TFB Review: American Tactical Imports Galeo (Galil Clone)
A Galil has been on my bucket list since my youth. Unfortunately, the classic Galil was banned from import many years ago and original guns are very expensive these days. American Tactical Incorporated stepped up to meet the demand of gun nerds everywhere by building Galil clones from imported parts kits with US-made receivers and barrels. These guns are marketed as the Galeo.
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This review does not have any terms to disclose. This is my gun, purchased by my awesome wife as a birthday gift. I have no relationship with ATI. My only direct interaction with them was handling one of their Galeo pistols (a Galil SAR clone) at SHOT Show.
Galeo with a SADF Pattern 83 battle jacket, which is designed to carry Galil magazines (known as the R4 in South African service)
Why the Galil?
The Galil is one of the most refined AK designs. It leans heavily on the Valmet design, with a milled receiver and a rear sight at the back end of the dust cover. However, it brings in other design elements as well. It is chambered in 5.56×45 like most western block rifles. Its safety selector is accessible from both sides of the gun, with a small safety on the left side of the pistol grip. A folding stock borrowed from the FN Para FAL is standard.
Safety lever on the left side of the pistol grip
The Galil also has a history of turning up in conflict zones around the world. It was initially designed by the Israelis and fielded by their military. The original model featured an 18″ barrel and a folding bipod. A shortened “SAR” model with a 13″ barrel also entered service, as did an even shorter Micro Galil and a .308 sniper model called the Galatz. The Galil was also picked up by other militaries around the world, including South Africa (known as the R-4, and shortened R-5 and R-6 models), Colombia, and El Salvador.
It has been many years since actual Galils have been imported to the US, thanks to our import laws. However, parts kits less barrels and receivers can still be brought in. American Tactical takes those parts kits and assembles them on US-made barreled receivers. The resulting gun is very much like an original Galil for any purpose other than hard core collecting.
The folding stock is great for storage and transportation
On The Range
Shooting the Galeo is a blast. The .223 is already a soft recoiling caliber. That is especially true in a heavy gun like a Galil, with its steel receiver and furniture.
The Galeo is set up to accept a bipod, but a bipod is not included. Surplus bipods can be found though, and they fit the gas block. However, without the bipod attached, the handguard has a wide open trough running through the middle. It is not comfortable to hold. I added an aftermarket US-made handguard without the bipod channel for comfort’s sake.
Aftermarket non-bipod handguard (note the handguard retainer is still the bipod compatible model)
Brass ejection is best described as dramatic. It absolutely hurls fired brass up and away from the action. This is not a great gun for reloaders obsessed with recovering all of their brass. The ejection is so aggressive that the sound of the shot dissipates well before the brass falls back to the ground.
The sights on the Galeo are worlds better than standard AK sights. As stated earlier, the rear sight sits at the very back of the dust cover instead of the front of the receiver. an aperture style sight can be used rather than a notch sight because it is closer to the shooter’s eye. The aperture is L-shaped with two positions, one marked “3” for 300 meters and one marked “5” for 500 meters.
Galil sights are better than the average AK, shown here with the “3” rear aperture
One of the major complaints about the Galeo is the magazine fitment. Galeo receivers are designed around the Tapco Galil magazine rather than the original steel models. This was a broadly unpopular decision. My Galeo runs great with the included Tapco mag. It also runs with most surplus steel mags I have tried. About 80% have worked, give or take. Standard steel magazines hold 35 rounds, but 50 rounders are out there as well. I sourced this one from Frontier Armory
The 50 round magazine is a little excessive, but also awesome
South African 50 rounder with a standard 35 rounder
The Galeo is a gun to be shot and used, not locked away in a safe
I love this gun. I smile every time I take it out of the safe, even if I’m not shooting it. It is not the most practical gun on the market, but it is an accessible way to experience the Galil. If you need an old school Galil in your life, check out the Galeo. It may be what you’re looking for.
The Galeo in its natural arid habitat