Uzi's Bird of Prey

by Clair Rees

In every part of the globe, shooters and non-shooters alike recognize the Uzi trademark. For nearly half a century, the name has been synonomous with the famed submachine gun Major Uziel Gal developed for the Israeli Army. Now some new guns - and a new company - are getting into the act.

The company is Uzi America, Inc., a subsidiary of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. The new guns are variations of the Uzi Eagle, an autoloading pistol manufactured by Israel Military Industries, Ltd. (IMI) under contract to Uzi America. Uzi America plans to introduce other Israeli-made firearms later this year.

The Uzi Eagle is actually a new version of a similar handgun Magnum Research once marketed as the Baby Eagle. I tested a 9mm Baby Eagle a few years ago, and liked it well enough to purchase the gun - something that only rarely happens.

Based on the rugged, reliable CZ-75 design, the Uzi Eagle is a strikingly handsome pistol with excellent ergonomics. With the exception of a compact model that sports a polymer frame, Uzi Eagles feature all-steel construction. The slide rides on dovetailed rails inside the frame, and the barrels feature shallow six-groove polygonal rifling.

The base of the magazine is contoured to serve as an extension of the subtly flared grip. A squared-off, horizontally grooved trigger guard provides steady purchase for a two-handed combat grip. The magazine release is conventionally located at the left rear of the trigger guard. There's no magazine safety; the gun will fire with the clip removed.

A Flock Of Eagles

After contacting Uzi America about the new handguns, I received five different Uzi Eagles for testing. Each wore a matte dead-black finish that exactly matched the black synthetic grip panels. The Uzi Eagle legend and a stylized eagle head silhouette were etched in contrasting white on the left side of the slide.

Hesco's excellent tritium night sights - consisting of a trio of highly visible dots that glow in the dark - are standard equipment on all Uzi Eagle handguns. The easy-to-see sights have a substantial .125" wide front blade and a deep, rear notch that is .010" narrower. The substantial rear sight is .30" high and .25" thick. Both front and rear sights are drift-adjustable for windage. While lacking the internal micrometer windage and elevation adjustments target guns demand, these sturdily made sights are just what you want on a combat pistol. I give them an "A" grade for pure utility.

Uzi America's new pistol is offered in a dazzling array of variations. The gun is chambered for a trio of serious defense cartridges: 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Four basic models are available. Full-sized guns have 4.4" barrels and measure 8.1" in overall length. Height is 5.75" from the base of the 10-round magazine to the top of the rear sight. Frame width is 1.01", while the grip is 1.18" wide at the top, 1.35" at the bottom. The full-sized 9mm model I tested weighed 39 oz.

Short slide guns share the same height and grip measurements as full-sized models, but wear a 3.7" barrel. Overall length is 7.5". My sample .40 S&W short slide Uzi Eagle tips the scales at 35 oz.

Compact guns have 3.5" barrels and measure 7.2" front to back. A shortened grip reduces height to 5.12", but doesn't reduce the magazine's full 10-round capacity. The compact 9mm decocker version I have weighs in at 34 oz., while an otherwise identical DAO gun is a half-ounce lighter.

The polymer-framed compact model is wider than the all-steel guns. The black polymer frame is also stepped, measuring 1.05" near the muzzle, and broadening to 1.21" at the rear. The grip is also wider at the top (1.21"), but - unlike the grip of other Uzi Eagles - doesn't get any broader at the bottom. Stippling is molded into the grip's front and back, and the serial number is stamped in a steel bar molded to the underside of the trigger guard.

Instead of riding in steel dovetails that run full length along the frame, the slide is captured by twin pairs of 1.53" steel rails molded into the polymer frame just ahead of the trigger and hammer well. Except for the dovetailed steel sections, the polymer frame is open at the top. The polymer compact weighs just 26 oz. - a full half-pound less than the all-steel compact models.

Full-sized and short-slide Uzi pistols are double action/single action guns. The first shot fires double action, which automatically cocks the hammer as the slide cycles rearward. Follow-up rounds are triggered in single-action mode. In place of a conventional safety, an ambidextrous decocking lever is mounted on the slide immediately below the rear sight. Thumbing this lever downward blocks the firing pin and drops the hammer. It also disconnects the trigger from the rest of the firing mechanism, rendering the gun inoperable.

The decocking lever falls naturally under the thumb, where it's easy to activate. Unfortunately, the reverse isn't true. Once the hammer was dropped (effectively placing the gun "on safe"), I had to awkwardly reposition my hand on the grip to gain the thumb leverage needed to deactivate the decocker and restore the gun to firing condition. This presents a problem if you plan to carry the Uzi Eagle with the decocker (safety) engaged. If I were packing this gun for serious social purposes, I'd holster it with the decocker lever fully forward, exposing the red "ready to fire" indicator located under the lever.

One advantage the ambidextrous decocking lever provides is additional purchase when you manually cycle the action. Lacking this feature, DAO guns require a firmer grip on the slide.

Compact and polymer compact Uzi Eagles are available in double-action/single-action decocker versions, or as double-action-only (DAO) models. DAO guns have no manually operated safety or decocker lever. The only external controls are the trigger, magazine release, and a slide release lever mounted on the left side of the frame.

DAO versions are always in "ready" condition; they fire each time the long DA trigger is pulled. As the slide cycles to chamber a fresh round, the hammer follows the slide forward, resetting the pistol to double-action mode. A safety notch stops the hammer's forward travel, preventing contact with the firing pin. The safety notch also reduces the danger of accidental discharge if the gun is inadvertently dropped.

Full-size, short-slide, compact and polymer compact models are chambered for either the 9mm or .40 S&W cartridge. The short-slide decocker pistol is also available in .45 ACP chambering. The 9mm and .40 S&W DAO compact models retail for $470; all other Uzi Eagle guns sell for $487.

The Uzi Eagle assortment I received included the following: a full-sized 9mm decocker model, a short-slide .40 S&W decocker, a compact 9mm decocker, a DAO compact 9mm and a polymer compact decocker chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge.

Soaring Eagle

To see how the new guns performed, I packed them all into an Uncle Mike's range bag, filled another with an assortment of 9mm and .40 S &W ammunition and headed for my desert shooting range.

My son Jamie and Kraig Varner - both dedicated handgun enthusiasts - came along to help me put the Uzi Eagles through their paces. Their assistance was appreciated. Firing the several hundred rounds necessary to test the feeding and functioning reliability of five different pistols can be a tiring, time-consuming process. Freezing December weather also took its toll, challenging the ability of numbed fingers to repeatedly load 10-shot magazines.

The guns passed that particular test with a "B" grade. The staggered-column 9mm and .40 S&W magazines loaded with ease, although increased resistance was (predictably) encountered as the final pair of rounds were fed into place.

Trigger action earned a "C+." While there were minor differences in each gun's operation, the double-action triggers of both decocker and DAO models weighed an average of 13 lbs. The inch-long trigger travel isn't as smooth as some guns I've tested, and there's some stacking just prior to final letoff.

After you fire a few rounds to familiarize yourself with its operation, the DA trigger becomes fairly easy to control. Following a short takeup, single-action triggers break crisply at 4 1/2 lbs.

I've already mentioned the Uzi Eagle's excellent ergonomics. Both compact and full-sized guns feel exceptionally good in the hand and point naturally. The grip backstrap is contoured to snug comfortably in your palm, and the distance to the trigger is just right for my average-sized hands. With its 4.4" barrel, the full-sized model is slightly muzzle heavy; short-slide guns are a little livelier.

While the all-steel compact models sport shorter grips, my fingers didn't feel crowded when I fired these guns. Grip dimensions on the polymer compact gun gave a different feel I found less appealing.

I didn't have a .45 ACP model to test, but the recoil of the 9mm and .40 S&W guns was easily controllable. These arc very pleasant guns to shoot, and they performed with a high degree of reliability. The full-sized and polymer compact 9mms exhibited a couple of early feeding failures with two different hollowpoint loads. Then they settled down to shoot, chewing through 200 rounds of mixed ammunition without a bobble. The other guns fed and fired flawlessly throughout the test.

Accuracy was more than acceptable with all five guns. The short-slide .40 S&W delivered five-shot groups ranging from 2 1/2" to 3" across with four different loads (the 2 1/2" spreads were produced with Speer's 165 gr. Gold Dot hollowpoints).

The full-sized 9mm gave similar performance, exhibiting surprising consistency with both hollowpoint and full-jacket ammo. Groups varied from 2 5/8" to 3 1/4" in diameter. Accuracy testing was done from a sandbagged rest at 25 yards.

Cleaning the guns was easy and hassle-free. Takedown was similar to - and simpler than - the procedure used to field strip the familiar 1911 A1 pistol. There's no barrel bushing to fuss with. After checking to be sure both chamber and magazine contain no ammunition, you remove the magazine. Then cycle the slide rearward far enough to line up a pair of punch marks at the rear of the frame and slide. Next, push the slide release lever from right to left out of the frame. At that point, the slide can be slid forward and clear of the frame. Finally, remove the recoil spring assembly, then separate the barrel from the slide. No further takedown is required (or recommended).

Because I already own an earlier version of the Israeli-made pistol, I found few surprises in testing the Uzi Eagles. I do like the variety of configurations now available. I'm particularly interested in the lightweight handiness of the polymer compact, and may buy a DAO .40 S&W version for my own use. A frugal writer's willingness to part with hard cash says something about a new handgun.

System Caliber Overall Length Barrel Length Magazine Capacity
FULL SIZE
DA/SA 9mm 8.1 4.4 10
DA/SA .40 S&W 8.1 4.4 10
SHORT SLIDE
DA/SA 9mm 7.5 3.7 10
DA/SA .40 S&W 7.5 3.7 10
DA/SA .45 ACP 7.5 3.7 10
COMPACT
DA/SA 9mm 7.2 3.5 10
DA/SA .40 S&W 7.2 3.5 10
DAO 9mm 7.2 3.5 10
DAO .40 S&W 7.2 3.5 10
POLYMER COMPACT
DA/SA 9mm 7.2 3.5 10
DA/SA .40 S&W 7.2 3.5 10
DAO 9mm 7.2 3.5 10
DAO .40 S&W 7.2 3.5 10

first published in the 1998 Annual edition of American Handgunner

© REMTEK 1999

ARC AS
addition to this article

The Uzi Egle was a trade mark of the JERICHO made by IMI for the American market and distributed at the USA.
The JERICHO is also recognize as the Baby Eagle.
The models that sale in USA is mainly the R type (decocking ).

The cooperation between Mossberg & Sons, Inc. and IMI stop and Uzi America, Inc. no longer distribute IMI products.
The Jericho is no longer distribute under the name Uzi Eagle,
and the Baby Eagle® Pistol is once again available from Magnum Research.


Pistol Models

941/941F

941FS

941FB

941 FBL

941 PS

IPSC

Caliber

9mm

.40S&W

9mm

.40S&W

.45ACP

9mm

.40S&W

9mm

.40S&W

9mm

9mm

Operation

Semi automatic, short recoil system

Locking Method

Lugs on top of barrel engage slots in slide

Magazine Capacity

16

12

16

12

10

13

9

13

9

16

16

Rifling

R.H. 6 polygonal grooves

Twist, 1 turn in: (mm)

254

407

254

407

407

254

407

254

407

254

254

Trigger pulling force (kg)

1.8 - 2.9

1.1-1.3

Weight (gr.)

941/941F

941FS

941FB

941 FBL

941 PS

IPSC

Pistol w/o magazine

1000

920

870

620

960

1200

Empty magazine

90

90

75

80

90

100

Loaded magazine

290

295

290

295

310

240

240

290

300

Dimensions (mm)

941/941F

941FS

941FB

941 FBL

941 PS

IPSC

Length

207

192

184

184

210

256

Height

140

140

125

125

140

140

Width

35

35

35

35

35

35

Barrel Length

112

96

89

89

104

133

Trigger reach

76

76

76

76

67

67

Sights

941/941F

941FS

941FB

941 FBL

941 PS

IPSC

Type

Combat sights with optional GTLS (luminous sight) or 3 dot system

Adjustable

Sightline radius (mm)

150

141

134

134

134

150