If necessity is the mother of invention, the beginning of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 was the mother of the UC-9. The State of Israel needed to consolidate its logistical nightmare of a small-arms arsenal into a single platform in order to arm itself against numerically superior Arab forces. Luckily for the imperiled fledgling country, Uziel Gal was ready to answer the call of duty . . .
When Gal was designing the stamped metal sub-gun that would become his namesake – an honor he was staunchly opposed to – he scarcely could have imagined that it would become one of the most iconic small arms of the 20th century with more than 10 million built. That’s not to say that the Uzi is the be-all end-all in terms of weapon design, but much like the AKM it “just works” which makes the Uzi infinitely better than any high-speed low-drag SMG that runs 80% of the time.
As a child of the 80’s I always saw villains wielding intimidating Uzis while wearing huge Ray-Bans, which to me at the time was the epitome of cool. After I finally joined the ranks of armed Americans I began my pursuit of an Uzi carbine to satiate my NFA urge without damaging my finances too badly. When I began my search, though, authentic Uzis hadn’t been imported for a good while. There are companies, such as Vector, that will send you an Uzi clone built from a parts kit, but it might not be in the price range of most Uzi enthusiasts. Uzists?
Century Arms sought to remedy this with their UC-9 “Uzi-like” carbine. It’s “Uzi-like” because the UC-9 doesn’t have full part interchangeability with Israeli Military Industries’ (IMI now IWI) Uzi Carbines. This isn’t a big concern to first-time buyers, but Uzi connoisseurs will likely steer clear of these. The UC-9 sports a matte gray phosphate finish, Model A type aperture sights, a grip safety and fires from a closed bolt.
Like its fully automatic cousin, the UC-9 is a blowback operated firearm, meaning gases from fired rounds are sent directly back to the bolt. Cycling speed being controlled by only its mass and the recoil spread. Just like other blowback operated firearms the action may be difficult for smaller individuals to charge and could result in unnecessary recoil. The former can post a problem for those lacking upper body strength, while the latter is a non-issue due to the combination of the UC-9’s tremendous weight and the light-kicking 9mm para cartridge.
I took the carbine out to my local range a grand total of 3 times firing 250, 350, and 500 rounds through it. Initially I went with the C4 mantra, “less is more” concerning lubrication but the UC-9 didn’t appreciate my minimalist tendencies. So much so that it would fail to feed about 20% of the time and of those failures 30% would have blown primers regardless of ammo type. After flushing out the carbine with MilPro7 and drying all components with a state of the art rag my shooting companion and I decided to drench the sub-gun look-alike with Milpro lube. It went from a 20% failure rate to about an 8% failure rate, with all failures originating from a blow primer.
After scouring the internet for clues I found that many people believed an out-of-spec firing pin could be the culprit. Fair enough. I didn’t have an original firing pin for comparison, but inspected the current pin for any glaring defects. I didn’t find one, but I did notice that the phosphate finish was applied a tad bit excessively on the internals of the gun, specifically on the feed ramp. At this point the UC-9 had over 400 rounds through it, which would have aided in polishing the ramp. I didn’t want to use my dremel to finish the job, so I decided to fire an additional 100 rounds through the gun. After close inspection I discovered the ramp was much smoother and the gun itself -having been re-lubed after the degreasing- was running successfully about 96% of the time. Any failures experienced at this point were magazine related.
Once I had the gun in working order I decided to check how accurate a fixed barrel close-bolt pistol caliber carbine could be. Firing from a rest at 50 yards using iron sights:
The faux-Israeli gal seemed to enjoy Federal American Eagle.
Despite what Arny in Commando would have you believe, handling the Uzi is heavy and awkward to shoot one handed, especially with a 16 inch barrel. The cheek weld with a folding metal stock is worse than folding Russian triangular AK stocks and requires some elbow grease to lock up. The controls on the UC-9, like all full-sized Uzis, are within reach of your primary hand. Except for the magazine release, which is located at the bottom of the pistol grip and is only accessible with the support hand.
I admittedly love all Israeli weapons and tend to have a predilection for them. That said, the UC-9, when purchased around the 500 dollar mark, represents an excellent bargain for someone wanting to get into the PCC game for fun or just wanting to scratch that subgun itch without breaking the bank. Keep in mind, the gun was rough internally and the trigger feels like dragging a well-oiled cinderblock across pavement. Thankfully the trigger pull is fairly short and breaks crisply.
Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
Overall Length: 31.5”
Weight: 13 lbs. empty
Action: Closed bolt blowback
Finish: Grey phosphate coating, similar to Parkerization
Capacity: 10, 20, 32 (included) 40, 50 round box magazine
Price: MSRP - $899. Much cheaper in the wild (more like $599)
RATINGS: (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * 1/2
Acceptable accuracy for a pistol caliber carbine. Good enough for plinking, range fun, or home defense. Not much use outside of 100 yards.
Ergonomics: * * * 1/2
While heavy, the Uzi design employs the hand-finds-hand school of thought, making reloading a cinch. The grip-safety was stiff, though, and charging the bolt is exceptionally difficult with a jammed round.
Reliability: * * * 1/2
A thousand rounds fired with roughly 150 failures. Not great, but this rate dropped significantly after break-in and generous lubrication.
Customize This: * * * *
A major benefit of being derived from one of the most prolific designs in history means that your bank account is the biggest limiting factor for customization. Some of the cooler options, like a giant tac light from the ’50’s are extremely expensive.
Overall Rating: * * * 1/2
There are better designs out there that weigh less and are more ergonomic than the UC-9, but they are generally more expensive. For pure cool factor though, it’s tough to beat an Uzi. A heavy, impractical little blaster whose iconic lines will get you more looks at the range than an AR ever would.