At the end of the 1960s, the state of Israel was experiencing quite tumultuous times: the Six-Day War had just ended and lasting peace seemed a long way off. As a result of this state of uncertainty, projects were started in order to make the newborn Jewish state independent from the rest of the world as far as the supply of light weapons was concerned. One of the results of this self-sufficiency was the Galil assault rifle, designed towards the end of the 1960s by Yisrael Galil, already involved in the project of the UZI machine gun, and Yaacov Lior. During the Six-Day War against Egypt, Israeli soldiers, who were armed with the FN FAL, captured many AK-47s that were carefully studied and proved to be particularly reliable even in the dusty and stifling desert climate. The Galil was in fact an uncompromisingly built AK-47 – or rather a perfected version of the Finnish Valmet Rk62 assault rifle that at the time represented the most sophisticated reworking of Michail Kalashnikov's design. The Galil was put into production by IMI (Israel Military Industries) which later changed its name to IWI.
Based on a gas-operated system with a long-stroke piston and a rotating bolt, the Galil, which was initially chambered in 5.56 NATO (.223 Remington) and 7.62x51, proved to be an extremely reliable and accurate weapon, even if rather heavy (about 3900 grams). Among the curiosities of the first Galil it is worth mentioning the folding stock as standard and the attachment for the front bipod on which we find a bottle opener: this apparent oddity was incorporated into the weapon to prevent soldiers from opening beer bottles using the sight hood, a very common practice among soldiers equipped with AKs and that obviously damaged the sights. Over the years, several versions of the Galil were developed, among which the Sniper version stands out, with optics, bipod, heavy barrel and adjustable stock.
A curiosity brings Italy into play: when in 1988/89 the Italian army issued a tender for replacing the BM 59 with a modern assault rifle, among the weapons presented there was a clone of the Galil. Apparently about twenty examples of this assault rifle – fitted with a built-in bipod and folding stock in the Italian version – were assembled for adoption trials. As we know, the competition was won by Beretta with its 70/90 model, but an unspecified number of Bernardelli VB-SRs were adopted by the NOCS (the Italian police tactical unit) for special purposes. Not much more is known about this Italian-Israeli assault rifles and this makes the photos that our Franco Palamaro has unearthed from his infinite archives particularly rare.
In the early years of the 21st century, the Israeli assault rifle underwent an overhaul aimed above all at reducing its weight; thus the Galil ACE model was born and adopted in 2007. In this renewed version, the Galil was adopted as a standard weapon also by the armed forces of Chile, Colombia and Vietnam, and is still widespread in Latin America.
The second – or rather third – generation of the Galil assault rifle
In 2020 IWI proposed a further restyling for the Galil, called Gen II. While remaining faithful to the mechanical design of the AK-47, with the unmistakable sheet metal receiver cover, it now boasts a range of accessories worthy of the most stylish black rifles and features a further weight reduction. The main new features are a free-floating M-Lock handguard and a folding and telescoping Magpul CTR stock compatible with Colt M4s.
At present the Galil ACE Gen II is available in a Pistol version in 7.62x39mm with stabilizing brace and 8.3” barrel, and in a Rifle version in 7.62x39mm and 5.56 NATO with 16” barrel. Compared to the previous version, the Galil ACE features a different trigger and safety design. The top receiver features a two-piece Picatinny rail. The non-reciprocating charging handle is on the left side of the gun, a solution already adopted on the previous ACE model and designed to facilitate handling with the weak hand. A non-reciprocating handle is usually considered to be preferable, but not everyone shares this view, since in case of jamming or failure to close many operators prefer to be able to act directly on the bolt, without having to resort to the forward assist or other devices. The new Galil is fed from Magpul MOE magazines with a capacity of 30 rounds in 7.62x39mm and STANAG compliant magazines in 5.56x45 NATO. The Galil's barrel is internally chromed. Both versions come with no sights – a long Picatinny rail allows the mounting of aftermarket iron, optical or optoelectronic sights.
In these new versions the Galil today more than ever represents a link between the AR-15 and AK-47 worlds, and while it cannot rival the two venerable assault rifles in terms of popularity, it represents an interesting conversation piece for gun enthusiasts. At least until we get a chance – hopefully soon – to field test it.
Galil ACE Gen II specs
|Manufacturer: ||IWI - Israele||IWI - Israele|
|Model: ||Galil Ace
Gen II Pistol ||Galil Ace
Gen II Rifle|
|Caliber: ||7,62x39mm ||7,62x39mm
|Operation:||Gas-operated with long-stroke piston||Gas-operated
with long-stroke piston|
with Extended Stock: ||30”/76 cm||39”/99 cm|
Capacity: ||30 rounds||30 rounds|
lb/3314 g ||8.7 b/3985 g|
|Price: ||1849 USD
(about 1550 euro) ||1899 USD
(about 1580 euro)|