You probably won’t see this gun on the firing line for the next USPSA pistol-caliber carbine championship, but the street-legal version of the Uzi carbine might sling lead just well enough to give a respectable showing. I personally had very low expectations for how the gun would handle accurate plinking, but this little tank can certainly put on a show at the range.
How Can You Pass It Up
I wrote an earlier story that delves into the history of the Uzi and it’s unique telescoping bolt. Suffice it to say that shooting this gun is a fairly nostalgic experience. There really is a lot going on behind the stamped, boxy frame. But what truly stands out after a few long days shooting it on the range was just how accurate it can be.
I wouldn’t mount a red dot on it – although some have – but even the basic sights on this firearm performed admirably. I spent most of my time shooting a steel silhouette, and punching the heart out of the target proved as easy at 30+ yards as swinging 3-inch the reactive target back and forth around the head.
This gun does not offer much finesse, and the trigger is about as clunky as the heavy rectangular bolt. Regardless, just the basic rear peep sights and elongated front-sight post were more than enough to quickly transition and place shots. As a child of 1980s action flicks, I have to confess there was a level of cathartic enjoyment getting to dump mag after mag from this steal beast.
Sure, it does boast an ungainly long barrel to bring it into NFA compliance. But the sight radius is exactly the same as a short-barreled, full-auto original. That elongated barrel does give it a bit more power by squeezing more effective powder usage out of the gun. I can testify to that, having seen one round pass clean through one of our metal supports for the steel targets we were plinking. None of the pistols at the range were able to do that. It was a missed shot, to be sure, but speed shooting a 32-round mag can lead to a few minor strays.
Accuracy & Ergonomics
When I did my part, this cult classic was capable of accurately putting a round anywhere I wanted it within a reasonable 30 to 40 yards. However, that is not to suggest it doesn’t lack some polish. There are actually some things about the design that are a real learning curve.
First, and probably the top offender for me, was the grip safety. The gun has a 90-degree pistol grip, which is already a bit awkward for anyone accustomed to shooting AR and AK platforms. When you toss in a grip safety that does require a positive grip to function the rifle, even when you’re just loading it, there is room for a few forced mechanical errors.
Loading stick magazines through the pistol grip, on the other hand, is an easy affair that blends nicely with most of the handgun training you will do. Once you get familiar with the bolt charging handle on the top of the gun, it is a quick process to bring the firearm into action. At first, I assumed the charging handle would be a distraction when shooting the gun. You do have to look directly through the charger to see the front sight. But the U-notch cut is ample and the bolt handle actually seems to lend itself to accurately sighting the firearm. I do have a word of warning there.
The Uzi was never meant to be a highly polished gun, and there are some sharp edges that you need to watch out for on it. In particular, the bolt charging hand has cuts along it that aid with your grip. However, the gun was originally designed to fire from an open bolt. So the edges on that handle can snag you when the modified system sends the bolt handle forward during the charging process. You only really make that mistake once, and it’s less ominous than the common case of Garand thumb.
Even the safety is a bit odd, and it requires a very positive push forward. These are all things you can train around. The classic folding stock is another item to consider. I dare say, as cool as the folding stock is, I would prefer the wooden stock from a pure comfort perspective. The folding stock provides some bare-bones support, but it’s hardly a comfortable rest for your cheek. Throw in the fact that it might be a hot, sunny day or a cold winter morning and that metal stock is a recipe for potential face burn.
The Uzi was always a gun built around a particular need. It offered home-grown Israeli firepower at a time when imported firearms of various calibers filled an immediate national defense need but created a logistical nightmare. The Uzi helped solve this, and it did it with quite a bit of style. There’s a reason Hollywood fell in love with the gun and gave it starring roles in everything from “Terminator” (1984) to “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015).
This simple, yet elegantly complex, design proved to be effective in combat and commanded attention on screen. The firearm is quicker to reload than the competing AKs it met on the battlefield, and it’s controllable. Any modern shooter who picks it up will instantly feel the outdated ergonomics. But I’m personally hesitant to overly criticize that aspect of the gun. It is part of the history.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If the guns in my safe walked into a bar, this one would be the first to get a phone number on a napkin. It’s just that kind of cool.