The Uzi submachine gun was designed by Captain (later Major) Uziel Gal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The weapon was submitted to the Israeli Army for evaluation and won out over more conventional designs due to its simplicity and economy of manufacture. Gal did not want the weapon to be named after him, but his request was ignored. The Uzi was officially adopted in 1951. First introduced to IDF special forces in 1954, the weapon was placed into general issue two years later. The first Uzis were equipped with a short, fixed wooden buttstock, and this is the version that initially saw combat during the 1956 Suez Campaign. Later models would be equipped with a folding metal stock.
The Uzi was used as a personal defense weapon by rear-echelon troops, officers, artillery troops and tankers, as well as a frontline weapon by elite light infantry assault forces. The Uzi's compact size and firepower proved instrumental in clearing Syrian bunkers and Jordanian defensive positions during the 1967 Six-Day War. Though the weapon was phased out of frontline IDF service in the 1980s, some Uzis and Uzi variants were still used by a few IDF units until December 2003, when the IDF announced that it was retiring the Uzi from all IDF forces. It was subsequently replaced by the fully automatic Micro Tavor.
In general, the Uzi was a reliable weapon in military service. However, even the Uzi fell victim to extreme conditions of sand and dust. During the Sinai Campaign of the Yom Kippur War, IDF Army units reaching the Suez Canal reported that of all their small arms, only the 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun was still in operation.
The Uzi proved especially useful for mechanized infantry needing a compact weapon, and for infantry units clearing bunkers and other confined spaces. However, its limited range and accuracy in automatic fire (approximately 50m) could be disconcerting when encountering enemy forces armed with longer-range small arms, and heavier support weapons could not always substitute for a longer-ranged individual weapon. These failings eventually caused the phasing out of the Uzi from IDF front-line assault units .
The Uzi has been used in various conflicts outside Israel and the Middle East during the 1960s and 1970s. Quantities of 9 mm Uzi submachine guns were used by Portuguese cavalry, police, and security forces during the Portuguese Colonial Wars in Africa.