Book Review: The Sterling Years by James Edmiston

The Sterling submachine gun is one of the better submachine guns ever built – a lot of throught and engineering work went into its design. It is light, compact, ergonomic, very durable and reliable, and uses one of the best magazines ever made for submachine guns. It may be a gun overlooked by a lot of people, but it is a great piece – and whether you have never heard of it before or own one yourself, James Edmiston’s book The Sterling Years will entertain and educate you.

Edmiston was a British entrepreneur who purchased the Sterling company and factory in 1971 and owned it until the early 80s. During that time it produced standard and suppressed Sterling SMGs, AR-180 rifles in partnership with Armalite, and a number of other smaller product lines. Edmiston’s account of the time offers an interesting perspective on arms manufacture from a  point of view not often heard. Among pother things you’ll find within its pages are:

  • How H&K turned the British SAS into an active sales force
  • Why you can privately own a jet fighter company in France but not a gun factory
  • An Englishman’s experience staying with a Wyoming LDS family
  • Why you shouldn’t underestimate the arms industry in Singapore
  • Seedy details of the SA-80 development program

More a memoir than a formal history of the company, The Sterling Years provides great anecdotes from farflung sales expeditions (and right at home in the UK), and deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who wants a more complete understanding of where their firearms come from.

The 2011 paperback edition is in print and just a click away at Amazon: