Gun Review: Century Arms Golani Sporter

The Golani Sporter rifle, reliable while using a .223 cartridge.
The Golani Sporter rifle, reliable while using a .223 cartridge.

Century International Arms, widely recognized as the largest importer of surplus firearms and ammunition, has come out with a semi-auto only version of the famous Israeli Galil rifle in .223 Rem./5.56x45mm – the Golani Sporter.

Named after Israel’s Golani Brigade which first tested this rifle, the design of the original military Galil rifle (and thus the Golani Sporter) was a cross largely between the AK-47, the M16 and the FN-FAL. Essentially the rifle’s designer, Israel Galil, attempted to incorporate the legendary reliability of the AK-47 while using the .223 cartridge. The result was the adoption of Galil’s design by the Israeli military in 1972.

Produced by Israel Military Industries (IMI), the original Galil rifle was made in several variations, including: a version with folding bipod and carrying handle; Galil assault rifle without bipod or carry handle, a short five-inch barrel variation, a Micro-Galil and a heavy-barreled sniper model. Most were chambered for 5.56mm NATO but some were also made in 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester).

The Israelis’, however, while pleased with the performance of the Galil rifle, soon phased it out of use in favor of the M16 and CAR-15 rifles supplied by the United States at cut-rate prices through foreign aid programs.

Design Elements

At first glance, it is noted that the Golani Sporter, as distributed by Century International Arms, incorporates some of the best and handiest features of the original Galil. It has a sturdy tubular steel folding stock for example, as well as a strong, long-life milled receiver. The fixed operating handle is mounted vertically, allowing it to be ergonomically operated by either the right- or left-hand.

The ambidextrous side safety is located for convenient thumb access on the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip. It is connected to the traditional sheet metal AK safety selector on the right side of the receiver, so the safety can be operated from either side of the rifle.

The rear sight, containing a protective housing, is mounted on top of the receiver cover and is fitted with an “L” shaped, flip-type aperture offering both a 300m and 500m zero. The windage and elevation adjustable AK-style front post sight is adjustable up or down with an AK sight tool. Windage adjustment is performed by loosening and tightening two opposing screws that move the front sight assembly within its dovetail notch. The front sight housing also is provided with a post flip-up night sight, although due to age, the tritium lamps are no longer functional. There is also a scope rail machined into the left side of the receiver to allow optics mounting.

Since the Golani Sporter's handguard is mounted so that it does not touch the rifle’s American-made 16.25-inch chrome moly barrel, it allows for greater air circulation around the barrel, resulting in a cooler barrel, even during sustained firing – not to mention greater accuracy. Additionally, the interior of the handguard is lined with an aluminum heat shield to keep it comfortable to hold during prolonged firing. While some shooters prefer a chrome-lined barrel, Century Arms conservatively estimates that the Golani’s chrome molly barrel can easily yield a useful life of 12,000-rounds before requiring replacement. With its twist rate of 1-9”, the Golani can readily handle all varieties of .223/5.56 ball ammo. The barrel is also fitted with a birdcage-type flash suppressor and a bayonet lug.

At the gun’s other end, the Golani’s heavy, tubular folding stock provides a solid rest against the shoulder and securely folds out of the way when needed, allowing the rifle to be more easily transported, packed, or carried. The combination of the nearly 8-1/4 pound weight of the rifle and its barrel mounted muzzle brake work with the low –impulse .223/5.56mm cartridge to render felt recoil negligible, if at all.

Another thoughtful feature of the Golani is that it is fitted with side-mounted sling swivels, positioned on the opposite side of that of the operating handle. This allows the rifle to lie flat and comfortably out of the way when slung across the back. Finally, the Golani leaves nothing to be desired in the firepower arena, as it comes with two 35-round magazines. The heavy steel construction of these mags make them nearly indestructible.

Built from a combination of new and surplus parts along with a durable matte parkerized finish, the Golani Sporter’s overall construction is extremely robust, solid as a tank, and made to last.

The Golani is actually easier to disassemble and reassemble than an AK.
The Golani is actually easier to disassemble and reassemble than an AK.

How the Golani Rifle Functions

When the rifle is fired, gases from the burning propellant powder enter the gas tube and push the gas piston and bolt carrier rearward. This backward movement causes the bolt to rotate and move rearward allowing the empty cartridge case to be pulled backward out of the chamber by the extractor. As it moves, the cartridge case is pushed out of the ejection port by the ejector. At the same time, the hammer is automatically re-cocked and re-engaged with the trigger sear.

After compression by the bolt carrier and bolt, the return spring expands and forces the bolt carrier and bolt forward. During its travel, the bolt strips a cartridge from the magazine and feeds it into the barrel’s chamber as the extractor catches the cartridge’s case rim. At the end of the parts’ movement, the bolt is locked (by spring pressure) against the breech.

Disassembly & Reassembly

Pretty much standard Kalashnikov disassembly and reassembly procedures apply to the Golani. No tools are needed to field strip. The Golani is actually easier to disassemble and reassemble than an AK as the receiver cover simply fits into a recess at the rear of the AK-style gas tube.

After removing the magazine and making absolutely certain that the rifle is unloaded, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction while moving the safety selector lever to the “F” or “fire position.” Press in on the cover catch at the rear of the receiver to release it. Then, tilt the cover assembly to the right while lifting it and then pull it backward to remove the cover assembly from the rifle.

While steadying the rifle with one hand, press inward on the cover catch again and remove the recoil spring assembly. Pull the bolt and carrier assembly out of the rifle. Grasp the gas cylinder assembly with one hand and with the other, pull upward and outward on the gas cylinder to remove it. No further disassembly is required for routine cleaning and maintenance.

Reassembly is in reverse order of disassembly. Fit the rear end of the gas cylinder in its guide between the handguard and the chamber. Insert the gas cylinder’s front end into the opening below the front sight and push it into place.

Install the bolt inside the carrier and while pushing it forward turn it until it locks into position. Use the thumb to keep the bolt locked into position while installing the bolt carrier assembly into the rifle’s receiver. Point the piston toward the gas cylinder and the rear of the assembly toward the groove in the receiver when installing.

Then, insert the front end of the return spring assembly into the opening at the rear of the bolt carrier. Push the spring’s rear end inside the groove in the receiver, making sure the rear end is resting against the receiver. Install the receiver cover above the bolt carrier assembly. Push the cover’s back against the cover catch while inserting the front end of the cover into the arched slot at the base of the gas cylinder.

Now, push the edge of the cover into the slot at the receiver’s rear until the cover catch engages the cover and protrudes through its opening. Check function by cycling the bolt to ensure the rifle has been correctly reassembled.

One trick that some use to ease reassembly of AK-style rifles is to place the recoil spring guide rod slightly below its notch in the receiver onto the interior rear receiver wall. Then place the receiver cover in place. Retract the operating handle smartly to the rear and the guide rod should pop into its notch while the disassembly tab (also called a “cover catch”) will pop into and lock in place through the square-cut hole on the rear of the receiver cover.


Caliber: .223 Rem./5.56x45mm; Type of Firearm: semi-automatic rifle; Barrel Length: 16.25”;  Rate of Twist: 1 turn in 9”; Overall Length: 29” (with stock folded), 38” (with stock extended); Weight: 8.13 lbs.;  Magazine Capacity: 35-rounds; Sights: Rear, twin aperture flip-type peep with protective wings, Front, dual post with protective ring; front sight adjustable for elevation with an accessory sight tool, windage adjustments are made with the screws at the front sight’s base; Sling attachment points at left sides of gas tube and receiver; Folding Stock locks into extended position via a spring-loaded mechanism.

Golani Recall

Century International Arms has issued a recall notice for certain Galil and/or Golani Semi-Auto Sporter rifles that have serial numbers between GAL00001 and GAL02393. The owners of such rifles carrying those serial numbers are asked to return their firearm to Century Arms to have a modified bolt, new firing pin and firing pin spring installed to ensure that the Golani offers the utmost safety and reliability.

All Galil and/or Golani rifles that have the letter “F” or “X” on the bottom of the receiver front cut off have already been upgraded and these rifles do not need to be sent in. Dealers are requested to provide Century Arms with the names, addresses and contact information of the purchasers of affected Galil/Golani rifles. Century will contact them directly. To obtain a return authorization, call Century Arms at 1-800-270-2767.

This article appeared in the August 31, 2009 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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