have to pay for the ammo (well, unless you're at Uncle Sam's Summer Camp; Dad used to talk wistfully about shooting the M3 "Grease Gun" in his Army days). But TQOTW paid for the ammo, so it was surprisingly guilt free. And with absolutely no muzzle rise, the accuracy made it even more guilt free. It was a fabulous birthday present.
If you're in the area, I highly recommend The Machinegun Nest. It's very well organized and there's a good selection of both automatic and semi automatic guns to rent. The supervision was excellent to keep even novices out of trouble. Also, they have Date Night on Fridays, so our young Gentlemen readers can take their young Lady friends to a unique experience. Don't be afraid of trying the STEN, ladies - it looks like an Ugly Duckling but shoots like a swan.
The standard disclaimer:
I'm not any kind of gun or shooting expert. I like shooting, and shoot a fair number of different guns, but I'm really a dilettante. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.
I don't do scientific, repeatable tests. There's no checklist, although that's not a bad idea. I write about what I like and don't like, but it's pretty much stream of consciousness. Opinion, we got opinion here. Step right up.
I'm not a shooting teacher, although I do like to introduce people to shooting.Maybe some day I'll take the NRA teaching class, but until then, you get a dilettante's view. You'll get opinion here, but if you get serious about shooting, you'll want to get someone who knows what he's doing to give you some pointers. It can help.
And oh yeah, shooting things is fun.