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The Galil started life in the late 60s as an Israeli evolution of the AK47 and Valmet 62. It was more or less a milled AK with a handful of features that made it (even more) battle-ready, and significantly more modern. In the last 40+ years, the Galil has been used and abused in some pretty harsh climates and has proven itself worthy. But they’ve remained seriously scarce here in the States.
IWI’s new Galil Ace is a new spin on the old workhorse that keeps true to the old Galil’s reputation. For this review, we tested the Galil Ace pistol. Designed to be slung, braced or SBR’d, the Ace pistol is a featherweight freight train. Chambered in 7.62×39 and feeding from AK magazines, the Ace is comparable to an AK pistol. However when you look at the quality of the Ace, it quickly becomes clear there is really not much else on the market like it.
Features and Specifications
- Caliber – 7.62x39mm
- Operating System – Closed rotating bolt, long stroke gas piston
- Magazine Type – AK/AKM
- Barrel Material – Cold hammer forged chrome lined
- Barrel Length – 8.3″
- Overall Length – 18″
- Weight – 6 lbs. with out Magazine
- Sights – Adjustable tritium front and rear
- MSRP – $1,749
How Does It Perform?
I’m just going to come out and say that working the controls of the Galil Ace makes running any other AK type weapon feel archaic. The ambidextrous safeties, left side charging handle, over-sized magazine well, and crisp trigger all make for a shooting experience that is second to flat-out smokes the old Kalashnikov. The Galil Ace feels good in your hands, and (no surprise) it shoots nearly as good as it feels.
The bolt carrier’s travel is unexpectedly smooth. These guns are built with generous tolerances to increase reliability in the field, but somehow they still feel rigid. I’d compare it to a Swiss firearm, or a West German Sig.
There are still some peculiarities. At the end of each magazine, the bolt slams forward and the trigger falls on an empty chamber. I’m surprised that AK feature was left on the Galil and the Ace. And AR-15 aficionados will still bitch about mag changes. Even with the over-sized magazine well of the Galil, some magazines require a bit more force to fall free from the gun.
But there are obvious improvements. The Ace has a modular forend. Designed with a built in Tri-rail, it is capable of going slick sided or with rails exposed for more traction. Adding accessories such as lights, switches, and grips is much easier than it is on the AK. And during high volumes of fire, the forend remains cool even as smoke flows off of the gun.
The trigger has a wide face. It has a clean 5 pound break with no creep. It is probably one of the best triggers I’ve felt on a military grade weapon. The reset is short and the tiger has no slap as the shot breaks. I can’t say enough about how nice this is to see.
The sights? The Ace has an elevation-adjustable tritium front post and a AR-15 style rear sight that is adjustable for windage. The rear sight has two apertures and the large objective has two tritium inserts that allow for a handgun-like 3-dot sight picture at night. They are also shielded with ears on the front in the back and are very reminiscent of an UZI.
The Galil Ace pistol is a bit too large to run as a standard handgun. You will need a stock, arm brace, or sling. I strapped on a two-point sling which made the Ace easy enough to shoot. I can’t lie and say that it is as easy to shoot as it would be with a stock, but a brace or sling will make things much easier. As with all of the guns in this category, it is a compromise. You give up some control in order to keep from having the SBR hassle and tax stamp.
The main hangup you’ll experience without a sling is that the gun is much slower. Not the gun, really–you will be slower. The gun’s recoil energy causes it to do the wave. Regaining a sight picture takes time when a gun bounces off target. The Ace needs something on its rear end for it to function effectively.
With a sling, the tension of the tether acts a lot like a stock and keeps the gun under control. You push out against the strap, hard. The gun stays on target, and your hands have plenty of gripping surfaces to hold onto.
8.3” barrels aren’t known for their inherent accuracy. Yes they are stiff, but they lack the length that allows powder to burn. You will also lose 300-400 fps with the shorter barrel. That said, the Ace pistol is more than capable of making clean hits well past 100 meters, especially with the help of a stock, bipod, scope, and some good ammunition.
But that’s hardly the reason why anyone wants an Ace. Inside of 50 meters, combat accurate hits are easy. Moving closer to the 15 meter line, hits are effortless. I punched some paper with the Ace from 7 and 15 meters. At 7 meters the gun produced a clean little 1-inch group (and that’s with me standing with the gun unsupported).
Moving out to 15meters, things opened up a bit. I’ll admit that I had a hard time supporting the gun well enough to keep the group as tight as it would be had the gun had a stock. At 15 I was shooting a rough 3.5inch group at best. After running this gun for this review, I’d confidently say that an SBR version should be able to cut 1.5 inch groups at 100 meters.
Magpul Sling: https://www.magpul.com/products/ms4-dual-qd-sling-gen-2
There are a few things you will want to pick up to make your gunning experience a bit more pleasant. A quality sling will help speed up your shooting as well as increase your accuracy. You can run either a two point, or a single point sling off of the gun’s rear. I used a Magpul M3 sling and a 1913 rail QD mount for the front mounting point.
High Threat Concealment: http://highthreatconcealment.com/
A quality magazine carrier will also help speed up your shooting and your reloads. I have been using a High Threat Concealment magazine carrier for the last few weeks and find it perfect for use on the range or in concealment. This is a prototype at the moment, but the rig will be on the market in the next month.
The Ace ships with one Magpul MOE AKM magazine and it will do the job. I’ve had the steel reinforced Magpul M3 AKM magazines in testing for the last few weeks and find them to be a worthwhile upgrade. Beyond the improved performance over the MOE, they offer steel reinforced peace of mind.
The Galil Ace pistol is a great firearm. Its smooth, reliable, accurate, and (if nothing else) cool. I don’t think I’ve ever said that in a review before. Is it worth the cost of entry? I’d say yes, all day long. It preforms well on the range, it would do well in the close quarters of home defense, and it will hide nicely in the trunk of your car or under the bench of your truck. And it is this compact size that is the real appeal.
These guns sell for somewhere between $1400-$1700. This is the first week on the market, so the price should be even lower once the supply/demand ratio levels off.
We will be doing up a follow up review once the hardware becomes available for the IWI Galil SB arm brace. We will see if the addition of that hardware will be enough, or if it truly should be candidate for short barreled rifle status.