IWI US Galil ACE 5.56mm Pistol Review: Rejuvenating An Israeli Classic
The original Israeli Galil was choked out of the US market in the early 1990s due to Federal import laws. IWI US is now not only making available the highly respected Israeli Galil but has enhanced it in the form of the Galil ACE. The Galil ACE is not merely a copy of the 1960s design. IWI took full advantage of the passage of time to improve/update the original Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior design. The two original designers did definitely not contemplate the pistol brace version I’ve been spending some quality time with.
This article will use the IWI Galil ACE pistol as the vehicle to address a class of weapons that can be no longer ignored or dismissed as a fad. I am referring to the growing number of pistol models stemming from what was typically associated with rifle pattern weapons by removing the buttstock. For individuals who have no legal access to an NFA Class 3 Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), the rifle caliber pistol may well be the closest way of achieving such firepower in such a compact package. Along these same lines, the expansion of states issuing concealed carry permits along with honoring other states permits is another reason why rifle caliber pistols are so popular currently.
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The IWI US Galil ACE seeks improvement over the original Galil in a number of ways. Original Galil reliability and performance has never been doubted, however, it’s near 10-pound weight drew criticism from troops, especially when compared to the six-pound M4. The Galil ACE makes use of a polymer lower for the magazine well, trigger guard, and pistol grip. The upper receiver containing the action and hinged folding stock trunnion is milled from ordnance steel. The railed forend on the Galil ACE is also derived from high strength polymer.
The Galil ACE 5.56mm pistol features 8.3″ 1:7 RH twist chrome lined hammer forged barrel with removal A2 style flash hider. Galil ACE .308Win and 7.62x39mm variants are also available. Overall length is 28″ and 19.5″ with brace folded to the right. Weight is 7.5 lbs. Besides shaving weight, the Galil ACE has its reciprocating charging handle moved to the left side of the steel receiver for easier/simpler off hand manipulation. A spring-loaded gate on the left side minimizes the chance of dirt/grime entering via the charging handle pathway. The original Galil had a distinctive vertically upturned handle on the right side. The absence of right side charging handle facilitated Galil ACE creating a metal recess in the bolt-carrier body’s right side. This acts to further enhance reliability in harsh environments preventing dirt, mud, snow, or ice clogging/jamming the bolt group while functioning.
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Other enhancements to the Galil ACE consist of full-length 2-piece metal Picatinny top rail along the upper receiver and gas tube for mounting optics. IWI US has accentuated previous Galil design by securing the upper top cover tightly via oversized release button at the end of the recoil spring protruding out of the top cover. A rubber grommet/gasket is also included. This ensures the rear aperture iron sight stays zeroed as well as other optics that may be mounted. The top cover exhibits no wiggle. In fact, removing and reinstalling takes some effort, but is worth it considering the advantage gained. Following this theme, the Galil’s gas tube is dovetailed into the receiver’s front block. This limits any movement of the gas block that can influence barrel vibration and thus degrade rifle accuracy. A recoil buffer is also present on the recoil spring. This serves multiple roles: cushion impact of recoiling parts, easing wear on the rear trunnion, and taming of vibrations assisting accuracy potential. All of these details related to top cover and gas tube differ from the original AK method.
A further nod to current firearm trends is the Picatinny polymer tri-rail forearm. Slide on/off rail covers is standard. The rail covers allow for pressure switch access for lights or lasers. The Galil ACE pistol comes with right side folding brace. Attention to detail is found with the ability to easily remove the rear aperture sight if an eye relief dependent optic is utilized avoiding the necessity to mount the optic uncomfortably high to clear. Another nice touch is the tritium vials installed in the front post and rear aperture sights for night use. One note here is that orientation of the front sight needs some attention to when sighting in. A further half turn may be needed to keep the tritium vial focused rearward. The Galil ACE comes equipped with the trigger type used in the Galil sniper rifle. This is a nice upgrade offering a 5-pound pull after an initial take up.
A quality red dot is an immediate performance enhancement for any non-traditional styled pistol. A compact Meopta Meosight III offers a 3MOA dot within a 2-ounce package that offers 1,000-hour battery life. The 3MOA dot simplifies placing rounds on target no matter the aiming method used. Independence from set eye relief requirements is one of the red dots major advantages. This is born out when working in tight confines or finding oneself in awkward firing positions to maximize cover. Keep both eyes open and if you see the red dot on target pull the trigger. Meopta is Czech based company that has been producing scientific, medical, and sport optics since 1933.
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Multiple .223/5.56mm loads from Hornady were used with the Galil ACE with a special focus on the new Hornady Frontier product line. Hornady’s Frontier brand focuses on .223Rem/5.56mm loads. Frontier loadings feature brass cartridge cases and military-grade boxer primers and propellant combined with a variety of Hornady bullet weights and types. Loads range from 55-grain FMJ to 75-grain Match. The Galil ACE generated 1″ grouping at 50 yards, which is more than acceptable considering red dot optic. The Meopta’s ability to minimize dot intensity aided in more precise aiming.
Range tests consisted of moving around barricades and simulated cover while engaging an assortment of paper and steel targets, including automobiles located at Echo Valley Training Center. One immediate positive comment was the ambidextrous safety/fire lever found on the Galil ACE pistol. The right side safety lever has been reduced in size, as it is no longer required to act as a dust cover. The right side safety/fire lever is accessed via the right index finger or removing your hand from the pistol grip and using multiple fingers. On the left side, just above the pistol grip, there is another safety/fire selector, meant to be operated by the shooter’s thumb. This was found to the favored method of use in terms of ergonomics.
Several hundred rounds were fired through the Galil ACE pistol for this article. After the initial inspection and light lubrication, no cleaning was performed. No issues were encountered in terms of reliability. Special focus was paid to maintaining iron sight and optic zero by removing and reinstalling the top cover numerous times between evaluation scenarios. Initial concern about heat transfer to the railed polymer forend was unfounded thanks to the effective heat shields and spacing between barrel/gas block and forend. In fact, even after multiple rapid-fire magazine dumps, the forend proved able to be gripped with a non-gloved hand.
Many will be lured to the Galil ACE pistol for the intriguing nuance of maintaining handgun status with a semblance of rifle performance based on manipulation techniques. The ability to be transported more discretely than a full-size rifle may translate into it being the weapon most readily available if a situation arises unexpectedly while away from home or main weapon location. An Eberlestock Big Trick pack proved perfect for this and could accommodate the Galil ACE pistol with brace deployed or folded to the side. The fact that the Galil ACE pistol is classified legally as a handgun offers users who have a concealed carry license a certain amount of flexibility compared to a true rifle or NFA classified weapon.
Anyone looking for a non-typical hard-hitting weapon will certainly appreciate the Galil ACE pistol. The functionality of a rifle caliber weapon utilizing AR15 magazines incorporating a proven gas-piston operating rod system is hard to deny. Thus, no matter the situation, whether it’s a rural setting with longer distances encountered or more urban requiring CQB style tactics, the IWI US Galil ACE pistol can satisfy the mission.
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