UZI First Responder







UZI. The very name is synonymous with law enforcement at its most stressful. Israel Military Industries' line of UZI submachine guns and Galil automatic rifles have earned a reputation worldwide as accurate, reliable, simple and easy to use firearms. Now UZI America - a partnership of IMI and Mossberg - is introducing a 9mm and a .40 caliber carbine built on the Mini UZI receiver for the police market. For a law enforcement community that began to re-appreciate the wisdom of having rifles available in cruisers with the infamous Miami FBI shootout in the eighties, and has seen that point driven home with the recent Los Angeles shootout, the new service-grade UZI carbines are made to order.

 The partnership between Mossberg and IMI is a synergistic one. For the last several years IMI hasn't had a U.S. importer/distributor, services that UZI America now provides. And for Mossberg - the world's largest manufacturer of shotguns (one-half million per year!) - the partnership brings them additional products with which to enhance their recent domestic law enforcement focus. (Mossberg has traditionally been more focused on the over-seas law enforcement market where they are a major presence in 165 countries.)



A Tool in a Toolbox

Just as cops carry many different tools on their belts - OC, baton, firearm, etc. - they also need a variety of cruiser-carried long guns at their disposal to properly address the full spectrum of more serious incidents. Although shotguns will never be displaced, we've been seeing a wise return to the idea of a police rifle (in addition to the shotgun) these last few years. The trainer charged with choosing one for their department has had to make some difficult choices, however. Rifles introduce a whole new discipline and training doctrine to a department. Rifles mean new ammunition to buy, inventory and account for. Where do the rifles go in the cruiser - and is there even room? Do all cruisers get them, or only supervisors? Will rifle-toting police officers be accepted by the community? Will the rifles stand up to duty use (and abuse)? Should the department go with a rifle or a carbine?

While every choice involves trade-offs, many departments are opting for handgun-caliber carbines. Their reasoning is that these carbines are relatively inexpensive, they share ammunition with the officer's handgun, they fit easily in the limited space of a cruiser, they are easy to learn to shoot, and they provide more firepower. In this context, the purpose of a carbine is to extend the range of the duty sidearm in special situations - not necessarily to provide a different level of power from the handguns.

Officer Jacques, who recently introduced carbines into his department, positions them as a tool to contain a situation from a distance, while the appropriate resources are brought to the scene to remedy the situation. The police carbine is thus an intermediate level tool positioned between the duty shotgun and a sniper rifle. Firing a single projectile, rather than the nine in 00 buckshot, it also represents less liability at extended distances.




Gun Details

 UZI sub-guns come in three receiver variants: the original full-size, the Mini UZI, which is two inches smaller in overall length, and the even smaller Micro. UZI carbines are built on the Mini UZI receiver and available in two calibers, 9mm and 40, and both caliber carbines come in three variations. The First Responder variation sports a 13.5-inch barrel, a flash suppresses and has an overall length of 29.4 inches. The Individual Officer variant has a non-class-three 16.25-inch barrel and an overall length of 32.2 inches. Finally, the forthcoming 16.25-inch barreled commercial version will have a Dragunov stock for non-law enforcement buyers. The commercial version also features a ramp front sight on the barrel, as opposed to the post front sight on the receiver on the First Responder and Individual Officer versions. According to the factory, a standard 124-grain 9mm hardball round exits the 16.25-inch barrel at a muzzle velocity of 1400 feet per second (fps) and will group into 4 inches at 100 meters (5 round average). Compared to about 1180 fps out of a service pistol that's a significant increase, and very reasonable accuracy out of a duty-grade weapon of this sort. All of these polygon-rifled carbine variants accept standard UZI 20-, 25-, and 32-round magazines. They all have fully (and easily) adjustable front and rear sights (the front sights are of a new detent adjustable design - an improvement over the previous method which required a special tool), and they share the same familiar ergonomic UZI controls. This last point is important since some carbines have controls that are difficult to reach and manipulate, particularly for smaller hands. Both of us shooting the new UZI carbines have smaller than average hands, and we found that putting the carbine off-safe and into a firing mode was easily accomplished with an intuitive forward push with the right thumb. The UZI carbines retain the magazine-in-the-grip feature of earlier UZI's, a design characteristic that makes a great deal of sense: thus reloading is a fairly idiot-proof hand-meets-hand exercise. With the magazine well elsewhere, reloading under stress and/or in the dark becomes more problematic.





Fires From Closed Bolt

 The UZI carbines differ from earlier UZI's in that they fire from a closed bolt. The original UZI's fired from an open bolt, a design which inherently sacrificed the accuracy of the first shot. On a semi-automatic carbine, of course, all shots are “first” shots, so a closed bolt system is a big advantage. IMI has redesigned the action so that the UZI bolt closes, but the striker assembly, which was sliced, as it were, from the bottom of the bolt, is held back and released by the trigger; there is also a safety that insures that the gun cannot be fired unless the bolt is completely closed. This closed bolt design should eliminate any objections to the proven UZI design for police work.

The rest of the carbines is pure UZI - tough and reliable The gun itself, the sights, the magazines, and so on are all mil-spec and literally battle proven, and should stand up to the inevitable banging around that they will get in a cruiser, to say nothing of the actual abuse that all police long guns seem to suffer. The bolt is massive and mechanically prevented from unintentionally chambering a round even when the stock is slammed (or dropped) onto a hard floor. Further, the rifles are simplicity itself to break down and clean: just remove the top cover assembly and one pin on the trigger assembly, and the guns are field stripped (the extractor is of the 1911 style, with no springs). Yet. despite their hardiness, one of the nice things about them is that they look like what they are - rugged, duty-quality rifles - and not so much like military weapons. Certainly, if we can perform our job without undue public alarm, it behooves us, politically and tactically, to do so. The UZI carbines - particularly the 13.5-inch barreled First Responder - are also a nice compact size. Not only does this allow them to fit into an already too-crowded cruiser with minimal intrusion, it allows the carbine to be used in cramped quarters, unconventional shooting positions, and even, if necessary, during a building search. Speaking of building searches, another plus in the carbine column in the “carbine vs. rifle” debate is the low flash of handgun caliber bullets. While .223 and .308 rounds are undoubtedly more effective, their muzzle flash will impair the operator's vision and thus his/her ability to put that additional muzzle energy to effective use. The First Responder carbine comes with a flash suppresser; this may or may not be necessary to reduce muzzle flash, but, in the abusive police environment, it is quite important in reducing the pings, dings and other damage that get done to the muzzles tip.


How They Shoot

These guns are fun to shoot. The stocks are properly sized so that an officer wearing body armor will still have sufficient reach to the trigger. The safety, as mentioned, is easy to release without giving up a firing grip. The sights, aperture rear and post front are easy to pick up in normal light and neither shooter found the fairly short sight radius to be a problem. The optional tritium front sight would be an intelligent choice when ordering these rifles, as it is with all defensive/law enforcement guns. Both 9mm and .40 caliber rounds are inherently pleasant shooting, while the pistol grips (on the law enforcement versions) and the Dragunov stock (on the upcoming commercial version) make handling secure and ergonomic. These rifles are well balanced, making them easy to hold in firing position, and this user-friendliness reduces their perceived weight (the First Responder weighs 6 pounds unloaded).

Accessories for the UZI carbines include a light mount/light and scope mounts. Laser Products, Inc. is also designing one of their famous Sure-Fire flashlights to integrate with these rifles. You may or not need a scope, but a light is a necessity, so it looks like you'll have a choice.


A Full Law Enforcement Line

UZI America also distributes the full IMI line of UZI and Galil rifles, as well as UZI Eagle pistols. These include the full-size, mini-size and micro-size UZI Eagle pistols, which are available in a choice of three calibers (9mm, .40 and .45) and several action configurations. UZI America offers the original Galil in several variants (including a sniper version), which fire either .223 or .308 rounds and the new .223 micro Galil - an awesome full power, entry gun in a small package (see Mas Ayoob's review of this outstanding weapon in the July 1997 GWLE). Both us shooters found these guns to be quite controllable, even during full-auto bursts. Moreover, with UZI's outstanding reliability and ease of maintenance, they should be natural choices for specialized teams now that they are readily available in this country again. One particularly nifty product is the adapter that UZI America has designed and produced to allow Galil's to use M16 magazines.

Mossberg also has some new additions in the law enforcement arena, most notably their new semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun, dubbed the “Jungle Gun.” Like absolutely everything that comes out of the Mossberg factory, this piece is full mil-spec, and it's the only self-loading shotgun to pass the 3000-round test that the military uses to evaluate pump shotguns. (Incidentally, Mossberg is the only domestic long-gun manufacturer to meet the quality requirements of ISO 9001.)

All of this makes Mossberg/UZI America one of the few places an armorer can go to fully outfit a police department with one-stop shopping and one-service provider. If you need a pistol or shotgun, make sure you check out their line. And like departments all across the country, the UZI carbines should be on your short list if you're adding a carbine to your armory. If you're not with a department and still need a duty-grade carbine, or even if you are and you just don't want to hassle with the paperwork, check out the commercial version of these fine weapons. Their suggested retail price is in the $900 range, and they're available from law enforcement dealers nationwide.

 About the authors: A police officer since 1984. Mark Jacques is a sergeant with the University of Massachusetts/Amherst PD, a 60-officer department serving a population density of 40,000 per square mile. Ralph Mroz is a police officer in a neighboring town to the campus, and has been a sworn LEO since 1990.



At the recent US Secret Service Regional Combat Pistol Match, UZI America, Inc., this June, 1997, a subsidiary of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., displayed its latest version of the UZI SMG, both full-size and Micro, a Mini-Galil rifle and the 12-gauge semi-auto Mossberg Model RI 96 that features a folding-stock.

The “new” UZIs have two features not found in the older versions: they both have polygonal rifling and they now fire from a closed rather than open bolt position. These changes have been made so that the UZI SMG will meet the requirements of the yet-to-be-released US Secret Service contract for SMGs, which specifies both a closed bolt and polygonal rifling for any SMG submitted. The new models will be chambered in both 9x19mm and .40S&W. The full-sized 9x19mm SMG will have 32 as well as 25 and 20 round magazines. The micro-9mm will have 25 and 18 round mags. (Capacity of the .40S&W mags is not known as of this writing.)

Clearly, UZI will be going head to head with Heckler & Koch’s various MP-5 SMG models in this upcoming government “Request for Performance” bid.

Two other new versions of the UZI, semi-auto carbines firing from the closed bolt, have been specifically designed with law enforcement in mind. The 13.5-inch barreled “First Responder” measures less than 30 inches overall, including fixed stock, while the 16.25-inch barreled “Individual Officer” measures less than 33 inches overall with fixed stock.

The mini-Galil rifle with folding stock, an amalgam of the AK-47 and M-16 designs, is chambered for the .223 cartridge and uses either 35- or 25-round magazines. An adapter, presently in use in Israel, permits the use of standard M-16 magazines.

The semi-auto 12-gauge Model RI 96 was designed at the behest of the US Military for drug interdiction work. It's an all “mil spec” gun, with a thicker-than-normal barrel and a metal thumb safety rather than the plastic that's used on other Mossberg shotguns. The RI 96 has passed the National Institute of Justice endurance test originally designed for pump-action shotguns, which demands that the shotgun successfully fire 3000 rounds of Magnum 12-gauge 00 buckshot ammunition without failure. The RI will, in all probability, also have options such as ghost-ring  sights, longer barrels and different finishes. As for the UZI and the Galil, they have I already passed the most severe test - they have been battle- proven in numerous conflicts in the harshest of terrains.


Originally published in the November 1997 issue of Guns & Weapons of Law Enforcement Magazine

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