The Group Industries UZI
Born In The USA proved to be a very popular, and even patriotic song for trendy heartthrob and singer Bruce Springsteen, but the subject of this article was not born in the USA. It was born in Israel, and has become one of the most frequently encountered submachine guns in the world today. The object if our examination, however, is not made in Israel, but Louisville, Kentucky, to be exact. While it evokes a strong spirit, it isn't bourbon either, but an American made version of the UZI submachine gun.
The first question everyone seems to be asking is: “How can these guys be making machine guns when the McClure-Volkmer law outlawed them for civilians?” I have had people who have seen ads for the weapons ask me if these fellows figured out some way to get around the law? Is there an exemption, or are these guys just ignoring the law? Before we get into the details of the guns themselves, these questions should be answered. Roger Small is the President of Automatic Weaponry in Brentwood, Tennessee, and the man responsible for marketing these weapons because Automatic Weaponry has the exclusive rights to marketing them. No one else can sell them, not even the manufacturer. Roger Small has been marketing full-auto weapons to police and qualified individuals for over ten years and is today the largest distributor of Auto Ordnance Thompsons in the United States. He revealed that this project has been ongoing since before 1981. And no! They are not violating the law in any way to my knowledge. They registered and documented a few thousand of the weapons prior to May 19, 1986. These are the weapons they are marketing today.
O.K., then you ask, if Roger
Small is marketing the guns, who is making them? If you were at all familiar
with converting the Action Arms' semi-auto UZI Carbine into a full-auto
submachine gun prior to May 19, 1986, you are aware of a little firm in
Louisville, Kentucky, named Group Industries. Group Industries’ UZI bolts were
the finest bolts available, along with their other parts, to those filing Form
Ones prior to the infamous May 19 Deadline. Mike Brown and his firm, Group
Industries, is the firm manufacturing the American version of the UZI and I
can’t think of a firm more experienced with the UZI and all of its parts (with
the possible exception of Action Arms), in the United States today.
Mike told me his original
intention (several years ago} was to build the UZI and not just the bolts, but
the entire weapon and interest in converting the semi-autos, using Group
Industries’ bolts, grew so quickly he was delayed in building the complete gun.
As luck would have it, in January of 1986 everything came together and he was
ready to start building the complete gun. Then on April 10, 1986, Representative
Hughes from New Jersey attached his antimachine gun amendment to the McClure-Volkmer
bill. Roger Small said they worked day and night constantly until President
Ronald Reagan signed the law into effect on May 19, 1986.
Their greatest fear was they must have complete weapons to qualify before the deadline.
“It was important to us to have as many of the parts as necessary to build a functioning submachine gun because we were unsure what BATF would allow.” They worked seven days a week, with as little as two hours sleep a night, just so they could make as many weapons as possible. Roger said that by May 19, 1986, they had the essential parts that would be necessary to complete every frame they had titled. But, you ask if they had all the parts by May 1986, why did it take them so long before they started selling them? Roger said in plain language - they were tired! Also, they wanted to make sure the parts fit correctly and the weapons would be a quality product when they marketed them in their final form. They lacked the grip moulds and the front sight assemblies, but they could manage a functioning submachine gun from the parts they had before May 19, 1986.
The next question in the minds of many was how could they build such a direct copy of the UZI design? Simple, the patent rights for the full-auto UZI may never have been filed or granted and if they did they now have expired. Even the name “UZI” is in dispute as to its generic classification, because Israel Military Industries applied for trademark protection for the name UZI, but Uzi Gal and his company UZI R&D Associates challenged this application in court and they are arguing that the trade name UZI be declared generic. The outcome of this case is unknown, but it is known that IMI has done a poor job of protecting the use of the trade name UZI, up to this point, because the name UZI has been used on everything from water pistols to luggage.
How good are the guns? As near
as I can tell, the specimens I have seen are exact duplicates of the original
UZI in dimension, balance and handling. Automatic Weaponry is marketing them in
three calibers; 9mm Parabellum, .22 Long Rifle and .45 ACP, but it is important
to note that each gun is titled with the BATF in all three calibers. I have seen
the forms and the designation reads “9mm/.45ACP/.22.” If the antigunners keep up
their successful attacks on machine gunners this may prove to be a very
important aspect of full-auto ownership.
Now for the true confessions, as I have not actually fired one of these weapons. I have seen them and handled them on two occasions. The first was a very large gun show in the Midwest, and the second was the prearranged appointment during the spring shoot of the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. It was done in this manner to lessen the time necessary to get this article printed. A gun could have been transferred for a test and evaluation examination, but valuable time would have been lost waiting on the paper work to clear Washington. I met Roger Small at Knob Creek where these photos were taken and he shot the weapon for my examination. Why didn't I shoot the gun? Because I was too busy photographing the UZI and all of the other weapons on the firing line at Knob Creek. That's why.
Do I think I missed anything by not firing these weapons? Plain answer - NO! Roger fired several magazines as I photographed him and the gun. One embarrassing moment occurred as we were forward of the line during an intermission to shoot a possible cover shot. The gun hiccupped once in front of 2000 spectators as I was shooting my Nikon. Roger was red faced, but I have shot enough machine guns to know the existence of Murphy's Law. Whatever can go wrong will when the most people are watching.
Talking to Mike Brown revealed the receivers of the guns are made with 10-20 commercial grade cold rolled steel, while the bolt, the disconnector, the sear and just about all of the pins are made from 4140 steel. All of the low carbon steel is heat-treated to a surface hardness of 50 to 60 Rockwell. The barrels are chambered with the standard Clymer 9mm reamer and this could lead to a potential problem. The UZI fires with advanced primer ignition and this means the primer is fired before the cartridge is fully seated in the chamber. If it becomes dirty or is dimensionally small, the cartridge will fire before it is fully seated and the empty brass will reveal a severe bulge at the base just above the web. The fired brass I examined at Knob Creek was not bulged, but then neither was the weapon extremely dirty. It is a point the user should bear in mind if he intends to reload his brass. The factory Dealer Sample UZI uses a slightly tapered 9mm chamber to avoid these problems when the chamber becomes dirty.
Another unique point to the Automatic Weaponry UZI design is the rate of fire of the .22 kit. Most of these .22 kits fire at an astronomical rate in excess of 1200 rpms, but the Automatic Weaponry kit fires at the same rate as the 9mm weapon - 600 rpms. This will be a tremendous asset for training and lower the cost of shooting your machine gun. Mike Brown revealed that almost all of his submachine gun shooting is done today with this .22 kit, because of its low cost and realistic rate of fire.
The guns themselves retain the balance and handling of the original in every degree, but of course they are marked differently. The marked model number strikes a blow for gun owners' sarcasm as the model number is HR 4332, which is the same number as the House bill that outlawed the future possession of new machine guns.
The fire selector button is the same as that found on the original UZI, and it is marked “A R S.” This follows the practice of the IMI UZI's that were built for export sales, although some of those built for sale in Europe were marked “D E S.” The firing positions remained the same in all cases with the forward most position being the full-auto setting, the center position the semi-auto setting and the rearward most position is the setting for SAFE. The rear sight is adjustable for 100 to 200 meters and copies the original in every detail down to the bevel at the rear of the receiver. The folding stock is the same and operates in the same manner as the Israeli UZI.
Some collectors are
underwhelmed by the concept of an American UZI design. They argue that only
those UZI’s of Israeli manufacture are worthy of attention. In this case I will
have to disagree. The vast majority of titled and documented full-auto UZI’s in
this country are either Form One or Class II Manufacturer conversions and the
quality of the weapons involved runs from perfect to abysmal. With the Automatic
Weaponry group of weapons the manufacturer is a known quantity and the weapons I
feel will be of a uniform quality through the series, regardless of how limited
in number they may be. Converted weapons are no more the true UZI’s, in my mind,
than these American made duplicates. Everyone should remember the semi-auto
carbine that served as the basis for conversion, featuring a barrel of different
diameter than the true full-auto UZI. Many conversions still retain the receiver
bar while using a slotted full-auto bolt. Weapons of this nature hold no more
collector value to me than this American made example, perhaps less.
Roger Small feels he has a two years supply of weapons to be sold and after that two years they will be gone. It may prove to be such an important point I feel I should mention it in closing that each of these weapons is titled in all three calibers, 9mm/.45ACP/.22. Who knows what evil lurks in Congressional corridors? But, if you already own a weapon titled in all three calibers, parts possession should not prove to be a problem in the future.
For many years automobiles from Detroit degraded the term
“Made In The USA,” but many Americans have learned their lesson and are again
producing quality materials. I feel the “Made In The USA” UZI design is another
example of this trend as the workmanship is excellent and it is a product worth
Originally published in the September 1987 issue of Firepower magazine.
Return to the UZI Talk Index
Copyright © 2002-2004, UZITalk.com
International copyright laws DO apply to Internet Web Sites!
All Rights Reserved.
Last Modified: July 3, 2004