One of the most prestigious Israel Military Industries (IMI) products is the Galil assault rifle. The initiators were Yaacov Lior, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the small weapons industry and Israel Galili (Berchenko ) the IMI Chief Designer.
The history of the weapon starts at the end of the Six Days War of 1967, when it became necessary to develop a new advanced and modern assault rifle. The war pointed out the disadvantages of the rifles used by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The IMI received a request to develop an original Israeli assault rifle with a recommended caliber of 5.56mm. At the time there were only five weapons of 5.56mm caliber that were fully developed around the world: the American M-16 and the Stoner-63, FN Belgium FAL, German HK-33 and the Russian Kalashnikov AK-74. There were other weapons under development at the time in the same caliber done by SIG (Swiss), Berretta (Italian), and Armalir (USA).
Israel Galili tells about the hardship of the development:
"We had to build special machines and tools in order to test the rifle. We built a special machine to whirl and blow sand and dust on the gun. Also a special machine to make small caliber barrels, something we were trying to produce for the first time. The quantities of 5.56 caliber ammunition were dull and we had to purchase new ammunition to fill our magazine stocks. In spite of all the hardships, in a short time, we successfully finished a prototype and presented it to the IDF developing committee. In a firing range demonstration done by the committee, the Galil fired hundreds of rounds without a single stoppage.
Afterwards we delivered five rifles for testing with 30 and 50 rounds magazines. In the technical trials some problems occurred and had to be fixed and some features needed improvement. Thereafter, a new series of development sessions began on the rifle with the intent to improve its performances. A second comparative test was performed to test the Galil against the AK-47, M-16 and Stoner-63. There were drop tests, sand test, mud test, and many more. After all of these tests were completed, finally an endurance test of 18000 rounds was carried out. After passing all the technical tests, the next step was operational tests. The strict operational testing produced some suggestions for improvements and these changes were incorporated into the rifle. "
After all the tests, the IDF Chief of Staff, General Haim Bar-Lev,
decided that the Galil rifle will be the next standard weapon of the IDF.
On September 5, 1971 the ordinance commander of the IDF gave the "go ahead" for the mass production of the Galil assault rifle. The first Galil rifles were presented to the media on April 11, 1973. A few hundred Galils' were produced for the 1973 Independence Day Parade.
The first batch of Galil rifles were accepted by the IDF during September 1974. From then on the Galil was produced for all the IDF units and was also marketed worldwide. The Galil rifle is still one of the most robust and reliable assault rifles in the world which is used operationally worldwide.