Israel Weapon Industries
Beyond Innovation
Home > About IWI > Product History > UZI SMG (Sub Machine Gun) History
About IWI

UZI SMG (Sub Machine Gun) History

The UZI is one of the first names that you can think of when discussing sub machine guns. With sales of over 2 million pieces, the UZI popularity is such that it will be hard to find someone that hasn't heard of it or seen it in a movie.
In 1949, after the Israeli Independence War,  the  Israel Defense Force (IDF) understood that the days of the Stan gun are over and there is a need to begin the development of a new standard issue rifle. In July 1949 an IDF committee issued the following specifications for the development of a rifle:
 9 mm caliber.
 Firing rate of 450-500 rounds per minute.
 Maximum weight without the magazine of 4 kg.
 Semi-automatic and automatic firing mode using a safety catch.
 Wooden stock or folding stock.
 Magazine capacity of 40 rounds.
 Wooden grip made from wood, the same as  the Russian SMG or the Tompson.
 Bayonet optional.
 Sights- dual range use for 100 meters and 200 meters.
At first there were doubts about the suggested weight and  sights. Additionally there were recommendations to add an easy barrel replacement; an internal return spring;  and a safety to prevent accidental discharge when hitting the stock.
At the time, two different weapon engineers were working on the project. The first Uzial Gal developed an SMG and had already had a model of the gun. The second engineer was Major Chaim Kara of  the ordinance corps who was working on his own model. At the first trial both weapon failed. However,  Gal redesigned his model to answer the specifications given by the IDF committee. Both models were similar in their technological breakthrough. They both had a recoil system that is over the barrel in such a way that allows the weapon stability.
In 1950 an operational committee was established to test the two SMGs'. After rigorous testing the committee decided to continue to develop the  Uzi Gal's SMG for the following reasons:
 The UZI was easier and cheaper to produce
 It had fewer parts than the competitor (12 parts less)
  The maintenance was estimated to be cheaper
In 1952 the UZI was patented under Uzi Gal the inventor with  the condition that he will give the production rights to the Israeli  Ministry of Defense (MOD).
In 1954 the first batch of 100 UZIs' was manufactured and given to the IDF for testing. After rigorous  and extreme field testing, in March 1954, the ordinance corps ordered 8,000 Uzi SMG and 80,000 magazines. .
The first units to receive the UZI to use as the main fighting weapon were the Paratroopers.  Its main advantages were the field stripping into very few parts; durability in dirt and sand; quick disassembly and assembly; negligible stoppages and maximal marksmanship.
In an European experiment done in 1955 by the Marines, the following weapons participated: German Schmeiser, Swedish Carl Gustav, Madsen English Sterling and the Uzi. The Uzi received 1529 points out of a possible  1900. The rest of the rifles were disqualified due to low results.
In 1956 the UZI was acquired  by  the Netherlands for its army, thus beginning  a new age of quantity sales and purchasing orders.
In 1958 the New York Times says 1956 , a cooperation with FN Hersta  (in Belgium) was signed to produce and market the UZI according to the  Israel Military Industries (IMI)  design. The agreement obligated FN to consult with IMI prior to every sale and to give IMI 50% of the Uzi manufacturing. The mass production of the UZI made it a cost effective operation and reduced the manufacturing costs.
The UZI is in the market for over 50 years and is still being upgraded and developed. Nowadays we can find it's latest evolvement in the Mini and Micro versions