Israel gained independence in 1948 and subsequently led the Arab-Israeli War to victory. Almost immediately, the country began to develop a viable arms industry, and from this initiative, then-Captain Uziel Gal designed a new compact submachine gun that would become his signature "UZI". Sturdy and simple, the UZI beat the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) competition to become the baby army's standard submachine gun.
The series was adopted in 1951 with some major changes to the base design and reproduced (legally or illegally) in countries around the world. From standard infantry to special forces, the UZI became an enduring success story for this emerging nation and can still be found on battlefields around the world today.
Like most submachine guns, the UZI was developed around the ubiquitous German 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. This is fired through an open bolt recoil action at speeds of up to 600 rounds per minute. Action is contained in a simple rectangular receiver, with large sights mounted front and rear on top of the assembly.
The barrel protrudes a short distance in front of the receiver. The pistol grip was placed in the center of the receiver, with the trigger group directly in front - this provided a good balance to the weapon and became a common feature of several other similar UZI designs of the time. The grip also doubles as a magazine well, making good use of interior space.
The UZI contains the usual fire selectors and safety mechanisms, all of which are available on the weapon's frame.
The UZI was able to maintain its short and compact form by sinking the bolt to fit the breech face and moving the main mass of the weapon to the front of the breech.
In addition to the 9mm cartridge, the gun was eventually modified to accept other types of cartridges, including . 22, . 41 (AE) and . 45 ACP. The standard 9mm magazine offers 20, 25, 32, 40 and 50 rounds, but the arrival of these other cartridges has introduced other magazines with different rounds.
Early UZI stocks were fitted with wooden stocks, until later the more familiar high-performance metal folded wire stocks. In service, the type was assigned to first- and second-line troops, the compact size of the latter being a huge mass. Vehicle crews can now carry bulky guns and fire from within range of the vehicle. In 1954, it was issued to Israeli special forces, who quickly learned to appreciate the compact. Although the UZI is widely regarded as an extremely reliable weapon, it is exposed to sand and similar environments.
Another limiting factor is its effective range of 200 meters, which limits its use in close encounters with enemies.
The standard length UZI has a 10" barrel and weighs 7.7 pounds overall. It was followed by the Mini-UZI, which carried a 7.76-inch barrel and weighed 6 pounds, and was introduced in 1980. The Micro UZI followed in 1986 with a more compact form with a 4.6-inch barrel.
In addition to this reduction, the overall weight has dropped to just 3.3 pounds. The Micro UZI was subsequently improved in the 2010 UZI Pro, but this series was only tested by IDF troops. Over time, civilian market forms have also emerged, including carbine and pistol variants.
Various law enforcement and security groups transitioned to UZI adoption in equally different forms, notably over the 20-year period from 1960 to 1980.
UZI is a long-range weapon globally, so it is not surprising that some foreign companies are turning to local manufacturing of this type. These include AG Strojnica from Croatia, NORINCO from China (unlicensed) and Zastava Arms from Serbia (Yugoslavia).
Global operators range from Angola, Azerbaijan and Belgium to Turkey, the United States and Zimbabwe (see the list of operators for a full description).
The UZI has been officially replaced in the Israeli Army inventory by the Micro Tavor compact assault weapon (described in detail elsewhere on this page).
- Close Combat (CQB) / Personal Protection
470 mm (18.50 in)
260 mm (10.24 in)
Before and after ironing.
open the bolt; setback
1,312 ft/s (400 m/s)
600 rounds per minute
400 ft (122 m; 133 yd)
Uzi - Basic Submachine Gun
Uzi (pistol) - Based on Micro-Uzi; no shoulder rest; semi-automatic.
Uzi (Carbine) - Extended barrel (16"); folded stock.
Mini-Uzi - Released in 1980; 14. 17" full length with folded stock; reduced muzzle speed and range.
Micro-Uzi - Released 1983; approximately 10 inches long; reduced muzzle velocity and range.