One of the most distinctive features of the Lanchester submachine gun was its fifty round box magazine. These magazines were one of the weak points of the weapon’s design, but are highly prized today due to their comparative rarity compared with their smaller cousins, the Sten magazines. In design the Lanchester and Sten magazines are the same, both being a double stack, single feed box magazine, however side by side the difference in size is obvious:
The fifty rounds was requested by the Royal Navy (the RAF would have been happy with 32 like the later Sten mag!) and this created a magazine that was heavy, long and impossible to load without a loading tool. There was also a slight problem that if it was fully loaded there was a danger the base of the magazine could fly off and send the spring, follower and rounds all over the room! The design was a close copy of the original magazine used in the German MP-28 SMG that the Lanchester was copied from.
The magazine has an extra piece braised to the mouth to create the feed lips, presenting the cartridges at the correct angle to feed into the breach. Note the little dimple to prevent the magazine from being inserted too far:
The back of the magazine has a series of witness holes to allow you to see roughly how many rounds are remaining in the magazine, essential with such a large magazine as it is hard to keep track of so many rounds:
To disasemble the magazine for cleaning, the button on the base needs to be depressed which allows the base to be slid off:
Note the letters ‘SECO’ in an oval, indicating the magazine was produced by the Sterling Engineering Company. Other examples can be found maked LB for ‘Lines Brothers’ (owners of Triang Toys).
With the base removed, the magazine can be split into its component parts:
These magazines are pretty scarce and fetch four or five times as much as the standard Sten magazines. I need a few more of these to go with my Lanchester, but this is the only one I have at the moment.