Gun Review: Century Arms UC-9 Carbine Review

Uzi001

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 . . .

UzielGal

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.

UZi002

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.

UziBlownPrimer

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:

 

UZI_Aguila124FMJ

Aguila 124 gr FMJ

UZI_PMCFMJ

PMC 115 gr FMJ

UZI_PPU_124HP

Privi Partisan 124 gr Semi-Jacketed Hollow-Point

UZI_AE147FMJ

Federal American Eagle 147 gr FMJ

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.

Specifications:

Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
Barrel: 16”
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.

32 Responses to Gun Review: Century Arms UC-9 Carbine Review

  1. avatarST says:

    Century Arms: Rebuilt junk that looks like a good gun.

    Apparently the UC9 is carrying on with that fine tradition.Their newer WASR 10s aren’t bad, but everything else…..not so much.

    • avatarBill says:

      their VZ2008s were/are great guns, as long as the bolt carrier has that tab welded on to take up the room lost with teh removal of the F/Asear, which mine did.

    • avatarJeff says:

      Century doesn’t build the WASR, they only import it and open up the single stack magwell, which I might add has been done by CNC since around 2010 and is pretty clean.

      A lot of the guns they sell that were made in the US are often contracted builds not made by Century at all, but sometimes is hard to find out who actually did the work

  2. avatarChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    Something’s screwed up with your gun… my Vector Uzi SBR runs like clockwork. No blown primers.

    Anyways, the Uzi is definitely an obsolete SMG, but the history and panache still make it a good buy. I love how it has almost no muzzle rise due to weight… I have a FastFire III on mine, and it’s stupidly easy to rapid-fire.

  3. avatarHal J. says:

    Even after all the fixes, it misfires on 4% of shots…and that earns 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for reliability?

  4. avatarJoseph says:

    I stopped reading when you wrote that it had a 96% success rate. That’s 100% FAIL for anything other than a water pistol.

  5. avatarPaul W says:

    I’d be pissed beyond belief at an 8% failure rate on a 500+ dollar gun.

  6. avatarmiserylovescompany says:

    You did say THIRTEEN pounds?

    I’ve had the great good fortune of shooting a true full-auto Uzi subgun, about 11 years ago now. I remember it well even today. It was heavy, but certainly not 13#, even with a full magazine. Maybe 10# tops. And yeah, the trigger wasn’t all that light but it certainly was good enough for me to make triple-taps and even double-taps with only a very little practice. After about 4 or 5 mags I was able to use it to actually write my name on a paper target, pretty legibly even.

    Unfortunately, the UC-9 appears it may need a bit more refinement, all the more so at its price point, to consider it as a potential platform for an SBR tax stamp. But its a start!

    Tom

    • avatarHannibal says:

      Another review I saw of this gun by a person who was actually familiar with ‘real’ Uzi weapons mentioned the same point… it’s just way too heavy, especially at the (long) barrel, to be practical and so really goes against the raison d’etre of the original Uzi. So I find it funny that the author talks about the gun as if it is a good facsimile of the original SMG. It’s not that Uzis are awkward, it’s that you don’t have one… you have a gun that is too heavy to work well as a pistol or smg, is semi-auto, doesn’t scream in the accuracy department, isn’t all that comfortable for a carbine, has a failure rate that makes it wholly unacceptable for ‘home defense,’ and costs too much.

      …but it looks kinda like an uzi and people will look at you at the range?

      I don’t hate the idea of guns like this, but they seem like a novelty. And at least shouldn’t have reliability issues.

  7. avatarJohnnyMac says:

    A “simple” blowback weapon like the Uzi or, say, a .22 or .380 pistol, uses the combination of the bolt weight and the spring strength to keep the bolt closed until the gas level has dropped to a safe level. It is the recoil energy that is sent directly back to the bolt: the gases go out the other end where they belong.

    The way it is phrased above makes it sound like it uses the direct-impingement mechanism of the AR-15 rather than something much simpler and more reliable.

  8. avatarKCK says:

    Let’s check the math
    150Fails/1000=.15 or 15%
    Glock 19 Magazine 15 rounds
    15Rnds X .15F=2.25 failures per mag.

    Who on earth would give a Glock a 3 1/2 stars for reliability if you had to tap and rack twice per mag?????????????? It would be on it’s way back to the factory like an old horse for glue
    Grading on one hell of a curve.

  9. avatarLayne says:

    Lol no photo shows the entire barrel. Can double as a walking stick?

  10. avatarensitue says:

    Blow back smgs typically have a 3.5 pound bolt slamming back and forth which is why the MP-5 blew away the competition

  11. avatarjwm says:

    Before they closed the registry I saw real full auto Uzi’s in a gun shop in WV for 350 bucks plus fed stamp. Seems like a different life now.

    The times I’ve used an Uzi, never used one of the semi auto carbines, they been reliable as a Glock. This clone has too many issues to spend the money on.

    I’ve seen the wood stocked Uzi such as in the picture in my younger days but I never had the chance to use one. The collapsing metal stocks were difinately not built to aid accurate shooting. If you shoot accurately it’s in spite of the stock.

  12. avatarOrton Fallswell says:

    This lump just makes a 100% reliable DRACO AK that much more justifiable. It might be apples and oranges but a DRACO is shorter too, and has the power to chop down trees.

  13. avatarStinkeye says:

    Awkward, heavy, ugly, sloppily built, not very accurate, and unreliable. Aside from nostalgia for Israeli history or shitty ’80s movies, how does this turd rate 3 1/2 stars?

  14. avatarCapybara says:

    I own a Vector Uzi. I have to say, in it’s California legal incarnation which includes a 16″ barrel, a non-folding wooden stock and I added a Kydex grip wrap so I could drop magazines as God intended, it is heavy, awkward and not really exciting to shoot. I could say the same about any neutered SMG. As a bullet hose, Uzi’s are great but tack on that dumb looking long barrel, make it a semi auto and in California, having the extra burden of the Kydex grip wrap, it becomes an unsatisfying gun.

    Mine is MUCH more reliable than this Century abomination though, it has only jammed once, never had a blown primer. The fire selector is in Hebrew because Vector built it from a real Group Industries/IMI receiver, it is built like a tank and looks cool, just not very fun to shoot.

  15. avatarblkcat says:

    So it’s heavy, the cheek weld is poor, the trigger sucks, it’s not very accurate, and it had a MTBF of approximately SEVEN ROUNDS? How on earth do all of these things combined with a $600 price point merit three and a half stars, half a star higher than a freaking TAVOR? I don’t get it. :D

  16. avatarAZGarandGuy says:

    Why is there not one photo in this article where the entire gun is visible in the frame? Every photo has some part of the gun chopped off out of frame. Amateurish.

    • avatarStinkeye says:

      I was wondering the same thing. All of them crop off the full length of the barrel, somewhat disguising the fact that an Uzi with a 16″ barrel is straight-up stupid.

  17. avatarMark N. says:

    Century Arms–I don’t recall a single review of a firearm by this company that did not gripe about its lack of reliability. ‘Nuff said.

  18. avatarAnon in CT says:

    “Initially I went with the C4 mantra, “less is more””

    Huh?

    I thought it was “No thrill like overkill”.

  19. avatarChris says:

    Real IMI UZI’s work quite well, I guess that’s the difference between a clone and the real thing.

    Very easy to shoot because of their weight, the metal stock is not the best but the lock up is solid as a rock, and the trigger is decent for what it is. Last time I shot an IMI UZI semi auto carbine I put 500 rounds threw it of the cheapest 9mm I could find and it worked perfectly.

    Compared to say a Grease Gun its lighter and just more modern, with a better trigger, but the Grease Gun is a cheap POS in terms of quality. IMI guns are built pretty good.

    You can see why the MP5 took the world by storm when it came out.

  20. avatarcrzapy says:

    I love, love, my Norinco Uzi clone. It has been 100% reliable, and it eats everything, including steal cased cheap Russian 9mm ammo. It is also very accurate. All that being said it is a range toy, and heavy. But it is also a crowd pleaser. I would love to get a full auto UZI, but alas I do not have the 6 to 8k it would require.

  21. avatarWilliam Burke says:

    Oh. I thought you wrote “imperious fledgling country”.

    Greatest danger to world security ever, that tiny, imperious country. If there’s a World War III, you can bet your bottom dollar they started it.

  22. avatarggrimes2 says:

    Sorry this looks like a G & A review where no gun is bad because you don’t want to piss off your monetary supply base (adverts) I have a quasi-Uzi meaning it was made by IMI then converted (yes legally) into a class 3 by a smith in Tucson. It fires from a closed bolt and is actually too fast in cycle but it shoots 100% with minimal lube. The only issue I’ve ever had was with some reloads where I had swapped out my normal powder for some faster burning stuff trying to save a few bucks. But that is a reloading issue not a firearm issue. I have also shot both semi-auto (not a very pratical weapon) and “real IMI” UZI’s and all function nearly flawless with factory hardball. If this thing functions this badly out of the box it is a fail and should be returned.

  23. avatarChris Dumm says:

    I would try to send that Uzi back to CAI, if it’s still under warranty. This failure rate is completely unacceptable, and the blown primers are just the icing on the cake.

    The design of the Uzi’s wrap-around bolt should keep your face safe from burning gases, but those blown primers are a sign of other defects which are probably unrelated to the feeding problem.

    Send it back!

  24. avatarLOU CARR says:

    IF YOU WANT TO HANG THIS GUN ON YOUR WALL, BUY IT. IF YOU WANT A GUN THAT SHOOTS, AND SHOOTS EVERY TIME, THEN DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY. THE MAGAZINES THEY COME WITH DO NOT FUNCTION, MISFEED AND COMPLETELY JAM THE WEAPON. (THEY FAILED TO FEED 8 TIMES IN 40 ROUNDS, I GAVE UP AFTER THAT)THEIR DEALER, KELLY ENTERPRISES IN KEY WEST DOES NOT BACK UP THE WEAPONS. THEY TAKE YOUR MONEY AND TELL YOU TO CONTACT THE MANUFACTURER-AND THEY TELL YOU TO SHIP TO THEM THE GUN- IN THE MEANTIME YOU HAVE NOTHING AND GET NOTHING IN THE END. WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY AND TIME THESE PEOPLE ARE. IF YOU WANT AN UZI THEN BUY A REAL UZI, NOT THE VECTOR PIECE OF JUNK.

  25. avatargnome says:

    I whole heartedly disagree with this review. I bought one a couple months ago on a whim after jot finding what I really wanted. I bought 400 rounds at the same time. No lube or work done and first time shooting I went thru 325 rounds without a single malfunction or even realizing I had almost up all my ammo. It shoots so smooth and light. It is heavy as all hell. And stock can be a pain in the ass to fold. But other than that im innlove with this rifle.

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