Sterling SMG Magazines

Last year we looked at the Sterling sub machine gun here. At the time the excellent magazines issued with the gun were mentioned, but the post did not go into more details. Tonight however we are taking a closer look at two different Sterling magazines and the story they reveal.

The Sterling sub machine gun was manufactured, obviously enough, by the Sterling company. However in the mid 1950s the government owned Royal Ordnance Factory Fazakerly started secretly making its own version of the gun for the army. Naturally the Sterling company were not too happy about this arrangement and took the government to court. In the end it was agreed that ROF could finish the rest of the MoD’s contract, whilst Sterling got exclusive rights to market, manufacture and sell the weapons overseas. Both companies produced spare parts and accessories for the weapons and after the ROF stopped manufacture in 1960 all the British Army’s maintenance spares were produced by Sterling. There were subtle differences between the two manufacturers and tonight we are looking at a pair of magazines that illustrate this point:imageHere the upper magazine is an ROF example, and the lower the Sterling manufactured example. The first obvious difference is in the finish- the Sterling example is in a matt black, the ROF version is glossier. The shape of the magazines is also different, with the ROF version having a stepped shoulder where the magazine would be inserted into the SMG’s magazine housing. Turning to the back of the magazines again we can see major manufacturing differences:imageThe ROF example is made of two halves electrically seam welded along the back, the Sterling example is  made of four pieces with a distinctive scalloping shape along the back, each piece being spot welded together.

The front edge shows a further difference with the ROF version having an extra supporting lug:imageAlthough manufacture and details differ, the feed lips on both are identical- this being an essential feature to ensure that the magazines work consistently and reliably, regardless of manufacture.imageMarkings for the Sterling made examples are stamped across the back and read “MAGAZINE STERLING 9MM 34RDS”:imageThe ROF version is stamped on the top of the magazine “MAGAZINE 9MM L1A2”:imageBoth magazines are superbly well made and the differences do not affect their use- however the story of why they are different is an interesting one.

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