In the post-World War II world, the United Nations partitioned Palestine in 1947. The establishment of Israel in 1948 was followed by inevitable war with neighboring Arab states, culminating in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Israeli "War of Independence").
This war will certainly not be the last conflict in the region, but the first will force Israel to arm itself fairly quickly and effectively. Drawing on their vast combat experience in the ensuing decades, the Israelis developed specialized tactics and doctrines suited to the available terrain, and stocked their stocks well with suitable weapons - less and less reliant on foreign support.
In the 1950s, the Israeli Army took over the stock of the excellent Belgian Fabrique Nationale FN FAL, a gas-operated "battle rifle" for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. More than 2 million of this type were produced and eventually more than 90 countries used this type in large quantities. In 1967, Israel launched a raid on its Arab neighbors, triggering the "Six-Day War". While the war, which lasted only five days in June, was a decisive victory for Israel, the FN FAL gradually showed its limitations on the modern battlefield of the time.
The tried and true Kalashnikov AK-47s were heavily used by their enemies, and the Israelis were captured and used successfully by thousands during the war. The Soviet design proved to be very reliable and robust, able to withstand the harshest environments that could pile up on the battlefield, and it was lighter in weight than the Belgian design in the hands of Israel, making it suitable for long-distance transport.
As a result, Israeli authorities sought to procure or design domestically a new automatic rifle based on the AK-47 for the assault rifle role.
A number of foreign weapons have been submitted for evaluation as standard assault rifles for the Israeli army a lucrative business to say the least. The Americans showed off their improved M16A1 model and the Stoner 63 series, while the Soviet AK-47 itself entered the competition, which already had a ridiculous foothold around the world - especially in the inventory of Israeli enemies.
The German HK33 is an interesting contribution from a company that has produced several well-known products so far, and this proposed model is based on the proven G3 battle rifle. Two indigenous designs were also submitted, one by Uziel Gal (after whom the UZI submachine gun is named) and another by Yisrael Galili, a British Army veteran of World War II.
The Galili automatic rifle is primarily based on the Finnish M62 (RK 62) assault rifle model, which is nothing more than a modernized Finnish form of the Soviet AK-47. The internal features of the original Kalashnikov remain unchanged, while the Finns have largely modified the appearance of the rifle, including a tubular steel stock, revised front and repositioned rear sight. This gave rise to the Valmet "M60", from which the Valmet "M62 (RK 62)" became a more refined form.
Thus, the Galilean method more or less retains most of the reliable features of the Kalashnikov model, ensuring automatic weapons designed for the harsh battlefield. It's worth noting that the M62 used the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge for the Galilean design and instead relied on the smaller caliber 5.56x45mm NATO standard cartridge, so the Kalashnikov's internal working parts were modified to accept NATO Standard cartridge.
Testing of the weapon continued from the late 1960s until 1973, when the Galilee design was officially adopted as the next assault rifle for the Israeli army. The rifle is named "Galil", otherwise abbreviated as "IMI", after its designer and its development and production are attributed to the Israeli military industry.
However, the start of the Yom Kippur War in October of that year inevitably delayed the adoption of the new rifle. Galil will be used to replace the aging Belgian FN FAL from the start, and early production forms will even use Finnish Valmet M62 receivers.
In general, Galil shares a brief resemblance to the AK family. The receiver, of course, takes the same rectangular, boxy shape with clean, straight lines, and also houses an ambidextrous Kalashnikov-style fire selector that allows for semi-automatic and fully automatic fire modes. The charging handle and ejection port are on the right side of the receiver, although the charging handle is not compatible with similar Kalashnikov submachine guns. The pistol grip, trigger assembly and magazine catch are all reminiscent of the AK series, as is the curved detachable magazine mounted in front of the trigger group.
However, the magazine can handle the smaller 5.56mm round, so it can hold 35 of these rounds in a stack (as opposed to the 7.62mm magazine's 30-round limit). The shooting action itself is also closer to the American WWII M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle. The stock is a double-braced tubular steel assembly that folds over the right side of the weapon, keeping all firing functions intact.
The Dural-lined wooden foregrip is decidedly Israeli, with its rectangular cover housing the top-mounted gas cylinder and lower barrel assembly. The barrel is sealed with a slotted flash suppressor capable of receiving rifle grenades. A foldable wire handle is attached to the left side of the body. There are simple iron sights on the rear of the receiver and at the end of the cylinder, night lighting support is standard and optics are optional.
Galil also used a bipod that doubled as a wire cutter, and a bayonet could be mounted under the barrel. With the exception of the stamped steel breech cover, the Galil is mostly machined.
The basic Galil is the Galil ARM, which is the "Assault Rifle/Machine Gun" version. The shortened form of the carbine is the Galil SAR, which identifies the weapon as a "short assault rifle". Also known as the "Micro Galil", the Galil MAR is a "miniature assault rifle" form ideal for paratroopers, vehicle crews and special forces as the internal functions and rifling are the same as the basic Galil rifle, only the barrel and shortened foregrip for a smaller, more compact shape - this design is more similar to a submachine gun, but still fires 5.56mm rifle caliber cartridges (as opposed to 9mm pistol/submachine gun cartridges). Marksman's Assault Rifle Mark 1 was released in 1996 for class-designated Markmen Rifle (DMR) elements that required repeatable, accurate long-range firepower without the need for a dedicated sniper element.
The 5.56x45mm cartridge passes through a liner, a collapsible tubular steel stock and a standard telescopic sight mounted on the left side of the frame.
Probably the most unique of the Galil developments is the Galil Sniper Rifle ("Galatz"), which, as the name suggests, was designed for true sniper troops. Based on the Galil automatic weapon, the sniper version is designed to hold the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge - a cartridge well suited for long-range engagements. The fully automatic fire option has been removed and is limited to semi-automatic repeat fire via a two-stage trigger element. Additionally, the design includes a heavier barrel assembly, an adjustable bipod and a powerful telescopic sight (Nimrod 6x40).
The barrel can be closed with a muzzle compensator/muzzle brake or a silencer, the latter for stealth work. Like other Galils, the Sniper variant has a foldable metal stock. Galil Sniper has been modernized as "SR-99".
Other lesser known variants include "Magal", a Galil MAR variant for the 7.62x33mm (.30 carbine) pistol/carbine cartridge. The "Golan" is a civilian version of the military Galil with semi-automatic fire only in a completely new receiver assembly.
The key to the success of the Galil series is the adaptability of the base weapon, allowing for many different levels of configuration to suit the battlefield role. This is not only an economical measure, but uses existing stocks of ammunition, tools and training. This helped move the Galil beyond its original role as an assault rifle to now include carbine and sniper forms.
This adaptability has made it popular in foreign markets, where a special export version for the 7.62x51 mm cartridge has become famous. Notable foreign operators include Brazil, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa (R4 licensed) to name a few. Since then, production has gone global through local licensed manufacturing, including Bernardelli in Italy, Indumil in Colombia and Lyttleton/Denel in South Africa.
Columbia has expanded the usefulness of its aging Galils with the introduction of the "Galil ACE", which features Picatinny rail supports for various sights and accessories, reduces maintenance requirements, and can accommodate 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x39mm Russian and 7. 62x51mm NATO includes ink cartridges.
- Close Combat (CQB) / Personal Protection
- remote precision
979 mm (38.54 in)
460 mm (18.11 in)
Adjustable iron; optional optics
Gas powered; rotating bolt
3,117 ft/s (950 m/s)
630 rounds per minute
1,804 ft (550 m; 601 yd)
Galil ARM - Assault Rifle/Machine Gun version; basic production model.
Galil SAR - Short Assault Rifle; Carabiner shape with shortened barrel and front end.
Galil MAR - Miniature assault rifle; submachine gun shape with shortened barrel and front end.
Galil Sniper ("Galatz") - Specialized variant with heavier barrel, adjustable bipod and standard telescopic sight.
Magal - A variant of the police. 30 carabiner.
SR-99 - Modern Galil Sniper
Golan - civilian variant; modified receiver; semi-automatic fire only.
Galil ACE - Updated Columbia production model to support Picatinny rails; tool-less design.
R4 - Galil version locally produced in South Africa.