The STEN gun was submachine gun helped to defeat the Nazi during the Second World War and spawned several variations on the submachine gun platform. Its side loading magazine was consistent with the British tradition at the time of having ease of reloading when in the prone position. It was used by British Commonwealth forces during World War II and Korea, and by over 50 other nations in over 30 conflicts in a variety of different variants.

Over 4 million were produced in various versions starting in 1940. It was also used by countless resistance groups as a highly effective insurgency weapon. The STEN gun was born out of necessity, following the British evacuation at Dunkirk where a lot of equipment was abandoned, the British Army was in desperate need of war material.

The demand for submachine guns was not met by the purchase of Thompson submachine guns from the United States, especially after the US entered WWII at the end of 1941. British Commonwealth forces needed a submachine gun. This necessity bread the adaptable, cheap, and easy to manufacture STEN gun. 

STEN Gun Specs

  • Model: Major Reginald V. Shepard and Harold Turpin, Enfield (STEN)
  • Variants- MK. I, II, IIS, III, IV, V, VI 
  • Caliber: 9x 19mm 
  • Magazine: 32 round or 50 round
  • Rate Of Fire: 500-600 round/min (depending on variant) 
  • Action: Blowback, Opened Bolt
  • Overall Length: 30.0 in (762 mm)
  • Barrel length 7.8 in (197 mm)
  • Weight: 7.1 lb (3.2 kg)
STEN Gun, Later Model

STEN Gun for Sale

There are many STEN guns on the market today, several countries in a variety of variants have been produced since the submachine guns inception in 1940. Finding an original mark I may be difficult since only 100,000 were produced, these differ in their wooden grips and flash suppressor.

The Mark II had over 2 million produced during WWII, are void of the wood finishing and flash suppressor. A wide variety of other countries produced variants because the Sten was such an easy gun to make, there are a lot of Polish STEN Guns on the market.

The STEN is not the cheapest submachine gun on the civilian market today, it is a piece of history, but the cost of a semi-automatic version will not break the bank. A full-auto variant will cost you about double that of a semi-automatic STEN gun.

Sten gun resistance fighter
Resistance Fighter with STEN Gun

STEN Gun Kit

For self-assembly from a parts kit, you will need a small drill press, a Dremel tool, and a little welding. Kits are available online or at many gun stores, the ease of production made the supply of gun kits high. The majority of the kits sold online will not come with a receiver so it is not technically a firearm.

Building your own STEN gun will cost you about a quarter of what an assembled one will. Assembly does not take much precision workmanship or gunsmithing knowledge. The simple design makes them easy to build, which is one of the reasons for their popularity to begin with.

STEN Gun Factory
STEN Gun Factory Worker

STEN Gun Parts

Bolts, springs, and accessories are widely available and reasonably priced. Most are originals and heavily coated in oil to preserve them. Reproduction parts are also available. The original recoil springs were designed to be interchangeable with bedsprings from the 1940s to make production easier. The imprecise nature of the firearm makes replacement parts easy to come by. 

STEN Mark 2


The STEN was a very cheap and easy to produce submachine gun. It was very easy to maintain and had little need for upkeep, if your STEN worked. Due to the magazines which required a more precise mag-well, they were prone to jamming.

The speed of production made the STEN not uniformly produced or distributed. Soldiers in WWII would routinely check if their STEN guns worked before bringing them into combat and then merely throwing away the ones that were not effective. However, not working was not its biggest flaw.

A lack of a proper safety and a tendency to fire without warning were also serious issues with the SMG. If the magazine was in and the weapon was dropped, banged against something, or placed down too hard, it had a tendency to empty its magazine.

Regardless of these drawbacks, it was a popular gun with soldiers because of its lightweight and fast rate of fire. The STEN was very popular with resistance groups because it was easily concealable and effective at close range. Many resistance movements were concentrated in cities were the submachine gun reigns supreme. The British also outfitted many resistance groups with weapons and the STEN was a good choice to give them. 


The STEN gun was phased out by the British in 1951 by the Sterling Submachine Gun. The STEN still saw action in many conflicts across the globe following WWII. The Israeli military was very fond of the STEN Gun during their 1948 War of Independence and Suez Crisis and used it as the inspiration for their famous Uzi submachine gun. Its ease of concealment and lightweight made it popular with American special forces units in Vietnam, who used the suppressed variant.

The ability to conceal it is one of the reasons it was so popular with revolutionists across the globe. Having a concealable weapon with a high rate of fire is ideal for many revolutionist operations. It is still being used today in the Syrian Civil war and across Africa since the 9mm cartridge is still widely produced and popular.  


The STEN gun was an influential gun in the world’s history. It was involved in stopping the Nazis in the Second World War, in several civil wars across the globe, and inspired several stamped steel submachine guns designs. The unique stamped steel design, wire stock, and side-mounted magazine make it very recognizable. The ugly simple design helped to spawn the submachine gun’s legacy in the firearms world.

Adam V

Combat military veteran with a Masters degree in security and diplomacy, Adam V is a jack of all trades for Gunivore. He is also a martial arts, survival, and firearms enthusiast who enjoys sharing his opinions on tough topics.

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