The Galil: Israel’s Greatest Small Arm

The Galil is what you get when you take a Finnish Valmet rifle and add the knowledge gained from mechanized desert warfare. The IMI Galil is an AK on steroids with numerous improvements, and shooting one is a real treat. While the modern Galil Ace is the successor, the old classic rifles are amazing in more ways than one.

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Transcripting coming soon.



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Lance

    Well though replaced by the M-16 and Tavor in IDF its still primary rifle of the South African Defense Force SADF, as the R-4. Overall classic is better than the ACE is mostly you don’t have to have sharp rails or over sized rail covers to grip. I agree Gailil is the best IDF made firearm. Much better than its replacement the Tavor is and more accurate at longer ranges. As for the Uzi if still take a M-3 or a MP-5 over the heavy and over sized grip Uzi.

    • FarmerB

      I nearly snagged an R4 (well, LM4 semi-auto version) last week in an auction.

  • Tim U

    If the Ace rifle delivers like the classic galil did before it, I’ll have a new favorite rifle. I don’t have a galil, but they appeal to me as the refinement of the ak platform (via the valmet).

    • Twilight sparkle

      Try holding a galil, or even a golani from century. You’ll find out its major draw back is that it need to go on a diet.

      • Uniform223

        Yeah I always heard/read that its weight was something to be desired. That or you just need to start doing some more PT lol

        all joking aside I would still want one despite its often mentioned hefty weight.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Well I have a golani from century, those can be hit or miss, mine is okayish but good for the price. If you’re handy you can look out for a norinco hunter and build something like a 7.62×39 galil out of one.

      • Tim U

        Your number one complaint is resolved in the Ace variation. It’s significantly lighter.

        • Twilight sparkle

          It’s a lot lighter but it’s far from light. The last round bho feature is pretty neat though.

  • Car54

    Greatest? It lasted all of 15 years before being replaced. Putting a pig in a prom dress doesn’t make it a homecoming queen.

    • Tim U

      Only reason it got replaced was the cost. The US practically gave away M16s and M4s so of course, being a frugal national government they took those on instead of the galil they had to pay for.

      • Amit Nachman

        And weight. And that crap rear sight.

        • Simcha M.

          Zeh mah sheh yaish, v’eem zeh neelachem.

          Awl teeheeyeh kooter, Amit.

          Kol toov,
          Simcha

  • toms

    IMHO, that gall rifle sucks. I know I had one. It weighs a metric ton, more than a .308 and is awkward. It also recoils too much in AUTO. Collector value does not equal combat viability.

  • tb556

    Neat guns but not as well thought out as the FNC and SIG55x series rifles. I was always put off by the dust cover sights.

    • RickH

      I agree that the FNC is a bit better than the Galil (I’ll never sell my FNC), but FN could have given it a bit more thought by incorporating a bolt hold open for the last shot. Never understood why it was not included for such an important feature on a self loading firearm.

  • Amit Nachman

    I loved my issue SAR. But that rear sight location is bad news in a service rifle. Not an issue for civilians though, not as much
    .

    • Interesting. Would you rather have had an M16?

      • Amit Nachman

        I was issued several rifles as I transfered several units. Aside from the Galil SAR I carried the M16 in various configurations. The Galil is built to survive just about a nuclear bombing. I would never fear it not to fire. It also has a side folding stock which is nice. In any other comparison the M16 is just better IMHO. Better sights, lighter, better location of controls, better rust resistance…You name it, the AR platform beats the Galil in it. That said, I would trust either with my life easily, so they are both fine rifles. If they made a Galil SAR with a AR style magwell and rear sight not on the dust cover I would have to reconsider.

        • Amit Nachman

          Actually to be accurate I DID trust both with my life lol.

        • James

          You can use an adapter with the galil and use AR mags. The dust cover sights though… they are what they are. I’m really impressed that it has flip up tritium sights for such an old rifle. My galil is just a golani but one day I WILL have a real Galil.

          • Amit Nachman

            someone mentioned to me that the dust cover on the ACE is rather more solidly locked. Guess i will never know unless i go to the US and put my hands on one. and yes there is an adapter but i meant for it to be a standard part ofthe rifle.

  • Amit Nachman

    Also the best small arm made in Israel is probably the Negev LMG

    • Tritro29

      Surely not the pieces our guys captured in Georgia…they were all rated poorly by the troops. However, personally (and given how ZID is making the Tokar looking like a Negev) I’d agree with you somehow.

      • Amit Nachman

        Idk what issues they found with it an rather those were Georgian made or Israeli made ones. Is there a written report somewhere?

        • Tritro29

          I’d try to find that out, as it is on a gun forum. But basically from what i remember there were feeding issues (although that might be on the ammo and lack of proficiency from testers), overheating problems and generally the machine gun wasn’t deemed useful in combination with its current ammunition (5.56). My understanding is that the weight could have been seen as too important when compared to PKM…There’s also rumours that the Negev’s were actually Fort-made from Ukraine. But I don’t believe that to be the case.

          • Amit Nachman

            Would like to see that report. The Negev is generally considered reliable in feeding and other aspects by IDF troops. Not sure I understand the Wight issue, it weighs the same as the PKM, but the ammo is far lighter…As for the caliber the whole point of the Negev was to be in the same caliber as the M16. There is now a Negev in 7.62x51mm which weighs more or less the same and I guess would be more similar to a PKM in tactical operation. I have only fired the older 5.56 version.

  • Wolfgar

    The other high note with the Galil is it’s reliability. I was shooting reloads back in the early 80’s I had acquired from a local business and it purred like a kitten. I then tried to use the same ammo in my M-16 and it wouldn’t even chamber. After close inspection the neck’s on the ammo had a slight bulge. The Galil never noticed. The Galil recoils more than my tuned AR but it is a joy to shoot and is very controllable on full auto. I did expedience finger slap with the trigger on full auto once but it is a great rifle. Great review Alex ,

    • iksnilol

      How was the precision?

      Because I think your M16 just had a tight throat so it couldn’t feed the bulged ammo. Get a dremel and loosen it up 😛

      • Wolfgar

        The Galil was the most accurate rifle I owned at the time. The first five shot group I shot at a hundred yards, I could cover with a quarter .To say I was surprised was an understatement. After many rounds it has opened up but is still very accurate. My M-16 was of Colt manufacture. The bad ammo will not run in any of my other AR rifles either. I still have some of the bulged 5.56 ammo and it will only run in my Galil. On the ammo box I labeled Galil only.
        A good friend of mine purchased a Galil made with an American receiver and it has had reliability issues. I wasn’t impressed with it. I’ll have to see if the bad ammo will chamber in his rifle.

        • iksnilol

          Check that out, I am just surprised.

          I know reliable barrels are less accurate and vice versa.

  • noob

    Thanks for a great video review! I’ve always been curious about how the rear sight returns to zero when the top cover is replaced during cleaning.

    Does it need to be sighted back in after a field strip? or can you just slap on the cover and go?

    what do the mating surfaces look like?

  • Drunk Possum

    Money on no transcript. 7 hours ago is when the article was posted at the time of this comment. Still no transcript.

    My .02 on the Galil: felt like shooting an AK to me. I like both AKs and ARs. The only thing the Galil has going for it is the upturned bolt handle, IMO. Other than that? Just another AK to me.

    • Drunk Possum

      2 days later, no transcript. I wish someone would have taken that bet, I’d be in the money.

  • Tritro29

    I’d argue that the greatest Israeli Small Arm would be the Uzi. Unparalleled success for a niche weapon only matched (and surpassed) by the MP-5 series.

    The Balashnikov was nothing to write home about when first produced. It would take a couple of fixes both in metallurgy and design

    Furthermore while the big part of the FAL issues were claimed to be Weight and Size, the Balshnikov ended up being as heavy and as huge with a smaller round as the FAL PARAS. The rifle clearly was a failure in that department and the surplus M16’s killed it.

    • Yulleean

      The Galil is too similar to the Valmet. Its basically an AK variant, which people give original rifle credit. The Uzi on the other hand was for the most part original design.

    • Simcha M.

      I agree; much as I love the Galil, the Uzi was by far the most popular, long-lived IMI weapon produced.

  • borekfk

    Guess I’ll get the Galil Upotte ball rolling.

  • Pete Sheppard

    The Israeli M14? 😉

  • Daniel M. Ramos

    Where is the best place to buy a good classic Galil with the original furniture like the one in the video?

  • Daniel M. Ramos

    Did y’all ever see that video where the Israelis are doing a face off between a Galil and an M16 type rifle? They kept loading up mag after mag until the M16 type started cooking rounds off, but the Galil kept humming along. Obviously the rifles are rarely used like that, but it was still interesting to see none the less.

  • Amit Nachman

    There is a major difference in tactics between Israeli and Western squads and Russian squads and their use of SAWs. So it makes sense Russian troops will find it useless

    • iksnilol

      Is kinda pointless.

      I mean, for 5.56 and 5.45 you got stuff like RPKs that does the job fine at half the weight. If comrade is fancy with capitalist budget he get KAC Stoner LMG. Which is like RPK weight + belt fed.

      • Tritro29

        It’s most probably not pointless for the IDF, since it’s the main infantry round for them. It was deemed superfluous for our guys to have such a heavy system for a round that limits your range that much. Because they have the “luxury” of a similarly heavy system with a “full size” round. The main difference from RPK and things like PU71/73 is that they were never allowed to support the teams. That was a job for the PK/PKM. Now the NG7 is there, the IDF has that choice with minimal difference in training. So basically they went the long route for very workable system. In 7.62. For that reason alone the system isn’t pointless. For the IDF off course.