Tuesday 9 July 2019


I've fired plenty of different sporting guns, but as part of my CCF and Officer Training courses, I was also invited to fire a variety of military weapons. Amongst others was the standard Lee Enfield .303 rifle with a kick like a horse, the Bren Gun that you fired lying down (very unpleasant), and the simple Stirling Machine Gun, which was almost toy-like.

The Stirling was by far my favourite. It sprayed bullets at quite a rate, of which about one in thirty was roughly on target. I believe the gun itself cost about 12/6d to make.

If I'd ever had to lead men into battle, it's certainly the weapon I'd have chosen. It gave a feeling that one was 'clearing a path'.

Those target men 'going down like ninepins' (at the end of the video) must have been faked. With a Sterling it would have been impossible.


  1. I shall have to get one for the OH as the pesky rabbits are proliferating at a great rate of knots.

  2. I've never fired a gun
    And would love to

    1. You'd love to fire a Sterling; you feel like a gangster.

  3. They were very popular with the British Army. I don't know whether the replacement has ever been so popular, whatever it is. Methinks maybe not.

    1. The Sterling was the UK equivalent of the US Thomson (or Thompson) machine gun. Very gangster-ish.

  4. Is this your new way of clearing pests from the veg garden?!

    1. Unfortunately I had to give it back; they wouldn't let me keep it.

  5. The Thompson used a 0.45” calibration bullet while the Stirling was 9mm. The Stirling was replacement for the Sten gun which really was dangerous to the user as well as the target.

    The 303 was lovely to shoot, straight as an arrow, it had a kick but then it did go a very long way. My memory of the Bren gun, as a cadet, was it was very heavy and if it was not cleaned it reverted to semi automatic mode. I used the SLR which was a bit plastic. Never tried the new stuff. Last time I was near the cadets was in 1978....fun times.

    I think if you are after rabies there were rumours of Bren guns rechambered for the .410 shotgun cartridge. Expensive carnage...

    1. I agree that the .303 was very accurate, but I did find it a bit of a brute. I would have hated to carry one into battle. I didn't like anything about the Bren. Firing from the hip (Rambo style) might have been better, but the prone position was nasty.

  6. For calibration read calibre and for rabies read rabbits

  7. The Sten, the predecessor of the Sterling, wasn't actually that bad a weapon. It was though an open bolt design that was prone to getting fouled with dirt in combat. My father, though an officer, preferred to carry one in WW2 in Franceand Germany as it was far more useful than a pistol. Oddly enough years later as a sniper I carried a sterling as a backup weapon to the Accuracy International rifle I used. It was very handy for close up work indeed. I never thought the. 303 that bad but the slow rate of fire must have cost many men their lives in WW2. We'd have been far better off copying the US Garand. The Bren was useful but its small magazine was a terrible limit on its ability to produce suppressing fire. That was why they adopted the GPMG whose ability for sustained fire saved many lives in the Falklands incidentally.

    1. Your knowledge about such things is obviously far greater than mine. As youngsters we fired these things simply to understand how they felt to fire. Most of us had gone out Rabbiting with a 410, but that was the limit of our experiences.

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