How to Replace An IMI Galil Recoil Spring

I have written a number of posts now about my purchase of a James River Armory Gallant, which is a Galil ARM. During function testing, I noticed that the surplus recoil spring that JRA used was on the weak side. I would pull the bolt carrier back just a bit and the spring couldn’t push it all the way closed.

Other ways you may find out your spring is weak is if it is ejecting brass a mile away, the recoil feels different or the back of the carrier is showing signs of hitting the rear of the receiver. I always function test new rifles or kit builds that I have done and would recommend you do the same.

What to do?

The fix is real simple – replace the old surplus spring with a new one. Now there is some confusion about the recoil spring because the Galil AR, ARM and SAR rifles are chambered in 5.56 NATO. They do, in fact, use a standard AKM recoil spring even though those rifles are chambered for 7.62×39. This means you have a ton of options – surplus, new old stock (meaning old but unused usually), plus new springs from ALG, Wolff, etc. In my case, I had spare ALG recoil springs on-hand used one

The Galil recoil assembly is above and the brand new ALG spring is below, still in it’s packaging.
The recoil spring assembly may look challenging to take apart but it is actually very simple. The rod is two pieces, the spring and then the retaining end cap. If you remove the spring pressure from the end cap, it slides right off the rod and everything comes apart. NOTE – the spring is under tension so keep everything under control or you will be chasing parts and you do not want to lose that little retaining end cap.
I usually hold the rear of the assembly in a vise, use one hand to compress the spring and then the other to remove the retainer. You can the release the tension in the spring in a controller manner. If you don’t use a vise, you’ll wish you had three hands. Note, some guys will use small vise grip pliers with rubber tube or electrical tape on the jaws to clamp down on the rod with the spring slightly pushed back. They then remove the retainer and control the release of the spring as they remove the vise grips. Whatever works for you is fine. I go with the vise route and not the pliers because I don’t want to risk deforming/marring the surface of the rod.
This is a photo of the retaining end cap and the end of the guide rod. See how the rod is notched? The end cap just slides right on and the spring sits on the retainer holding it in place. It’s elegant in its simplicity.
At the top is the original spring. The lower spring is the ALG unit. Note the interesting “dead” center with the spring coils that are right next to each other. ALG says “The 2 to 3 dead coils in the center change the natural frequency of the spring, which prevents harmonics from damaging the spring and reducing its free length.” It’s interesting – we’ll see how it holds up.
The Galil’s use a tube recoil rod that I really like. The older milled AKs used them until switching to a cheaper and easier to make linkage of two bent wires. Many RPKs still use the tube style. I tend to think it creates a more consistent return but not everyone agrees with me and that’s fine. I don’t have a mountain of collected data from experiments to support my hunch. Regardless, to re-assemble the recoil rod assembly, I use this long center punch to support the inner rod as I compress the wire. Any object small enough to fit in the rear tube to support the front rod would work.
So you push or pull the wire back as you apply pressure to keep the inner rod slid out forward.
Here I have the spring easily held back and have placed the retaining cap back on. I then just guided the spring back into position and ensured it was sitting square on the end cap.
Here the end result. The newly assembled unit is to the top. A recoil spring assembly from a Galil SAR kit is under it for comparison and the old original spring is at the bottom.

In Summary

It’s easy to swap out the recoil spring and the rifle functions great with the ALG unit. Definitely function test your rifles before going to the range the first time to avoid surprises.

I hope this helps you out.

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