Firing the Type II Sterling Carbine

In Part 1 of this gun feature, we gave you a closer look at Century Arms’ Type II Sterling Carbine. Now hit the range and check out what we thought of how it fires!

Thompson firing the Century Sterling prone

Thompson firing the Century Sterling prone at plates and pepper poppers at 50 yards.

It is possible to fire the Sterling—either the SMG or the Century Carbine—with the stock folded. However, since it is has a quite usable folding stock, I would not normally fire it as a big pistol; one exception could be when used from within a vehicle. Many years ago, I was training with a British unit that practiced counter-ambush/debus under fire drills with the Sterling, and did some firing within the vehicle with the stock folded. On one drill, the soldier in the front passenger seat fired his Sterling out of the window in bursts with the stock folded at a target about 10 meters away. I was in the back seat and fired my Browning Hi-Power at another target about the same distance. As I remember, we got about the same number of hits, but mine were better placed in center of mass.

rollers in the Sterlings magazine

Note the rollers in the Sterling’s magazine, which aids in reliable feeding.

After shooting it, it is my favorite full auto to semi auto conversion that I’ve tested over the last couple of years. Reliability was extremely good, as was accuracy. Very importantly, the trigger pull was good. Often on these conversions the trigger pull is atrocious, but that of the Sterling is more than acceptable.


British 9mm SMG ammo for the Sterling was always pretty hot. I have had some of it from time to time and was careful what handguns I fed with it. I did not have any special SMG ammo for use in testing the Sterling Carbine, however. Instead, I used Winchester white box 124 grain NATO loads. At 25 yards using the 100 meter aperture, groups were good, though low…but well centered. I also fired at a police silhouette target at 50 meters using the same aperture, and firing rapidly. I held my point of aim on the “chin” of the target and put 12 rounds in the “chest” area.

Right side view of the Sterling Type II with stock folded

Right side view of the Sterling Type II with stock folded; note how the stock locks into a hole in the ventilated handguard when folded.

The full-length barrel shroud adds some weight, but the Century Sterling balances fairly well. I had to experiment to find where best to place my support hand for the ideal balance. Recoil was not noticeable. I did some firing at pepper poppers and plates at 25 and 35 yards and found that the Sterling handled fairly quickly. The sights are not of the modern fast acquisition type, so it did take me an instant each time I switched targets to get it in the aperture…but I got faster with practice.



The Century Sterling Carbine was reliable and reasonably accurate. Most of all, it was a lot of fun to shoot! I had loaded the two magazines supplied with the carbine with 32 rounds each the night before going to the range. I took along another 150 rounds of 9mm ammo, as I also planned to shoot one of my 9mm pistols. I reloaded one of the magazines twice and the other one once so I ended up firing 160 rounds through the Sterling. Back home, I was already planning to shoot it again on the next trip to the range.

Right side view of the Sterling Type II with stock folded

Right side view of the Sterling Type II with stock folded; note how the stock locks into a hole in the ventilated handguard when folded.

I did, too, putting another 128 rounds through it. The only malfunctions I remember were caused by my not pulling the cocking handle all the way to the rear (which I did twice). If there were any others, they were not noteworthy, as I must have forgotten them in the weeks since I last shot the Sterling. Certainly, I remember it functioning reliably as I ran entire magazines through it quickly. I did not even clean the carbine after that first range session, though I did squirt a little oil on the bolt.


I have since cleaned the Century Sterling Carbine. It is not overly difficult, but I would recommend having a manual available. The complete manual is available online as a downloadable PDF file.

The Sterlings folding stock in the process of being deployed

The Sterling’s folding stock in the process of being deployed. It still has to be locked in position and the butt plate opened.

The Century Sterling is a gun for collectors to the extent that owning a real, registered Sterling is quite expensive. But most of all, the Century Sterling is a shooter. Its only downside is that if you purchase one, you’d better plan on spending quite a bit on 9mm ammo, as you will want to shoot it a lot! In fact, as soon as I finish this article, I’m going to get mine out of the safe and take it shooting!


Story & Photos by Leroy Thompson


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