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GUNS Magazine July 2010 - Page 28

• HOLT BODINSON • THE “PATCHETT” 9MM SMG Century’s remarkable Type II Sterling. t was called the “Pachett.” In the hands of Britain’s 6th Airborne I Division, 100 or so “trial” Pachetts saw action at Normandy and Arnhem. The troops liked it, but with the close of WWII, there were so many Stens in the supply chain, there was little immediate demand or interest in underwriting the development of a new submachine gun. Yet, in 1944, the British General Staff had published a set of standards for the design of a new submachine gun. It was to chamber the 9mm Parabellum; weigh no more than 6 pounds; have a cyclic rate of no more than 500 rounds per minute and be capable of placing five rounds consistently within one square foot at 100 yards. Century’sSterlingismostlymadeoforiginal partslikethismagazinehousing(above). Pachett’simprovedrollermagazinefollower (below)isingeniousandslickworking. Working at the Sterling Engineering Company in Dagenham, Essex, England, George William Pachett wasn’t about to let a good submachine gun design end up in the dustbin of history. He knew he had a more accurate and reliable design than the Sten, which had indeed acquired some derogatory aliases during the war such as “Stench Gun” and “Woolworth Gun.” The Sterling Engineering Company was a good place to work. In 1941, another engineer there, George Herbert Lanchester, patented the Lanchester submachine gun, which was essentially an improved version of the German Schmeisser MP-28. The Lanchester Mk I featured a side feeding, 50-round magazine, a perforated barrel jacket and was produced during the war by Sterling Engineering exclusively for the British Navy. So, with the support of Sterling, G.W. Pachett continued to refine his design and kept submitting improved models to the trials committees of the late 1940s and early 1950s. One of the key features that kept bringing the Pachett to the head of the line in design was its self-cleaning action. The bolt body was machined with four sharp-sided, curved ribs along its circumference. As the bolt reciprocated, the angled ribs sheared away and cleared any fouling, dirt, dust, sand or mud that might have entered the tubular receiver. The early designs of the Pachett used either the 50-round Lanchester or the 32-round Sten magazine. There is no question the side-feeding magazine system has proved reliable and handy when hosing down the enemy. Pachett wasn’t satisfied with existing magazine designs though, so he came up with an improved one of his own. Pachett’s 34-round, staggered box The“Patchett”sawlimiteduseinWWIIand wentontobecomeoneofthemostwidelyused SMGsworldwidepostwar. Self Cleaning magazine dispensed with the common sheet metal, fixed follower. In its place, Pachett substituted two robust, steel rollers, much like the rollers on a motorcycle chain. The rollers reduced friction and provided a more positive feeding system. Pachett also incorporated pressed-in grooves along the body of the magazine that functioned as spaces where dirt could collect and not contribute to a jam. It’s a tough, heavywalled magazine and weighs just shy of 3/4 pounds on my Sunbeam scale, and it’s a joy to thumb 9mm rounds into. Pachett’s persistence and Sterling’s support paid off. In 1953, the design was officially adopted by Britain and most of the British Commonwealth. Ironically, the design from WWII to 1952, through all the trials, had always been officially referred to as the “Pachett,” but once it was adopted as the model L1A1, it was from that day forward called the “Sterling.” The Sterling was made by the Sterling Engineering Company, the Royal Ordnance Factory at Fazakerly, and manufactured under license by the Canadian Arsenals, Ltd. The standard military model was adopted by Britain, Canada, India and New Zealand, sold to 28 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JULY 2010

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