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From watching them pop out of Secret Service brief cases during the assassination attempt on Pres. Reagan, to reading stories of Israeli conflicts and African bush wars on the pages of Soldier of Fortune Magazine, to hearing Arnold Schanzegger ask for a “UZI nine millah meetah” in the first Terminator film I think few could argue there are many firearms more recognizable than the classic UZI.

So does the gun live up to the mystique?

We here at Loose Rounds were recently loaned one to find out. Our particular UZI is an actual Israeli Military Industries (IMI) manufactured model imported by Action Arms, and was purchased new by the owner in the mid 80’s. It differs from the military models in that it fires from a closed bolt, and has a 16” barrel to meet ATF regulations.

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This particular UZI came with a rather nice case. It’s molded to hold the weapon, five mags, an inert display barrel, a mag loader, and weapon tool all while lacking any moisture trapping foam.

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Upon handling the weapon the first thing you notice is its weight. For no bigger than it is, the UZI is a bit of a porker, weighing in at 8.4lbs. Its all steel construction and massive bolt carrier no doubt come in to play. You’ll also notice its somewhat awkward ergonomics. The grip is rather large and bulky, and the trigger guard cuts into the knuckles. The folding metal stock has one of the worst cheek welds of any shoulder fired firearm I’ve ever handled, which is probably why Stallone, Arnold, and the like spent so much time hip firing.

(Not a comfortable place to put your face)

Disassembly is straight forward. The barrel is easily removed by unthreading the barrel nut and sliding the barrel out of the receiver. Next unlatch and remove the top cover, then pull the bolt/carrier/spring assembly out.

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Upon firing the UZI almost everyone remarks at how little felt recoil there is, an upside to the weapon’s weight. Rapid fire groups are easy to hold on target and one can see why the full auto variants were so popular given their controllability on auto. We did not shoot for groups given the inability to add an optic and the crap tastic cheek weld, but we did find the UZI would consistently ring a 18”x12” steel plate at 200 yards. It’s accurate enough to get the job done.

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(Shawn showing proper Rambo style UZI firing stance)

Mags come in both 25 rd and 32 rd capacities.  There is no bolt hold open feature after firing the last round, so a click when you’re expecting a bang tells you you’re empty.

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As for reliability, our particular UZI didn’t appear to have been cleaned in quite a while and was bone dry of lubrication. It ran happily along until almost the end of the day when it finally choked, with a single failure to eject after mag dumping several mags of some of the dirtiest shooting steel cased 9mm I’ve shot in a while. It ran longer and better given the conditions it was operating under than I had a right to expect it to. A wipe down of the bolt and some oil and the UZI was back motoring right along.

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In its day I can see why the UZI was popular. It was an easily controlled auto in a compact package with a robust design.

However that day has passed.

Its poor ergonomics, inability to easily add optics/sights, and that in the end its still a long arm firing a pistol cartridge all mean there are better choices today. While I wouldn’t feel bad about taking an UZI into a fight, a good MK18 AR would be a far better choice if compact firepower is what you need. It’s a fun gun to shoot and would make a nice addition to any Israeli or weapons of the 80’s themed collection, but as a fighting weapon I’d pick something more modern.

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