I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of the brand new Gilboa M43 AR style battle rifle chambered in 7.62×39 after seeing it previewed at the 2016 NRA show.

Update, a full review of the Gilboa DBR Snake at this link. 

The Gilboa is purpose-built in Israel as an individual combat carbine, taking advantage of the AR style rifles but using the popular and effective medium-range carbine. As explained to me, one of the primary reasons for the caliber choice is for operators occupying war zones where the 7.62×39 is the primary cartridge. Two schools of thought: empty cases left on the battlefield do not point to occupying forces the same way empty 5.56×45 cases would; also, in many areas of the world, that cartridge is popular enough that resupply is not as difficult to achieve.


Initial Range Trip   


Notice the heavily angled magazine well, which aided a lot in locking in the AK style magazine. Normally it takes quite a bit of rocking the magazine to locking it in, but with this set up it was much easier to load the magazine. The Gilboa does not ship with sights, and at this price point, I would like to see some iron sights on this rifle. I do understand many folks are very particular about what sights, red dots, or optics they run, so leaving them off may lessen the MSRP.


Six position collapsible stock. Making the length of pull adjustable for different sized people or different loadout gear.


The AR style manual magazine lock is absent. The trigger broke at a clean six pounds with just a bit of predictable take-up and little overtravel. Really a great trigger, especially for a combat style rifle. AR style safety, worked exactly as it should.


KeyMod is present on both sides of the handguard as well as the bottom. Note the gas block is in front of the handguard, not inside. If you run an aggressive forward grip with your support hand, you need to be aware of the gas block. During live fire, it does tend to get pretty hot. Keeping the gas block out of the handguards and only including a Picatinny rail on the top keeps the handguard small in diameter. Smaller diameter handguards allow for a solid purchase with your support hand. I would elect to run a vertical foregrip or at least an angled one. The Picatinny rail that runs along the top of the receiver and handguard is machined, so they interlock at the seam.


The forward assist is present, though I never needed to use it. The ambidextrous magazine release is located inside the trigger guard, which is a little different than I am used to. After a few magazine changes, this set up allowed you to get the magazine unlocked with your strong hand. I believe this, along with the magazine, well are the best innovations of this carbine.


The gas block is secured by hex head threaded fasteners, but it is not pinned. However, there are provisions for it to be. My thoughts are, this is set up in case you wanted to swap out this gas block with something different. Though there is a short section of rail on the block, it is a little higher than the main rail, so I elected not to use it. I believe with the amount of rail and KeyMod on the handguards, this section of rail on the gas black could be left off, but it did not hinder function either.

M43 Gilboa 100 yard accuracy

These three-shot groups were shot at 100 yards with iron sights from a rest. I shot several three and five shots groups with the same setup, and there were pretty consistent. I expect with higher quality ammunition and/or optics; the Gilboa would group much better.

Taking the Gilboa out to the twenty-five yard line, I begin to run various brands through the carbine to check for function. After about 150 rounds, I was satisfied the rifle was reliable, so it was time to see how it would do at 100 yards. Following that was some close quarters rapid fire to be sure the rifle stays reliable.

Second Range Trip 


It is a smart move to own a rifle in 7.62×39. Not only is it a solid mid-range performer, but it is also one of the most popular cartridges on the planet. Though the costs have gone up on that round, it can still be had for cheap as compared to most all other rifle cartridges. There are a few options for rifles in that caliber, but the vast majority are AK or SKS pattern rifles. Though there is nothing wrong with either of those platforms, many prefer the AR style rifles. Now your options begin to narrow; enter the Gilboa M43. The M43 is an Israeli military designed American built combat rifle, so out of the gate, it has an excellent pedigree. My first test was to compare it directly to the CMMG Mutant, by including the expertise of a retired Sergeant Major from the USMC, a man who knows a bit about combat rifles. The M43 definitely felt lighter and shouldered easier with the smaller handguard. The most significant advantage of the M43 Gilboa was the extreme angle cut of the magazine well, making it much easier to seat the AK magazines. If you make a mistake with the CMMG and get the rear magazine lug locked and not the front, the gun is tied up. With the drastic cut on the M43, it was more intuitive and smoother to lock the magazine in. The M43 handguards do not wrap over the gas block, which helps keep the handguard smaller and more comfortable to get a solid grip on. So, if you run an aggressive forward grip on your support hand, you have to be mindful to keep your fingers off the gas block during extended shooting as it does warm up. The gas block is fixed with threaded fasteners but has provisions to drill and pin it if you so desire. Through the 350+ rounds downrange, the Gilboa did not give any trouble, and accuracy was acceptable at 100 yards using iron sights and cheap steel-cased ammunition.

All in all, I am satisfied with how this rifle ran, and with a few minor things I did not care for none were deal breakers. These things being my opinion and others they may not be an issue.  All of the parts are military standard compliant and undergo strict quality control inspections.



Caliber: 7.62×39

Upper and lower material: aircraft-grade aluminum (7075)

Barrel: chrome lined 1 in 10 twist

Magazine: standard AK

Trigger Pull: 6 pounds.

Length: 37 1/8″ extended 33 3/4″ collapsed

Weight: 6 pounds 9 ounces empty, no magazine

MSRP $1599



Silver Shadow 

LDB Supply 


By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

8 thoughts on “Gilboa M43, a gunfighters carbine”
  1. I really enjoyed this article and the video was excellent. Shooting this rifle was great and hope to have the chance to do it again. Keep up good work Hunter.


  2. Solid review buddy. With the little time I had behind the M43 I could not agree more. Cool way to do 7.62×39 in a AR platform.

  3. I have one on order and I can’t wait to shoot it. Love Israeli products. This is exactly what I want.
    Amazing review …

  4. Hey Hunter,
    As promised i would tell you how i like my Gilboa m43 after i shoot it. I friken love it. Its light, small and all around amazingly built like a mack truck. The kickback is minimal. I put around 200 round at the range today and i was using wolf Poly. All went smooth like butter. Im super glad i got one and i know my friends will love them. I put Fab defense Iron sights and im happy with those also.

    Thank you for your time and all your Info. I enjoy reading and watching your vids.

    Oh yeh My serial number is under 40 lol Who doesn’t love that .

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