The Israeli Galil

By Frank Iannamico

Created Out of Need for an Indigenous Rifle Combining the Reliability of the AK and Accuracy of the FAL

Galil History

The Balfour Declaration was a statement issued by the British government during World War I, announcing support for the establishment of a National home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The British pledge of support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine did not sit well with the Arabs living in the region. Fearing possible attacks, the Jews created a defense organization called the Hashomer. During 1920, the Hashomer was replaced by a larger and more organized group called the Haganah. The group’s primary mission was the defense of Jewish settlements. During World War II, many Jews left Germany to settle in Palestine. This further strained relations with the Arabs. At the end of World War II, many desperate Holocaust survivors traveled to the Jewish settlements. Due to the growing influx of people, friction between the Arabs and the Jews increased. During this time Jewish underground groups began assembling secret arsenals to defend their settlements. Hiding weapons was necessary because of British attempts to disarm the Jews to quell the fighting. Most of the weapons used during the period were World War II surplus. The British Sten gun was popular during the early period because they were easy to use, manufacture and conceal. In addition to British-made Stens, the guns were produced locally in Israeli factories.

In 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan calling for separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. In 1948, the Jews declared the independent state of Israel; they immediately came under attack from their Arab neighbors Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and an expeditionary force from Iraq. The Israeli government had organized several small existing defense organizations into one, creating the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). During their early conflicts, weapons were procured from Czechoslovakia and France. However, the Israeli government did not want to depend on foreign countries to supply weapons and ammunition, and many of the weapons being fielded by the Israelis proved unreliable in the desert environment.

During the 1950s, the Israeli Defense Forces adopted the Belgian-designed 7.62mm FN FAL infantry rifle. The weapon was fielded by the IDF during the famous Six-Day War in 1967. Although the Israelis won the conflict, the FN FAL did not fare well in the desert climate. Reportedly, most of the FN FAL’s reliability problems were the fault of poor maintenance by conscript soldiers. During the Six-Day War, thousands of Kalashnikov rifles were captured from the enemy. The captured AK weapons were studied and evaluated by the IDF. The soldiers the Israelis had been facing were guilty of poor maintenance also but the Israelis noted their AK rifles were more reliable than the FN FALs. The Kalashnikov rifles proved more reliable in the desert, required less maintenance, and their compact overall length was handier than the comparatively long FN FAL rifle. However, the AK was not as accurate as the FN FAL. What was needed was a weapon that was reliable as an AK, but with the accuracy of the FN FAL.

A number of weapons were evaluated to replace the FN FAL rifle. The U.S. offered its 5.56mm M-16, and Germany offered its HK 33; both were rejected. An indigenous rifle, based on the AK and the Finnish Rynnäkkökivääri 62 / RK 62 rifle, was designed by Yisrael Galili and Yaacov Lior. After extensive testing and evaluation, the Galil rifle, chambered in 5.56mm was chosen to replace the FN FAL during 1972. The Galil featured a basic AK-type action but was more accurate. The onset of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 delayed widespread adoption of the Galil rifle.

The basic Galil is fitted with a side-folding buttstock. The cocking handle is unique, being turned upward at a 90-degree angle from the receiver; the purpose is to permit it to be easily accessible by either of the operator’s hands. Galil barrels are chromium-lined for durability and ease of maintenance. A six-port “birdcage” flash suppressor is attached to the barrel’s muzzle. Early 5.56x45mm production models had barrels with a twist rate of one turn in 12 inches (1:305mm), designed to fire the M193, 5.56 cartridge with the 55-grain bullet. Later production models feature a twist rate of one turn in 7 inches (1:178mm) for firing the 62-grain M855/SS109 cartridges. All Galil rifles use a milled forged-steel receiver. The cyclic rate for all models is 650-730 rounds per minute. The magazine release lever is sufficiently large and very similar to that of an AK rifle. The rear sight mounted at the back of the top cover is a two-leaf aperture type, realistically calibrated with 300 and 500 meter ranges. Mounting the rear sight on the top cover allows for a longer sight radius but does not provide a sturdy platform for accurate semiautomatic shooting. The gas block mounted front sight is a post design, adjustable for elevation and windage and is enclosed and protected by a round hood. Flip-up tritium sights are provided for low ambient light situations. The left side of the receiver is dovetailed for mounting a number of different optical devices. Typical furniture on the Galil is high impact black plastic or wood. The rifles are phosphated and then finished with black enamel paint.

The Israeli Defense Forces adopted the Galil assault rifle during 1972, chambered for the M193 5.56x45mm cartridge. The Galil was also manufactured chambered for the 7.62x51mm cartridge primarily for export sales. A number of Galil rifles have been exported, and several variants have been built in other countries under a licensing agreement. Several semi-automatic-only models were exported to the United States for the civilian market.

The Galil Series

The Man Behind the Gun

Yisrael Balashnikov was born in the Soviet Union in 1923. He immigrated to Israel as a young man and soon found work as an arms designer for Israeli Military Industries after World War II. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Balashnikov designed an assault rifle based on the Soviet AK-47 and the Finnish RK 62. Balashnikov eventually changed his name to Yisrael Galili, and his rifle was adopted as the Galil. The Galil rifle was chosen over a competing design by Uziel Gal, the designer of the famous UZI submachine gun. The similarity between the Galil designer’s former name Balashnikov and the AK designer Kalashnikov is merely coincidental.

Galil AR, 5.56x45mm

The Galil series family of rifles includes the AR model (Assault Rifle) that is the standard model, with a right side-folding tubular buttstock. The 5.56x45mm six-groove barrel is 18.11 inches (460mm) in length. The furniture is made of high-impact black plastic. The overall length with the buttstock extended is 38.5 inches (978mm); with the stock folded the length is 29.21 inches (742mm). The loaded weight with a steel 35-round magazine is 10.30 pounds (4.67kg).

Galil AR, 7.62x51mm

The 7.62x51mm Galil AR has a four-groove, chromium-lined barrel that is 21 inches in length (535mm). The 7.62 magazine has a 25-round capacity. The overall length is 41.33 inches (1,050mm) with the steel stock extended and 31.89 inches (810mm) when folded. Loaded weight is 10.40 pounds (4.72kg).

Galil SAR, 5.56x45mm

The Short Assault Rifle (SAR) model is similar to the AR except it has a shorter barrel, making it a more compact and handier weapon for armored vehicle crews. The barrel has the same chromium-lining as the AR model, but with a reduced length of 13.07 inches. As a result, the gas tube and piston rod are proportionately shorter. The overall length is 33.46 inches (850mm) with the stock extended; 24.17 inches (614mm) folded. Loaded weight with a 35-round magazine is 9.85 pounds (4.47kg).

The SAR was also manufactured in 7.62x51mm. The 7.62mm SAR has an overall length of 36.0 inches (915mm) with the stock extended, and 26.6 inches (675mm) with the stock folded; barrel length is 15.7 inches (400mm).

Galil ARM, 5.56x45mm, 7.62x51mm

Galil ARM rifles were designed to serve as both assault rifles and squad automatic weapons. There are two ARM models: one is chambered for the 5.56x45mm round and the other in 7.62x51mm. Both weapons are fitted with a wood foregrip, a bipod and a carrying handle. The rear pistol grip is made of plastic. The twin strut side-folding stock is made of steel.

The 5.56x45mm NATO caliber ARM weapon has a chromium-lined barrel that is 18.11 inches (460mm) in length. The overall length of the rifle is 38.54 inches (979mm) with the stock extended, when folded the length is reduced to 29.21 (742mm). The full-automatic cyclic rate is 650 rounds per minute. A special 50-round capacity magazine was designed for the weapon, but the magazine was difficult to load and heavy with a loaded weight of 2.2 pounds (1.0kg). The long length of the magazine also makes elevation and traverse firing from a prone position difficult. Loaded weight with a 35-round magazine is 11.17 pounds (5.07kg).

The other Galil ARM model is chambered for the more potent 7.62x51mm round. The chromium-lined barrel is 21.06 inches (535mm) in length with a four-groove, one turn in 12 inches (1:305mm), right-hand twist. The magazine is steel with a 25-round capacity. Other features include a folding carry handle and a detachable steel bipod, which also serves as a wire cutter and bottle opener. The foregrip of the ARM is made of wood, and the pistol grip is plastic. The full-automatic cyclic rate is 650 rounds per minute. The overall length of the ARM with the stock extended is 41.34 inches (1,050mm); with the stock folded the length is 31.89 inches (810mm). Loaded weight is 11.22 pounds (5.09kg).

Galil MAR, 5.56x45mm

The smallest member of the Galil group of weapons is the Micro Galil also known as the MAR or Micro Assault Rifle. The compact weapon was designed to supplant submachine guns like the UZI, but with a more potent cartridge. There are three markets for such a compact weapon: military, police and civilian. Problems surfaced with early models, primarily with the handguards, but these were ironed out in subsequent production. The later production MAR uses a distinctive side-folding stock made of polymer plastic to minimize weight. They also have a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for mounting a variety of optical devices. The barrel length is very short at 7.68 inches (195mm); overall length with the stock extended is only 27.17 inches (690mm); when folded the length is reduced to only 18.11 inches (460mm). Loaded weight with 35-round magazine is 8.15 pounds (3.7kg).

Micro Galil Part Kits

The Lewis and Black company of Henderson, NV, recently secured an entire lot of surplus select fire Israeli Military Industries (IMI) manufactured 5.56mm Galil Micro Assault Rifles also known as the MAR. The company is offering the MAR parts kits, less receiver, for those wishing to build their own Galil MAR. Parts kits are available in several variations, which fall into two categories; NRA factory (almost) new and NRA excellent. The (almost) new parts kits have most of their original finish intact and appear to be in perfect condition inside and out. They appear to have fired only a minimal number of rounds if at all. The NRA excellent parts kits feature over 80% of the original finish with sharp lettering and numbers. These parts kits have been issued and have seen action. All are available with left-hand cocking handles. All parts native to each firearm will remain together and will not be mixed or matched with another gun’s parts. Included with each parts kit are copies of the Israeli and ATF (redacted) documents, demilled receiver and demilled barrel. There are photographs of the tendered lot of guns at the auction on their shipping pallets upon arrival from Israel. To complete a build, Galil barrels and receivers are available.

U.S. Manufactured Micro Galil Receivers—Selecting the Receiver for a Custom Micro Galil Build

Jeff Miller has over 15 years of experience building Galil rifles. With his extensive knowledge and original IMI blueprints, he has established a foundation for the design and development of a U.S.-manufactured, patent-pending Galil receiver. The receivers have the unique feature of being configurable to any of a number of calibers during the build. With some minor machining, the receivers can be modified from their base configuration caliber of 5.56 NATO to the following calibers: 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm and 300BLK. Technical instructions for all of the caliber configurations accompany each receiver.

The receivers are available in either a pistol or rifle configuration and two material choices: 4140 chromoly steel or a titanium alloy. All four variables will accommodate the aforementioned calibers and are marked on the receiver as “Multi” for ATF compliance purposes. The pistol-configured receiver allows the latitude of a short-barreled rifle’s operating characteristics without an NFA registration.

The Jeff Miller Signature Series Titanium Micro Galil Receiver

The available Titanium receiver has a weight of 8.2 ounces versus the steel receiver’s weight of 23.5 ounces. Titanium doesn’t have the inherent oxidation properties of steel alloys, allowing an unlimited choice of the finish that can be applied to this receiver, including leaving it in the “white.”

Looking to significantly surpass the OEM’s design and functionality criteria, the Titanium alloy specified in the receivers was originally developed for the aviation industry. It’s ideally suited for this application due to its Rockwell hardness of RC42-45, tensile ductility and unique elastic modulus properties, which are only found in this specific Beta Titanium alloy configuration. The unique stresses of the Galil receiver combined with a determination to achieve a marked improvement from the original specs, called out within the IMI prints, demanded more. The material used is known as Ti10V-3Fe-2Al and comes from a foundry in Ontario, CA. Securing an alloy specific to the requirements was difficult, and the limited amount of the material will be a factor as to how many of these receivers can be produced. When you select the Titanium Alloy as your receiver choice, a custom serial number is available, consisting of any combination of letters and numbers up to 15 characters.

U.S. Manufactured Barrels

Working with the Lewis and Black Company, Green Mountain Rifle Barrel and Galil master builder Jeff Miller now offer their renown button-rifled Galil barrels in both 5.56 NATO (1:7 twist) and 7.62x39mm (1:9.5 twist). Working from an original set of IMI Micro Galil blueprints and using specific tool and gauge cutters he designed and fabricated, Jeff Miller then contours, chambers and threads each barrel to OEM specifications. Chambers are set “deep” per IMI specs for ease of installation. The barrels are offered in several lengths. NOTE: Fitting these Galil barrels requires an experienced and competent gunsmith. Installation of the IMI grade/spec barrels on a Micro Galil receiver can be very challenging and incorrectly timed barrels may result in exposing the shooter to possible injury.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N1 (January 2018)
and was posted online on November 17, 2017


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