HE­BREW HAM­MER

JAXX IN­DUS­TRIES 300BLK GALIL

Recoil - - Front Page - BY IAIN HAR­RI­SON 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.

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 left­side charg­ing handle. And it’s this ver­sion that the Henderson, Ne­vad­abased Jaxx In­dus­tries recre­ated for the U.S. mar­ket.

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 con­sid-

er­able 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.

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.

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 sheet­metal 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 po- sition 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 nota-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.

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.

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⁄ 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.

With a 300Blk 9-inchbar­rel and lef t-side charg­ing handle, the Galil 699 is no longer the firearm equiv­a­lentof drink­ing cab­bage soup from a straw boot.

AK M bolt car­rier lef t, 699 right

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

Ejec­tion is healthy, but not in the “launch them into the nex t bay” cat­e­gor y of a t yp­i­cal A K .

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