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The Galil is one of the standard assault rifles used by the Israel Defense Forces. It was designed by Israel Galili, and bears his name. It uses 5.56 mm NATO ammunition, like an M-16, but uses the more reliable and easier to manufacture action of the Russian AK-47.
The Galil project began after the Six-Day War, and the design was selected by the IDF from two competing designs. The winner was based on the Finnish Rk 62 (a variant of the AK-47). The first rifles began to arrive in 1974, after the Yom Kippur War. The Galil was designed to be a domestically produced main battle rifle for the IDF, taking the best features of other rifles, such as the M-16 and AK-47, and putting them into one rifle. That rifle could be adapted to any number of tasks. The result was the IMI Galil. The Galil was used by infantry during the Lebanon War in 1982; but towards the mid-1980s, it was determined to be less than optimal.
The Galil's main problem is weight; it is heavier than the M-16, at around 3.9 kg (8.6 lb) empty vs the M-16's 2.9 kg (6.4 lb), and therefore often considered to be a greater burden as a personal weapon for infantrymen, although its short length due to the folding stock made it very popular with the troops (Galil 840/614 mm vs M-16 986 mm). The weapon never caught on among Israel's numerous special forces units, who used AK-47's both for deniability, and because of the Galil's cumbersome weight. It also cannot support common modifications, such as grenade launchers or bipods, without special adaptors. Fighting infantry units therefore were reissued M-16s (new or upgraded to improve reliability and reduce weight), although the Galil's compactness resulted in it remaining a personal weapon for soldiers in armour and artillery units.
Although designed as a serious infantry weapon, one could also claim the Galil boasts many unusual features to make it more amenable to a citizen-militia. The Galil includes a folding stock, tritium illuminated night sights, a bipod that can cut barbed wire, and an integrated bottle-opener to avoid damage to the rifle through a previously common misuse of weapons to open beverage bottles.
Nowdays, there is a number of models used:
- Galil ARM - the main version.
- Galil SAR ("short") - no bipod or carry handle, shorter barrel.
- Galil MAR ("micro") - which retains the internal features with a completely new frame and even shorter barrel. It has been reported that this weapon is subject to severe overheating, becoming too hot to touch after sustained automatic fire. A redesigned version is now in service with Israeli special forces in undercover operations, small enough to conceal under a jacket, yet extremely powerful.
Another version, the Galil AR, has a significantly longer barrel and fires heavier 7.62 mm ammunition and is intended to be used as a sniper or tactical rifle.
- Assult rifles in IDF service
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