South Carolina-based American Tactical has been making the Galeo for a couple of years, and we have been taking one for a spin. 

Based on the legendary old IMI Galil AR/ARM – and including most of the surplus parts of one – the ATI Galeo uses that rifle's reliable long-stroke gas piston system. Looking and feeling very AK, the gun looks and feels like a Kalashnikov but is a bit heavier, with a milled 4140 CDA steel receiver and stamped steel top cover. 

ATi Galeo 5.56 Galil ARM clone
The receiver is slab-sided with no lightning cuts or scope mount. Overall length is a hair under 39 inches when the stock is extended. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATi Galeo 5.56 Galil ARM clone
We found our test Galeo to hit the scales at 8.7 pounds, empty. Odds are, if you throw a bipod, carrying handle, and full 35-round steel magazine on it, you are going to fly past the 11-pound mark but will look great doing it. (Photo: Chris Eger/


For those who are curious, the Galil was introduced in 1972 by the Israelis after having bad experiences in the deserts with their FN FALs while at the same time seeing how well captured AK-style guns handled in the sand and moondust of the Siani and Golan Heights. Borrowing from both Kalashnikov and Stoner's design philosophies and mixing a dash of FN to the stew, Israeli developers Yisrael Galili and Yakov Lior blended the best of both worlds to deliver the finished product. The Israelis milled out a forged steel receiver, rather than the simple stamped sheet metal receivers of the Kalash family. 

Available in both 7.62 and 5.56 NATO variants, it was gas-operated with a piston, used a rotating bolt, and proved rugged and reliable, remaining in front line service until the year 2000 when it was replaced by U.S.-supplied M16s which, with their aluminum receivers, were lighter and more versatile, especially in later models. 

Still, the Galil proved popular enough to be license-produced in Italy by Bernardelli, South Africa by Vektor as the R4, and in Sweden as the FFV 890. Galil variants have been used by no less than 50 countries as diverse as Columbia, Portugal, and Nepal. Meanwhile, the only Israeli-produced Galil these days is the Galil Ace platform in three different calibers including 7.62x39mm. 

Galil Spec Sheet
The Galil was imported in various configurations as the ARM and Galil Sporter off and on in the early 1980s and early 1990s, fighting first a ban from a Republican president, then a Democrat. 

The Galil surprised some folks back in 1986 when it proved better than a lot of other rifles of the day in extreme cold weather testing by the Alaskan State Police. Beyond this, it became a staple in gun lore with on-screen appearances in "Heat" and "Delta Force." 

Military personnel with Galil rifles
The Galil remains in extensive use overseas from South Africa to Portugal and the Baltic States. (Photos: SADF, Portuguese Army, Latvian Defense Force)
A US soldier fires a Galil
The gun is so commonly encountered overseas that it is part of the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course at U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, seen here in a fam fire course in November 2021 (Photo: U.S. SOCOM)

With IWI/IMI Galil sporters non-existent as imports after about 1993, this led to in-house "kit builds" made in the U.S. with new receivers and barrels coupled with surplus kits from overseas. The Century Arms Golani Sporter hit the market over a decade ago and then disappeared a few years ago. To fill this void are the often tough-to-find James River Armory Gallant and ATI's Galeo that appeared in 2019. 


One of the nation's top importers of firearms and firearm-related products, ATI relocated to Summerville, South Carolina, from Rochester, New York, in 2013. Now in its third year producing the Galeo, the company uses original IMI parts that have been harvested from surplus Galil ARMs. Several key American-made parts are added to this, including a new milled (not cast) steel receiver and 1:7 twist 4150 barrel with a 5.56 NATO chamber. Coupled with a domestic magazine, the Galeo is 18 USC 922r compliant. 

Interestingly, ATI had their demilled Galil parts kits imported in a siloed method that keeps all the components of a surplus ARM in the same group to ensure they are manufactured into the same Galeo. 

The build quality is exceptional and, if you are curious, Chris Bartocci with Small Arms Solutions went to ATI in South Carolina and watched how the magic happens, covering the birth of a Galeo in an in-depth 45-minute video that includes a metric ton of hand-fitting and attention to detail. 

While some early Galeos reportedly had issues locking in and using surplus IDF/SADF steel magazines – though it should be noted that these old military mags range wildly in material condition – we tried five different military mags that had been reconditioned by DSA and had zero problems locking them in our test Galeo. Again, keep in mind 922(r) compliance and, if you were to swap out enough vintage parts such as replacing the IMI ARM handguard or pistol grip with a U.S.-made variant or upgrading the trigger pack with an ALG, adding extra 922(r) parts, then using surplus Galil mags may be on the table. 

ATI Galeo
The only markings are a subtle ATI rollmark on the right and a serial number, caliber, and model name on the left. We found the rifle to have a very uniform phosphate finish on all parts. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo sales page
ATI makes not only the Galeo rifle, but also a pistol format, and sells components separately. (Graphic: ATI's 2021 catalog, prices subject to change)
ATI Galeo handguard
While there were some wood-style surplus Galil handguards seen on the early (2019-2020) Galeos, it seems new production are all using polymer handguards. (Photo: Chris Eger/
American Tactical Galeo bottle cap openner
The handguard has a bipod relief cut and, yes, includes the steel bottle cap opener (cue Chevy Chase, albeit with a Hollywood HK) that the Galil is famous for.  (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo barrel
The handguard is relatively free-floating where the barrel is concerned and is simple to remove once the rifle is field stripped, via a lever on the front. The helmet, for those interested, is an old IDF-marked M1. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo gas piston
The inside looks very AK. Note that the op rod has Valmet-style carbon cutters behind the piston. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo hammer and trigger spring
Note the braided wire trigger pack. We found the trigger to break at a decent 4.75 pounds on average. Some have reported changing out the fire control group with a U.S.-made ALG set, which is an interesting prospect. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo chamber
Our receiver walls were thicker, and we found our barrel to have some residual white grease at the chamber, which we cleared and cleaned with Ballistol before heading to the range. (Photo: Chris Eger/
Demilled Galil
Compare the walls on this torched IMI Galil ARM receiver with the above. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo magazine release lever
The Galeo, to both meet 922(r) and get past the unreliability of milsurp Galil mags, ships with a Tapco polymer mag that we have found to be dependable in early testing. While Tapco went the way of the Dodo when Remington Outdoors went belly up last year, ATI stocked up on these mags. Note the shielded mag catch. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo bolt charging handle
The upswept charging handle, a Galil feature going back to the 1970s, allows the gun to be ambi, with the left or right palm sweeping the top of the cover to rack the gun. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo folding stock
The tubular metal right-side folding stock, which brings back memories of FAL Paratrooper models, works with ease and shortens the overall package by about 10 inches. Yes, you can fire the rifle with it folded, although it is kind of uncomfortable to do so due to the weight. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo in a man's hands
The overall length when folded is 29.5 ounces. This makes the Galeo a very packable rifle. We added an old GI duffle strap as a sling. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo pistol grip
The surplus polymer Galil pistol grip is original and can be swapped out for a U.S.-made grip. Also, note the AK-style safety lever/bolt path cover. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo safety
The left side of the Galeo has a thumb-actuated safety lever in addition to the right-hand AK-style lever. The two-position lever has "safe" forward and semi-auto to the rear.  (Photo: Chris Eger/
Demilled Galil reciever
Unlike the three-position original Galil ARM selector. Insert sad face, here. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo stock
The steel top cover is thick and mounts rock-solid, unlike most AKs that rattle and roll. Note the longer cover release button, another Galil hallmark. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo sights
The aperture-type rear sight mounted on the top cover has two different paddles, "3" and "5." While some Galeos have an extra flip-up sight beyond this, we found the mount vacant in this position. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo bayonet lug
The Galeo has a front sight base/chromed gas block with a hooded front sight post that accepts AK sight tools. The curious bracket at the bottom of the block is for the standard Galil ARM-pattern folding bipod (which these days runs about $100 if you can find them on the surplus market in complete condition) while the front-facing lug is for a NATO-pattern bayonet. (Photo: Chris Eger/
ATI Galeo bird cage flash hider
Yes, a standard M7 pigsticker, of the same type as used by the M16, will work just fine on the lug. Speaking of Stoner, note the birdcage with M13x1.25 RH threads. (Photo: Chris Eger/

How does it shoot? So far, we have dropped a 100-round box of Winchester 5.56 NATO through it with zero issues using the included Tapco polymer mag. Accuracy at 100 yards is better than a typical AK pattern rifle and is closer to that of a Mini-14, averaging about 2.5 inches without much effort. Of course, this could tighten up with better ammo and concentration, which we plan to accommodate. 

Stay tuned for more as we push it to the 1K and 2K marks. 

ATI Galeo in sand
The current MSRP of the ATI Galeo is set at $1,489, although this price varies with retailers. The rifle has a limited lifetime warranty. (Photo: Chris Eger/
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