Sten Enemy Ammunition

The Sten was the standard SMG of the British Commonwealth during the war, designed to be as cheap and quick producing as possible. One thing I’ve always heard about it though is that the Sten was apparently designed to be able to use captured ammunition from the German MP40. They both used 9mm ammo in a single feed 32 round stick magazine. But are there any accounts of this actually happening?


I don’t know about the Sten using MP40 ammunition, but it was based on the MP28. In video games (although this last bit isn’t helpful) you could substitute MP40 magazines in a Sten, I don’t know if that idea came about from an actual account or if it was just a way to get more ammo.

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MP40 (and MP38) rounds were usable in a Sten, but the magazines themselves were not.


But what would warrant a situation for them to use MP40s rounds in sten magazines? Say… the germans evacuated uh… rome in haste (say…), they would leave MP40s right? So why not use that and throw the MP40s magazine in it instead of removing the bullets from an MP40 magazine and then putting the bullets in the sten magazine?

Also also how did they discover they could use MP40 bullets in Sten? Did soldiers go,“hey! This bullet look similar to ours. Let throw it in the magazine and see” or did the Brits realise this when they took the captured material home?

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The MP40 was released in 1940 while Sten didn’t debut until over a year later. Captured examples would have been studied by the allies. Both guns use the 9x19 parabellum round.

Another thing to consider is that Stens where given out like candy to resistance units who would raid ammo dumps and loot enemy troops, so that would be a factor as well.


If you’re a British pongo armed for some reason with a Sten, and you find an MP40 with loaded magazines left behind (and not booby-trapped) by the Germans, I think 98% of the time you’d ditch your Sten and use the MP40. British bring-back weapons weren’t as common as American ones, but good condition German submachineguns were at the very least a highly saleable item once you were out of the front lines.

The Germans, being German, would mark the receiver of the weapon with, among other data, the ammunition the weapon was designed to use. The ammunition boxes or other containers would be similarly clearly marked. Although post-war British practice was to mark the weapon with this info, I don’t think the Sten carried that on the tube or magazine housing, but it would have been part of the training before you’d be allowed to carry one in combat.