IWI Galil Overview

Photo Gallery


The Galil was developed in the late 1960's as a modernized 5.56 mm version of the renowned Soviet AK47 7.62x39 mm assault rifle. The weapon was due to enter service in the IDF in 1973, but due to the Yom Kippur War, which broke out that year, its introduction was delayed, and it entered service a year later in 1974, becoming the IDF new standard issue assault rifle and replacing the FN FAL 7.62 mm in that role.

The weapon introduction in the IDF was with mixed feelings. The original Galil was heavy, difficult to mount accessories on and only moderately accurate, with its main positive attribute being more durable then many American and European made weapons at the time. This led to its limited adoption in the IDF SF community. In units which were part of a larger formation, such as the Infantry Brigades or the Armored Brigades PALSARs, the freedom to choose their own weapons was limited so they were required to use the same weapon as the larger formation they belonged to did. In the elite and independent units, the Galil barely entered service, with most units remaining with the AK47, which was commonly used at the time.

During the Yom Kippur War, the U.S. lunched a massive airlift to Israel containing various weapons and gear, including large quantities of M16A1. Several elite units tried the M16A1 and were impressed by it. Following its success, the CAR15 - entered service in the late 1970's and due to its lightweight and accuracy became a success story almost overnight.

Throughout the 1980's the IDF SF units underwent a slow and informal transition process, in which most AK47 and Galil SAR in service were disbanded and replaced with the CAR15, and by the late 1980's almost all IDF SF units were exclusively using the CAR15. In the late 1980’s the Israeli Law Enforcement SF, which were using the Galil SAR at the time, procured large sums of Colt Commando, resulting in the Galil disbanding in the civilian SF as well.

As with other trends that started with the IDF SF and later spread to the conventional units, in the early 1990’s IDF officially adopted the M16 as its standard issue assault rifle instead of the Galil. In the following two decades, the Galil was entirely disbanded from IDF usage. With IDF recent adoption of the Tavor as its new standard issue assault rifle, and the on-going transition from the M16 family to the Tavor, the Galil is unlikely to resume service with the IDF.


  • Galil Assurant Rifle (AR) - the original version of the Galil, which was issued to the IDF soldiers in their early training stages before they were issued with the Galil SAR. Unlike the original AR model, most IDF Galil AR were issued without a carry handle or a bipod.

Left and right view of the Galil ARM. Note that the IDF Galil ARM were mostly issued without a carry handle or a bipod.

  • Galil Short Assurant Rifle (SAR) – the most common Galil variant used with the IDF, prior to the Galil disbanding from the IDF.

Galil SAR.

Galil SAR/M203 combo fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21.

  • Galil Micro Assault Rifle (MAR) - was offered as a 5.56 mm substitute to 9 mm SMG and as a PDW for air and armored crews. Only few samples of the Galil MAR entered service with the IDF, primarily as a status symbol for high-ranking officers. In addition, limited amounts are still used today by non-SF Law Enforcement units.

Galil MAR.

  • Magal - a Law Enforcement modified version of the Galil MAR chambered for the 0.3” caliber. The Magal was originally designed to replace the Colt Commando used by Israeli Law Enforcement units as well as the M1 carbines (also with 0.3” caliber) used by the Israeli Civil Guard.

Magal fitted with a Trijicon Reflex.

  • Galil Sniper Rifle - a 7.62 mm sniper version of the Galil, it was used by Israeli SF units, until it was replaced by the SR25.

Galil Sniper Rifle.

  • Galil 99SR – a modernized version of the Galil Sniper Rifle. The SR99 was originally offered as a stand alone platform; however, its features were later integrated into the Galil Sniper Rifle platform and the 99SR designation is no longer used.

Galil 99SR.

  • Galil ACE – the latest iteration of the Galil family, the ACE was introduced by IWI in 2008 featuring multiple internal and external enhancements such as - telescopic stock, rounded handguards and integrated Picatinny rails. The ACE comes in a variety of form factors similar to the AR, SAR and MAR variants, and various calibers including 5.56 mm, 7.62X39 mm and 7.62X51 mm.

Galil MAR

The Galil MAR is the smallest member of the Galil family and was introduced in the early 1990's with two roles in mind:

  • As a more potent 5.56 mm substitute to 9 mm SMG. It can therefore be fitted with a tactical forearm grip containing a flashlight, similar to the HK MP5.

  • As a PDW for air and armored crews.

The MAR was supposed to have a bright future with IMI vision was that it would be mass issued to the IDF Armored and Artillery Corps, replacing the Galil SAR. However, the original model suffered from a design flaw in handguards, causing it to rapidly heat during firing, to the point that it was near impossible to hold it. This design flaw, combined with budget constrains and the success of the CAR15 didn't supported the weapon adoption by the IDF, and eventually only few samples entered the IDF, primarily as a status symbol for high-ranking officers.

In 2001, an improved version of the MAR was introduced, with several new important features:

  • Newly designed handguards which addressed the overheating issue of the original model.

  • M1913 Picatinny rails on the receiver and on the handguards

  • lightweight fiber stock.

  • Muzzle break with threads allowing the mounting of a sound suppressor.

An interesting comparison photo between the standard Uzi and the Galil MAR. As can be clearly seen, with the both firearms in the folding stock position, the Galil MAR is shorter then the Uzi.

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The original MAR.

The modernized 2001 onwards MAR with a redesigned handguards and lightweight stock.

Modernized MAR version with Picatinny rails on the receiver and handguards, fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21 and a sound suppressor.

MAR training model which shoots blanks.


The Magal was a modified version of the Galil MAR designed for Law Enforcement units introduced in the mid 1990’s. It was designed to replace the old M1 carbines used by the Israeli Civil Guard and provide the non-SF Israeli police units with less intimidating weapon then the M16 family of assault rifles. The weapon was also offered for export to Law Enforcement agencies worldwide.

The Magal featured several key modifications from the original MAR design:

  • Lighter stock

  • Pistol grip with hand size guard, allowing to use the weapon as a club as well as reducing the risk of the weapon been grabbed from the officer during a violent riot.

  • Chambered for the 0.3” caliber instead of the original Galil MAR 5.56 mm, as the Magal was designed for usage in urban areas and the 0.3” caliber has less penetration then the more potent 5.56 mm round. The 0.3” was also the caliber of the M1 used by the Civil Guard, so there was plenty of ammunition available.

In the late 1990’s, the Israeli Police awarded IMI with a contract for 4,000 Magal units. The first 1,000 units were supplied to the Israeli Police for T&E in 1999-2000, with the rest of the contract pending on the initial order's success.

The Magal was extensively used in the Territories during the Second Intifada and proved to be an unreliable weapon, which was mostly attributed to its extremely short barrel which produced insufficient gas pressure, especially when barrel mounted accessories such as non-lethal devices were used. Eventually, in early 2001 the usage of Magal in the police was halted, the weapons in service were sent back to IMI, and the units were either reissued with Colt Commando or with standard 5.56 mm Galil MAR. Shortly after the Magal was entirely disbanded by IMI.

Magal fitted with receiver Picatinny rail, a Meprolight Mepro 21 and handguards flashlight.

Magal fitted with a Trijicon Reflex.

Magal fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21.

Unique Models

Part from the standard Galil family models, over the years IMI introduced several interesting variants:

Galil AR Designated Marksman - IMI contender to the IDF 1980's Designated Marksman project. There were two candidates at the time - a Colt M16A1 fitted with an Israeli made Eyal X3 and a bipod, and an IMI Galil AR fitted with similar accessories plus SAR plastic handguards (instead of the regular AR wooden ones) and a cheek piece. Eventually the M16A1 was chosen but the project dissolved and the Designated Marksman systems entered service only a decade later in 1997, based on M16 platforms. A similar version was also offered for civilian usage with a unique cheek piece and optics mount:

Galil MAR Tactical - designed for CT units, this model featured unique handguards featuring a improved heat insulation and rounded deign to allow quick draw underneath civilian clothing in undercover scenarios without the risk of the clothes catching on the Galil family's handguards sharp angels. The MAR Tactical was also fitted with a Trijicon Reflex, a flashlight and a compensator.

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