Galil AR

by Seth Cane

Galil AR
Galil AR

The Galil AR was the standard-infantry model of the Galil produced by IMI. The AR was, in a nutshell, a down-sized ARM model. Early production took the wood handguard assembly (and later plastic) and Gas Block from the SAR while retaining the barrel, Gas Piston and Cylinder from the ARM. As with the other three, there was no bayonet-provision and was offered in both 5.56NATO and 7.62NATO, with the former being more popular.

The AR remains as being the less-recognizable of the three base-models. The reasoning for this is that the AR, while having all the necessary functions of a basic infantry-rifle, didn’t have the flexibility of the ARM nor the compact size of the SAR to make it attractive. That, and it was never adopted by the IDF in significant quantity.

Mexican Navy during parade with Galil AR rifles
Mexican Navy during parade with Galil AR rifles

However, the AR did not become a failure in the least. One major-order in the beginning was by Guatemala; the regime at the time cooperated well with the Israeli government and brokered armament purchases from IMI. All three Galil models were reportedly shipped, but the majority were modified Galil AR rifles, dubbed the KEL. The KEL was restricted to Semi-Auto only, with the exception of those for use by special-forces. For reasons not yet clear, the Guatemalan government chose to locally-produced the handguards for the rifles using (presumably) slave-labor. During the Guatemalan civil war, the KEL saw widespread usage both by the government and rebel forces.

Guatemalan KEL rifle (Galil AR copy)
Guatemalan KEL rifle (Galil AR copy)

Farther south, the AR made its biggest-splash in the harsh climates of Colombia. INDUMIL, the state-run arms manufacturer of Colombia, licensed IMI to produce the AR locally in its own configuration for the Colombian military. Early models used a new gas block with integrated bayonet mount amongst other small changes. Later on, the gas block would be changed to ARM variation with integrated bipod mount.

Galil AR receiver markings
Galil AR receiver markings

One final place the AR found success was with the American civilian market, albeit in semi-auto form. Before the import-ban of 1989, the AR was the most popular of the models offered for civilian sales. The demand for the AR over the ARM was so great, that the initial importer Magnum Research began converting ARM models over to AR configuration through the use of conversion-kits.

Galil AR
Galil AR

While not being the most well-known, the Galil AR has proven to be a practical and rugged design both to soldiers and sportsmen throughout the world.

4 Comments

  1. I owned the Guat Galil pictured the handguards were built from MAHOGANY because the jungle would rot the regular wood that came on the Galil’s. That rifle was one of the select fire special service weapons, and served in the presidential guard as well. I have great closeups of it if you want. Mark

  2. You forgot to mention that the very first AR Galils were 7.62x51mm used by the Army, National Police used the SAR in 7.62x51mm too, after some time INDUMIL began the production of 5.56x45mm versions in SAR and AR .

  3. We used them extensively when I did national service in South Africa in 1986/87/88. Variations manufactured under license were the R4 , R5 and R6… The R5 and R6 variations had shorter stocks and barrels mostly used by the Air Force and Navy…

    Excellent rifle to shoot, simple to maintain and clean in the field.

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