Book Review
The Sterling Submachine Gun
The Sterling Submachine Gun
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review by Randy L Harvey of the Osprey Publishing LTD book The Sterling Submachine Gun by author Matthew Moss with illustrators Adam Hook and Alan Gilliland and edited by Series Editor Martin Pegler.


** Designed by a motorcycle racer turned small-arms engineer, George Patchett, the submachine gun that eventually became known as the Sterling was developed during World War II. Adopted by the British Army in 1954 as the Sterling machine Carbine (L2A1), the weapon was centre stage for many of Britain’s post-1945 conflicts from Malaya to Kenya and from Northern Ireland to the Falklands. The silenced L34A1 Sterling-Patchett entered service in 1966 and saw action in the jungles of Vietnam with the elite special forces of Australia, New Zealand and the United States during prisoner snatches and reconnaissance patrols. Only with the advent of the SA80 series in the late 1980s would the Sterling start to be phased out of British service; last seeing action with British troops during the Gulf War of 1990-91, it remains in military and law-enforcement armouries across the world, notably in India. The Sterling also enjoys the distinction of arming the Empire’s stormtroopers in the Star Wars films. Employing first-hand accounts and painstaking technical analysis, this absorbing study features carefully selected archive photography and specially commissioned colour artwork depicting the weapon that armed British and other forces for more than four decades. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

The Book

Osprey Publications Ltd has released The Sterling Submachine Gun as Number 65 in their Weapon series. It is a soft cover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, a cut-away view illustration, quotes, detailed captions and more. It has a 2018 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-2808-8. The book details the development, use and impact of the Sterling submachine gun


- Introduction
- Development
- The origins of a Cold War icon
- Use
- Patchett’s gun in action
- Impact
- Insight and influence
- Conclusion
- Bibliography
- Index

The Text

Author Matthew Moss focuses on the development, use and impact of the Sterling submachine gun in nicely written and well detailed text. Please refer to the Contents section of this review to learn all that is discussed in this volume. All aspects of the history of the Sterling submachine gun is covered very well and covers all areas that would be welcomed by anyone who has an interest in this well-known military firearm. Throughout the book there is discussion in regards to the various countries and military actions where the Sterling submachine gun saw action. These countries and military actions include Korea, Malaya, Kenya, Suez, Indonesia, Aden, Northern Ireland, Falklands, Gulf War and Vietnam. I particularly liked reading about the trials the weapon(s) were put through and refinements and improvements that were made and which companies made the improvements or replacements parts. As with other titles in the weapons series I was pleased to see that this volume also includes quotes and details from users of the weapon and their verdict on how it performed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the Sterling submachine gun to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are 10 black and white photographs and 52 color photographs in total. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The majority of the photographs are of the Sterling submachine gun and its variants as one can assume but there are also photographs of several other submachine guns as well. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable. I appreciate the fact that there are several detailed photographs of just the weapons themselves as opposed to photographs that feature the weapons in a broad generalized military photograph. In my opinion it makes it much easier to study the various weapons and their details. In addition to the up-close detailed photographs of just the Sterling and other firearms there are in-action photographs also included. Some of the photographs are taken during actual activity and others the reader can tell are staged for the photographer. Author Matthew Moss stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the firearm enthusiast due to the details they contain.

Some of the various weapons shown and discussed in addition to the Sterling submachine gun are the:
- British Sten submachine gun
- British Lanchester submachine gun
- British BSA Welgun
- British EM-2 bullpup rifle
- Danish Madsen M50 submachine gun
- British Patchett Mk I submachine gun
- British BSA Mk III submachine gun
- Australian F1 submachine gun
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

The Illustrations

There are 4 color illustrations by illustrators Adam Hook and Alan Gilliland. The illustrations are of:
- The Sterling Exposed.
- A cut-away view showing the internal workings of the 9x19mm Sterling L2A3
- Malaya, 1958
- A two-page illustration showing a British patrol engaging Malayan National Liberation Army communists in the Malayan jungle.
- Operation Banner, 1972
- An illustration showing Officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary supported by British troops conducting a stop-and-search of an individual on a road in Belfast, Ireland (see attached)
- Defending Government House, 2 April 1982
- A two-page illustration showing Royal marines of Naval Party 8901 defending Government House in Port Stanley against a dawn attack by Argentine commandos.
Please refer to the scan that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

Informational Charts
There are 2 informational charts included in this volume and they are:
- The principal machine carbines tested by the British during 1950-52
A comparison of the specifications such as weight and rate of fire between the Patchett Mk II, BSA Mk II and the Madsen M50.
- The Sterling and its contemporaries
A comparison of the specifications such as, caliber, magazine capacity, weight and rate of fire between the Soviet PPS-43, Australian Owen Gun, UK Sten Mk V, Swedish Carl Gustav m/45, UK BSA Machine Carbine, French MAT-49, Danish Madsen M50, Israeli Uzi, UK Sterling L2A3, Italian Beretta PM12, German Walther MPL, German Heckler & Koch MP5 and the American Ingram M10 submachine guns.

There is one individual profile included that details and provides information on:
- George Patchett – the man behind the gun

There are 6 notes included in this volume and they are:
- Editor’s Note
- Artist’s Note
- Dedication
- Acknowledgments
- The Royal Armouries
- Imperial War Museums Collections

The Captions

The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to weapons and their variations, dates, locations and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Matthew Moss’ captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.


As with the other Osprey Publishing weapons series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the Sterling submachine gun from its development and introduction throughout it career as a military weapon. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase.


The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Ian V. Hogg
Saturn Books Ltd.

Search inside The Sterling Submachine Gun on the Osprey Publishing web site:

Osprey Publishing also offers The Sterling Submachine Gun as:
eBook (ePub)
eBook (PDF)

Look inside The Sterling Submachine Gun on the Amazon web site:
https://www.amazon.com/Sterling-Submachine-Gun-Weapon/dp/1472828089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547917850&sr=8-1&keywords=The Sterling Submachine Gun

Look inside the Kindle Edition of The Sterling Submachine Gun on the Amazon web site:
Highs: Well written text and captions Subject specific photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s Weapon series. Definitely beneficial to the small arms enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-4728-2808-8
  Suggested Retail: £12.99 / $20.00 / CAN $27
  PUBLISHED: Feb 06, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


So THATS what those neat little machine guns I see toted about "over there" are! I did not know what a Sterling is. Thanks for the write up, HARV.
FEB 09, 2019 - 02:22 AM
You're welcome Fred. Glad it provided you with some information. The book is a very nice addition to the Osprey weapons series. Hope that all is well. Thanks, Randy
FEB 09, 2019 - 10:06 AM
I managed to hit a range target at 400ft distance with one of these back in the 70's. I had to aim about 5" ABOVE the target to do it. Also fired one on full auto during jungle patrol training in Malaya. I always had full confidence in the weapon but dreaded dropping it on its butt while a full magazine was attached..... There is probably one of these still out there in the woods around Hohne...a guy in Regt HQ troop lost his during an exercise...
FEB 19, 2019 - 08:22 AM
Thanks for sharing those stories Steve. It's cool that you got to shoot the real deal. Would hate to have been the guy that lost his. I imagine his military life got a little rough for a while after that. Thanks, Randy
MAR 01, 2019 - 11:41 PM
I recall having fired the Canadian variant of this weapon during my basic training days at Cornwallis in 1983. I remember it was light, and easy to fire... although hard to keep on target in full auto. It is perhaps more famously known as the blast r of choice for the Imperial Stormtroopers of the Star Wars movies!
MAR 04, 2019 - 06:48 AM
Thank you for sharing Dave. Always interested in hearing from individuals that have actually fired the weapons. I like to hear the personal insight as to how they functioned. Thanks, Randy
MAR 15, 2019 - 07:55 AM
When I fired one in training, we were taught to fire short bursts of 5-6 rounds. It is quite accurate used in this way. Field stripping is a doddle. You undo the back and a big spring with all the guts attached comes out!
MAR 16, 2019 - 09:03 AM
Thank you for sharing your personal knowledge and use of the weapon Steve. Personal accounts are awesome to hear. Thank you, Randy
MAY 02, 2019 - 04:31 AM

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