Rifle Review: Galil Ace 308 Fighting Rifle

Dave Bahde, GetZone.com Contributor

galil ace 308

Arguments concerning the effectiveness of the .223 caliber as a fighting round abound. Since its introduction to the US Military in 1964 (M16) controversy continues, some real, most contrived. After decades of use in numerous wars the argument continues — I’m pretty sure it will never end. Even the Army entertains a “new and improved” caliber with some regularity. Talk to those who used it in combat and you still get differing opinions, mostly positive. Naysayers point to the .308 Winchester (7.62x51mm) as the solution with a few touting other cartridges. As that argument continues to ebb and flow the facts remain unchanged.

galil ace 308
Battle rifles need to be simple, solid, and as light as possible, the Galli fits that model perfectly.

All the arguments in the world can’t change the laws of physics. The .308 Winchester delivers more energy at the target, especially at range. Using Applied Ballistics software the Black Hills .223 77-grain TMK makes 750 foot-pounds at 300 yards out of a 16″ barreled rifle. The same 155-grain TMK from a 16″ 308 delivers 1,580 foot-pounds. Swap all the bullets around you want manipulating barrel length and a .308 still delivers near double the energy at practical ranges. You can validly question whether that increased energy is needed, useful or even wanted, but it doesn’t change the math.

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Versatility

I find the most hackneyed “one rifle” theories tiresome — those asking seldom have only one. They are tools, use the proper tool, if you are prepping for the end times it’s not likely you only have one tool. What you are really looking for is versatility — the more they do the better. Both calibers do lots of things well, no question. However, the .308 will do anything a .223 will do, and some things it won’t. Face it: while the .223 works in war, across the room, and can be used on small thin-skinned game, it is still a varmint cartridge. If the need to ethically and effectively take larger game for sustenance or some EOW (End of World) fantasy the .308 is better suited. Move outside starkly urban environments and the 308 reaches farther and hits harder. Both calibers are equally prolific using common magazines with mind-boggling choices in design and construction. Each shoots bullets ranging from small and fast to big and slow. If you need energy on target for penetration through media, or depth of penetration the .308 just does a better job all be it with increased cost and recoil.

galil ace 308
Butt pads not only provide recoil mitigation but also help to lock the rifle in place when firing from unsupported positions.

It Needs To Work

This rifle will operate inside 300 yards stretching to 500 yards, primarily for self-protection, more likely training. Hunting larger game is secondary but critical. After ten years testing a couple hundred (or more) 308 rifles the 16″ barrel is plenty. Shorter would be better, but 16″ gets the job done without a tax stamp. Longer just adds weight and length for this application and several calibers perform better at extended range. Precision is secondary, solid and predictable accuracy a must, under 2″ at 100 yards. Simple operation with as little gadgetry as possible using a folding stock, preferably one that works folded. On top is must have robust iron sights and an RDS or low power variable scope. Reliability using any .308 ammunition out there, clean, dirty, steel case, fast, slow, whatever is available in the store or on the ground. First and foremost it must work during everything encountered in the real world using what’s at hand.

galil ace 308
Folding mechanism must be strong and tight, the Galli will fire folded making it even better for tight space work.

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Which Rifle

After a couple years testing numerous rifles, I finally picked the Galil ACE 308. Many rifles came close; those meeting most requirements were heavier at more than twice the cost or used proprietary magazines. Fully equipped (light, RDS, sling, 20 rounds) the Galil weighs 9.6 lbs. Most were well over 10 lbs. My “any ammunition” requirement (especially steel case) killed most, especially dirty and or hot. Few had folding stocks, fewer worked folded. The Galil was the only rifle that consistently and repeatedly met every one of my requirements.

galil ace 308
Light bullets provide devastating power with optimal penetration all with less recoil and better accuracy.

Another rifle will likely meet your needs better, this rifle is not without its issues. But for me it’s excellent. A simple and light rifle holding 1 MOA consistently out to 300 yards with match ammo running any .308 or 7.62mm through readily available magazines. It works folded and operates well from a car. Iron sights are rock solid and simple. While not a precision instrument it is well suited for most tasks inside 300 yards with the RDS and a tad longer with a scope.

Testing & Final Configuration

Over the last year, several scopes and Red Dot Sights have been tested on this rifle including dots, pyramids, circle dots and a few others. At my age dots, sparkle and are only useful up close. Pyramids work but the best for me remains a center dot for precision with a circle surrounding it. Two fit the bill for me, the Sig Sauer Romeo 4T and the Shield SIS. Both proved rugged, reliable, and easy to see. The Shield was just smaller and lighter. Mounted low the front sight remains visible and usable with no need for a riser. Using the automatic setting it’s right most of the time, but you can leave it in manual mode. There is an auto shut off at 5 minutes. I change batteries yearly, it has lasted a year without issue so far.

galil ace 308
Shield’s SIS sight provides a circle dot reticle, perfect for ranges out to 300 yards that is easy to see quickly up close.

When it comes to optics, the lighter the better. Big scopes on this rifle just defeated the entire purpose adding weight. Two worked out well, the Leupold VX 6 1-6 Multigun was very light, consistent and clear — out to 300 yards the BDC was close to spot on. Nightforce’s latest 1-8 ATACR was excellent, just heavier by comparison. The reticle was perfect allowing for elevation and wind holds as needed. It is also incredibly rugged — a perfect match for this rifle. It worked best with the riser. My third option was the Romeo 4T RDS along with their Juliet Magnifier. In the end, the rifles sits ready with the Shield SIS if range beyond 300 was required the scope could be attached if needed.

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Accuracy

Accuracy with this rifle takes some work, it can shoot well under 1 MOA with match ammunition — it’s just harder to do for most and requires concentration. A long stroke gas system means more reciprocating mass, which equates to more muzzle movement. Hold it steady using the proper muzzle device and it will stack good ammunition. Get sloppy and it’s a 3″ gun at 100 yards.

galil ace 308
Oppressive brakes are useless on fighting rifles, PWS FSC provides flash and recoil reduction without the blast.

The factory handguard is interesting and useful for something, just not sure what. Attach a bipod to it and it’s a bouncing Betty. It’s too short and big, and round. Remove the panels and it’s too sharp. Thankfully Midwest Industries has a solution, their M-Lok XL handguard. Lighter, slimmer and longer it extends beyond the sight for a better grip. You can set your bi-pod farther out on a metal rail and it allows for solid positions on obstacles and barricades. It’s a must to me for this rifle and made a huge difference.

galil ace 308
Midwest Industries Hand Guard is slim and adds length for support on barricades all while trimming the weight.

My best groups came using a bag as a rest, my hand extended to the sight and held tightly in the shoulder. Muzzle brakes or compensators limiting muzzle rise make it even easier. Testing several I found the Primary Weapons Systems FSC was the best. It tamed recoil, held the muzzle steady and was absent most of the annoying muzzle blast. Others were better at recoil control but were just plain oppressive to shoot. Some made it harder to shoot in general. Flash hiders worked fine just no recoil help. It works incredibly well with the NG2 Suppressor, it just adds over a pound and 7″ — sadly defeating my size requirements.

galil ace 308
Precision accuracy is nice but not required, it’s less about precision than timely hits on target at various ranges.

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Groups at 100 yards using a scope were generally around an inch, the best closer to .70″. My best group overall came using the Shield SIS, an Armageddon Gear bag for a rest and the bumper on my FJ as a bench using Doubletap’s 125- grain BT Self Defense Ammunition. Their 155- grain TMK Colt Match and Hornady 155-grain AMAX Black were the most versatile with excellent accuracy. Using a 1:12 twist barrel allows for a wide variety of ammunition. Cold hammer forging and chrome lining keep it that way under harsh conditions.

galil ace 308
Safeties should be easily accessed without removing the control hand with a comfortable pistol grip.

Practical accuracy was excellent. Out of the bag, on the hood and it was possible to nail 12×16″ steel from 50 to 300 yards consistently using just the RDS. At 100-200 yards the 6″ target was just as easy. Since anything beyond that is impractical at best, let alone justifiable it is about perfect. But even at my age I could see and hit the 4″ wide target at 300 yards with consistency using the Hornady 155-grain black and Doubletap 125-grain Self Defense. If I could see it at 500 yards it was double, although the optic made that much easier — the RDS is all I would ever need.

Reliability

In the last few months alone this rifle cycled everything from very old military surplus to new match ammunition — bullets ranged from 125 to 185-grains using steel or brass cases. Everything ran and was within 3″ at 100 yards. It has been used in the snow, mud, rain, sleet, from subzero to over 100 degrees and it always worked and ejected the casings, generally forward with authority. The trigger is heavy by most AR standards – two-stage and it is capable of excellent accuracy yet can be run very fast. Zero light primer strikes or failures to fire in what amounts to well over 1,000 rounds so far. Maintenance was minimal, cleaning the internals every few hundred rounds and running a bore snake through it on occasion. Magazines from Magpul, KMC, DPMS, and Lancer all worked. Only a couple rifles matched for reliability, they were either heavier, more costly, or both. For a grab it and go fighting rifle designed for real-world operations it just does not get any better.

galil ace 308
Ambidextrous magazine releases are a must, reloads occur from various positions not just standing on the line.

Final Thoughts

Is this rifle going to supplant my Sig Sauer MCX (.223 or 300 BLK) for training and CQB — not a chance. Nor will it replace my Modern Outfitters MC7 in 260 Remington or G.A Precision Tempest for precision. The one rifle concept remains academic to me, the subject of meaningless chatter. Each does its primary job better than the other. Within its limitations the 308 Winchester remains one of the most versatile and accessible rounds available, that won’t change any time soon. When it comes to a versatile all-purpose rifle designed and equipped for the world I live in each day this Galil Ace in .308 has turned out to be almost perfect!

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Specs:

  • Caliber: 7.62 NATO (7.62x51mm)
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Operating System: Closed rotating bolt, long strok gas position
  • Magazine Type: MAGPUL LR/SR25 GEN M:
  • Magazine Capacity: 20 rounds
  • Barrel Material: Cold hammer forged, CrMoV, chrome lined
  • Barrel Length: 16”
  • Overall Length: 36” (buttstock unfolded and collapsed)
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs w/out magazine
  • Rifling: Right hand, 1:12” twist
  • Stock Color: Black
  • Sights: Adjustable with Tritium front post and 2-dot Titrium rear aperture
  • MRSP: $2,099

For more information, visit: 

Galil Rifle: iwi.us

Hornady: www.hornady.com

Double Tap: www.doubletapammo.com

Leupold: www.leupold.com

SIG SAUER: www.sigsaur.com