Replicas of The World’s Most Deadly Bottle Opener
|Weapon Name||IMI Galil|
|Weapon Type||Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle|
|Country of Origin||Israel|
|Role||Various: Assault rifle (AR, SAR, MAR, ACE), support/light machine gun (ARM), Sniper rifle (Galatz)|
|Good for:||Pick up games, collection, milsim, indoor and outdoor skirmishing|
Besides the Uzi, there are few Israeli-made weapons more iconic than the IMI Galil.
Although its time as a main rifle for the IDF was relatively short, its use in battle, ruggedness and AK-47 inspired looks captured the interest and imaginations of militaries and police forces worldwide.
The addition of a fully-functional bottle opener was merely the cherry on top that cemented its place in gun history, with enthusiasts still admiring it over 50 years since its inception.
Things aren’t very much different in the airsoft world, either, with many an airsofter searching for their very own IMI Galil replica to take to the field.
A Brief History of the Galil Rifle
Since the mid-50s, the main battle rifle of the IDF was the FN FAL, which was battle tested by its forces in the Suez Crisis, the Six Day War in 1967 and even the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
By the late 1960s, however, the FN FALs had begun falling out of favor with the IDF.
Aside from being long and somewhat bulky as a full-length battle rifle, the troops felt the FALs were poorly suited to the windblown, sandy and dusty combat zones it found itself in.
Higher ups, on the other hand, believed it required too much care and maintenance to prevent malfunction on the part of the tired and often irritable troops.
Taking inspiration from the AK47s captured from Arab armies in the Six Day War, the IDF began research on a rifle that could combine the ruggedness of the AK with the accuracy of the FAL or the M16.
The first production model of the Galil was released in 1972, although its rollout was initially halted by the Yom Kippur War and it really only began to be issued in larger numbers in the mid-1970s.
Often mischaracterized as simply a blend of the M16 and the AK47, the Galil actually took a lot of influence (and pieces) from quite a few weapons, including
- The receiver from the Finnish Valmet RK 62
- A side folding buttstock from the FN FAL PARA
- 5.56 mm nato standard ammo from the M16 (as well as 7.62 mm on some variants)
- And the ability to use Stoner 63 magazines
Despite its popularity after the fact with weapons enthusiasts and despite the fact that it is considered a classic Israeli weapon, the Galil was never really the main battle rifle of the IDF.
Following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, American aid shipments flooded the IDF with tens of thousands of surplus M16A1s and the combination of the ability to buy M16s with military credit and the relatively high cost of producing the Galil locally meant that the Galil was eventually shifted to less front line service before finally being phased out around 2004.
What Makes A Galil Good For Airsoft?
It looks awesome
The Galil definitely has a distinct and historical look to it, blending many of the most recognizable features from an AK with features from the FN FAL and others that help it stand out in a field of tactical M4s and AKs.
If you’re the type that wants to attract some admiring glances, particularly from those in the know, a Galil could be just what you’re looking for.
Full rifle size, folding stock
Many Galil models come with a folding stock that, when collapsed, shortens its overall length by 9 inches or more, making this full battle rifle quite compact if necessary.
It has features that are fun to look at and use
With a cool, old school side charging handle,optional bipod, hefty folding stock, optional handguard carry handle and even a bottle opener on higher end models, there’s a lot going on with a Galil out of the box that you can mess around with that aren’t always available on more modern rifles.
Classic looks, modern firepower
Despite the fact that it is based on an older gun, airsoft Galils are typically built with the same modern components as modern replicas, using up to date gearboxes, motors, barrels and more that let it deliver comparable FPS and ROF as standard M4s and AKS.
Disadvantages of a Galil in airsoft
Compared with an standard 5-6 lb airsoft M16 or a 4-5 lb carbine, the Galil is heavy, clocking in north of 7 lbs (3.2 kg).
This extra weight makes it harder to carry for longer periods of time and not an ideal choice for games that require speed and aggressive movement, like speedsoft and CQB games.
It’s not as common as other assault rifle replicas
The Galil is something of a niche product in the airsoft world and is simply not as commonly found or sold as a standard M4 replica.
As a result, they can be more expensive to buy, replacement parts can be less common to find, there are fewer mods and some manufacturers may try and get away with offering poorer quality replicas simply due to a lack of competition.
Oh yes, they’re also quite popular and tend to go out of stock quite frequently.
Although they look like AKs, and while some users are tempted to save some money and time by buying AK mags for their Galils, it’s important to remember that airsoft Galils are most definitely not AKs.
Many models tend to use proprietary Galil magazines and preclude not only using mags from other brands’ Galils, but also AKs and similar guns from the same brand.
Although magazines tend to be easier for stores to keep in stock than full rifles, this still can be annoying at times and is something to keep in mind.
What to look for in an Galil Airsoft Gun
|Galil ARM/AR||Galil SAR|
|Overall length (stock extended)||38.9 in (987 mm)||33 in (850 mm)|
|Overall length (stock folded)||29.2 in (742 mm)||24.2 in (614 mm)|
|Weight||8.7 lb / 3.95 kg (AR); 9.6 lb/ 4.35 kg (ARM)||8.27 lb / 3.75 kg|
|Barrel Length||21.1 in (535mm)||13.1 in (332 mm)|
There’s no getting around it, the Galil rifle was heavy.
Depending on the exact variant they could range from 8.27-14 lbs (3.75 – 6.4 kg), although typically they tended to stay between 8 and 10 lbs or so (3.67–4.35 kg).
Well made Galil airsoft replicas go for realism and reflect this weight, with airsoft versions of the Galil often tipping the scales at around 6.5 to 8.8 lbs or 3-4kg.
While not quite as heavy as the real thing, they tend to be quite a bit heftier than ar15/m16 airsoft alternatives and more in line with what you might expect from an AK47 replica.
Also like an AK, the solidity and weight of a Galil airsoft rifle should be something you’ll notice right away when you pick one up.
This weight shouldn’t be too much trouble if you’re simply plinking around or just running and gunning in the occasional, casual airsoft game.
It can, however, be something you might consider if you’re planning on participating in a longer game or milsim (or doing patrols in the desert for that matter), where you’ll be carrying it around for some time, and it is definitely not the airsoft gun of choice for speedsoft games.
The Galil ARM rifle is famous (or infamous) among real steel gun enthusiasts because it included an integrated bottle opener.
Prior to its introduction, thirsty IDF conscripts and reservists would pry their soda bottle caps off using the guns magazines, causing significant and costly damage over time.
As a result, just behind the Galil’s handguard is a metal extension specifically designed to be used as a bottle opener.
A rather distinct feature of the Galil ARM, it is absent from AR/SAR models, so keep that in mind.
Unfortunately many less expensive airsoft Galil ARMs tend to not include this in its design, which is a shame since it is so tied to this gun’s history and reputation.
That said, some officially licensed and more premium priced models, like the ICS, do have these, usually with metal frames.
As to whether you should use it, that depends on your willingness to use your airsoft Galil as a drink opener (using it can easily scratch your Galil) and your ability to source bottles with 1970s/80s style bottle caps.
Although be aware that if you do carry your Galil most other airsoft players on the field will likely want (or demand) to see it in action.
Real steel Galils are pretty tough and durable.
No high tech space age materials here- these guns are all about milled steel receivers and metal bodies that give them a rugged, hefty style.
A quality Galil replica should reflect this construction.
While it can be a bit much to ask for milled and forged steel replicas, customers should still look for all metal (all steel if possible, steel/aluminum is more likely) for the upper and lower receivers that replicate the sort of heft and ruggedness of the actual Galil.
Those interested in purchasing a replica should avoid cheaper versions that make heavier use of plastics, something that is particularly important if you want to make use of the famous bottle opener, since you don’t want to ship or crack the body.
Handguards should be made of study polymer at the least, in black, dark gray or wood style for authenticity.
Actual Wood can occasionally found in some more expensive Galil airsoft guns, and it is more aesthetic, bringing to mind the AK-style influence of the original weapon.
Keep in mind, however, that wood is less durable than most heavy duty plastics, being more prone to cracking, scratching and chipping without proper care.
The Galil was known for its ambidextrous safety selector.
On the right hand side should be an AK-style selector and on the left a more thumbable switch selector, allowing the rifle to be more easily used by right and left handed airsofters.
With airsoft models, its not uncommon for the AK-style selector to be the functional safety control and the left side selector being more for decoration.
That said, with higher end models , the nonfunctional selector should not be molded-in and completely nonfunctional, as it is an important detail that adds to the realism of the replica.
Selectors on airsoft galils tend to follow the original IDF model and are backwards to fire:
- S – Safety
- A – Automatic
- R – repetition
With safety in the front, automatic in the middle and semi-automatic in the rear, this can take a little getting used to and is a little awkward if not annoying when being used.
Being an Israeli weapon that was exported to many different countries, Galils can be offered with both Hebrew and English markings and in a number of different configurations.
When it comes to airsoft they generally tend to either have or translate the original Hebrew markings from the IDF.
If you are someone who strives for authenticity (or reads Hebrew), then you’ll probably want to find a rifle with as close to what the original IDF/IWI proof markings would like as possible.
On the left side of the gun, towards the barrel, it should be stamped with something like:
- רס גליל – which roughly stands for what the gun is, Galil Assault Rifle (רובה סער גליל). Some may have תת in front, which means “sub,” designating it as a “sub-assault rifle” or submachine gun;
- The caliber in מ”מ (millimeters)- usually it’s 5.56, although 7.62 is possible on ARM and sniper variants;
- a circle with תצ on it , which stands for military industries (the people who made it, IMI)
Selectors were generally backwards-to-fire and should have
- נצ – safe
- א and ב (not אב as is a common error), which are single and automatic fire selects
For a little added authenticity, although not commonly available on stock models, to the right of the dummy safety select, towards the buttstock, may be a stamp with the IDF logo.
For those who prefer English, however, pn the left side of the gun should, at the very least, be Israel Military Industries LTD. For authenticity, it should be IMI and not IWI, as the company only later changed its name to Israel Weapons Industries.
There should also be a “SAR” safety selector and the markings with Galil, the caliber (in millimeters or hundredths of an inch) and an IMI-Israel stamp.
Often mistaken for the famous Galil Bottle opener, the magazine release in a Galil airsoft rifle is an AK-style that is located directly behind the magazine.
It should feel solid, and even a little stiff, preventing accidental releases.
A common problem with cheaper airsoft Galils is a loose, rattly or hair trigger magazine release, which can cause accidental releases and feed problems or break altogether.
Typically, the IDF issued its troops Galils with a FN-FAL Paratrooper-style folding stock.
Powered by a pin and spring mechanism, these stocks fold to the right side when the L-bracket is pressed down and this can make an Galil airsoft rifle into a far more comfortable and compact option to carry around.
It’s also kind of a fun party trick if you can learn to whack them closed with your shoulder.
A common problem with many cheaper Galil airsoft rifles is that the buttstock will fold flush to the body, which can actually block the charging handle and its reciprocating blowback mechanism.
Being an airsoft gun this may not affect its use all that much compared to an actual gun, but is a little annoying and can ruin the realism and immersiveness of the experience.
Similarly, the stock should firmly lock into place, being easily opened when pressed down upon and relocking when fully extended, usually with an solid, audible click.
For those who aren’t fans of folding stocks on their airsoft guns, they can be pretty easily replaced.
A popular, classic and more theme-friendly option is to use an AK-style wooden stock, which makes the Galil’s appearance lean more towards its AK-inspired roots.
That said, these types of replacements were more common on civilian Galils as most militaries kept the original folding stocks.
This is something to keep in mind if you want to strive for authenticity in your airsoft collection.
If you’d like to recreate a more modern Galil variant for your airsoft games, such as the ACE or the Sniper variant currently sold by IWI, you can probably get away with a more modern skeletonized folding stock or even an M4 style collapsible (with the ACE).
A Galil airsoft replica should have L-flip up aperture sights on the rear and a post frontsight protected by a battlesight ring.
Actual Galils also had the option for flip up tritium night sights.
While some of the better brands of Galil airsoft rifles may include a replica of these Tru Dot Sights, they don’t usually include actual tritium sights for obvious reasons and are usually painted with white dots instead.
If the model you’re interested in doesn’t have them, they can be bought as one of the few ready aftermarket accessories for a Galil.
The Galil has a classic vertical charging handle, with a classic and very aesthetically pleasing knurled knob.
Seeing it reciprocate back and forth when you fire, while perhaps less important for airsoft, is a lot of fun and adds a sense of realism, even if on an airsoft galil these charging handles aren’t really all that functional.
Players want the charging handle to be solid and well attached, pointing vertically upwards and not showing any signs of wiggle or loose movement.
This is a common problem on cheaper Galil airsoft guns, with some being poorly welded or simply held on by a single screw and coming loose to the point where they rotate freely.
Common Galil Airsoft Models and Variants
The Galil ARM was the first iteration of the Galil and was the one at which IMI threw everything and the proverbial kitchen sink.
The ARM came with a folding bipod (with wire cutters), larger-issued magazine, and even an ergonomic carrying handle that made it easier should the barrel heat up under automatic fire.
The Galil ARM was designed for flexibility, serving as either a standard automatic rifle or a light automatic machine gun, although it never really was used much as the latter.
The Galil AR
The extra weight and noise of the bipod and carrying handle meant that it was often the first things removed by troops, which led the Galil to be issued in the AR form.
The AR is essentially the same gun as the ARM, minus the bipod and charging handle, and was usually issued with polymer handguards.
A more stripped down version of the ARM, the AR is the version of the Galil that most people think of today and was used by support troops and police before being exported to the rest of the world.
In terms of airsoft rifles the differences between the AR and ARM are largely cosmetic.
Higher quality ARMs airsoft replicas may have real wood grips, although few if any have bipods with functioning cutting mechanisms and the carrying handle, while still useful for carrying, doesn’t really serve much of a function since airsoft guns don’t heat up and they can be prone to clattering.
The ARM is, in our opinion at least, the cooler version but the AR is the more readily recognizable Galil variant by most people, and tend to be the more common airsoft replicas on the market.
For those going for realism, the ARM is probably better served to those emulating the original military issued galil or those who like a more vintage look, while the AR might be better served for more casual use or those emulating various police, non idf military and paramilitary uses.
Galil SAR (Short Assault Rifle)
Configured with a shorter barrel than the standard AR Galil, the SAR was the carbine variant of the original AR and was primarily issued to support troops and those in armor and artillery.
A Galil SAR airsoft rifle is significantly shorter, making it more maneuverable and easier to handle and carry than the full AR, especially with the stock fully collapsed, making it an attractive option, especially if an airsoft game is going to take place in closer quarters.
Functionally, however, the difference in terms of FPS and accuracy is more or less negligible.
Micro Galil (MAR)
Introduced in the mid-90s, the Micro Galil is an even shorter version of the SAR, with an overall length of 27.8 in, and was aimed for use in the Israeli special operations units.
Highly compact, the MAR had a slightly more modern design and was highly maneuverable in closed spaces.
The Galil ACE is the most modern iteration of the Galil and is still in production today.
It adopts a lighter weight and far more modern design that includes the use of picatinny rail systems, but due to their radically different designs are perhaps the least common Galil variants out there in airsoft.
The Galil: AEG or GBB?
An airsoft Galil can be used as a primary rifle and since they are typically made with modern AEG components, they can deliver 350+ FPS and range comparable to a standard M16 clone without much of an issue.
If your main concern is sending a consistent stream of BBs downrange without a lot of fuss, an AEG is probably what you should go for.
We would actually prefer a GBB Galil ourselves, mainly due to the fact that we love the experience of the blowback action given the Galil’s 90-degree charging handle and bolt system.
Unfortunately, GBB Galils are relatively rare, hard to find and go out of stock regularly so most likely those interested in the Galil and its style will end up with an AEG anyway.
Metal or Plastic
As with other airsoft guns, the quality of overall construction and materials is more important than its materials, so ultimately it doesn’t always really matter.
Being based on an older gun, more authentic airsoft Galils are made of metal.
The added weight of a metal replica isn’t much a concern, since they’re meant to be heavy. Similarly, Galils were designed to be as durable as possible, and a nice metal frame can really replicate that intention.
That said, there isn’t a lot of competition out there for Galils on the market so you’ll need to be careful with build quality. Depending on their construction can be more prone to loud rattling over time if things work loose, especially around the magazine areas which are notoriously prone to getting loose or wobbling in some model and is something to be careful with if you’re planning on stalking or ambushing.
How easy are airsoft Galils to customize?
Like other vintage-style airsoft guns, on good models it shouldn’t be too difficult to upgrade parts since they tend to use fairly modern parts.
Most good quality airsoft galil replicas use fairly standard and upgradable V3 gearboxes, and so upgrade parts are pretty ubiquitous, and it’s not too hard to fit a new motor, springs, battery or mosfet into one of these.
In fact, many models of airsoft galils are pretty much stock AKs with some Galil trim, so there’s a lot you can do with them if you put your imagination to it.
A relatively poor country at the time, especially as the country was experiencing economic turmoil Israel did not and could not outfit its line soldiers with much in the way of optics.
As a result, most Galil rifles at the time were issued and used with factory iron sights.
(As a point of interest, one of the considerations for the adoption of the M4 in the IDF was its versatility in terms of optics and the ease in which accessories could be mounted).
This isn’t as much of an issue with more modern Galil variants, such as the ACE, but if you want to keep your AR, ARM or SAR Galil airsoft rifles looking as authentic as possible, it can be a little trickier than other and pretty tricky to mount optics or other accessories since many don’t come with attachment points.
To be sure there are mounting systems out there that can work pretty well, ranging from replacement quad rail handguards to full replacement receivers with built-in rails.
But their addition tends to detract from the look of the more “classic” Galils, making them look more like ACEs or modern derivatives and can have the effect of losing the distinct look of the classic 1970s and 1980s AK/AR combo that we’ve all come to love.
If strict adherence to looks isn’t really a factor for you, there are models of Galils that come out from time to time with discrete integrated rail systems, as well.
In terms of furniture, it is relatively easy to swap out plastics for wood (and vice versa), and there are a number of companies out there that offer replacement parts that you can pick up for this purpose.
Finally, as we mentioned previously, mags can be proprietary to these guns and so users are often dependent on what’s on the market at the time, which is usually high and mid cap magazines.
Those looking to kit their Galil out with drums can do so, but it often requires a brand specific adapter of some kind.
Nearly as iconic an Israeli weapon as the venerable Uzi, for those with the strength to carry it around the Galil can be a remarkable and interesting alternative to airsoft M16s or even AK47s.
If you can find one from a reliable manufacturer, they can blend vintage style with the modern power and performance needed to drive your enemies back under a hail of BBs.
David Lewis – A longtime airsoft and airgun enthusiast and collector, our editor David’s lifelong passion for tactical sports began in high school with some friends, a cheap knock-off airsoft M4, and an open field behind his parents’ house.
When he’s not plinking around, he enjoys sharing his knowledge of airsoft and helping those just starting out.