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Educate Yourself on the History of the Galil

Posted on 22 Feb 2018
Educate Yourself on the History of the Galil

History of the Galil Rifle

The Galil rifle got its start during the late 1960's.  It was the Six Day War in 1967 that made it clear that a more low-maintenance, versatile and rugged service rifle was needed than the IDF when experiences using the local FN FAL proved to be less than satisfactory.  There was a request made for a new service rifle that would be able to survive Israel's arid desert conditions. 

Over the years the initial design of the Galil rifle has been viewed as having been directly copied from the Finnish Valmet series of rifle.  However, that isn't completely accurate.  The initial Galil prototypes started out as basic modifications by Yisrael Galil of Soviet AK-47s that had been captured.  They include several features that were implemented later on in the final design.  Named the Balashnikov, they included a folding stock; an enlarged/modified handguard for accommodating the bipod in a folded position and for sustaining fire; a bipod directly mounted on the gas block; and a modified fire-selector for using with the shooter's fingers or thump when holding the grip.  

Uziel Gal (Uzi creator) designed prototype service-rifle replacements of his own in 7.62 and 5.56 NATO.

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Eventually, the Balashnikov emerged as the winner against the German HK33, the Russian AK47, and the American Stone and M16.  The Balashnikov designed by Yisrael Galili was further altered eventually into what became the Galil arm for sale.  The Galil's initial production version had taken several different design features from the Finnish Valmet directly, with the most notable being the Rear-Sight assembly with night-sight provisions and the Gas Block.  The Galili receiver was directly copied from the Valmet as well.  A widespread rumor was that the initial Galil rifles leaving the IMI factory made use of blank Balmet receivers prior to the start of in-house production, although there has not been any evidence put forth that confirms that.

The IDF first adopted Galil ARMs in 1972, although few had been distributed by 1973 when the Yom-Kippur war broke out.  The Galil ARM (along with its other variations) saw the most use during the Lebanon Conflict of 1982.  Along with the Galil SAR, it was the primary service-rifle used.  Although the Galil series was fully adopted by the IDF, it continued issuing M16 rifles for support roles due to their lighter weight.  The Galil had mostly been replaced by the late 1990s to early 2000's by the American M4 Carbines and M16s, although the Galil SAR is still popular with armored vehicle crews due to its compact size.   

Out of the initial three variations where were produced, the most well-known is arguably the Assault Rifle and Machine-Gun (ARM).  The design of the ARM was for meeting all of the IDF infantrymen's basic needs.  It was capable of providing sustained accurate fire and functioning well in situations involving close-quarter combat.  Each ARM came equipped with a wire cutter and integrated folding bipod, an enlarged handguard that could store the bipod when it was folded, and a carry-handle assembly that had an integrated bottle-opener.  The model that the IDF adopted a teak wooden handguard (versus plastic/Polymer which presumably would melt faster due to overheating) with no mounting bayonet provision. Soldiers who had the ARM issued to them would frequently take the carry-handle off so that the overall noise and weight were reduced.  They would also sometimes take the bipod assembly off when they were on patrols. Later ARM models entirely eliminated the carry-handle and the bipod was updated for this purpose with a quick-detach model.  While the initial intention for the ARM was to use 50-Round Steel magazine as suppressive fire-roles, it used the standard 35-Round Steel magazines most often since Israel service never fully-employed it as a light machine gun.       

Although the Israelis did not widely embrace the ARM, it did become popular in other countries such as Colombia and Guatemala who purchased large quantities of them in addition to SAR and AR models.  South Africa also later purchased and produced a modified Galil ARM called the R4. Using the ARM as a DMR and light machine gun (with a 50-round magazine) was more commonplace overseas in Africa and Latin America.  Estonia also used the ARM in different infantry roles along with the SAR and AR, while Portugal bought a few ARMs for their paratroopers to use.

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