Uzi submachine gun pistol
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By Tyler Hilliker

You have probably heard of the world famous Uzi and its variants, even if you aren’t really a “gun person.” The infamous little 9mm is just one of those guns that’s almost universally recognizable by almost anyone, much like the Tommy gun, M16, AK47 and GLOCK.

The Uzi was first introduced in Israel in the early 1950s, seeing use through the present day with several militaries, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Uzis of one kind or another have also been featured in literally hundreds of action films, TV shows, music videos and video games. If you’ve ever seen photographs from the 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan then you have surely seen the little sub gun being famously wielded by Secret Service agents.

Today we will be taking a look at the life of its inventor. I present to you the man, the myth, the legend…Uziel Gal.

Uziel Gal

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Uzi, born as Gotthard Glas. Born on December 15th 1923 in Weimar Germany to a Jewish family, they to England in 1933 after the Nazis came into power. Then in 1936, they moved to Kibbutz Yagur in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine at which time he also changed his name to Uziel Gal.

From his youth, Gal was interested in weapons engineering. He designed his first automatic gun (which shot arrows) at age 15. At 20, now a member of the Haganah defense force and was arrested by British troops for carrying a gun (it was forbidden to Jews in Israel at the time). He spent three years in prison during which he studied mechanical engineering before being pardoned in 1946.

He joined what is now known as the Israeli Defense Force during the Israeli war of Independence in 1948 at the age of 24 where he saw combat in Northern Israel. That’s where he demonstrated his homemade prototype submachine gun in Yagur. It was during that time that Captain (later Major) Gal was sent to work at Israel Military Industries where his Uzi first went into production in 1950. It was adopted officially in 1951 and first saw use with IDF special forces in 1954. Eventually over 10 million would be made. 

Uzi Pistol Pro

Interestingly enough, Uziel didn’t even want the gun named after himself, but it proved to be so popular that his requests were ignored. In 1955, the IDF decorated him for his work with the Tzalash HaRamatkal. And in 1958, he became the first recipient of the Israel Security Award which was given to him by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Uziel remained with the IDF until 1975, rising to the rank of Lt. Col. when he retired. Shortly after, in 1976, he and his family emigrated to the United States, specifically Philadelphia, so that his daughter, Tamar, could receive proper extended medical care for a rare brain disorder. She unfortunately passed away in 1984 in her early 20s.

After coming to America, Uziel worked with Action Manufacturing (Action Arms) originally prototyping a .30 caliber military rifle. In 1978 He was approached by the owner of Action Arms to bring his Uzi to the U.S. civilian market. 

As a career IDF officer, Uziel had always felt that his invention for the Jewish state was part of his duty, and he never received any royalties on the original military design.

Uzi being processed at a Chicago gun “buyback” (image via Chicago Police Facebook page)

Working with Israel Military Industries, the first intended civilian model was sent to the ATF for approval, but was quickly denied, considered readily convertible to a machinegun. As it was simply a 16” barreled Uzi sub-machinegun with a metal bar welded into the removable grip frame to prevent the selector from being switched to full auto, it’s quite obvious why this original model was denied for import as a semi-auto.

Uziel then worked to design a truly semi-automatic only version of his design, which included a welded steel bar inside the receiver to prevent installation of a full auto bolt, and a change to a closed bolt design, amongst many smaller changes.

With an Uzi model newly approved for import, the gun was first introduced to the public at the 1980 SHOT Show, receiving a significantly higher than expected 7,000 orders initially. In the first three years, they managed to sell more than 36,000 additional semi auto Uzi’s.

In 1989, an American assault weapons import ban went into effect. Essentially dooming the Action Arms’ plans. The Uzi is still being manufactured in both licensed and unlicensed through the present day.

Uzi pistol brace
Courtesy IWI

Uziel eventually left Action Arms over a royalty dispute. He sued the company and won after four years of litigation. In the end, Uziel was awarded a substantial sum for royalties, which had been bumped from 5% to 10% by the judge, as well as a large sum in damages.

In his later years, Uziel worked with Ruger on the development of the Ruger MP9 Sub Machinegun, as well as a number of of other small projects. His wife passed away in 1998, and Uziel died in September, 2002. His body was returned to Israel where he is buried alongside his wife at the foot of Mount Carmel.

Uziel Gal will be remembered for his distinguished service to Israel, for his extraordinary creativity and the iconic, eponymous submachinegun he invented. He is survived by his son, Iddo Gal.


Tyler Hilliker is a USCCA certified firearms instructor, 2A advocate, and federally licensed firearms manufacturer. He is a vocal advocate, fostering informed discussions and is working to leave an indelible mark on the firearms community through education, training, and unwavering advocacy.

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  1. Not everyone can afford to buy a sub-machine-gun. However, the low cost bump stock is an a fantastic alternative. Or a binary trigger equipped long gun. Also another outstanding low cost alternative.

    Every law abiding american family should own at least one machine gun.

  2. I never had much luck in the accuracy department with an Uzi.
    And the one I had wouldn’t feed hollow points worth a jam.
    It was a cool gunm though.

  3. My agency issued me an Uzi for my entire career. Great submachine gun, except it will not cycle hollow point ammunition. A lot of people disparage the open bolt design sighting accuracy issues. It just takes a little getting used to. I could make head shots on a blue man silhouette at 50 yards semi-auto without problem.

    • these days, you can replace the old stamped metal feed ramps of the originals with new modern machined ones that can properly run hollow points.

      the original gets cut out and then the new one slid in and welded in place. requires a proper gunsmith but it’s not a difficult or expensive thing for a good smith.

    • But the state attorney will have you thrown in jail for using covering fire! whatever was your agency thinking!

    • The Uzi is surprisingly accurate for a sub-gun. Even in full-auto (with practice and short bursts), you could score multiple hits on man-sized targets at close combat range. The first time I ever picked up an Uzi, I was surprised by how heavy it was. That weight, ergonomic design and 9mm (FMJ only) combined to help with controllability in full-auto fire. It is out-classed in today’s combat environment, but it served the IDF well during it’s time in service.

      • “The Uzi is surprisingly accurate for a sub-gun.”

        Even considering the open bolt it uses…

  4. It always amazes me that many very successful and influential firearm designers were/are not mechanical engineers or similar. Instead, many of them had anything but a formal education in mechanical design/engineering.

    Maybe when (if?) I retire some day I will set out to design a semi-auto or even a full auto firearm. And with so many designs that are already in service, one of those could be my inspiration and starting point.

    • “It always amazes me that many very successful and influential firearm designers were/are not mechanical engineers or similar.”

      I don’t find it *that* surprising, most folks have an innate understanding of how mass in motion behaves, the cause and effect relationship…

  5. Uziel Gal was a true firearms inventor and created the Uzi which is still revered today by firearms enthusiasts.

  6. “they [emigrated] to England in 1933 after the Nazis came into power.”

    Step one of survival: take action when indicators have been triggered.

    • The brave and courageous Syrians who fled their country.
      Abandoning your country is not brave and courageous.

      • “Abandoning your country is not brave and courageous.”

        The millions who stayed in Germany, and were slaughtered are heroes?

        When a nation sets about exterminating a portion of its population, dying in hopes of sending a message of honor and bravery seems counter productive.

        And what do we say about the honor and bravery of nations who turned refugees away, only to again end up in German ovens?

  7. 100 years old?
    Still too much a technologically advanced super assault weapon that not even Jules Verne ever could have imagined and so should be banished to the cornfield.

  8. Liberty and Bell, two turkeys, are ready for their presidential pardons today.

    Joe Biden will spend some time today pardoning turkeys. To do this he will stare at the floor for a while in a sort of Mitch McConnell vapor lock mode, mumble some sounds that are suppose to be words, tell a story about how he was the first to recognize turkey rights, fall down then after being helped back up will declare a ‘turkey violence epidemic’ and call on Congress to ban ‘assault mashed potatoes and gravy’, then wander away confused as to which way he is supposed to go and Jill will take him by the hand and lead him away.

  9. This article told me more about Uzi Gal than I knew in all my previous life. Good article, and at a good time in the history of Israel!
    Ive always wanted an UZI. Not that I need it, of course (I have other weapons for that), but because I’m a collector and admire the design and history of Mr Gal’s weapon. Maybe some day.. you know, like “Next year, in Jerusalem”…

    • Can you ask Israel to stop bombing hospitals and churches?

      Can Israel stop taking all our money? I pay too much in taxes. Why do my tax dollars need to go to Israel?

      • Try reading facts based news, not the anti-Semitic mainstream media and Muslim sources. A HAMAS missile that failed after lunch hit the hospital PARKING LOT. It was obvious from the videos some people captured as well as the impact signature on the ground. Israel get about $3b per year in aid as CREDIT towards buying US made military equipment and supplies (NOT cash). Since you claim to be a Christian, you would know why we are required by God to support Israel. Even Catholics (enemies of Christians for 1260 years, their Jesuit Gestapo murdering millions) should know this.

        • As Christians, we must support Jews no matter what they do. Murder Jesus Christ, deny Christ as the savior, follow the Talmud, which says Jesus is boiling in excrement and Mary was a prostitute, murder thousands of babies. We must support this Jewish state, created thousands of years after the Old Testament and having no connection to the lineage of Abraham, no matter what!

      • “Can you ask Israel to stop bombing hospitals and churches?”

        Just soon as those murderous ‘Palestinians’ stop slaughtering actual-peaceful Israeli citizens simply enjoying an outdoors peace concert, mkay, asshole? 🙁

    • “Palestine will be free”

      Free from those that support Hamas, asshole.

      That’s roughly 70 percent of those in Gaza…

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