A Galil rifle in service with the Israel Defense Forces in July 2000.
|Place of origin||Israel|
|Used by||See users|
War in Somalia
South African Border War
War in Afghanistan
Insurgency in the Philippines
Guatemalan Civil War
Colombian Armed Conflict
2013 Lahad Datu standoff
|Designer||Yisrael Galili, Yaacov Lior|
|Manufacturer||Israel Military Industries (IMI), Bernardelli, Indumil, Ka Pa Sa State Factories|
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
|Rate of fire||630–750 rounds/min|
|Effective firing range||300–500 m sight adjustments|
|Sights||Flip-up rear aperture with protective ears, flip-up tritium night sights, hooded front post|
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd (now Israel Weapon Industries Ltd) of Ramat HaSharon. The rifle design borrowed heavily from the AK-47 and had a modified gas diversion system similar to the AK-47 to reduce the recoil of the rifle making it easier to fire especially in automatic mode. The weapon system consists of a line chambered for the intermediate 5.56×45mm NATO caliber with either the M193 or SS109 ball cartridge and several models designed for use with the 7.62x51mm NATO rifle round. It is named after one of its inventors, Yisrael Galil. The Galil series of weapons is in use with military and police forces in over 25 countries.
In the late 1950s, the Israeli Defense Forces adopted the FN FAL battle rifle chambered for the 7.62×51mm cartridge. Two models were fielded; the "Aleph" individual weapon and the "Beth" squad automatic weapon. It first saw major combat with the Israelis during the Six Day War in 1967. Although Israel won decisive victories, the FAL showed its limitations. It had poor reliability in the sandy and dusty battlefields of the Middle East. Furthermore, it was a long and bulky weapon. Its length and malfunctions became so much of an issue that during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, some soldiers armed themselves with an Uzi submachine gun with an extended barrel.
During the Six Day War, the Israelis captured thousands of AK-47 assault rifles and evaluated them. The rifle proved far more reliable and controllable than the FAL. Because of this, the IDF began the process of procuring or designing a new automatic rifle. Several weapons were submitted for the lucrative deal of becoming the Israeli Army's standard-issue assault rifle. America offered the M16A1 and Stoner 63 series, Russia offered the AK-47 itself, and Germany offered the HK 33. One indigenous design was offered by Uziel Gal, creator of the Uzi submachine gun.
Another indigenous design was offered by Yisrael Galil. His rifle was based off the Finnish RK 62. While the AK-47 and RK 62 fired the 7.62×39mm Soviet round, Galili's rifle fired the smaller 5.56×45mm M193 55-grain round. At the time, the United States was replacing France as Israel's main partner and weapons supplier. The U.S. would not supply Russian ammunition, so the design of the gun was altered to use the American cartridge. To accommodate the smaller round, the Kalashnikov-type rifles' 4.2 mm (0.17 in) gas hole was reduced to 1.8 mm (0.071 in). Tests conducted from the end of the 1960s to the early 1970s led to Galili's rifle emerging as the winner. It was named the Galil after its designer and formally adopted as the Israeli Army's next assault rifle in 1972 to replace the FN FAL. However, issuing of the Galil was delayed by the sudden onset of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The Galil was mostly used by mechanized and armored units, where its folding stock made it easier to store in vehicles. The M16A1 was more common in Israeli service in the 1970s and 1980s because Vietnam-surplus rifles were sold cheaper than it would cost to manufacture new Galils. Around 1975, M16A1s from the U.S. Military Aid Program (MAP) arrived for Israel, which utilized them for infantry forces to allow them to carry a lighter weapon on patrols. The Galil was still kept in use by some services, including the Knesset Guard.
The Galil series of rifles are selective fire weapons operated by a Kalashnikov-pattern gas-driven piston system with no regulator. The weapon is locked with a rotary bolt with two locking lugs that lock into recesses milled into the receiver.
When fired, a portion of the propellant gases are evacuated into the gas cylinder through a 1.8 mm (0.07 in) port, drilled at a 30° angle in the barrel, and a channel in the gas block. The high-pressure gases drive the piston rod (which is attached to the bolt carrier) rearward. During this rearward movement, a cam slot machined into the bolt carrier engages a cam pin on the bolt and rotates the bolt, unlocking the action. The arrangement of parts on the bolt carrier assembly provides for a degree of free travel, allowing gas pressure in the barrel to drop to a safe level before unlocking. To the immediate rear of the chrome-plated piston head is a notched ring which provides a reduced bearing surface and alleviates excess gas build-up. As the bolt carrier travels back, it compresses the return spring guided in a hollowed section of the bolt carrier and the return energy contained in the spring drives the moving assembly back forward, stripping a new round from the magazine and locking the action. The cocking handle is attached to the bolt carrier on the right side of the receiver and reciprocates with each shot; the handle is bent upwards allowing for operation with the left hand while the shooting hand remains on the pistol grip.
The ejection of spent cases from the Galil is sometimes a violent action. Cases can be dented by the ejector and be thrown as much as 40 ft away from the rifle in some cases, depending on position.
The Galil is hammer-fired and has a trigger mechanism patterned after the trigger used in the American M1 Garand. The rifle's fire selector switch has three positions: S-A-R. Pushing it to the rear position "R" (British terminology for "repetition"), provides semi-automatic fire. Pushing it to the middle position "A" produces fully automatic fire. Pushing the lever fully forward to "S" will activate the safety.
The Galil prototypes used a stamped and riveted sheet metal steel receiver, but due to the higher operating pressures of the 5.56x45mm cartridge, this solution was discarded and the designers turned to a heavy milled forging. As a testament to its heritage, early prototypes were fabricated using Valmet Rk 62 receivers manufactured in Helsinki. All exterior metal surfaces are phosphated for corrosion resistance and then coated with a black enamel (except for the barrel, gas block and front sight tower). The machined solid steel billet action avoided cracking problems the AK-series had with steel stamped sheet actions, but this made the Galil heavier.
The weapon is fitted with a high-impact plastic handguard and pistol grip and a side-folding (folds to the right side) tubular steel skeleton stock. The rifle can be used with a sound suppressor. The weapon features a bottle opener in the front handguard and wire cutter built into the bipod. The bottle opener feature was included to prevent damage to magazines being used to open bottles, due to the large civilian reservist components of the IDF. Use of magazines to open bottles was a common source of magazine lip damage with Uzi submachine guns. Wire cutters were included to reduce the time necessary for IDF troops to cut down wire fences common to rural areas in Israel.
Early production models were supplied with barrels that had six right-hand grooves and a 305 mm (1:12 in) rifling twist (optimized for use with M193 ammunition), while recent production models feature a 178 mm (1:7 in) twist barrel with six right-hand grooves (used to stabilize the heavier SS109/M855 projectile). The barrel has a slotted flash suppressor with 6 ports and can be used to launch rifle grenades or mount a bayonet lug attachment (it will accept the M7 bayonet).
The Galil is fed from a curved, steel box magazine with a 35-round capacity (SAR and AR versions), a 50-round capacity (ARM model) or a special color-coded 12-round magazine blocked for use exclusively with ballistite (blank) cartridges, used to launch rifle grenades. The magazine is inserted front end first in a similar manner to the AK family. An optional magazine adaptor enables the use of M16 type STANAG magazines. Some who have used the Galil ARM with the 50-round magazine have noted that it is difficult to engage targets at elevated heights while firing on the ground in the prone position due to the magazine's extended length.
The L-shaped rear sight has two apertures preset for firing at 0–300 m and 300–500 m respectively (the rear sight can only be adjusted for elevation). The front post is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation zero and is enclosed in a protective hood. Low-light flip-up front blade and rear sight elements have three self-luminous tritium capsules (betalights) which are calibrated for 100 m when deployed. When the rear night sight is flipped up for use, the rear aperture sights must be placed in an offset position intermediate between the two apertures. Certain variants have a receiver-mounted dovetail adapter that is used to mount various optical sights.
All Galil variants have a folding tubular steel stock. While similar in appearance to the folding stocks on some FAL variants, they are made from tubular aluminum. Galil stocks do not have a button latch. Although the folding stock makes the Galil able to fit in confined spaces, its steel construction, which is more durable than the FAL folding stock's aluminum construction, further adds weight to the rifle.
The standard rifle version which is fitted with a high-impact plastic handguard and pistol grip, a side-folding (folds to the right side) tubular metal skeleton stock as fitted to all variants except the Galil Sniper.
The SAR carbine variant, generally known as Glilon, is configured with a shorter barrel (332 mm, 13.07in). Due to the shorter barrel a corresponding shorter piston and gas tube as well as a unique gas block are found on the SAR.
The ARM light machine gun variant is additionally equipped with a carrying handle, folding bipod and a larger wooden handguard. The wooden handguard remains cooler during sustained automatic fire and has grooves for bipod storage. When folded, the bipod's legs form a speed chute for rapid magazine insertion; the bipod will form a wire cutter and the rear handguard ferrule, which retains the bipod legs, can be used to open bottles by design, in order to prevent soldiers using magazine lips for this purpose which damaged them.
The most recent addition to the Galil family of weapons is the MAR compact carbine, which retains the internal features of the original Galil with a completely new frame, operating system and an even shorter barrel. Introduced to the public at the 2nd International Defence Industry Exhibition in Poland in 1994, the weapon was developed for use with the army and police special units, vehicle crews, army staff, special operations personnel and airborne infantry.
The MAR, or the Micro Galil, is a reduced-size version of the Galil SAR (706 mm stock extended / 465 mm folded), weighing 2.98 kg empty. Compared to the original carbine, the MAR has a shortened barrel (210 mm), receiver, piston, gas tube and foregrip. The firearm is fed from a 35-round steel magazine which can be clipped together to increase reload speed. The MAR has the same rate of fire (630-750 rounds/min) as other 5.56 mm Galil models. An optional magazine adapter inserted inside the magazine well allows the use of standard 20 and 30-round M16 magazines. The lever safety and fire selector (located on both sides of the receiver) has four settings: "S"—weapon is safe, "A"—automatic fire, "B"—3-round burst, "R"—semi-automatic mode. The barrel has a multifunction muzzle device. The MAR is equipped with a folding tubular aluminum stock and a flip aperture sight with two settings: 0–300 m and beyond 300 m. The MAR can also be equipped with a night vision device (attached through an adapter mounted to the left side of the receiver), a daytime optical sight (mounted via a receiver cover adapter), low-light sights with tritium illuminated dots, a vertical forward grip with integrated laser pointer, silencer and a nylon sling. Upon request, the weapon can be supplied with a bolt catch, plastic magazines weighing 0.164 kg or an enlarged trigger guard for use with gloves.
The MAR has undergone several changes over time, and it is worth noting that it may also be found with a polymer coated aluminum stock or an all polymer stock. The Model 699 is available with a 267mm barrel and optional left side charging handle which is welded on to the left side of the bolt carrier and protrudes through a slot cut in he receiver cover that is covered by a spring loaded cover while the bolt carrier is forward.
The 7.62 mm Galil is derived from the 5.56 mm base version. The rifle retains the general design layout and method of operation of the 5.56 mm variant. In 7.62mm the Galil is available in several different configurations including a SAR carbine, full size AR rifle and ARM light machine gun. These weapons are fed from 25-round box magazines (previously 20-rounds). The barrel has four right-hand grooves with a 305 mm (1:12 in) rifling twist rate.
The precision rifle is a semi-automatic-only rifle with a similar operating system to other Galil variants, but optimised for accuracy. The rifle is fed from a 25-round box magazine. It uses a heavy profile match barrel that is heavier than that used on other variants. It is fitted with a multi-functional muzzle device, which acts as a flash suppressor and a muzzle brake. It can be replaced with a sound suppressor which requires the use of subsonic ammunition for maximum effectiveness.
The weapon was modified with a two-stage trigger mechanism with an adjustable pull force, a wooden buttstock that folds to the right side of the weapon and a heavy-duty bipod, mounted to the forward base of the receiver housing that folds beneath the handguard when not in use. The buttstock is fully adjustable in length and height and features a variable height cheek riser. The rifle comes with mechanical iron sights and an adapter used to mount a telescopic day sight (Nimrod 6x40) or a night sight. The mount is quick-detachable and capable of retaining zero after remounting. The precision rifle is stored in a rugged transport case that comes with an optical sight, mount, filters, two slings (for carrying and firing) and a cleaning kit. Recent production models feature synthetic plastic furniture and a skeletonized metal stock.
The Galatz was first introduced in 1983. The SR-99 is a modernized version of the Galatz featuring an adjustable skeleton stock instead of a wooden stock, synthetic handguard, and a synthetic pistol grip. It is somewhat less rugged, but more ergonomic.
- Magal: A law enforcement carbine variant of the Galil MAR chambered in .30 Carbine. It uses the same 15- and 30-round magazines as the M1 Carbine.
- Marksman Assault Rifle Mark 1: 5.56 mm designated marksman rifle introduced in 1996. Has a scope and padded stock.
- Golani: A civilian version with a new-production milled semi-automatic receiver built in the United States. All other components are original IMI Galil production parts.
- Galil ACE: The new generation of the Galil rifle. It has three versions (Micro, SAR and AR) chambered for 5.56mm NATO, 7.62mm Soviet M43 and 7.62mm NATO. It has five picatinny rails for optical devices and accessories, and is lighter and more accurate than past generation Galils. It can be stripped without any tools.
South African variants
The R4, the SADF's version of the Galil ARM assault rifle with several modifications; notably, both the stock and magazine are now made of a high-strength polymer and the stock was lengthened, adapting the weapon for the average South African soldier.
The South African Navy, South African Air Force and South African Police Service adopted a short carbine version of the 5.56 mm Galil SAR, which was license-manufactured as the R5. The R5, when compared to the larger R4, has a barrel that is 130 millimeters (5.1 in) shorter, together with a shorter gas system and handguard. It also lacks a bipod, and the flash hider does not support rifle grenades.
In the 1990s, an even more compact personal defence weapon variant of the R5 was developed for armored vehicle crews, designated the R6, which has a further reduced barrel and a shortened gas cylinder and piston assembly.
Lyttleton Ingenieurs Werke (LIW)/Denel Land Systems (DLS) also introduced a line of semi-automatic variants of the R4, R5 and R6 called the LM4, LM5 and LM6 respectively, built for civilian and law enforcement users.
|R4 Rifle||1,005 mm (39.6 in) stock extended
740 mm (29.1 in) stock folded
|460 mm (18.1 in)||4.3 kg (9.48 lb)||650-700 rpm|
|R5 Carbine||877 mm (34.5 in) stock extended
615 mm (24.2 in) stock folded
|332 mm (13.1 in)||3.7 kg (8.2 lb)||650-700 rpm|
|R6 PDW||805 mm (31.7 in) stock extended
565 mm (22.2 in) stock folded
|280 mm (11.0 in)||3.6 kg (7.9 lb)||585 rpm|
- Brazil: The Polícia Militar do Estado do Pará (PMPA; Military State Police of Pará) ordered 555 Magal Carbines in 2001.
- Cameroon: Issued to presidential guard units.
- Colombia: Standard issue rifle. Produced under license by Indumil. Also adopted the Galil ACE rifle by the middle of 2010, produced by Indumil. FARC rebels use captured examples against the Colombian armed forces.
- Costa Rica
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Estonia: Uses 5.56mm versions of the Galil AR, SAR, ARM and the 7.62mm Galil Sniper.
- Georgia: Uses GALATZ sniper and Micro-Galil assault rifles 
- Guatemala: 3,000 ACE
- Honduras: The Galil SAR was adopted in the late 1970s by the Honduran Army, until it was replaced by the American-made M16A1 through U.S. military aid in the 1980s. The Galil SARs were then transferred to the Honduran National Police, where they are still in use. In 2011, the Honduran government approved the purchase of the Galil ACE 21 assault rifle for use by the Army and Air Force. The Galil ACE made its first public appearance on Sept 15, 2013 in the hands of the new unit PMOP (Military Police of Public Order).
- Indonesia: Komando Pasukan Katak (Kopaska) tactical diver group and Komando Pasukan Khusus (Kopassus) special forces group.
- Israel: Israel Defense Forces and Knesset Guard.
- Italy: The Italian firearms manufacturing firm Vincenzo Bernardelli S.r.l. manufactured under licence quantities of the Galil assault rifle in two different models for governmental use in the 1980s. The Bernardelli Mod.377 VB-STR assault rifle was an outright clone of the Galil AR/ARM variant, while the Bernardelli Mod.378 VB-SR assault carbine was a modified clone of the Galil SAR with a different magazine well that accepted STANAG magazines, much similar in concept and look to the above-mentioned optional magazine adapter currently available for the Israeli-made models, except that the Bernardelli VB-SR could be manufactured with permanent STANAG magazine well modification on demand. The rifles competed to the trial for the adoption of a new 5.56x45mm NATO caliber rifle, but lost to the Beretta 70/90 assault weapons system. However, as of today, both models result by official schedules to be in the inventories of the Italian National Police, and are known to be deployed with the NOCS team.
- Mexico: Secretaría de Seguridad Pública.
- Myanmar: Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force, Combat Police battalions. Produced locally in a modified form as EMERK-3.
- Paraguay: Indumil-made Galils for the Fuerzas de Operaciones de Policias Especiales,SENAD (Drug Enforcement)and main Rifle of the Paraguayan Police 
- Portugal: 5.56mm AR and ARM versions used by the Portuguese Army airborne infantry.
- South Africa: Standard assault rifle of the South African National Defence Force. Produced under license in a modified form as the R4 by Denel Land Systems.
- South Sudan
- Tanzania: MAR version seen in use by Tanzanian special forces in the Congo.
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Ukraine: Sniper variant is used by the "Omega" special forces group. (produced under license as the Fort-301)
- Vietnam: Uses Galil AR and Galil Sniper.
- Rk 62 - The Finnish weapon upon which the Galil is partly based.
- IMI Tavor TAR-21 - Another Israeli 5.56mm assault rifle
- INSAS rifle - Indian 5.56 mm caliber assault rifle
- R4 assault rifle - South African licensed version
- Vektor CR-21 - A South African bullpup rifle based on the R4/Galil
- Zastava M21 - A Serbian 5.56mm caliber rifle based upon the Kalashnikov action.
- Bishop, Chris. Guns in Combat. Chartwell Books, Inc (1998). ISBN 0-7858-0844-2.
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- Galil - Weaponsystems.net
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- Golani Sporter, Guns Magazine July 2007