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Hebrew Hammer: Jaxx Industries Recreates the Rarest of Galils

This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 38
Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Get half a dozen dudes around a campfire, throw in a little whiskey and a few cigars for seasoning, and sooner or later a “best of” debate will emerge. No matter the subject — be it music, movies, calibers, or women — there’ll be few staunch holdouts, defiantly clinging to their opinions while a larger consensus emerges. This is a good thing, part of the long human tradition of civilized discourse among peers.

In the case of AKs, some will claim the Bulgarians can’t be beat, while others point to the Finns, with their long tradition of raising their driving finger to the east. The subject of this article could justifiably be considered the ne plus ultra in terms of the evolution of the AK, at least in its milled receiver form.

jaxx industries 300 blackout

With a 300Blk 9-inch barrel and left-side charging handle, the Galil 699 is no longer the firearm equivalent of drinking cabbage soup from a straw boot.

History
Following the Israelis’ experience of desert warfare in the 1960s, a decision was made to transition away from the 7.62 NATO cartridge for use in individual weapons, and at the same time move toward a rifle suitable for a conscript army. What they really wanted was the AKM, but being a lone democracy with ties to the West surrounded by Soviet-backed dictatorships, Moscow was hardly going to give up the blueprints to Kalashikov’s brainchild, especially at the height of the Cold War.

A decade earlier, the Finnish state-owned company of Valmet started rolling out its new assault rifle, the RK-62, based on a Polish, milled receiver version of the AK-47. It was notable for the quality of its materials and construction, permitting the relocation of the rear sight from the front trunnion to the dust cover, almost doubling the sight radius.

Using the RK-62 as a base, a design team headed by Yisrael Galil converted the Finnish rifle to accept the 5.56 M193 cartridge — following trials in the early ’70s, it was adopted as the IDF’s official rifle. During its 20-year service life, the Galil served as the basis for a family of weapons, including a carbine, light support weapon, and PDW version. It’s this last variant, introduced in 1992 as the Galil MAR, that was used to create the final iteration of the entire line, the model 699, featuring a left-side charging handle. And it’s this version that the Henderson, Nevada-based Jaxx Industries recreated for the U.S. market.

300 blackout rifle

Now, in a sane and rational universe, it should be possible to simply import the Galil MAR and sell it to a willing buyer. But no. It’s a select fire weapon, the manufacture and sale of which was curtailed by FOPA 86, so it can’t be sold in its original form. OK, you say. How about yanking out the full-auto parts and turning it into a semi-auto for sale as a regular firearm?  Well, there are two problems with that, principally the 1936 National Firearms Act, which classifies it as a short-barreled rifle, and the subsequent interpretation of the same, which as far as we can tell, some pencil jockey pulled out of his ass. The ruling goes “once a machine gun, always a machine gun,” even if extensive steps are taken to ensure it can’t be converted back. Which makes as much sense as asserting that the turd you flushed this morning is identical to last night’s steak dinner.

In order to comply with the law, as f*cked up as it may be, the manufacturer must first destroy the original receiver, completely disassemble the gun, and put the whole shebang back together on a new frame. As the result is sold as a pistol and minus a buttstock, it doesn’t need to comply with the requirements of USC 922(r), which pertains to the number of foreign-made parts permitted in an ostensibly U.S.-made firearm. But only if it’s a shotgun or rifle. Don’t get us started.

Despite the manifest ass-clownery of sundry branches of government, the resulting gat is pretty squared-away. That said, it’s a collector’s gun, albeit one that’s eminently desirable from a practical standpoint.

OVERVIEW
Bear in mind, the gun in question incorporates parts that already have a few miles on them. That said, the heart and soul are brand new and American made, comprising a CNC Warrior billet receiver and a Green Mountain barrel, both of which have the right numbers associated with their raw materials, 4140 and 41v50 respectively. After spending considerable time machining the center, the receiver is heat treated to an appropriate degree of hardness. This is important, as it acts as both the home for all the slidey-turney bits and also as the front trunnion, locking the bolt in place and preventing all those glorious hot gases from escaping to places they shouldn’t be, such as your face.

Externally, overall quality of finish is very good. Internally, there are quite a few tool marks leftover from turning what appears to be 75 percent of the original slab of steel into chips. Despite this, the bolt carrier group runs smoothly on the receiver rails, with none of the “ripping a beer can in half” feel of a typical AK.

galil 1

The SB Tactical brace will fill the gap until the Form 1 clears, but you’ll probably want to spring for the folding stock.

There are several important departures from the garden-variety AK design, notably a modified bolt carrier, piston, gas tube, top cover, safety, and, of course, that side charging handle with its associated vertical dust cover. When combined, they make for a very refined package.

In the case of the carrier and piston, due to the chopped-down barrel and the need to move the gas port closer to the breech, it’s considerably shorter than standard, also serving to reduce weight. Instead of the typical long, wobbly piston stem of an AKM, this one has a short, wobbly piston head pinned to the carrier extension. It weighs in at 12.2 versus 14 ounces — most of that diet program is due to losing 3.5 inches from the piston, but some can be accounted for by the large relief cut in the right side of the carrier.

Weight is added through the use of a large, left-side charging handle, so to keep carrier velocity in the sweet spot while accommodating a cartridge with less bolt thrust, material had to be shaved wherever possible. There are lightening cuts on the bolt tail as well, and to avoid potential problems with more sensitive western primers, the 5.56 bolt has a stiffly sprung firing pin. Interestingly, the Micro Galil’s recoil spring assembly is actually longer than the AKM’s, by about ½ inch, with a polymer buffer to cushion carrier impact.

The gas tube that shorty piston runs inside is another area where the Galil deviates from the holy book of Mikhail. With no rear sight to house, it’s simply dovetailed into the front trunnion and retained by the dust cover, which is itself reinforced at its rearmost surface, making the interface with the rear trunnion stiffer, resulting in the rear sight being less prone to wandering. In a nod to modernity, there’s a Pic rail welded to the upper surface of the gas tube to accept a forward-mounted red dot sight. Stripping the gas tube for cleaning is simplicity itself, and if you’re not careful when removing the bolt, it’ll drop straight out onto the concrete — along with your Aimpoint. You’ve been warned.

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AKM bolt carrier left, 699 right.

The left side of the receiver houses one feature of the gun that makes it way less prone to harvest the user’s DNA than other designs. Whereas mag changes still require the bolt to be racked (there’s no last round hold open), at least now the charging handle is on the correct side of the weapon and — joy of joys — there’s no bent and twisted sheet metal safety to drag your knuckles across. Kalashnikov’s attempt to keep debris out of the gun’s mechanism by keeping the top cover as intact as possible dictated the use of a right-side charging handle. The Galil achieves the same effect through the use of a dust cover, which rides up and down on a pair of bosses, dropping out of the way as the bolt handle moves back and forth and springing back into position when the bolt’s in battery. Yes, it adds four more parts to the design, but if the most fragile component (the return spring) breaks, it won’t put the gun out of action.

Below that dust cover lies a selector switch connected via a linkage to the usual AK-pattern safety/dust cover/DNA sampling device. This one is operated by the user’s thumb and doesn’t require breaking the firing grip/use of the support hand/genetic mutation to manipulate. Simply push forward when it’s time to rock ’n’ roll.

Due to its abbreviated barrel dimensions, the Micro sports a black polymer handguard with a built-in hand stop — another one of those well-thought-out design touches that makes us believe it was developed with a lot of end-user input. The pistol grip is likewise comfortable and ergonomic, without being too large for smaller hands. In this case, the builder went to town with a soldering iron in order to further distinguish their wares, and a well-executed stippling job has been applied. Assuming you like that sort of thing.

In order to comply with U.S. edicts, the original folding stock has been replaced with an SB Tactical not-a-stock, which is fixed in position. According to the Jaxx Industries website, the OEM part is still available should you wish to file a Form 1 and turn it into an SBR. This is one of the few instances in which paying your $200 makes sense. Ordinarily, we’d save the coin and hassle of applying for a stamp, as a pistol brace makes the whole SBR argument somewhat moot. But having that cute right-side folder here makes the package so much more appealing, and, if you’re dropping three grand on a Micro, why not go all the way? Oh, and we did say this was a collector’s gun — it has the price tag to prove it.

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STUCK CASE REMOVAL
Fire enough rounds and you’ll eventually run headlong into a case head separation. We encountered one with the Galil, leaving the forward part of the case jammed into its chamber, and tying up the gun for the remainder of a range session. Occasionally, the stars align and the gods smile upon us, and the next round has just enough friction between it and the case remnant to pop it out — in some instances you almost don’t notice what’s happened as you cycle the action to eject what you perceive as a failure to go into battery.
Other times, the chunk of brass is so firmly wedged it needs a specialist tool to break it out. This was one of those times. Unfortunately, there are no stuck case removal tools we know of for the 300 BLK.
7.62 NATO, 5.56, and the common commie rounds are all catered for, but what to do in this instance? Fortunately, suppressor guru Mike Papas of Dead Air came to the rescue with a workaround:
1. Take a fired 5.56 case and partially size it in a 300 BLK sizing die with the neck expander removed, in order to create a false shoulder. If you don’t have dies, then tapping the case into the chamber with a hammer is a viable alternative.
2. Degrease the case thoroughly and apply a drop of cyanoacrylate adhesive to the false shoulder. That’s superglue for the grunts at the back of class.
3. Insert the case into the chamber, taking care not to get glue anywhere other than the stuck case remnant, and press it in there good and hard.
4. Wait for the glue to set up, then close the bolt and cycle the action. You may need to use a lot of extra force to do this. In the event that your bolt’s extractor rips through the case rim, use a cleaning rod from the muzzle to tap the stuck case out.

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE
Our test gun arrived with three magazines: one Israeli 35-rounder and pair of U.S.-made polymer Tapco Intrafuse mags. Our first impulse was to employ the first to make holes in the second, because, well, Tapco. But it’d seem that quality has come up a few notches in recent years — they locked into place, fed, and ejected just fine, despite being subjected to the usual “slap the release with the fresh mag” reload technique.

Accuracy with SIG 124-grain FMJ ammo hovered around 3 MOA, which we feel is perfectly acceptable for a red dot-equipped, PDW-sized weapon. When fed 220-grain subsonic ammo, ejection wasn’t exactly vigorous when unsuppressed, but it went back to flinging cases with gusto when a can was screwed in place. Installing a suppressor requires removal of the flash hider, which is an eight-port design, threaded M13x1, timed with a jam nut, and featuring a rifle grenade retainer spring. Fun fact: Possession of a 22mm flash hider with a spring like this one puts you in legal jeopardy with the California DOJ, as they regard it as the same as a live Carl Gustaf. But we digress.

israeli rifle

Ejection is healthy, but not in the “launch them into the next bay” category of a typical AK.

The 699’s trigger is typical AK, with a long, rollover break feeling like that of a very light double-action revolver. Reset is positive, requiring around 1⁄8 inch from the break, or roughly 4km from the end of the overtravel. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s definitely a long way from when the blade contacts the rear of the trigger guard. Despite that, we had no problems hammering fast double and triple taps.

We did encounter an issue with the rear sight having insufficient lateral movement to permit an accurate zero — despite cranking it all the way over to the left — and had this been a gun we’d cut a check for, it’d be going back to the manufacturer to be fixed. We were assured that being a small, custom operation, Jaxx Industries would take care of its clients and sort out any problems, but it’s annoying, nonetheless.

Recoil impulse is smooth, and while there’s no mistaking that BCG slamming into the receiver at the end of its stroke, it’s not as violent as other short AKs we’ve encountered. It’s not until you’ve spent some time running reload drills that you get to really appreciate the left side charging handle. While it’s fun to challenge yourself to drive down the reload speed on a regular AK, it doesn’t take long before you wish the Russians had just done it right the first time around.

The 699 Micro Galil hasn’t seen a lot of press, as there were only a few thousand made for specialist users, and as far as we can tell, only a handful were ever imported in their original form. If you’re in the market for rare AKs, Jaxx Industries has done a creditable job in recreating one of the most unusual variants you’ll ever come across. IMI will probably never resurrect the design, at least not with a milled receiver, as they’ve turned their attention to the Galil ACE. This makes the 699 both highly collectible and worthy of a place in the safe as a functional piece of history.

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Visit www.jaxxindustries.com

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