57 years ago today, the Israeli-developed submachine gun “Uzi“, named after its developer Uziel Gal, was first introduced to the IDF on Israel’s 7th Independence Day in 1955.
Uziel Gal, inventor of the "Uzi" gun
1) The Invention
The “Uzi” was first developed after Ya’akov Dori, the first Chief of the General Staff, announced a bid on a new submachine gun to replace the existing “Stan”. Two guns were tested: the Uzi, and the Kara, developed by Chaim Kara. The two were compared to three commonly used guns:
- the German Schmeisser
- the British Sten
- the Italian Beretta
"The Sten is so 40s. I'll have an Uzi, please."
However, the Uzi beat them all, due to it being lightweight, cost-efficient and easy to assemble. Go Uzi!
IDF soldier with "Uzi", October 10th, 1956
2) The Golden Age
The Uzi was initially beta-tested with commando units, and later with the Paratroopers Brigade, since they needed a small, compact gun on their special missions. It was considered an excellent weapon, foolproof and easy to use, with the ability to shoot up to 600 rounds per minute. Its main disadvantages were its short barrel, meaning it was good only for short ranges (120-200 meters).
One of the many variations of the the "Uzi" gun
The Uzi was the gold standard of IDF guns for many years, and was the go-to weapon in the Sinai Campaign and the Six-Day War.
IDF Soldier with "Uzi" during the Sinai Campaign, October 30th, 1956
IDF soldiers with "Uzi", May 21st, 1967
3) The Fall
While truly being a magnificent invention, the Uzi experienced a few rough spots: several incidents of bullet emissions (unplanned shots) raised doubts about it being “safe”, and meanwhile more accurate guns were being invented.
In the late 60s the Israeli “Galil“, invented by Yisrael Galil (there may be at trend here), finished its testing phase and was introduced to the IDF’s fighting ranks. It later became the new big thing until the 80s, and was joined by the American M-16. The Uzi, sadly, was decided to be put out of use.
The IMI "Galil". Bye bye, Uzi
4) Worldwide Fame
The Uzi was sold to over 90 countries, and even though it is no longer in IDF use, different versions of it are still used, mostly by elite commando units or security personnel, due to its small size and great firepower.
Uziel Gal displaying his weapon to German Minister of Defense Franz Josef Strauss in 1963
If you found this post interesting, consider checking out more about IDF weapons.