Israel’s family of Galil rifles is well known to the gun community and to the general public. Galil rifles have their origins in the late 1960s. After the Six-Day War in June, 1967 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began developing a new assault rifle in 5.56x45mm. Compared to the 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AK-47s (of Soviet origin) their opponents used, the IDF’s 7.52x51mm FN FALs left something to be desired. Some foreign weapons were submitted to the IDF for evaluation (the U.S. M16A1, the Stoner 63 series, and the German HK-33), as well as two local designs, one by Uziel Gal of Uzi SMG and the other by Israel Galili and Yaacov Lior. Galili and Lior had emerged as the winner and formed the company IMI (Israel Military Industries) now known as IWI (Israel Weapon Industries). Around 1973 IMI began producing Galil rifles.
Israeli rifles owe much of their design characteristics to the AK/AKM. Early prototypes were built using Finnish Valmet M62 (a Kalashnikov derivative) machinery, and receivers were made in Helsinki. But the 5.56x45mm round generated a higher pressure than the 7.62x39mm. This led to a change from the original pinned, riveted and stamped receiver to a heavier-milled forging. After several years the plan to arm the entire IDF with Galils did not happen as the U.S. was supplying Israel with huge quantities of M16s, CAR-15s and M4s at low prices.
Nevertheless, the Galil line has established itself as a reliable family of 5.56x45mm, 7.62x51mm and 7.62x39mm caliber firearms in a variety of configurations. Models now sold under the IWI name include the Galil AR, the Galil SAR, the Micro Galil, the Galil Sniper SA, and the Ace line of compact, enhanced human engineering and ergonomics carbines. Exports worldwide have been substantial, and there have been a number of foreign descendants such as the Croatian APS-95 and the South African Vektor R-4, R-5 and R-6. A licensee in Colombia, INDUMIL, has been manufacturing various Galil models for several years at the Fábrica General José María Córdoba in Soacha. In Myanmar (formerly Burma) state-owned company Myanmar Fritz Werner Industries Ltd. makes the EMERK-3 Rifle System, illegal Galil 5.56x45mm derivatives, under the reported supervision of Israeli technicians and with machinery shipped from Singapore.