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The IMI Uzi submachine gun.
|Place of origin||Israel|
|Used by||See Users|
Yom Kippur War
Colombian internal conflict
Sri Lankan Civil War
Portuguese Colonial War
South African Border War
Rhodesian Bush War
Somali Civil War
Mexican Drug War
|Manufacturer||Israel Military Industries
Lyttleton Engineering Works (under Vektor Arms)
|Weight||3.5 kg (7.72 lb)|
|Barrel length||260 mm (10.2 in)|
|Action||Blowback, Open bolt|
|Rate of fire||600 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||400 m/s|
|Effective range||200 m|
|Feed system||10 (.22 and .41 AE)
16 (.45 ACP)
20, 25, 32, 40, 50 (9 mm) magazines
The first Uzi submachine gun was designed by Major Uziel Gal in the late 1940s. The prototype was finished in 1950; first introduced to IDF special forces in 1954, the weapon was placed into general issue two years later. The Uzi has found use as a personal defense weapon by rear-echelon troops, officers, artillery troops and tankers, as well as a frontline weapon by elite light infantry assault forces.
The Uzi has been exported to over 90 countries. Over its service lifetime, it has been manufactured by Israel Military Industries, FN Herstal, and other manufacturers. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Uzi submachine guns were sold to more military and police markets than any other submachine gun ever made.
DesignThe Uzi uses an open bolt, blowback-operated design. The open bolt design exposes the breech end of the barrel, and improves cooling during periods of continuous fire; however, it means that since the bolt is held to the rear when cocked, the receiver is more susceptible to contamination from sand and dirt ingress. It and the Czechoslovak series 23 to 26 were the first weapons to use a telescoping bolt design, in which the bolt wraps around the breech end of the barrel. This allows the barrel to be moved far back into the receiver and the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip, allowing for a heavier, slower-firing bolt in a shorter, better-balanced weapon.
The weapon is constructed primarily from stamped sheet metal, making it less expensive per unit to manufacture than an equivalent design machined from forgings. With relatively few moving parts, the Uzi is easy to strip for maintenance or repair. The magazine is housed within the pistol grip, allowing for intuitive and easy reloading in dark or difficult conditions, under the principle of "hand finds hand". The pistol grip is fitted with a grip safety, making it difficult to fire accidentally. However, the protruding vertical magazine makes the gun awkward to fire when prone. The Uzi features a bayonet lug.
Controls are relatively simple. The non reciprocating charging handle on the top of the receiver cover is used to retract the bolt. Submachine gun variants have a ratchet safety mechanism which will catch the bolt and lock its movement if it is retracted past the magazine, but not far enough to engage the sear. Semiauto civilian market versions of the Uzi usually do not have or need this feature. When the handle is fully retracted to the rear, the bolt will cock/catch on the sear mechanism and the handle can then be released to spring fully forward under power of a small spring attaching it to the topcover. It will remain forward during firing of the weapon since it does not reciprocate when the bolt is thrust backward by the force of a cartridge firing, or forward by the main action spring. The military/police versions of the Uzi will fire immediately upon chambering a cartridge as the Uzi is an open bolt weapon. This feature is extensively modified on commercial market semiauto Uzis in order to prevent fully automatic fire. The semiauto variants (whether rifle or pistol) fire from the closed bolt, with the entire bolt mechanism designed as a two-piece mechanism. The main bolt functions much like the original, but will close upon release of the charging handle. A mechanism containing part of the shape of the bolt and firing pin remains cocked to the rear. That striker like mechanism is only released forward when the trigger is pulled. Some gunsmiths in the USA have modified the semiauto mechanism to work as fully automatic, but the uses are very limited, often only found in rare "collector and law enforcement" models which were manufactured in Israel as semiautomatic but modified elsewhere.
There are two external safety mechanisms on the Uzi, one being a selector lever which includes positions for "safe" which locks the sear and prevents movement of the bolt, "semi", which is one notch forward, which will allow the weapon to function in semiautomatic single shot mode, requiring the trigger to be pulled for each shot, and then "automatic" with the selector all the way forward, which will disengage part of the sear mechanism, allowing use of the trigger to control the firing mechanism. Once on automatic, the user may hold the trigger back and the weapon will fire until the magazine is empty. The bolt will then most likely come to rest on an empty chamber once the magazines is empty since the Uzi does not employ a bolt hold open on empty magazine mechanism like those found on military weapons that fire from the closed bolt. A very rare semiautomatic version made by FN Herstal and sold in Europe for a short time during the 1970s functioned exactly the same way, but the most forward setting on the selector lever was eliminated and blocked off. That variant was not approved for commercial import into the USA and was eventually withdrawn from production after having a relatively short commercial life in Western Europe and Canada.
The second external safety mechanism is a grip safety, located at the rear of the grip and meant to help prevent accidental discharge if the weapon is dropped, or the user loses a firm grip on the weapon during firing. The grip safety on the Uzi uses a stronger spring than that found on most handguns with a somewhat similar mechanism (US M1911, German Luger). The pistol grip must be firmly held by the user in order to allow the weapon to function, regardless of any manipulation of other controls.
The trigger mechanism is a conventional firearm trigger, but functions only to control the release mechanism for either the bolt (submachine gun) or firing pin holding mechanism (semiauto) since the UZI does not incorporate any internal cocking or hammer mechanism. While the system is much more mechanically simple than say, the Heckler & Koch MP5, it creates a noticeable delay from the point the user pulls the trigger and the point that the weapon actually fires. This delay is common with weapons that fire from the "open bolt".
The magazine release button/lever is located on the lower portion of the pistol grip and is intended to be manipulated by the non-firing hand. The paddle-like button lays flush with the pistol grip in order to help prevent accidental release of the magazine during soldier maneuvers and day to day activity.
Of the two stocks employed by the IDF, the wooden stock was the simpler and more robust of the two. The wooden stock is quick-detachable through the use of a release mechanism on the bottom side. Some commercial variants of the Uzi lacked the quick release mechanism and have the stock bolted in place. The second, and by far most popular stock on the Uzi was a unique folding stock which folds under the gun. It is robust but complex and was replaced by a side folding stock on the more compact models. Neither of the folding stocks can be quickly or easily removed from the weapon.
When the gun is de-cocked (the magazine must be removed or at least lowered enough to prevent feeding a round in the chamber in order to prevent the weapon from firing when it is being de-cocked), the ejector port closes, preventing entry of dust and dirt. Though the Uzi's stamped-metal receiver is equipped with pressed reinforcement slots to accept accumulated dirt and sand, the weapon can still jam with heavy accumulations of sand in desert combat conditions when not cleaned regularly. The magazine must be removed prior to "decocking" the weapon or else the bolt will feed a round when being let forward and then leave the firing pin resting on an unfired primer, which can then fire if the weapon is knocked or dropped. The decocking procedure is to remove the magazine, check the chamber (which should be empty) and then pull the trigger which will release the bolt to fall on the empty chamber. The magazine may then be re-inserted. To ready the weapon for firing again, the bolt handle must be retracted to the rear. Use of the selector switch is irrelevant to this process, except that it will prevent the bolt from moving when it is in the "safe" position.
Operational useUziel Gal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The weapon was submitted to the Israeli army for evaluation and won out over more conventional designs due to its simplicity and economy of manufacture. Gal did not want the weapon to be named after him, but his request was ignored. The Uzi was officially adopted in 1951. First introduced to IDF special forces in 1954, the weapon was placed into general issue two years later. The first Uzis were equipped with a short, fixed wooden buttstock, and this is the version that initially saw combat during the 1956 Suez campaign. Later models would be equipped with a folding metal stock.
The Uzi was used as a personal defense weapon by rear-echelon troops, officers, artillery troops and tankers, as well as a frontline weapon by elite light infantry assault forces. The Uzi's compact size and firepower proved instrumental in clearing Syrian bunkers and Jordanian defensive positions during the 1967 Six-Day War. Though the weapon was phased out of frontline IDF service in the 1980s, some Uzis and Uzi variants were still used by a few IDF units until December 2003, when the IDF announced that it was retiring the Uzi from all IDF forces. It was subsequently replaced by the fully automatic Micro Tavor.
In general, the Uzi was a reliable weapon in military service. However, even the Uzi fell victim to extreme conditions of sand and dust. During the Sinai campaign of the Yom Kippur War, IDF army units reaching the Suez reported that of all their small arms, only the 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun was still in operation.
The Uzi proved especially useful for mechanized infantry needing a compact weapon, and for infantry units clearing bunkers and other confined spaces. However, its limited range and accuracy in automatic fire (approximately 50 m) could be disconcerting when encountering enemy forces armed with longer-range small arms, and heavier support weapons could not always substitute for a longer-ranged individual weapon. These failings eventually caused the phaseout of the Uzi from IDF forces.
The Uzi has been used in various conflicts outside Israel and the Middle East during the 1960s and 1970s. Quantities of 9 mm Uzi submachine guns were used by Portuguese cavalry, police, and security forces during the Portuguese Colonial Wars in Africa.
Worldwide arms sales
- The German Bundeswehr used the Uzi since 1959 under the name MP2 (especially for tank crews) and is now changing to the Heckler & Koch MP7.
- The Irish Gardaí ERU and RSU have replaced the Uzi with the Heckler & Koch MP7.
- In Rhodesia in the late 1970s the Uzi was produced under license, from Israeli-supplied, and later made in Rhodesia, components.
- Sri Lanka ordered a few thousand Mini Uzi and Uzi Carbines in 1990s. Currently those are deployed with Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy Elite Forces and Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force as their primary weapon when providing security for VIPs.
- The United States Secret Service used the Uzi as their standard submachine gun from the 1960s until the early 1990s, when it was phased out and replaced with the Heckler & Koch MP5 and FN P90. When President Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981 outside of the Washington Hilton Hotel by John Hinckley Jr., Secret Service Special Agent Robert Wanko pulled an Uzi out of a briefcase and covered the rear of the presidential limousine as it sped to safety with the wounded president inside.
- All merchant mariners of the Zim Integrated Shipping line are trained in the use of, and issued, the Uzi.
Military variantsThe Uzi Submachine Gun is a Standard Uzi with a 10-inch (250 mm) barrel. It has a rate of automatic fire of 600 rounds per minute (rpm) when chambered in 9mm Parabellum; the .45 ACP model's rate of fire is slower at 500 rpm.
The Mini-Uzi is a smaller version of the regular Uzi, first introduced in 1980. The Mini-Uzi is 600 mm (23.62 inches) long or 360 mm (14.17 inches) long with the stock folded. Its barrel length is 197 mm (7.76 inches), its muzzle velocity is 375 m/s (1230 f/s) and its effective range is 100 m. It has a greater automatic rate of fire of 950 rounds per minute due to the shorter bolt.
The Micro-Uzi is an even further scaled down version of the Uzi, introduced in 1986. The Micro-Uzi is 486 mm (19.13 in) long, reduced to 282 mm (11.10 in) with the stock folded and its barrel length is 117 mm. Its muzzle velocity is 350 m/s (1148 f/s) and its cyclic rate of fire is 1,200 rpm.
The Uzi-Pro is an improved variant of the Micro-Uzi has been launched in the year 2010 by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd. (I.W.I.), formerly the Magen ("Small Arms") division of Israel Military Industries. The Uzi-Pro is a blowback-operated, select-fire, closed-bolt submachine gun with a large lower portion, comprising grip and handguard, entirely made of polymer to reduce weight; the grip section has been redesigned to allow two-handed operation and facilitate control in full-automatic fire with such a small-sized firearm. The Uzi-Pro features three Picatinny rails, two at the sides of the barrel and one on the top for optics, having the cocking handle been moved on the left side. The new weapon weighs 2.32 kg and has a length of 529 mm with an extended stock, and 30 cm while collapsed. It has been purchased by the IDF in limited numbers for evaluation and it is yet to decide whether to order additional units for all of its special forces.
Civilian variantsThe Uzi Carbine is similar in appearance to the Uzi submachine gun, the Uzi carbine is fitted with a 16-inch (410 mm) barrel (400mm), to meet the minimum rifle barrel length requirement for civilian sales in the United States. It fires from a closed-bolt position in semi-automatic mode only and uses a floating firing pin as opposed to a fixed firing pin. A small number of Uzi Carbines were produced with the standard length barrel for special markets. Uzi Carbines were available in calibers 9mm, .41 AE, and .45 ACP.
The Uzi Carbine had two main variants, the Model A (imported from 1980 to 1983) and the Model B (imported from 1983 until 1989). These two variants were imported and distributed by Action arms.
Norinco of China manufactures an unlicensed copy of the Uzi model B with modifications made to avoid the US Assault Weapon Import Ban. The folding stock was replaced with a wooden thumbhole stock, the barrel nut was welded in place, and the bayonet lug was removed. The gun had a gray parkerized finish and was sold as the M320.
The Mini-Uzi Carbine is similar in appearance to the Mini-Uzi submachine gun, the Mini-Uzi carbine is fitted with a 19.8 inch barrel, to meet the minimum rifle overall length requirement for civilian sales in the United States. It fires from a closed-bolt position in semi-automatic mode only.
The Uzi Pistol is a semi-automatic, closed bolt, and blowback-operated pistol variant. Its muzzle velocity is 345 m/s. It is a Micro-Uzi with no shoulder stock or full-automatic firing capability. The intended users for the pistol were various security agencies in need of a high-capacity semi-automatic pistol, or civilian shooters that wanted a gun with those qualities and the familiarity of the Uzi style. It was introduced in 1984 and produced until 1993.
The USA firm Group Industries made limited numbers of a copy of the Uzi "B" model semiauto carbine for sale in the USA along with copies of the Uzi submachinegun for the USA collector market. After registering several hundred submachineguns transferable to the general public through a special government regulated process, production was halted due to financial troubles at the company. Company assets including partially made Uzi submachineguns, parts, and tooling were purchased by an investment group later to become known as Vector Arms.
A company known as Vector Arms purchased tooling and parts from the defunct firm of Group Industries and built and marketed numerous versions of the Uzi Carbine and the Mini-Uzi. 
Caliber variantsMost Uzis fire the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge, though some fire .22 LR, .41 AE, or .45 ACP. Caliber conversions exist in .40 S&W and 10 mm auto.
Available magazines include 20-, 25-, 32-, 40-, and 50-round magazines (9×19mm Parabellum), 10-round magazines (.41 and .22 LR), and 16-round magazines (.45 ACP). All of the above are manufactured by IMI. Other high-capacity magazines exist (e.g., 50-round magazines and 100-round drums in 9 mm) which were manufactured by companies such as Vector Arms.
- Bangladesh: Used by the Rapid Action Battalion.
- Belgium: Made under license by FN Herstal.
- Brazil: Mini-Uzi variant.
- Central African Republic
- China: Produced unlicensed copies as the Norinco 320.
- Costa Rica
- Croatia: Produces unlicensed copies of the Uzi and Micro-Uzi called the ERO and Mini ERO respectively.
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Estonia: Uses the Mini-Uzi variant.
- Germany: Made under license as MP2. Replaced by the HK MP7.
- Haiti: Uzi and Mini-Uzi variants used by Haitian National Police.
- Honduras: Uzi and Mini-Uzi variants.
- India: Uzi variant was used by the Special Protection Group until 2008, when it was replaced with the FN P90. Micro-Uzi variant is used by Indian Army Para Commandos.
- Ireland: Used by the Regional Support Unit.
- Israel: Uzi and Mini-Uzi variants. Mini-Uzi variant was used by the YAMAM elite unit and Shin Bet.
- Italy: The Mini-Uzi variant results by official schedules to be in the inventories of the Italian National Police. A local version called the Type 821-SMG was manufactured from 1984 to 1989 by the SOCIMI - Società Costruzioni Industriali Milano, S.p.A. in Milan.
- Lithuania: Lithuanian Armed Forces.
- Netherlands (replaced)
- Peru: Uzi, Mini-Uzi, and Micro-Uzi variants.
- Poland: Uzi and Mini-Uzi are used by Government Protection Bureau and GROM.
- Portugal: Portuguese Army.
- Rhodesia: Manufactured under license.
- Romania: Mini-Uzi variant is used by the Military Police.
- South Africa: Manufactured under license.
- Sri Lanka
- United States
- Vietnam: People's Army news(Báo Quân đội nhân dân) informed that Technical Department of Special Operation Command (Sapper) had a project to design and manufacture calibration device for MARS attached on Micro UZI