The IWI Galil

The Alpha and the Omega of Battle Rifles
; .

The Israeli Galil assault rifle represented a synergistic melding of a variety
of proven designs into a single exceptionally reliable combat weapon.

Man has forever had a mystical fascination with his martial tools. When David slew the giant Goliath in the Valley of Elah he took the monster’s sword, relieved him of his head and kept the weapon as a trophy of the remarkable day’s conquest. So it remains even today.
All sensible folk have at least a passing interest in history. It was the Harvard Philosophy professor George Santayana who first penned the aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” While the study of military history is a ubiquitous pastime this deep into the Information Age, nothing drives home the reality of significant historical events like touching the tools which shaped them. The Israeli Galil rifle is one such product of a most tumultuous time.


Origin Story

The modern nation of Israel was born to war. Rising from the ashes of the Holocaust, the burgeoning Israeli nation declared its independence on May 14, 1948. The following day the seven surrounding nations of the Arab League invaded. Israel has been at war to one degree or another ever since.

International arms embargoes drove the nation of Israel to develop its own domestic weapons production capability. The harshness of the surrounding terrain mandated Israeli arms be rugged, powerful, and capable. An omnipresent, existential threat of national extinction demanded they be effective and one of the most extraordinary military weapons to come out of the nation of Israel was the Galil assault rifle.

The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) fought the Six Days War in 1967 with the FN FAL. The FAL, capable though it might be, was designed for combat in Western Europe. In the sandy deserts of the Middle East it was found to be wanting.
The Uzi submachine gun was a nigh unstoppable force, but its 9mm pistol cartridge limited its effective range and downrange horsepower. By contrast, the AK47’s employed by Israel’s enemies were both rugged and effective. Israeli designers therefore used the Kalashnikov as a starting point.

The Galil was a unique hybrid design combining the best features from a variety of proven weapons into something synergistically greater than the sum of its parts. Designed by Yisrael Galil and Yakov Lior based upon the 7.62x39mm Valmet Rk. 62, the original prototype Galil rifles were actually built up on Valmet receivers sourced in Europe and smuggled into Israel. The basic chassis orbited around a forged steel receiver and was chambered for the NATO-standard 5.56x45mm round.

The Galil’s side-folding stock was lifted from the FN FAL, while the long-stroke gas-operated action was pure unfiltered Kalashnikov. The 35-round steel box magazines rocked in and out in the manner of the AK47, while the Galil included such combat enhancements as a bilateral safety selector and extended charging handle suitable for use by either hand. The bipod doubled as a wire cutter and the front handguard even incorporated a bottle opener.

The Galil is two pounds heavier than a stripped M16A1 yet remains a markedly more rugged design. The extra mass and robust gas-operated action thoroughly mitigate recoil, while the rifle’s superlative ergonomics make it fast in action. The Galil is one of the most reliable military rifles ever built and remains eminently controllable in all modes of fire.


The Galil orbits around an indestructible forged steel receiver inspired by the Finnish Valmet Rk. 62.

The Galil features a variety of improvements over the basic Kalashnikov design.
The magazine release is fenced and the safety selector is now bilateral.


The Galil served with the IDF from the mid-1970s through the 1990s and was adopted by the militaries of more than fifty of the world’s recognized nations. As a result, the Galil has seen combat action on multiple continents and the weapon developed a well-deserved reputation for effectiveness on the battlefield.

While the Galil in its original configuration is no longer in production in Israel, the modern Galil ACE is its heir apparent. The ACE currently rolls off the line chambered in 7.62x51mm, 7.62x39mm, and 5.56x45mm in sundry guises. Featuring a left-sided charging handle, weather-resistant polymer furniture and ample picatinny rail space for accessories, today’s Galil ACE brings everything righteous and wholesome about those original Galil rifles into the Information Age. The Galil is history you can hold in your hand.

View the Dr. Dabbs IWI’s Galil Assault Rifle – A Connection To History video here.

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