History of Guerilla Warfare: IRA Guerilla Gunmsiths and the “Shipyard Special”


At the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, both the Republicans and Loyalists were desperate for any weapons they could lay their hands on.

These weapons ranged from smuggled AR-18s — infamously nicknamed Widowmakers — to crude but ingenious improvised weapons such as the submachine gun pictured above.

These improvised weapons took the STEN as their basis. They were simple but deadly, open-bolt submachine guns that any semi-skilled armorer could make quickly with only basic tooling.

The weapon pictured above was made by a Loyalist paramilitary force in Northern Ireland — perhaps the Ulster Volunteer Force or the Ulster Defense Association.

Chambered in nine-by-19-millimeter, it bears a passing resemblance to theSterling L2 submachine gun that British troops stationed in Northern Ireland routinely carried. The improvised submachine gun features a simple, square, tube-steel receiver — reportedly fashioned from metal table legs — and feeds from a horizontal magazine. Other examples used metal piping and had round receivers.

The magazine housing is designed to fit a standard Sterling magazine but uses the STEN’s simpler magazine release. The weapon features a blowback action and has a square bolt to match its box section receiver.

It includes crudely drilled serrations in the barrel shroud and does not have sights. The pistol grip is rudimentary and the trigger appears to be made from a piece of metal rod that the armorer simply bent into shape.

Interestingly, the example pictured above has a number of features not common to all of the homemade submachine guns. Not only is its barrel crudely rifled, but it also includes a safety-selector just above the trigger.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring


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