My thanks go to my old friend Andy Dixon for kindly letting me photograph today’s item from his collection.
During the Second World War it was discovered that there was a need for a silenced version of the Sten gun for resistance and special forces use. The suppressor was developed by Lt. Wikter Aleksander Kulikowski and Col. John Henry Townsend Icke. The Sten Mk II was chosen as a suitable firearm to adapt to the silenced role- it was in widespread use and the removable barrel nut made it easy to fit a suppressor. 5776 Mk II (S) were manufactured during the war and are easily recognised by the large silencer on the front:
The barrel was ported and an expansion chamber with a set of metal baffles and a rubber bung at the end to dissipate the gases coming out of the weapon as it was fired was fitted over the barrel. To make it reliable, the bolt was lightened and the spring shortened which all reduced the muzzle velocity to 300 m/s, below the speed of sound. The suppressor would wear out with just one magazine fired on full auto, so users were advised to fire single shots. The suppressor also heated up rapidly, hence the canvas hand guard tied around it to protect the user’s hand. The suppressor uses the thread normally reserved for the barrel nut so can be unscrewed to be cleaned, replaced or to make the weapon more concealable:
The front of the suppressor had slots cut into the front to allow a special screwdriver to be fitted to allow the front to be removed so that the baffles can be removed and replaced as they wear out:
The suppressed Sten was well regarded by both the allies and their enemies, as Otto Skorzeny who commented on the weapon:
What splendid possibilities the use of these silencers offered, I thought enthusiastically. What losses they might save and what dangers they might avert! How wonderful, in case of an unexpected meeting with an enemy detachment, to be able to fire without the reports attracting the attention of other enemy groups!
The weapon was made obsolete after World War II, but remained in service for decades afterwards and even saw some service in Malaya and Kenya.