The Galil project began after the Six-Day War, and the design was selected by the IDF from two competing designs. The winner was based on the Finnish Rk 62 (a variant of the AK-47). The first rifles began to arrive in 1974, after the Yom Kippur War. One of its aims was to replace the first M-16 (Vietnam surplus) which had been rushed to Israel during that war. The surplus M-16's had severe reliability problems, and were regarded solely as provisional weapons until the Galil could be issued. The Galil was used by infantry during the Lebanon War in 1982; but towards the mid-1980s, it was determined to be less than optimal.
The Galil's main problem is weight: it is much heavier than the M-16, at around 3.9 kg empty (w/o ammunition), and therefore often considered to be less convenient as personal weapon for infantrymen; fighting infantry units therefore were reissued M-16's (new or upgraded to improve reliability and reduce weight), although the Galil's compactness resulted in it remaining a personal weapon for soldiers in armor and artillery units.
Although designed as a serious infantry weapon, one could also claim the Galil boasts many unusual features to make it more amenable to a citizen-militia. The Galil includes a folding stock and bipod, tritium illuminated night sights, and an integrated bottle-opener to avoid damage to the rifle through a previously common misuse of weapons to open beverage bottles.
A derivative has been produced, the Galil Micro, which retains the internal features with a completely new frame and a much shorter barrel. It has been reported that this weapon is subject to severe overheating, becoming too hot to touch after automatic fire. A redesigned version is now in service with Israeli special forces in undercover operations, small enough to conceal under a jacket, yet extremely powerful.