Category Archives: Israel

Customizing An IWI Galil Ace Pistol – Installing a RS Regulate Handguard, SBA4 Brace & Vortex Optics

In my previous posts, I covered a bit of the history of the Galil Ace, did two posts about the differences between the Ace and an AKM that I observed (click here for the first and here for the second) and now that leads up to me making a few tweaks of my own to my 7.62×51 Ace pistol.

Moved to a SB Tactical SBA4 Brace

My Ace came with a SB Tactical SOB brace mounted on a proprietary IWI tube with a very heavy hinge. While the SOB is rugged, it is not adjustable so I installed and SB Tactical SBA4 brace.

The SOB4 brace is what comes with GAP51SB pistols. Palmetto had a great deal on this model and that’s why I bought it. If I could have found the pistol model without a brace cheaper, I would have done that.

Now some may wonder why I didn’t just file for a short barreled rifle (SBR) tax stamp and run a normal stock. I may very well do this in the future but I didn’t want to deal with it right now.

The Ace design allows for very easy changing of a rear block by simply driving out one roll pin. The block can the be lifted straight out and whatever you want installed in its place.

The Ace is resting on a green bench block and I used a roll pin punch to tap out that single pin. That’s all you need to do and then the rear plate of the receiver that holds the hinge, or anything else for that matter, will lift right out.
With the pin removed, it literally lifts out. Notice how the “plate” or “block” sits in a groove and that’s what provide the bulk of the strength. The roll pin is just stopping vertical travel and is more than enough.

Since the SBA4 is ATF approved, I opted for a modular adapter block from KNS Precision going to an Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) folding M4 adapter – the FSM-AR. Note, if you install a folder, buy one with the boss – the raised oval shape. It will fit into the groove in the KNS Precision adapter and make for a very solid connection.

This is the external face of the KNS Precision adapter. The groove is where the boss from the FSM-AR adapter will sit to limit movement. I’d recommend always getting adapters with the bosses unless you intentionally do not want them. The two screw holes allow for variations in mounting.
This is the back side of the KNS adapter. The one roll pin goes through one of the grooves to hold it in place. It is very nicely done – kudos to KNS Precision.
The KNS adapter just slides right in and is secured by the roll pin.
This is the Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) FSM-AR adapter. You can see the oval boss on the left part of the folder. This gets flipped over and screwed into the KNS adapter. Also, oil the hinge at some point before you close it. Sometimes they can be a bear to actuate when dry — personal experience talking there. Also, use blue Loctite on all screws or they will shoot loose.

Special note – the charging handle for my Ace pistol is on the left side. In my case, I was not worried about operating when folded. If you want to fire with the stock folded, you must go with a right side folding mechanism. If I had it to do over, I would have used a right-side folder but I simply used what I had in this case to cut cost plus I don’t plan on folding it much.

Here’s the Ace folder open to the left and the brace assembly does interfere with the charging handle. If you want a weapon that will operate with the brace folded, then go with a unit that folds to the right.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension (buffer tube) and I used a generic castle nut that I had in my tool box along with an end plate that has hoops to connect a sling.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension/buffer tube. You will need to supply your own castle nut .

I only use my Magpul wrench now for installing castle nuts as it enables a very positive/sure connection. I’ve done my fair share of scratching stuff with tools that used older methods and the MagPul is the way to go. I also used an automatic center punch to stake the nut.

For dealing with castle nuts, you simply can’t beat the Magpul wrench. I don’t use the combo wrench below it any more because I have scratched a ton of tubes accidentally with it.

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All in all, it was a very straight forward swap and allows for some adjustment now. In case you are wondering, the SBA4 is very beefy. I do not like the SBA3 as the end is soft and and ears that go around the shooter’s forearm just kind of bend and flop around. The SBA4 is very well done.

I definitely will SBR it at some point down the road but am happy with what I have for now.

Installed a RS Regulate GAR-9M-N Handguard

I was not fond of the original handguards and was pretty sure I would like the GAR-9M-N handguard from RS Regulate based on photos that Scot Hoskinson had posted. Let me tell you, it is a huge improvement. First off, it’s way longer and second it uses a M-LOK attachment method for accessories so you don’t have unnecessary rails bulking up the girth like you do with the originals.

This is the RS Regulate GAR-9M-N handguard for Ace pistols. It’s machining and finish are excellent. Installation was very easy.

Scot Hoskinson, the owner of RS Regulate, has put together a real nice installation guide with plenty of illustrations. The one thing I’ll tell you is that the two original handguard screws from IWI have threadlocker on them.

Just behind the mouth of the gas tube & front sight block is the mounting point that holds the two screws that retain the original Ace handguards. They do have threadlocker on them so warm them up to make removal easier.
I used a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen bit and the retaining screw on each side came right out. Note, you will see two rivets on each side – one rivet head is visible between the wrench handle and the bit. You don’t need to do anything to those. You just need to remove the two screws. You can see one of the above just forward of the bit.

You can heat them up and make them easier to loosen, use a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen/hex head to break the screws free or, what I did, was a bit of both. With the gas tube off and out of the way, you can see where the two screws mount on the barrel. I heated that up and backed them out with the ratchet pretty easily.

Once the screws are removed, slide the handguard forward slightly and pull the rear down. It will come right off.

From there, you basically pull the stock handguard down nose first and pull forward. Then, follow Scot’s instructions. You will need to pay attention and install a small spacer between the barrel mounting point and the handguard when you install the new screws. I applied blue Loc-tite and torqued them down to 25 in/lbs per Scot’s instructions. You also have to install one long screw at the rear that you’ll want to use the blue Loc-tite and torque to 25 in/lbs also.

The RS!Regulate comes with the three screws, two spacers and an allen wrench. I applied medium-strenght Blue Loctite and used my Vortex Optics torque driver to tighten the screws to 25 in/lbs.

The installation instructions where spot on and I did not encounter any surprises at all. The unit bolted right up with no fitting needed.
The fitment is really superb. Here the rail is sliding over the rear block and will be secured later with the long screw that squeezes the rail’s walls together further locking it in place.
I like the RS!Regulate unit far, far more than the original. It’s longer and it fits my hand way better in terms of girth.

This is a slick handguard – the fit and finish are superb. I’ve come to expect that from all RS!Regulate products. Scot’s created another great product in my honest opinion. His AK scope mounts are the best hands down in case you aren’t familiar with them.

Opted For a Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 Optic and 3x Magnifier

I figure this will be a close in weapon – certainly within 200 yards probably – and will figure that out when I get it to the range. With that in mind, putting a high power optic on it just does not make a lot of sense but I also wanted magnification just in case so I checked out what Vortex Optics had to offer.

I’ve now used a boat load of their red dots and scopes on all kinds of firearms including 12 gauges, .50 Beowulf and .338 Lapua. They’re solidly built, good glass and back by a no-nonsense warranty. So they are my go-to for optics and have been for several years. Yes, I do actually have to buy them and no, they do not pay me to say that.

At any rate, I’d been eyeing the Razor AMG UH-1 for a while. Now that is a mouthful and I notice a lot of guys just refer to it has the “Huey” due to the UH-1 helicopter. It’s a true holographic sight which means a laser image (a hologram) is projected into the viewing window. The benefit of this is that regardless of the angle you look through the lens at, if the dot is on the target, it’s going to hit there.

The Razor AMG UH-1 or “Huey” mounts easily with its quick release lever and is ruggedly built.
It has a large viewing window that makes sight acquisition very fast.
The controls are well laid out and easy to use.

Battery life is somewhere around 1,500 hours and there are a lot of variables that can influence that including the brightness of the reticle (there are 14 levels), whether you are using a CR123A battery or a rechargeable LFP123A. Note, Vortex found that recoil kills the basic rechargable RCR123 batteries in 2-300 rounds. They stopped testing the LFP123A at 10,000 rounds and it was still working. I’m using the supplied CR123A still at this point and will likely use Surefire CR123A batteries going forward as I keep them in stock for lights.

In short, the Huey is very slick and it’s getting great reviews. I’ve been a long-time red dot fan and the UH-1 is my favorite at this point.

To get a better view at 100-200 yards, what I did was to pair the Huey sight with the Vortex V3XM Micro 3x magnifier. What this does is give me the ability to install, remove or even swing the installed optic out of the way when I need or don’t need the target to be magnified 3x.

Some assembly was required and I applied medium-strength Blue Loctite to the screws.
Here’s the Vortex Micro 3x magnifier paired with the Huey.

The V3XM is small, light, has a quick release lever also, just like the Huey, and pairs very nicely with it.

Here’s the end result with the SBA4 brace, RS!Regulate rail and Vortex Optics combo.

Summary

The pistol really turned out slick. It balances well and ought to be a blast. Now just to find some time to get to the range before it really gets cold 🙂 Here are some photos for you:


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How A Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 2

This is the second part of my review of the differences I saw between a 7.62×51 IWI Galil Ace pistol and a typical AKM-type rifle. [Click here if you would like to open the first post in a separate window.] The following round out my observations:

Railed handguard

AK handguards have evolved from wood to bakelite to elaborate affairs made of polymers or aluminum. In the case of the Ace, no rhyme intended, an aluminum handguard with Picatinny rail is covered by sculpted rail covers.

The handguard is U-shaped with rails at the the 3-, 6- and 9-O’clock positions. The top rail is integral with the gas tube. Note now they have a cut out read for a pressure switch and the rails are open on the middle for wiring. There is one socket screw on each slide to fasten the handguard to the weapon.
The two socket screws thread into a retainer and have thread locker on them. When you look at the top of the rail, you see a small circle indentation on each side and then just a bit further back a rectangular shaped indentation. The screws are on each side. Also, you also get a good view of the front sight .
These are the three rail covers for the handguard. They lock into place and can be released by pushing the visible button at the back. The panel in the middle is the bottom piece and it has a lip that serves to help you index your hand.

So, two differences to note – a unique railed handguard and it is held in position with screws vs. the traditional AK front handguard retainer.

As a personal comment, I stopped buying tri-railed handguards some time ago because they feel too fat for me once you add on rail covers. The Ace handguards aren’t too terrible but they are fat and shorter than I would like. The stock unit will be replaced by one of the excellent handguards from RS!Regulate – the GAR-9M-N model to be exact and that will be in a future post.

The Gas tube has tabs and a rail but no lever

This is a unique little item right here. The gas tube slides into place via tabs on the unit that mate with slots on the rear base. It does not have a locking lever like an AK does.

The top has a Picatinny rail and the whole unit is locked into place when the dust cover is installed, which pushes the gas tube forward into position. The fitment is so well done that the Picatinny rail is level all the way across the top.

The gas tube goes over the nipple on the front sight block. The relieved tube you see with the screws are where the handguard retainer screws thread in from each side.
This is the gas tube with the rail on top. Note the tabs at the bottom rear and the groove on the rail that mates with the rail from the dust cover.
Here’s another angle – you can see the heat shield on the handguard and the slots on the rear block. We can’t call it a Rear Sight Block (RSB) like we would on an AK because the sight is on the dust cover on the Ace. Here, all it is doing is securing the gas tube.
The fitment of the dust cover and the gas tube are so well done that despite being two separate parts, their two respective rail sections align very nicely.

Integral lower plastic assembly – grip, magazine guide

Part of the revisions from the IMI Galil to the IWI Ace was changing 12 parts from steel to plastic. To be honest, I did not hunt down all 12 and itemize each. What I did readily see was the plastic lower assembly that connects with the steel forged receiver. It has the following:

  • An integral grip that has a hollow storage area
  • Ambidextrous magazine releases
  • An enlarged integral trigger guard
  • A natural hand hold curve just forward of the magazine

Folding Brace Assembly

IWI makes two models of the 7.62×51 pistol – the GAP51 without a brace and the GAP51SB with the brace. I really just needed the GAP51 but went with the GAP51SB because the price was so good from Palmetto State Armory at the time.

What you get with the GAP51SB is an IWI designed integral folder with a 1.25″ diameter pistol tube and an SB Tactical SOB brace. The SOB part makes me smile every time I write it. So, it does give you a well designed fixed length brace and a rock solid folder.

The SB Tactical SOB Brace with the unit locked into position.
That hinge is soooooo cool.
A close up with the brace folded alongside the receiver.
The unit is very compact and functional with the brace closed. Note the IWI logo on the brace but it is definitely an SB unit and the butt end has their logow. SB Tactical OEMs for others as well – meaning they will sell units with the logos of other firms displayed.

Magpul Pmags

No AK ever used Magpul magazines so I think this counts as a difference 🙂 The 7.62×51 Ace uses Magpul’s 7.62×51 PMags. You can get them in a number of sizes as well as a drum if you really want to rock and roll. I bought some 20s, 25s and one of the D50 drums. I’ve not tested the pistol yet but expect it will work great with all of them.

The 7.62×51 Ace uses readily available Magpul Pmags.

The Manual

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a very good AK manual that has tons of illustrations and covers a lot of topics – operating, cleaning, trouble shooting, and a detailed parts breakdown. The IWI Ace manual really is exceptional. The PDF copy is 88 pages long!

IWI puts all of their operator manuals online – click here to visit their site.

Summary

That’s it for differences I’ve noted thus far. In the next post, I’ll share a number of reviews and videos that I watched before I purchased the unit.


References


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


How a Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 1

The Ace is definitely a modernized AK weapon. One look inside confirms that. The Colombian defense firm of Industria Militar (INDUMIL) began a commercial relationship with Israeli Military Industries (IMI) that would later carve out the small arms division to become Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). Their collaboration was on the Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) and INDUMIL obtained exclusive rights to it.

What the two organizations accomplished is remarkable. The two collaborated and modified 43 of the 96 parts in a base Galil AR to reduce the weight by approximately 1 KG (about 2.2 pounds). 12 of the parts shifted from steel to plastic. The goal wasn’t just to reduce weight, they improved precision as well.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I bought a Galil Ace pistol chambered in 7.62×51. It’s IWI model GAP51SB. Because there was a relationship between IWI and INDUMIL, I asked IWI USA to confirm where the Ace series is made and they told they are all made in Israel. I asked more out of curiosity than anything else.

I decided to see how many differences I could observe between it and a traditional AK. I wish I knew enough about Galil’s to compare a traditional Galil AR to the Ace but being an AK guy, I was very curious to see how the Ace compared.

I tried to be objective about things and started out that way but the more I took the pistol apart, the more genuinely impressed I became. So, let me try and catalog the differences with as many photos as I can.

Two Chamber Muzzle Brake

One thing that caught my eye was the two chamber muzzle brake and that it is held on by a jam nut, which is a nut that is tightened uo from the rear against the brake to lock it in place. The thread is 5/8-24 for the 7.62×51 Ace models.

In comparison, an AK-47 typically has a 14mm diameter by 1mm pitch left hand thread (14x1mm LH). They are held in place by a detent pin that protrudes from the front sight block (FSB) and engages a timing groove that secures the brake in the correct orientation. Now, 14×1 LH is typical for AK-47s but once you add in the variants, threads are all over the place with different style brakes and boosters.

Improved Sights

Note the longer sight radius, integral gas block with front sight, aperatrue rear and protected front sight.

There are five things I noticed right away

  • The Ace has a longer sight radius, which is a fancy term meaning the distance from the rear to the front sight is longer. In general, the longer the sight radius, the more accurately the weapon can be aimed.
  • Aperture rear sight – The Ace sports an aperture (meaning a hole you look through) rear sight that has flips to show either a small circular hole for distance work (300-500 meters) or a larger circular hole for close quarters work (0 to 300 meters).
  • Integral Front Sight and Gas Block – The Ace sports a combination gas block that combines the gas and front sight blocks. Note, AK folks use the term “blocks” to refer to the three sub-assemblies that sit on the top of the barrel – the front sight block (FSB), gas block (GB) and rear sight block (RSB).
  • Both the front sight post and the larger rear aperture have Beta Lights – Tritium Gas – for low-light visibility. In general, tritium is radioactive and will last about 10 years. After that, the sights still work but you will not have the glowing effect.
  • The height of sights enables co-witnessing with optics such as red dots.
View of the front sight and you can see the tritium (white dot) painted on the post.
Rear sight with the close quarters aperture flipped up. Note the tritium circles for low light. This close quarter aperture is 0-300 meters.
View of the rear sight showing the smaller aperture sight flipped down. It is used for distance work and the manual identifies it as 300-500 meters.

Ok, this pistol is in 7.62×51 and has an 11.8″ barrel – I’m real curious to see what it can do within 100 yards. The sights are the same used on the full size 16.5″ barreled rifle so I really don’t think the smaller aperture would ever realistically be needed but we will see.

Railed Dust Cover

The dust cover of the Ace is pretty interesting. Most of the cheap aftermarket railed AK dust covers simply aren’t very stable or consistent when the dust cover is removed, installed and the weapon fired – in short, they don’t really work very well.

The Ace dust cover is beefy and installs very firmly with no travel it is a stable platform to build on. The top of the dust cover has a Picatinny rail section on the top that is welded in place. It aligns with the rail section on the gas tube via a small tab.

This tab slides into a corresponding groove on the gas tube to align the two rail sections,

The rear of the dust cover has a second layer of sheet metal wrapping the bottom making for snug fit and reducing flexion.

This is the dust cover = you can see the rail, dual aperature rear sight and the double reinforced rear bottom that mates with receiver.
You can see the welds that secure the rail to the dust cover plus the reinforced rear.

In short, the dust cover is remarkably solid. I actually have to give it a knife hand chop on the rear to get it to seat down fully into the receiver. It needs to fit tight as the installation of the dust cover also locks the gas tube in place.

Milled Receiver

Speaking of the Ace’s receiver, it’s milled and built like a tank. I found it very well machined with nice touches like a funnel design to help guide the recoil rod assembly into position.

As an example of the care taken in the design, note how the seat for the operating rod assembly is funnel shaped to help with installation.

Note, while the modern AK (AKM ) uses a stamped receiver, the Type 2 and Type 3 AK-47s used milled receivers so it’s not entirely new but it does differ from the AKM. In fact, some countries continued to use milled receivers such as Bulgaria, Finland and Israel in at least some of their weapons.

Milled Recoil Assembly With Rubber Seal

The recoil rod and spring assembly is of a tubular style you typically see in RPKs. The benefit of this is a more consistent pressure being applied to the bolt carrier particularly when it comes to lock up. The thumb tab that locks the dust cover in place seems a tad longer than what I see in other AKs. Last comment is that they added a rubber seal at the rear of the assembly to seal out debris.

Here’s the recoil rod assembly with the dust cover removed. You can see the long thumb tab and also the rubber seal. It also gives you a good view of the plat that seals the length of the groove where the bolt cocking lever passes
Shows the recoil spring, tubular rear, round front shaft and retainer. In an AKM, rather than a tube and rod, two pieces of folded wire form the central element and can bounce all over the place. Not a big deal in a typical AK but it does matter when you want to improve consistency.

Forged Galatz Fire Control Group (FCG)

The Ace FCG is very nice. Let’s face it, most AK FCGs reflect and elegantly utilitarian design that isn’t very refined. I have always been impressed by the simplicity of the AK design and what the Ace designers decided to do was to take the enhanced FCG from the IWI Galatz designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and used it in the Ace weapons.

Here are some differences I noted:

  • A single large forged trigger hook for holding the hammer
  • Engagement surfaces are polished such as where the disconnector grabs the hammer
  • Hammer and trigger springs are separate whereas the AK has two wires spiral wound together that power the hammer and push down the rear of the trigger’s rear ears/bars.
  • The top of the hammer is asymmetrical with only half of the normal bar that adds mass to the top rear of AK hammers. This is what normally gives an AK hammer the hammer-head shark hook.
View of the hammer. Note the polishing. You can see the double-wound hammer spring and a part of the single-wound trigger spring sitting on the left ear of the trigger.
Here it is from another angle. You can see the top rear of the hammer is asymmetrical vs. having the hammer-head shark design typically found in AK rifles.

Out of the box, it felt fair but once I used Superlube grease on the surfaces and Superlube oil on the rotating pins … wow. It is very smooth. [Click here for a blog post I did on Superlube – I use it on all of my firearms now]

Two Selector Levers

An AK has a single selector lever on the right side of the rifle that also serves to seal the receiver. It’s about as basic as you can get. On a semi-auto AK, the selector either physically blocks the trigger from actuating by moving a bar directly above the rear ears of the trigger or it moves out of the way allowing the trigger to move freely. On an automatic weapon it also allows the user to select full-auto or semi-automatic.

The Ace has a thumb control on the left side and more of a switch vs. the traditional long lever on the right side. Internally, the linkages do the same thing for semi-automatic in terms of moving the block bar into or out of position. The Ace has a separate plate for sealing the groove where the cocking handle reciprocates so the selector lever is not doing double-duty in that regard.

Visible are the thumb selector switch at to top of the grip and so is the charging handle and the very interesting articulating plate that pivots down and allows the charging knob to pass by in both directions.
Here’s the right side selector switch located where the traditional long AK selector lever would have been.

Note, the thumb selector connects to the safety bar via a linkage. The movement of the lever is an arc and not a horizontal slider. It is stiff and definitely needs lubrication when you get the weapon. I’ll comment more about that below when reviewing the pistol grip base.

Pistol Grip Base vs. Grip Nut

With AK’s, there tends to be a grip nut or in the case of Yugo-patterned AKs, a grip strap with an integral nut that the grip screw threads into. For the Ace, there is a “pistol grip base” that is uniquely shaped because it has a tube on top and my best guess is that it is to limit travel of the thumb selector and possibly to trap the pin so it can’t back out if it were ever to come loose.

The “barrel” in the middle of the receiver is the top of the “pistol grip base” as IWI terms it in the manual. You can also see the linkage – you’ll definitely want to oil this.
Another angle on the grip nut and thumb selector linkage.
Just behind the selector bar you can see a 6mm thread protruding from the bottom of the receiver. It is threaded into the unique “pistol grip base”.

Bolt Carrier and Bolt

The moment you open up a Galil Ace, you know you are looking at a rifle with an AK heritage and the bolt system clearly is AK inspired. When you look at the bolt and carrier, the refinements are interesting:

  • Most obvious perhaps, the traditional right-hand side cocking left on the bolt carrier has been moved to the left side and is tubular to reduce mass.
  • The bolt carrier has a lightening cut – that would lower mass and impact energy
  • Bolt and carrier do not appear to have serial numbers. While I can’t find confirmation of what I am about to say, perhaps the manufacturing tolernces are so good that the traditional hand fitting and matched components are no longer required.
  • At least for the 7.62×51 version the gas pistol is significantly shorter and has a collar on it.
  • While an AK’s firing pin is free floating, the Ace has a spring loaded firing pin that is pushing it back away from the bolt face. Now some will argue whether this was really needed or not but it is a design difference.
Note the short piston with the collar and that the cocking tube in on the left side.
A better view of the very short gas piston
Here’s a view of the underside of the carrier with the bolt installed. Note the knurling on the kocking lever. I am curious about the pin hole under the cocking tube. It may allow for the swapping out of the lever – some dayI will take it apart and see if this is the actual case.
Here’s the bolt. Definitely a good sized extractor.
Lightening relief/cut on the carrier.
Bottom of the carrier with the bolt removed. Curiously, notice the machining marks where the bolt’s lug would engage with the carrier.

Wrapping Up The First Post

There’s definitely more ground to cover and that will be in the next post. Click here to read it.


References


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


IWI Galil Ace Pistol In 7.62×51: Development History And Photos Out Of The Box

The Israelis definitely understand the need for quality armaments and let’s start with a quick recap of the history leading up to the Galil. In the 1950s, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) adopted the Belgian FAL but found that their regular drafted troops had a hard time keeping it clean. On one hand, you can blame the troops but on the other you also need to realize that factoring in the dusty environment of the desert, maybe the FAL wasn’t the best design for the situation not to mention its size.

Israeli heavy barrel FAL
Photo Source: Wikipedia

In June 1967, Israel was embroiled in the Six Day War and captured thousands of AK-47 rifles that they then evaluated due to its reliability. The IDF then decided to seek an alternative to the FAL and ultimately went with a design by Yisrael Galil, who had previously helped with the design of the Uzi submachine gun.

Galil’s design was based on the Finnish Valmet Rk 62. The Finn’s also wanted a more refined AK-type rifle and evolved their highly regarded design from the AK that Poland licensed from the Soviets. Compared to the typical AK of the time, the Rk 62 had better metallurgy, a better barrel, an improved sight radius by mounting the rear sight on the dust cover and more.

Valmet Rk 62 rifle with later version plastic furniture and Galil-style roll pin secured buttstock. Photo source: Wikipedia

In terms of the Galil, they took the Rk 62 pattern and evolved the design to the point that it was adopted in 1973 with several models being used. Due to the Military Assistance Program from the United States, 60,000 M16A1 rifles were delivered to the IDF and put into use. Troops liked the M16A1 because it was lighter and more accurate. By 2000, the Galil was mostly phased out of main units and by 2005, it exited the remaining units.

Israeli Military Industries Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) in 5.56x45mm NATO.
Photo from Wikipedia.

The Columbian Connection

Image source: IWI US Media Kit

In 2005, the small-arms division of Israeli Military Industries (IMI), known as “Magen”, was privatized and named Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). IWI sells small arms all over the world. In 2006, the Colombian company INDUMIL secured exclusive worldwide rights to make GALIL automatic rifles (AR) worldwide – they even sold them to IWI.

With IWI suprevision and technology sharing, from 2006 to 2010, INDUMIL modified 43 of the 96 parts in the Galil AR. Of the 43, 12 steel parts were replaced with plastic and a cumulative savings of approximately 1 KG (2.2 lbs) was achieved. The other 30 parts were modified to improve precision. Thus, in 2010, INDUMIL introduced the Galil Ace. It is now offered in rifle, SBR and pistol configurations chambered for 5.56×45, 7.62×39, and 7.62×51. Here are some photos direct from IWI US:

Galil Ace Rifle chambered in 7.62×51. IWI model GAR1651
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
Galil Ace Rifle chambered is 7.62×39. IWI model GAR1639.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
IWI Galil Ace SBR in 7.62×39. This is the GAR3SBR model.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
IWI Galil Ace SBR in 7.62×51, IWI model GAR51SBR.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit

At this time, Galil Ace rifles are being used in a number of countries including Chile, Columbia and Vietnam. As usual, civilian versions followed including rifles, short barelled rifles (SBRs) and pistol versions to allow people to buy the shorter weapons either with or without braces.

What’s Your Point?

Well, being very interested in Kalahsnikov-related arms, I’ve long wanted to own a Galil. There are a ton of Galil kits available and other projects kepts popping up that precluded me from building a Galil AR. It’s still on my to-do list but I don’t know if I will ever get to it.

So along comes the even more refined Galil Ace weapons. Every single guy I talked to who had one loved it. This includes Scot Hoskinson of RS!Regulate. So, after seeing tons of photos from Scot, I knew I had to get a .308/7.62×51 model and definitely planned on replacing the short handguard with his longer GAR-6M-N unit and I’ll cover that in more detail later.

I started my journey of trying to find one. They were all over Gunbroker with a folding SB Tactical brace installed. To be clear, it’s the SOB brace (I giggle every time I write that product name) on IWI’s folding tube that is dimensioned like some AR pistol buffer tubes at 1.208″. Note, pistol buffer tubes can vary and their outside diameter does not need to be Mil-Spec (1.146″) or Commercial (1.17″). My PSA pistol buffer tube is 1.25″ purely as an example.

This definitely caught my eye – it is the Galil Ace pistol in 7.62×51 with an SB Tactical SOB brace.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit

I found out a while ago to watch Gunbroker for a while to get a feel for prices so I didn’t jump. As luck would have it, Palmetto State Armory ran a sale on the .308 Ace Pistol with the SOB brace for $1,499 and undercut everybody. I jumped on the deal and told PSA to ship it to my friend and FFL, Scott Igert, who owns Michigan Gun Exchange and is now quite used to my billion and one quirks.

PSA shipped the unit in a few days and it arrived about a week later. As usual, I had to look it over and was amazed at all the changes from the base AK platform. I took the pistol apart and tried to jot down all the differences to then share with folks and that is what I will do in an upcoming post. What they accomplished is very impressive.

Photos

Until I get the more detailed post done, here are a bunch of photos of my unmodified GAP51SB pistol. If you click on one you can see the larger photo and associated comments:



References

If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


IMI Kidon First Impressions: It’s A Range Toy – At Least For Me

Folks, I have built a couple of Polymer80 pistols – A Glock 17 clone and a 34 clone and really like them. When I heard that Polymer80 was going to import the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit I got pretty excited. My first real pistol was a .44 Magnum IMI Desert Eagle in 1990. The Desert Eagle was awesome so I had high expectations for the Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit. So far, I must admit that I am disappointed. This may change with more use but want to pass on my experiences to you. To be blunt, for me it is a range toy at best in its present incarnation.

The concept was cool – have a chassis readily available in a soft-case in the trunk of your car, or where ever, that you could slide a pistol into with no tools and instantly have a much more stable platform to work with that could also enable you to mount an optic and light. This would aid accuracy immensely and you could imagine a potential appeal to law enforcement or others who might need an impromptu pistol caliber carbine.

I could definitely benefit from something like this but for a completely different reason. I was born with a hereditary tremor, also sometimes called a “necessary tremor”, that causes my hands to shake a bit. I’ve had it my whole life and I can work around it most of the time except when holding a pistol at arms length. Andrew Zachary, my CPL instructor, gave me some great tips to improve my groups for self-defense but I will never be a great pistol shooter. However, if you give me carbine or rifle, I can do a heck of a lot better off hand and hold my own with most folks if I have a rest. So, I was really looking forward to using the Kidon – not just to review it.

When Polymer80 started selling them after the 2019 SHOT show, the price was $525 but it dropped down to $350 fairly quickly so I bought one. A plus was that they included a pre-installed adapter for the Polymer80 pistol frames that I am a fan of. If you like building firearms, you have to try one of their frames – it’s like a double-stack 1911 in terms of the angle and girth but it uses Glock parts. With that said, let’s get back to the Kidon.

What Pistol Did I Test With?

For testing, I only used my Polymer80 PF940V2 frame Glock 17 clone. I didn’t test any other models. So please bear in mind you might have different results with other pistols.

The test pistol is my personal Polymer80 PF940V2 Glock 17 build. Notice the slight bevel on the front of the slide. I don’t think that affected the fit in the frame any. When I inserted the pistol into main frame of the Kidon, it was the lower that could be pushed in too far. The slide did not move.
The PF940V2 frame has not been altered in any way.

Opening the Box

I ordered the Kidon direct from Polymer80 and they were pretty quick to ship the unit. It arrived in a surprisingly large box. It turned out that the Kidon unit includes a soft case with a sling, adjustment tool and room for the M4 stock or brace.

The Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit includes an interesting custom soft case with carrying handle and shoulder strap. That is Molle webbing at the bottom. I wish it was higher or they had put more of the webbing on the bag so long magazines would not extend below the case.
Pretty cool layout. I was starting to feel my inner James Bond unexpectedly. The Kidon was looking pretty cool so far.

So, I did a quick skim of the manual to find out how to install the pistol. I’d not seen anything quite like the Kidon before and couldn’t readily guess how it all worked.

Inserting the Pistol Into the Main Frame

Basically the pistol slides forward into the chassis and is secured in place by the front rail. It is length sensitive and this is why some pistols, such as my G34 will not fit it. My Polymer80 G17 went right in. Note, it uses the Polymer80 PF940V2 full size frame and it is what I used during my evaluation – you may have better success with other models of pistols.

Okay, this is looking like something from Star Wars. The screw just above the rear of the angled fore grip (AFG), is for adjusting the clamp. Note, the AFG is included with the Kidon and is removable. Note, the main frame as IMI calls it, or the main part of the chassis as I would describe it, is a polymer. The part in front of the pistol’s barrel is a heat shield / blast shield and is made from aluminum – I think that was a good idea on their part.
The big Front Lock Lever that says “Flip Up To Lock” is what clamps down on the rail of the Polymer80 frame.

Let me share some of my observations at this point:

P1: The pistol does not intuitively slide into the “main frame assembly” of the Kidon chassis. I have yet to pick the two pieces up (the pistol and the main frame) and get them to go together with the first try. I’ve got a trick that works better though – I hold the Kidon’s main fram vertical and settle the pistol into the clamp.

P2: The clamp is not as secure as I would like and it does not lock the pistol parallel to the top rail. This causes a problem when inserting the rear locking assembly and I’ll come back to this. It also means you can flex the Polymer80 in the chassis. When I sighted in my red dot, with a laser through the bore, I found I could change the impact point dramatically depending on how hard I pushed or pulled on the pistol’s grip.

P3: The pistol can go in too far. With a Glock, pushing the slide back just a bit will disable the trigger and that can easily happen if you are in a rush. I’m getting a better feel for this but it really needs a better way to insert the frame and have it stop and lock in the proper position. I install vertically per the above and stop when the frame comes to the initial rest and no further.

Some of the above I’ve gotten better at with practice and will likely improve further but am not keen on the fumbling around. Let’s continue with the review.

Installing The Rear Locking Assembly

The Rear Locking Assembly (RLA) pushes the pistol from the rear into the Main Frame and holds it at the proper angle relative to the bore. IMI made this modular by adding a Rear Adapter Clamp. This adapter enables the Kidon to support an absolute ton of different pistols. It comes with the adapter for the Polymer 80 frame pre-installed so I did not need to mess with that.

The Rear Locking Assembly (RLA) is the part just below the rear of the main frame in this photo. It is held in place by the takedown pin in the main frame (sticking out in this photo) and two tabs that are in the sides of the the RLA. Note the pistol you see is my full size Glock 17 clone built on a Polymer80 PF940V2 frame.
Here’s a close up of the RLA. The forward part is the modular rear adapter clamp. You can just see the tabs in the middle that mate with the rectangular holes in the main frame as well.
This is the modular rear adapter clamp that is specific for Polymer80 pistols. It actually slides over the beavertail part of the receiver just a tad and both pushes it forward and holds it in place vertically as well.
You can see the rear locking adapter pushing the beaver tail area of the Polymer80 frame into position. It’s spring loaded to apply pressure.
Here you can see the tabs better plus the rear nut. I don’t know what else to call it. If you remove this nut, you can install an M4 gas tube and then whatever stock or brace you want.

Installing A Brace

In other parts of the world without our crazy short barreled rifle (SBR) laws, the unit would have an IMI brand M4-style stock on it but in the US, it ships with a nut that has a sling swivel in it instead. It does give us options though and if we don’t go the SBR registration route, we can install a brace at least. I opted for the very well done SB Tactical SBA3. Hint – use a fixed wrench when removing the end nut on the chassis – I used an adjustable wrench and it rounded it over a bit. That was my fault – I knew better but was in a rush.

Be sure to back out the set screw that locks the nut or gas tube into position.
Here’s the SB Tactical SBA3 brace – it has three adjustment positions (fully collapsed, middle and fully extended) and is very well made.
The brace simply screws into the RLA. Note, I bought a basic castle nut and installed it just to lock things in place even further. I’m old school that way.
This example shows that the adapter missed the beaver tail and went underneath it lifting the pistol up at an angle. If you grab the pistol now you can move it around and it can still fire.

It is a bit of a challenge to get that rear locking assembly to line up and go into the main frame. If you aren’t careful and purposefully watching the pistol, the rear adapter clamp may go under the rear of the pistol and cant it up at an angle. In other words, the bore of the pistol is now pointing down towards the front bottom of the Kidon’s front heat shield and the pistol can still fire.

I’ve dry fired it during testing when it was angled like that but not with a live round. I’m real, real careful now to inspect the system before I load ammo. I think the bullet may just miss the lower part of the heat shield but I say that by visually looking at the direction of the barrel’s bore when I push the back of the pistol up as high as it will go. At the very least your point of impact will be a lot lower than you expected due to the angle.

Sights, Optics and a Curiously Angled Top Rail

Let’s star with what I noticed very shortly after taking the Kidon’s main frame out of the case. The top rail is not flat. It angles upward just before the ejection port and just forward of it, it angles back down. I asked Polymer80 about this and they said they were all that way. Why? I have no idea. As it turns out I could still get my Vortex Crossfire Red Dot to zero so I’m not going to worry about even though the purist in me wishes it was flat.

Can you see the slope to the rail before and after the ejection port?
This steel rule is sitting square on the rail on the left side of the photo. You can definitely see the angle here.

Well, I installed Magpul backup polymer sights and then a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sitting up on a tall quick detach mount from American Defense – their model AD-T1-10. I did this to line up with the sights and couldn’t quite get it all to line up. I don’t think that rail was doing me any favors even though I could get the red dot to line up with the bore laser during sighting in. So, I left the sights as a backup but am no longer trying to co-witness.

Vortex Crossfire Red Dot on a tall AD-T1-10 Quick Detach mount with a Magpul rear sight behind it,
Here’s what my Kidon case looks like as of my writing this post.

Do I have anything good to say about it?

It looks cool. The chassis is a cool concept along with the tool-less design. It does provide a lot more stability than the pistol alone – until you flex the pistol in the chassis and change the point of impact. I like that they used aluminum for a heat shield and not just polymer. I like that they enabled the use of an M4 gas tube for braces and stocks. That’s about it.

The Verdict: Based on my experience, it’s a range toy

I really, really wanted to post a glowing report. At this point, it’s a range toy. Could the problems be me or my particular Polymer80? They could be but I doubt all of them are.

At this point, it’s my opinion that it takes way too much care to assemble this thing and make sure it all goes together correctly. I do plan on taking it to the range but I don’t see its use evolving for me beyond that for the following reasons:

  1. Imagine the adrenaline is pumping and you are in a rush – fine motor skills are going to greatly impaired — there is a real high risk that the pistol will be shoved in to far and push the slide back. That slight push on the slide is going to lock the Glock-style trigger safety and not fire after assembly. You would have to test after you insert the pistol that it can still fire.
  2. Getting that rear locking assembly to mate up and go into the main frame is real hard for me. Maybe it will improve over time but I doubt I could do it in a rush with my heart pounding and hands shaking.
  3. You may pull down, push up or otherwise shift the pistol in the frame and change the zero. The combination of the front and rear clamps does not hold the pistol securely enough – I did not try tightening the front screw down to the point that the front locking lever will not release – that defeats the purpose. If the whole intent was to improve accuracy but the pistol can shift inside of the frame when too much pressure is applied to the pistol grip, then what is the value?
  4. Lastly, during the assembly process the user may fail to notice the pistol is canted downward in the frame and risk shooting the front bottom of the aluminum heat shield of the frame or at least way lower than you expected because of the angle. This happens maybe half the time unless I purposefully watch and make sure the rear adapter clamp properly engages the rear of the receiver.

Bottom line: I would carry a dedicated backup firearm before I would ever trust this thing in a defensive situation – at least based on my experience with my Polymer80. I did not test any other pistol models. Sorry I don’t have better news. If you try the Kidon and have better luck, that is great. As for me, I wish I had not spent $350. It’s a great concept but it needs significant refinement to improve ease of assembly, reliability and safety before being put in a defensive/combat/high-stress situation.

By the way, I hate posting something like this because it is a cool design but I want to give folks my honest opinion. Do your research and read other reviews and decide for yourself. I’m actually going to shoot more with it at the range and see if I can figure out techniques that work better. If I discover better ways or things that I was doing wrong, I’ll certainly post updates.


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Great Video On How to build a Galil AR, ARM, SAR Or R4 By BFGMovies

The Israeli Galil rifles have long fascinated me. As part of my journey, I do hope to build one so I keep my eye out for videos. While on Youtube the other day, I stumbled across this build video done by BFGMovies – Flandre Scarlets. For those of you who have not seen his work, he is a very talented young man who has posted some amazing videos on building AKs, how to convert a Tiger into a SVD and more.

In this video, Flandre steps you through a Galil build including how to install the bullet guide, barrel, extractor notch, gas tube, trigger guard and more. It’s top notch work and well worth watching.

Here, Flandre is inserting the barrel getting reading to thread it into position. He explains how he had to cut flats on the barrel for the torque wrench and how to adjust headspace.
Here, he has inserted a “go” headspace gage and is getting ready to test the rifle.
Flandre is wrapping up the build – you can see the fire control spring sticking up.

Here’s The Video


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Forgotten Weapons Reviews Two Galils in 5.56 and 7.62mm

The Galil rifles have always fascinated me. Israel designed and adopted them following the disappointing performance of FAL rifles in the desert. The history is pretty interesting and Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons gives you a brief overview in this video.

To learn more, check out these additional resources:


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How to Adjust an Uzi Top Cover and Fix a Bolt Blocking Latch Problem – Uzi Would Not Fire

I built an Uzi a few months back and had trouble with it firing. A challenge a person has in the firearms industry is finding time to enjoy shooting! At any rate, I took it out the first time and had really light primer strikes with the firing pin – I’m talking you could barely see there was contact. So with the Uzi refusing to go bang, I had to do some digging.

I got into Uzis because of all the movies and TV shows in the 1980s. I decided to finally make one during the Winter of 2017/2018 and chronicled my efforts. The first time to the range resulted in a lot of good natured ribbing from my brother-in-laws as we could not get it to fire. We could hear the striker hitting real hard but no bang. Luckily I had other guns for us to shoot so I put the Uzi back in the bag and took it home where it then sat for a couple of months.

I did some digging and process of elimination and got it down to a few possibilities that in some cases I had already addressed. The following is my journey and what I did to sort matters out.

Lubrication

The Uzi closed bolt system is a huge chunk of metal and moving parts. When brand new, these parts still have their porous surface finishes on them, rough spots from machining and what not. You need to make sure everything is lubricated. Remember the old saying of it slides, use grease. If it rotates, use oil. I used Tetra gun grease on all sliding parts. I definitely wanted the big bolt body to slide easily. I also did put a light coat of Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 10W30 on the firing pin but really nothing rotates in there. In the trigger group, I used the oil also on all pivot points.

For me, I heard the need for this when I assembled the carbine for the first time. There was a very dry slow-moving sound and grating feel when I first ran the action during assembly. After lubrication it made a world of difference. I could feel and hear the striker hitting far harder. The important point is to lube your weapon. This definitely helped but it did not solve my problem in this case but I could tell it would definitely impact the operation of an Uzi.

Note: When I wrote this I was using Tetra Grease but I am now using Super Lube and it works fantastic on my Uzi. Click here for the write up.

Top Cover Bent

To be honest, I thought for sure this was going to be my problem after a fellow at McKay suggested I check it. I always thought the cover seated hard and I could not release the latch without a tool. As soon as the fellow suggested it I put one and one together – I bet it warped when the third party welded on the Picatinny rail section.

So, I did some digging on the web to figure out what to do. It turns out that you should be able to insert a 0.005″ feeler gauge between the bolt and the cover at the ejection port. Guess what? It wouldn’t go in – the first rib was tight and the far rib was impassable.

Before I go further – one quick comment on feeler gauges. Not all are equal. I have a few in my toolbox but the one I use the most is is this ABN unit shown aboe. It is accurate enough and it has a ton of gauges.   I point this out because not all of these gauge sets are complete. For example, several of my gauge sets jump as the manufacturer just included the blades needed for their equipment. I’d recommend getting a set with a lot of SAE and metric blades so you have flexibility. For the Uzi dust cover, you need the 0.005 and 0.015 gauges.

Next was to take some plywood stock I had lying around and make a jig. Basically you want two pieces of wood (any wood to avoid marring) that are the same height. The top cover will be suspended between them so you can adjust the cover either up or down.

I then made two little punches. One is made by gluing and brad nailing two pieces of 1/2″ plywood together so I could hit both ribs of the top cover at once. I also made a punch out of a single piece of plywood to adjust just one rib. I then got out one BFH (big frickin’ hammer) to whack with.

If there’s one thing I have learned – don’t go crazy hitting stuff. I put the jig right on the floor for good support and then the dust cover on it. Note that on the front part, I pushed the wood block back until it was supporting a thicker part and not just the thin neck.

So, I gave it a tap – not a very hard one with the thick piece on both ribs and took it over to test. It sure went on the receiver easier. Wow – it overshot the mark. I could now very easily insert the 0.015″ feeler gauge too. My understanding is that you don’t want it that loose or you risk the bolt jumping the sear and resulting in an uncontrolled mag dump. No joke – I don’t need that in my life ever.

I took the cover off the Uzi and flipped it with top now facing up and I tapped down even lighter. It really is surprising how easy the dust cover bends. I thought given the thickness of the sheet metal and the two ribs it would be much stronger but no.

I then took it back and installed it on the Uzi. It was starting to fit better. I definitely noticed that the ribs were different in terms of their gap so I switched to the smaller 1/2″ plywood punch and focused on one rib at a time. Tap and test, tap and test. If I went too far one way, I would flip the cover and tap it the other way.

After about 15 minutes I had it dialed in. The 0.005″ gauge would slide in and the 0.015 gauge met just a bit of resistance.

In working the action you could both feel and see the improvement. As always, there was a nice firm thud of the striker. Problem solved? No – it wasn’t. Argh. It was a definite improvement in operation but did not solve the problem.

The Uzi Bolt Blocking Latch

The web is a wonderful thing. I continued to surf around and read more about peoples’ experiences with Uzis not firing. Finally I read one that caught my eye – the striker has a particular orientation that must be followed to clear the bolt blocking latch. Wow. I knew I didn’t know about that when I installed it because the light strikes definitely indicated the striker wasn’t reaching the primer and this would explain a lot.

Okay, #31 in the above diagram is the bolt blocking latch and #30 is the spring. The bolt blocking latch’s purpose is to reduce (not eliminate) the chance of an out of battery firing. It does this by blocking the striker’s base. In normal operation, it is depressed and the notch in the base clears the latch as it travels forward to touch off the primer. Now there are three key things here and I’ll tell you what I messed up.

  1. The spring must be installed correctly.
  2. The latch must move freely
  3. The striker must be rotated such that the notch is in the right place- you can install it 180 degrees opposite.

So, your’s truly bombed the last one. I did not realize there was an orientation issue. The model B striker’s base is a half circle. The notch must be at the bottom to clear the latch. In this next photo, you can see I have it installed backward:

The following photo shows the installed Uzi bolt blocking latch. See how the bottom part sticks out? That is what will need to clear the notch when it is depressed during normal operation.

Note, I was working on a full size Uzi with a McKay semi-auto receiver and bolt group. Your bolt group may look a bit different.

When installed correctly, the striker sits in its seat and the seat sits in the striker guide like so:

You can see in the above photo how my latch was chewing on the improperly installed striker. As a visual reference for the correct orientation, see how the striker’s base is facing the part of the guide that has a depression in it. When installed, it will look like this:

You can see an immediate difference because when you depress the latch, the striker can fully travel forward and sticks out of the bolt face ever so slightly. That’s what we want!

Verdict – problem solved and fun was had at the range yesterday. The Uzi is still wearing in and smoothing out. We put about 100 rounds of 124 grain S&B FMJ through it.

The carbine was accurate and a lot of fun. I am going to find a bit bigger optic for it – probably the Vortex Crossfire like I am running on my POF-5.

Regardless, I hope this helps you out!


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What do the Hebrew Characters on the IDF Uzi Grip Frame Mean?

When the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) adopted the Uzi, they had the selector markings written in Hebrew script.  For those of us that can’t read Hebrew, I did some digging as to the translation:

As you can see labelled in the above photo, we have each position marked with the Hebrew term in its romanized form as well as the English translation.

  • Left position:  Otomatit is fully automatic
  • Center position:  Bodedet is single fire / semi-automatic
  • Right position:  Natzur is safe

I hope this helps you out!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Uzi Part 7 of 7: The Bolt and Final Assembly of the Semi-Auto Uzi Carbine

So the semi-auto 9mm Uzi carbine build has the Molyresin applied and is ready to go together.  The following is an overview of the final assembly steps:

1]  Install the grip frame assembly.  Insert the tip first and swing the back up into position.  Install the grip frame takedown pin.  If the assembly will not go into position you may need to remove the bolt safety.  The McKay receiver and bolt do not use that part.  If you have questions about the grip assembly and preparing it for semi-auto use, click here.

2] Install the stock bracket with its 1/4″ screw and then the stock itself with its three screws taking care to use the correct bit on the slotted screws.  Make sure the bolt doesn’t stick in too far.  If you have questions about converting the quick detach stock to be permanently attached, click here.

3] The handguards are installed with the two screws.  I did my initial build with the beat up originals but then purchased a new set from US Barrel Shroud that isn’t shown in these photos.

4] I installed the barrel nut catch and spring plus the front sight.  Slide the catch far enough back that it hooks the receiver and does not come back out.

5] I then installed the rear top cover catch and rear sight.  The trick here is to push down on the flip sight while pushing the screw through so the threads can engage on the other side.  The little tiny but just locks it in place – the receiver itself is threaded also. Note, I did have an issue with either the thread on the bolt or the receiver.  I could not get the rear sight screw to enter on the opposite threaded side.  After playing with it for a few minutes it dawned on me that either the screw or the threading in the “ear” of the receiver could be messed up so I installed the screw from the opposite direction just to chase the threads real quick and that solved whatever the problem was because when I then tried to insert it the correct way, the screw went right in.

6] Rather than mess with rivets, I tapped the front sling for a #10-28 screw.  I sanded down the head of the screw to avoid interference with the bolt and then applied medium Loctite to the thread when i installed it.  If you need to remove more of the screw head later it can be readily reached with a Dremel and a flap sander or whatever bit you wish.

7]  The 16″ semi-auto barrel slide right into the front trunnion and into the ring of the semi-auto feed ramp.  Rather than use the barrel nut, I opted for a very cool two piece barrel shroud from Title II Arms.  It is solid aluminum and exceptionally well made.  Note, I show a light on a rail adapter on the bayonet lug.  It looks cool but I actually removed it as my hand’s natural hold runs right into it.  It’s not a reflection of the CAA rail but it’s just not for me.  With it gone, my hand can go right out to the end of the handguard and is much more comfortable.

8]  Next it was time to sort out the striker fired bolt system.  This raises a critical legal point –the weapon must fire from a closed bolt.  This means you can’t use the original open bolt.  After some digging, I decided to use the McKay closed semi-auto bolt system for my build.  Now McKay components are popular and they were out of stock on the complete bolt assembly but Robert RTG had it in stock so I bought it and other parts from them.  As of my writing this, for example, McKay has their receivers in stock, bolt assembly but not the barrel so you can check between both firms plus McKay says they sell to Sarco and Apex.

9]  I had to do some reading to figure out how the bolt went together as I had never seen anything quite like it before.  The best write-up I could find that really helped me is right here.  In a nut shell, take your original bolt, push out the extractor retaining pin and then push the extractor straight out the front of the bolt.  From the rear, the extractor looks like a screw due to the slotted head but it is not.  The slot is there to make it easy for you to rotate the extractor into position.  Insert the extractor into the new semi-auto bolt.  You will notice that with your semi-auto bolt a small blocking latch and pin are included just like you would see in the Uzi Pro Pistol – indeed, the whole bolt assembly is very similar to the Uzi Pro Pistol if you look it up.  The little spring and the latch are inserted into the bolt and held in place by the extractor pin in the semi-auto bolt.

Ok – this next photo shows a problem that I didn’t find out until the first trip to the range.  At the lower right of bolt is a pin that holds the extractor in place plus you can see a tab sticking down – that is the locking latch.  Now look at the striker.  You can’t see clearly but it is a half moon shape and I have it installed backward.  The notch, or part of the striker’s base that is missing should be what goes against the bolt blocking latch.  If you get it backward the weapon will not fire and you’ll notice the striker base getting beaten up by the latch.

Here’s the blocking latch – see how the bottom part stocks out?  That is what will need to clear the notch when it is depressed during normal operation.

Here’s what it should look like – note how the striker bar has a smooth side and one with a relieved/depressed surface?  The notched striker base goes towards the smooth portion:

Here you can see the base that is towards the relieved/depressed area plus you can see the blocking latch will let the striker come forward only if the latch is depressed.  The chewed up area on the striker is from my mistaken assembly and a ton of testing trying to figure out what I did wrong.

Here’s another angle.  The striker can only travel forward if that blocking latch is depressed – in the photo, the latch would be pushed down out of the way.  In the Uzi with the bolt oriented the normal way, we would say the latch is being pressed upward.

Last pic:

10]  If you look at the above photo, the striker system.  The lower L-shaped bracket is the “Striker Guide”.  Thestriker spring base and the striker are held in place by a roll pin.  The return spring slides over the striker spring base as shown above.

11]  Take the guide rod and spring from the kit and snip the fiber square board off the end.  I used diagonal cutters and when I made my first cut the little board fell right off.

12]  You then insert the recoil spring into the bolt and rotate the firing pin base while inserting the assembly into the bolt.  The white is Tetra Firearm Grease.  If it slides, grease it.  If it rotates, oil it.  You want this system to be well lubed to help it wear in.

13]  Here is the whole bolt assembly with the recoil buffer at the end.  Now this assebly is slid into the Uzi buffer end first.  It takes some maneuvering to the recoil block into the rear and then the bolt nestles down.

14] The top cover is then installed.  I used a 120 grit flap sander bit to slightly bevel my top cover to the catch can close and the top is really tight.  The top black cover has the bevel in the photo below – it doesn’t take much.  If you have any questions about what needs to be done to prepare the top cover for semi-auto use, click here.

14.1 – Added 7/2/18:  I found out that you really need to fit the top cover.  If you take a feeler gauge, you should be able to insert a 0.005 gauge between the bolt body and the top cover at the ejection port and meet little to no resistance.  However, if you insert a 0.015 gauge, you should feel some resistance – not a complete stop but firm resistance.  At 0.005, the gap is too small and you risk the bolt body binding and not travelling fast enough or far enough resulting in ejection and feed problems.  The cover is very easy to adjust.  I did a more detailed blog about testing and adjusting the cover – click here.

15] Now function test it to be safe.  Do this with the weapon unloaded!!

  • Try to move the selector switch to Full Auto, which is all the way forward.  It must not be able to move past semi-auto.  If it does slide to the forward full auto position, you must fix it.  If you haven’t done so, you need to install or fix your blocking tab that should be welded in the grip frame – click here for details.  If you welded in a blocking plate, it may be too thin or too short.  Regardless, you must figure out what is going on and fix it immediately.  The ATF says the selector must not move into the full auto position.
  • Move the selector to semi-auto (the middle position), hold the grip safety, cock the weapon and squeeze trigger – you should here it dry fire with a real solid clunk sound. Life is good.  If there is a soft click, the striker system did not cock – check your sear to make sure it is protruding into the receiver.
  • Move the selector to semi-auto (the middle position), DO NOT hold the grip safety, cock the weapon and squeeze trigger – the weapon should not fire.  The Uzi should only be able to fire if on semi-auto and the grip safety is held.  Check your pins and that the grip safety bar is sliding properly.
  • Move the selector to safe (all the way to the rear), hold the grip safety, cock the weapon and squeeze the trigger – the trigger should be blocked and nothing should happen.  Turn the safety off and the weapon should fire.  If it does not, check the pins and the selector bar can move into position properly and block the trigger.
  • Last, move the selector to semi-auto, hold the grip safety, squeeze the trigger (do not release it) and cock the weapon while holding the trigger in.  We want to ensure the disconnector grabs the striker assembly.  Now, release the trigger and squeeze it like normal.  You should here it dry fire with a loud clunk sound and that is what you want.  A light click is just the trigger and disconnector moving around and means the striker went back into battery vs. being retained.  Something is off with the geometry – something is bent, you forgot to secure the grip frame with the takedown pin, etc.

If your Uzi passes the function tests, then proceed to test firing.  I’d recommend securing the carbine in a stand and test firing with a string vs. holding the weapon.  Also, only load one round in the magazine at a time and inspecting the carbine, especially the barrel, to make sure the first round fires and the case is ejected.  Look for dings or tears in the case.  Make sure the bullet didn’t get stuck in the barrel.  If things are looking good, put two rounds in the magazine and test the overall cycling of the weapon.  Again, check the case for any big gouges, scrapes, etc.  When you are satisfied that the weapon is functioning correctly, then and only then try more and more rounds of ammo.  I would go from one, to two, to three to five and to 10 before I tried a full clip.  You do not want to have an uncontrolled full auto dump happen so carefully test the Uzi.

I had a lot of fun building mine.  I added a Vortex Venom red dot that I really like so far plus an original Uzi green sling.  Here are some photos and as mentioned the light and rail are off the weapon at this point.

I hope this helps and if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

7/2/2018 Update – I did get rid of the light/laser on the front.  It was in the way of my hand.  I also have some recommendations to double check in case your Uzi has any problems firing – click here.


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