The Uzi is a family of guns that started with a compact, boxy, and lightweight submachine gun. Smaller and newer variants are considered machine pistols. The first Uzi submachine gun was designed by Uziel Gal in the late 1940s. It was manufactured by Israel Military Industries, FN Herstal, and others.
The Uzi uses an open-bolt, blowback-operated design. It and the Czechoslovakian series 23 to 26 were the first weapons to use a 'telescoping' ('overhung') bolt design, in which the bolt wraps around the breech end of the barrel (Hogg 1979:157-158). This allows the barrel to be moved far back into the receiver and the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip, allowing for a heavier, slower-firing bolt in a shorter, better-balanced weapon.
It is made mostly of stamped sheet metal and has relatively few parts, making it easy to strip for maintenance and making it less expensive per unit to manufacture than an equivalent design machined from forgings. The magazine being housed within the pistol grip allows for intuitive and easy reloading in dark or difficult conditions, as the operator simply brings his hands together; but the high grip also makes the gun awkward to fire when prone.
It has a grip safety, making it difficult to fire accidentally.
When the gun is decocked, the ejector port closes, preventing entry of dust and dirt. Though the Uzi's receiver is equipped with pressed reinforcing ridges to accept accumulated dirt and sand, the weapon may jam with heavy accumulations of sand in desert combat conditions when not cleaned regularly.
The Uzi is generally a highly effective weapon, and has been found especially useful for mechanized troops needing a compact weapon, and for infantry units clearing bunkers and other confined spaces.