The Uzi submachinegun has a very long history, and you can read all you want about this outstanding sub machine gun, on the ‘net – be advised, there is a lot of history behind this gun, and worldwide usage as well. However, I’ll give some background on the Uzi submachinegun, for our readers, and then some history on civilian semi-auto versions on the Uzi – both licensed and unlicensed copies.
The Uzi was designed in the late 1940s by Captain (later Major) Uziel “Uzi” Gal. As was noted in the blog, yesterday was his birthday. He was born December 15, 1923, in Weimar, Germany. He would be 93, if he were still living, but he passed away of 2002. His birth name was Gotthard Glas. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 his family moved first to England and later, in 1936, to Kibbutz Yagur in the British Mandate of Palestine, where he changed his name to Uziel Gal.
Most readers are familiar with the Uzi SMG, as it has been seen in many movies, and because of its use in conflicts in Israel and around the world. Make no mistake, the Uzi sub gun was designed to be a military weapon. It is build tank tough, and it can take a beating. However, many police departments adopted the Uzi over the years, even though it is heavy, coming it at 7.7 pounds, on average. But the original Uzi was full auto and designed for war, plain and simple.
The first prototype Uzi SMG came out in 1950. It was officially adopted by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in 1954. Initially it was only issued to their Special Forces groups. Later, the Uzi was general issue, and mainly issued to rear echelon military personnel – much like our own M1 Carbine was, during WW2. The original Uzi was made by IMI – Israeli Military Industries, and anyone the least bit familiar with IMI will know they are famous for turning out some of the best military weapons in the world.
The 9mm Uzi SMG is no longer general issue in Israel, because of the advent of more recent designs that are lighter in weight. Israel has also followed the trend away from pistol caliber carbines and SMGs, and toward small, high velocity rifle cartridges, for their versatility. However, the Uzi is still being used in the IDF for certain missions, and there are hundreds of thousands of them still held as war reserves.
Since the inception of the Uzi SMG, it has been adopted by at least 90 countries throughout the world. Our own US Secret Service used to carry them in either shoulder holsters, or concealed in specially designed brief cases, so they could protect the President of the USA. You may recall, when (then) President Ronald Reagan was shot, that there was a photo of a Secret Service Agent, who had his Uzi in-hand in a split second.
The Uzi saw a lot of use during the Six Day War in Israel, in 1967, and the 1973 Yon Kippur war. Israel is in an almost constant state of war. Believe it or not, even the German military –the same one, that sent Jews to their deaths in WW2–adopted the Uzi for some military units. It seems that old wounds can be healed, in some cases. The Uzi was also issued to some German police and border patrol units. The original Uzi used a 25-round magazine. Other magazines were tried, that held 40 or 50 rounds. However, most of these proved unreliable. At some point, Israel decided to standardize with a 32-round magazine that is totally reliable. The Germans not only purchased Uzi’s from Israel, but the 32-round magazines as well. More on this shortly.
Over the years, I’ve owned more than a few Uzi semi-auto carbines, as well as handguns – even the ever popular Action Arms Uzi Carbine and handguns. But I never had one that was 100% reliable. Not too many years ago, I ran across an unlicensed Chinese-made Uzi “clone” – it seemed to have been made out of lead, we are taking one heavy carbine. This had a fixed wooden stock on it. True Uzi purists insist on the metal folding stock – and I like it, too. Easy to fold and easy to deploy as well.
This brings us to my current Uzi carbine. It was manufactured by Group Industries – out of business many years ago, due to financial problems. My understanding is that, Group Industries only produced about 95 semi-auto carbines before closing their doors. However, Group did manufactured several thousand full-auto Uzis. That was before congress banned any new manufacture of transferable full-auto or select-fire guns. Group Industries had a lot of Uzi receiver blank “flats” on-hand, and sold those to Vector Arms, who went on to produce semi-auto Uzis of high quality. The Uzi is manufactured mostly out of stamp metal, so it was quick and inexpensive to produce. Some companies tried their hand at producing stamped Uzi receivers – and sadly many of these never worked properly.
The semi-auto Uzi carbine comes with a 16-inch barrel, as required by U.S. law. The barrel is held with a threaded barrel nut–though and you can convert a semi-auto into a short barreled rifle by doing the red tape, paying the $200 Federal transfer tax, and installing a shorter barrel. I have no problem at all with the 16-inch long barrel, because much of it is inside the receiver of an Uzi. The bolt on an Uzi actually “telescopes” around part of the barrel, so a lot of the barrel length is inside the receiver.
The Uzi is a straight blow-back operation – which means that the bolt is just pushed back upon recoil, there is no gas system to clog-up – very nice. And, the bolt is heavy enough to absorb that recoil, so shooting the Uzi is a pleasure. Even my wife enjoys shooting my Uzi. Many of the parts in the Group Industries Uzi are genuine Israeli military surplus, and that’s a good thing. My own Uzi actually looks a little bit – not much – battle worn, and I love the look.
My Group Uzi has the Model A front sight – which means it is adjustable for windage and elevation, the Model B doesn’t have this – its just a fixed front sight. The rear sight has two paddles, that you can flip up or down. One is geared for shooting out to 100-yards, and the other for shooting out to 200-yards or farther. I believe the 9mm round has at best, about a 150-yard killing/wounding ballistic – but I’m sure you can make someone feel like they should be someplace else, if you are shooting at them beyond 200 yards.
The cocking handle is a civilian version, and it is on the top of the receiver. You must engage the grip safety in order to draw the cocking handle rearward to chamber a round. BTW, the front and rear sights are both protected by “wings” from getting damaged – a nice feature. The sliding safety is on the top of the pistol grip, and my version has “safe” and “fire” although marked “S” for safe and “R” for “Repetition fire.” The latter marking was borrowed from the British Sten gun, which was already familiar to Israeli troops. The trigger pull on my Uzi is actually very nice – comes in right at 6 pounds and is smooth. My wife was shooting my sample and was killing all the rocks she drew a bead on. There is also a sling mount – one on the receiver and one on the folding stock.
As already mentioned, the all-metal folding stock, is easy to open or close – another nice touch. The grip safety is easy to depress.The pistol grips on both sides of my sample, are heavily battle worn. I thought about getting a new pair, then once again, my military mind kicked-in, and I decided the like the look of the beat-up grips. Though a new pair would be inexpensive, I don’t think I’ll ever replace the grips that came on the gun.
My Group Industries Uzi came complete with five 25-round magazines – all Israeli military surplus, and they are like brand-new. However, I wanted some 32-round magazines, and found a steal-of-a-deal on used ones for $9.95 each – they were advertised as being in “fair” condition. However, I was shocked when I received my order a few days later…9 of the magazines only needed to be cleaned and lubed, and the tenth magazine had a little bit of surface rust, that I cleaned off and added some bluing and lubed it – and it works just fine, as do the other nine magazines. I’m going to order at least ten more of these mags. These were made in Israel, but sold to the German military and are now sold as surplus.
As you will note, in one picture I’ve displayed a number of different types of magazine pouches that you can get for your Uzi, or MP5 magazines. Two are Israeli surplus, one holds the 25-round magazines, and the other holds the 32-round magazines. One is a tactical thigh magazine pouch, that will hold either the 25 or 32 round magazines, and I got several of these on the cheap, too…and one pouch is the type you can sling over your shoulder and it holds 6 of either magazine size.
A word on the flip up rear sight: The peep hole is way too small for fast shooting, so I took a drill bit and drill, and opened it up a little bit, and I may open it up a little more, later on. However, the gun is accurate, much more so than I expected. Average groups were right around one inch, at 25 yards.
One of my regular volunteer shooters, and a friend, shot the Uzi in my front yard. (I can do so, since I live in the boonies.) After he shot it, he had a couple questions. Where did you get it? How much was it? Do they have any more? Told him where I got it, and how little I paid, and no, they don’t have any more. I’m not going to mention what I paid for this gun, however it is safe to say that I practically “stole” it.
My Field Tests
On to shooting: Black Hills Ammunition supplied me with 1,000-rounds of their 9mm FMJ 115-grain JHP EXP for an extended test. This is premium ammo – some of the best, so the Uzi got a workout. I also fired some Black Hills JHP and their HoneyBadger ammo, for close to 1,200-rounds through the gun. The plan was to do some shooting over several shooting sessions. However, in just one session, with several shooters — loading their own magazines — we burned through that amount of ammo in a little over two hours. The Uzi never missed a beat. There was never any kind of malfunction. It was only cleaned and lubed before we started shooting. The gun got pretty hot, and I was using a pair of shooting gloves.
I see the Uzi carbine, as a great perimeter defense carbine – protecting your homestead from the Golden Horde, or as a great house gun. With a magazines loaded with 32-rounds of 9mm JHP or similar ammo, you have some potent firepower on-tap. I checked around, on various gun selling websites, and similar guns were selling – or should I say, the opening bids were starting at $1,499 – and I didn’t pay anywhere near that – and “no” it is not for sale.
The Uzi was absolutely bred for battle, and it will serve you well, through any SHTF scenario you can think of, without failing.
Nice story on the UZI. I owned two at one time a 9mm and one in 45 ACP from Action Arms. Unfortunately had to trade them off. I know have two of the KelTec Sub 2000’s with Glock 19 and 17 formats. Great guns and mags are interchangeable. With the price of Uzi’s you can outfit your whole clan with KelTec’s, mags, and ammo for the price of one Uzi.
I’ve never shot an UZI before, but for some reason, I think I would prefer the M3 ‘Greasegun’ (which I haven’t shot either). I think I would rather have it instead.
I believe that the M3 was developed as a cheap alternative to the Tommy Gun in WWII. Each tank in the Marine Corps still had one when I was a Marine “back in the day, although we had M16s, too. All I can say is that it is a crude, durable, slow firing weapon. You can do far, far better.
Great article on a great firearm.
Having said that, I personally have never understood the whole semi-auto submachinegun concept. The idea behind the sub-gun is the rate of fire provided by it’s full-auto ability. Once you make a sub-gun semi-auto only I have trouble envisioning a role that it fills, that could not be more conveniently filled by a handgun with an extended magazine. Given, the slightly longer barrel normally found on a sub-gun will give a little higher muzzle velocity. The stock and two-handed firing may give a little more accuracy. But at the distances that a sub-gun is normally employed at I don’t know that these counteract the ease of carrying a handgun in a holster, at a huge weight saving.
@Lone Canadian, i ask myself that all the time, why would you want a pistol caliber semi auto carbine, isn’t a pistol in the same caliber much easier to use, and more maneuverable? Is the added velocity really that much of a game changer? However, my son claims he has a much better hit frequency with ar-15 in 9mm than with his other 9mm pistols.
I’m an old fart, I like bigger bullets coming out at zippy speeds.
There is no doubt that the carbine is more accurate, but the effectiveness of the round (usually 9mm) is limited to short distance. You might even be relatively accurate with a 9mm carbine at 100 yards, on paper, but there is no stopping power at that range. By the time you come in to that 25 yard range where a 9mm is most effective, generally the need for pinpoint accuracy is gone.
I’m with you Mike, I’m an old fart – so if I’m going to carry something with the weight/length of a sub-gun, I want something bigger, zippier and with more punch. Like I said above – without full auto capability I don’t see a real purpose for a subgun.
The Germans bought Uzis because of laws requiring them to spend a metric ton of German Marks for restitution to the Jews in Israel. Buying something was better than giving it to them straight away. The Germans bought ammo, agriculture items, and UZIs. I remember seeing the German Bundeswehr soldaten carrying them at some of the Heidelberg Kazerns, at both US and Bundeswehr areas. During Desert Storm 1, the Bundeswehr pulled gate check and guard duty at US installations here in Germany to relieve US Army soldiers to go to Kuwait, and many of these Bundeswehr Soldaten were armed with fixed wood stock UZIs, ….. until all of the accidents happened !!! Since the IMI military version fires from an open bolt, any negligence can easily cause the heavy bolt and strong spring to send the bolt foreward and cause a negligent discharge. If it is on Full Auto, as the military versions were, then a full mag disperses. Because of the high accident rate, the Bundeswehr retired their UZIs for collapsable stock G3s or MP5s. Their SOP was to not have the weapon charged, and the bolt closed on an empty cylinder! Keep that in mind, an open bolt. Don’t drop it, or bang it around, a small piece of metal is holding a heavy bolt and strong spring in the compressed position. I heard that later there were closed bolt models brought out, just for this reason, but I’ve never seen one, they are generally forbidden for personal use here in Germany.
Oh, and I forgot my biggest argument. By carrying a handgun for a close encounter, you can still carry a bigger stick, but carrying a semi-auto subgun pretty much negates carrying another rifle sized firearm.
I once has the ‘hots’ for a mini-uzi and schemed constantly how I might afford one back when they were fairly abundant on the gun market. Never did, however. Now they are both rare and still too expensive for me for what they are. Like Wojo said, I could economize with the Kel-Tec SUB2000 (and have, folded away in a laptop case in my truck) as well as an AR9 that I absolutely love. Both use Glock mags.
Nice article. Thanks
Having owned an IMI UZI in semi-auto and firing it multi times with heavy use, with multiple users like Pat did, with zero malfunctions. I agree it is a great gun, with a great history. It is heavy for its size, and dated with no optic rail, so no longer as desirable to many. But, if you are a history buff, military buff, it is a lot of fun to shoot and accurate also. Anonymous; I have shot the full-auto UZI many times and the M-3 Grease Gun, the UZI is way more accurate, controllable and much more of a gun. The Grease Gun, is clunky, cheaply made and not very accurate, and difficult to get 3 round bursts. I fired it twice and that was enough. Totally agree with Survivormann99. If you are ever in the Ozarks check out:
They have just about any full auto you want to shoot, just bring plenty of cash!
All good comments today. I took Chuck Taylor’s sub gun class during the 1980s and found the full-size Uzi to be an unreliable brick. The mini-Uzi, however, is a pure joy to handle, carry, and fire. MUCH lighter, more reliable. His grease gun was, as many here have observed, clubby, bulky, and hard to use well. Some students liked it. I favor the S&W M76 or Mini Uzi in a true sub-gun.
The author of The Ultimate Sniper, John Plaster, worked in MAC V SOG. He documented his only use of his 9mm submachine gun, I think it was an M76- and he said the enemy he salted down with it was not very impressed, as he continued to try to engage as they left the scene.
Similarly, a good friend serving on the XXXX XXXX County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team used an MP-5SD, along with a partner to down a cocaine-addled suspect in a basement. The man emerged from a downstairs bar with a shotgun and began to aim. My friend fired most of a magazine of Federal Hydra-Shok ammunition into the man’s chest in sort of a question mark pattern. Not a sound or any reaction, just swung a .410 toward his partner. His partner fired a five round burst into his neck, and the suspect decided to aim at my friend again. He put the rest of the magazine into his face, and one of the slugs clipped the cortex and he fell to the floor. The medical examiner called and said the deceased sounded like a maraca when he shook him.
This experience really shook my friend’s confidence in the Nine badly and he upgraded his personal equipment. The experience also had a deep effect on him, and he left the Sheriff’s department for a medical-related career.
My take is that if I’m going to carry something that weighs as much as a full-size Uzi, it’s not going to eat 9mm ammo. I own them primarily because the caliber is everywhere, but they are held in reserve. Similarly, I have conversion barrels for my Forties so if the need arises, I can change over to the lessor round.
Pat did a good job covering the history and heritage of the piece.
And last, seems like an open-bolt weapon would invite a ton of blowing sand and dust to enter and cause all sorts of mischief with a lubed machine. Uzis don’t do well without lubrication.
I’ve had a 9mm IMI Uzi Carbine model B for nearly 40 years. It’s now possible to purchase a top cover with a picatinny rail permanently mounted. I’ve got a Meprolight optic mounted on mine. It’s possible to get picatinny rails for the bayonet mount too, so a flashlight or laser etc. could be added.
Though it is a relatively heavy firearm, it’s still highly maneuverable in tight places, and there’s very little recoil. My spouse loves shooting our Uzi. If the SHTF, the Uzi will be one of the firearms accompanying me as I do homestead chores, because of its compactness and its reliability.
I owned a Chinese made UZI knock off semiauto about 30 years ago. It shot reliably for about 1 mag full then failed to feed, requiring use of charging handle to chamber each round and fire. I changed ammo type, the springs and lube amounts but never got rid of the problem until I sold it as non-reliable.
Pat, while on the subject of subguns, do you think you could review the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 Pistol with Brace? I’ve been contemplating one, just have to get it cleared through the Department of War (read wife).
I second that suggestion on the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 and throw in a binary trigger too. Seems like that would be about as close to a full auto subgun as most people will ever get.
Pat, thanks for the review of Group industries. I bought some of their parts back in the 80’s and they’re high quality. If I didn’t already have an IMI model B Uzi I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Group Uzi.
Another IMI model B owner. I’ve deer hunted with mine, and works good at the 50-75 yard range with 124gr JHP. Old M16 30 rnd Alice mag pouches can carry six 32 rnd mags. (some do, some don’t) Even tried helicopter door gunnery out the side of a OH-58 with a brass catcher, but wished for full auto in that role. But it is better than the .38 revolvers we carried.
Tried a Uzi at a machine gun shoot,found it easy to shoot(points quickly,trigger ok,sights ok),reliable(it was in constant use without any failure) but underpowered for interpersonal confrontation. We learned that over 100 years ago in the Philippines,which is why we developed the 45acp and 1911,then Thompson SMG.
as the ‘other’ Canadian, our restrictive gun regs make pistols/’ scary looking’ semi autos mostly pointless. More onerous to transport/ own, virtually impossible to gain proficiency, other than from a bench. Pistol caliber carbines don’t fall in that group, though.