One of the most widespread and yet overlooked duty rifles in the world today is the Galil.
The most modern model of the Galil is the ACE variant, a rifle which has proven successful with militaries around the world. However, the ACE is itself essentially an upgraded version over an earlier Galil model: the SAR.
In this guide, we will dive into the history and usage of the SAR 223, its primary design features, and how it compares to other variants of the Galil.
History and Usage of the Galil SAR
The Galil is a family of select-fire rifles (but semi-automatic for civilians in the United States) built by the Israeli-company IMI, or Israel Military Industries.
The basic design of the Galil was heavily inspired by the Valmet Rk 62, a French made rifle that was in turn essentially a heavily modified AK-47. This is why the Galil bears a resemblance to the AK-platform and is sometimes referred to as an ‘AK on steroids.’
Available in either 5.56x45mm NATO or 7.62x51mm NATO, several variants of the Galil were released, the most popular of which was the SAR (more on the different versions and how they compare later).
Each of the Galil’s variants was adopted by the Israeli military as the successor to the FN FAL. While a quality rifle, the FAL is also known for being long and heavy. There were also many reports from Israeli soldiers of the weapon suffering issues in the sand in the 1967 Six Day War.
The Galil was selected as a smaller and more controllable rifle with equivalent firepower; it beat out the AK-47, Colt M16A1, Stoner 63, and the HK33 in the ensuing competition.
Beyond serving as the standard issue service rifle for Israel until its replacement by the IWI (Israel Weapon Industries, which succeeded IMI) Tavor, the Galil also saw great success in Europe and Latin America.
It served in countries like Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Guatemala, and Mexico, where it was often locally produced as well. The Galil SAR, with its Brugger and Thomet upgrades such as improved rails, sights, grips, lights, and magazines, remains the standard service rifle of the Estonian military but will be phased out by 2022.
The SAR Compared to Other Variants
As previously noted, the SAR is the most successful out of the Galil variants.
SAR stands for ‘Short Automatic Rifle’ and is the carbine length version of the Galil. It features a 16-inch barrel and was designed primarily for tank crews and support troops.
Due to the short length and easier maneuverability in tight conditions, the SAR became enormously successful to the point that it was being used by a majority of troops regardless of the role that they were serving in.
The standard variant of the Galil is called the AR, or Automatic Rifle. It features an 18-inch barrel and has a longer gas tube and piston than the SAR.
The light machine gun (LMG) variant is called the ARM (or Automatic Rifle Machine Gun). It is notable for its folding bipod and larger handguard.
Design and Features of the Galil SAR
The Galil is a gas operated select fire rifle with a rotating bolt design and the ability to fire up to 750 rounds per minute.
There is also a reason why the Galil looks very similar to the AK platform of rifles. The receiver adopts the same general shape as the AK and the Rk 62. The safety selector switch is almost identical to the AK’s as well and is located on the right side of the receiver.
This permits the user to alternate between safe, semi-automatic, and fully automatic modes (the full automatic position is removed for civilian versions of the gun).
The location and design of the magazine release and the pistol grip borrow heavily from the AK-platform as well.
The ejection port and the charging handle are also located on the right side of the receiver. However, the handle is at an upward angle unlike the AK’s, which is held horizontally along the receiver instead. The Galil’s advantage is that the charging handle is easy to operate with either hand.
All in all, someone who is familiar with the manual of arms on the AK-series of rifles should adjust quite easily to using a Galil SAR. The same can be said for the assembly of the Galil SAR .223 – there are many aspects similar to the AK platform that an experienced gunsmith would recognize while working with a parts kit and schematic.
A major difference from the AK, however, lies in the magazines and the caliber. The Galil SAR accepts 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington ammunition in a 35-round, curved detachable box magazine.
A folding bipod, which doubles as wire cutters, can be installed on the SAR as well if the user so desires.
Perhaps the idea that the Galil SAR is a highly refined AK is not too far from being accurate. The Galil SAR has proven itself to be a reliable and dependable platform from which more modern designs like the ACE have been developed.