The SOCIMI Type 821-SMG was a rather nondescript, no-frills submachine gun of the 1980s developed to the popular lines of the Israeli UZI SMG. Externally, the product mimicked much of the key qualities of the Israeli design including its rectangular receiver, short barrel and pistol grip magazine. The design proved efficient and stable though only seeing purchase by Italian special police units and only in limited numbers. SOCIMI (Societa Costruzioni Industriali Milano) began as a Milan-based manufacturer of urban transport systems and grew into a large business - eventually teaming with, and then acquiring, the Italian firearms concern of Franchi S.p.A. In a notable attempt for SOCIMI to break into the lucrative military defense sector, Franchi S.p.A. began work in 1983 on an UZI-inspired submachine gun offering. A design was eventually forged and put through the requisite testing procedures before serial production commenced in 1984, spanning until 1989. While an unknown amount of units were eventually delivered to market, SOCIMI was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1992 and was then absorbed in 1993 by Trollybus Systems. Franchi S.p.A. ownership was acquired by competing Italian firearms firm Beretta.
Despite its obvious UZI influence, the Type 821 incorporated enough changes to become a unique and notable submachine gun offering in its own right. Unlike the heavy, old-school stamped steel receiver of the 1960s-era UZI, the Type 821 took a more modern approach and utilized a single-piece lightweight alloy housing, making for a more lightweight overall weapon in turn. In fact, nearly all of the major components of the submachine gun were forged of alloy including the grip and barrel. The bolt assembly could be accessed through the rear of the receiver for routine cleaning and maintenance and all of the critical working components were encased in the well-protected receiver. An ejection port was situated along the right side of the receiver in the conventional way while the trigger was protected in a thin ring suitable for a gloved finger to access. Finger grooves were formed into the pistol grip and upper region, just above the thumb, for a firm single-handed hold. A short forend was situated ahead of the hand grip and seen in either smooth or lightly grooved finishes. Overall length of the weapon was 600mm with the stock extended, 400mm with the stock folded. The barrel assembly measured just 200mm allowing the Type 821 to stay a most compact design (as with the popular UZI). Overall weight of this submachine was a manageable 5lbs, 6 ounces and the weapon field-stripped into six major components.
Notable UZI influences were retained in the Italian design including the forward-mounted, over-receiver charging handle, large front (adjustable post) and rear (flip-type aperture) iron sights and grip safety. The stock was an in-house design and appeared as a single strut tube hinged at one end (under rear of the receiver, just aft of the pistol grip) and folded over the right side of the receiver when needing a more compact travel/handling form. Otherwise, the stock folded out into place in the usual fashion and could be set against the shoulder for a traditional three-point firing hold to include the supporting hand under the forend.
The Type 821 was noteworthy in its operation for it proved a well-balanced combination of weight and recoil effect, producing a very stable firing platform that could be operated with just one hand as a true "machine pistol". The action was of traditional blowback and a three-position fire selector switch was located along the left side of the receiver within easy reach of the primary hand's thumb. The weapon was chambered to fire the widely-accepted 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge and this from a 32-round, spring-loaded detachable straight box magazine inserted into the bottom of the grip as in the UZI family. Effective range was under 200 meters with a listed rate-of-fire of 550 rounds-per-minute. Coupled with its compact form and unique balancing traits, the Type 821 was an excellent weapon for close-quarters combat.
SOCIMI trialed a micronized version of its Type 821-SMG though it appears that nothing came of this endeavor while the Type 821 Submachine Gun still sees a limited existence today (2013). No foreign sales of the product were completed.