Today we have the second of a three-part guest series by Seth Cane on the Galil rifle. Today he looks at the Galil AR…
by Seth Cane
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.