Sputter Gun

Sputter Gun

The Sputter Gun was a modification of the British Sten Submachine Gun, designed to circumvent then-existing U.S. laws defining a machine gun. Lacking a trigger, the Sputter Gun was designed to, upon release of the bolt, fire multiple rounds until all ammunition was expended. The Sputter Gun was, however, reclassified as a machine gun by the ATF.


In 1985, the ATF became aware that William M. York, doing business as York Arms Co., was selling a modified version of a Mk.II Sten that was capable of fully automatic fire. York advertised the gun as a weapon for those "who want the fun and excitement of owning and firing a fully automatic weapon without the government tax and red tape". The ATF instructed York to recall weapons already sold and issue refunds. This was, however, unnecessary, as none had been sold.


The ATF originally defined a machine gun as any weapon capable of firing multiple rounds by a single trigger action. This was changed, in light of the Sputter Gun, to read

The 'shoots automatically' definition covers weapons that will function automatically. The 'readily restorable' definition defines weapons which previously could shoot automatically but will not in their present condition. The 'designed' definition includes weapons which have not previously functioned as machineguns but possess specific machinegun design features which facilitate automatic fire by simple alteration or elimination of existing component parts.


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