Manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries and now available to civilian shooters in north America and Europe alike, the IWI Galil ACE rifle is a modernized version of the classic Galil rifle
The Galil assault rifle – engineered by Yisrael Galili and Yakov Lior and manufactured by IMI - Israel Military Industries ever since the mid-1970s – spawned directly from Israel's vast military experience in its short history as an independent State.
Although winning both the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Israeli troops complained about the (real or assumed) less-than-ideal reliability of the then-standard service issue FN FAL rifle, locally known as the ROMAT, in desert warfare conditions. The comparison was reportedly pitiless against both Israel's own UZI submachinegun and the enemy's ubiquitous Kalashnikov AKM rifle.
The Galil rifle was patterned after the AKM, a choice made after the Israeli forces had the chance to test the then-unprecedented reliability of the Kalashnikov platform once they captured tens of thousands of them from their Arab foes. Yisrael Galili and Yakov Lior subsequently integrated some improvements from the Valmet Rk62 – Finland's own AK – into their rifle design to ensure performance in extreme climates.
Although the Israel Defense Forces soon standardized to the M16A1 rifles and carbines – which the U.S. supplied to Israel as far back as during the October War and for decades to come – the Galil rifle was nonetheless adopted by the Israeli military and Police forces; it was also exported and adopted in about forty Countries, many of which later manufactured it locally under license.
As the decades went by, the Galil earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best variants of Mikhail Timofe'evič Kalashnikov's baseline rifle design. While still on the frontline in many parts of the world, as the 20th Century ended and the 21st Century began the basic Galil started to feel long in the tooth.
The IWI Galil ACE line of assault rifles was first showcased in the year 2008; mechanically speaking they are more or less the sale as the baseline Galil, although they do feature some improved components. The overall design, on the other hand, was thoroughly modernized to make the new rifle more handy and versatile, ready to face the fights of the 21st Century.
Nine variants of the platform are available so far for military and law-enforcement sales: the ACE-21, ACE-22 and ACE-23 select-fire rifles are chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO caliber and feed through proprietary 35-rounds magazines, while the ACE-N 21 e ACE-N 22 use AR-15 compatible STANAG 4179 compliant magazines; the ACE-52 and ACE-53 feed through 25-rounds magazines and fire the powerful 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, while the ACE-31 and ACE-32 models are chambered for the popular 7.62x39mm Russian round and use AKM-type magazines.
Having now almost completely standardized to the Tavor and X95 bull-pup rifles, the Israel Defense Forces have opted not to acquire the Galil ACE; the system has however enjoyed an almost unexpected success on the export market, having been adopted in either limited or full scale by about fifteen Countries, five of whose – more specifically Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ukraine and Vietnam – have since started or completed licensing and technology transfer procedures from IWI to manufacture the Galil ACE rifles locally.
More specifically the 5.56mm versions are manufactured under license in Colombia and will soon be in Peru and Chile; Ukraine license-produces all variants, while Vietnam adopted and will soon manufacture locally the ACE-31 and ACE-32 models which allows the Vietnamese People's Army to retain the trusty 7.62x39mm AK round and the hundreds of thousands of relevant magazines in service.
The semi-automatic only, civilian-grade versions of the ACE rifles are assembled and distributed by IWI US, LLC. – north American branch of Israel Weapon Industries – ever since 2015. Short barrel (7.5" BBL) variants are available in a stockless pistol layout or with a factory-issued stabilizing brace. 5.56mm/.223, 7.62x51mm/.308 and 7.62x39mm caliber rifles are instead fitted with a 16-inch barrel.
One of the main issues of the original Galil that IWI sought to solve with the new ACE models was the excessive weight; it was addressed through the use of modern polymers – without excess.
The Galil ACE rifles come with a side-folding, six-position extensible polymer buttstock with a two-position adjustable or removable cheekpiece; with polymer rail covers for the three-railed handguard; and with a polymer lower receiver, which hosts the pistol grip, the magazine well with magazine release button or paddle, and the left side thumb-activated safety switch (as opposed to the right side frame-mounted safety which is more in AK style).
Just like the original Galil, the ACE rifles feature a milled forging frame instead in lieu of the riveted stamped receiver of most AK variants; all surfaces are protected by a matte black phosphate finish.
The receivers for the Galil ACE semi-automatic rifles are purely civilian-grade in nature and conform to the laws of the United States and many other Countries, which set parameters to make sure that a civilian firearm can not be converted to select-fire or full-automatic operation through drop-in military components.
The upper receiver also hosts the entire trigger group, while the polymer lower only wraps around the bottom portion of the upper and has a slot for the trigger on the upper portion of the trigger guard.
The Galil ACE rifles are long-stroke, piston driven firearms featuring an improved AK/Valmet/Galil style non-adjustable gas piston with a chromed piston head, a removable rotating bolt with two locking lugs and a reciprocating cocking handle directly attached to the bolt carrier.
The removable gas tube is installed on a dovetailed slide machined on the upper front portion of the receiver, which keeps it firmly in position and prevents any canting that could negatively afflict accuracy.
The entire system is sealed against foreign bodies; a spring-loaded cover mounted on the left side of the receiver seals the slot where the cocking handle rides, it is forcefully pressed down when the bolt handle reciprocates and goes back up as soon as the bolt slams shut again.
Said slot is located between the frame and the AK-type removable top cover – which features a machined top MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for optics, as does the gas tube, thus providing a full-length rail. The Galil ACE rifle also features a set of non-removabòe front and rear sights, adjustable through a factory-issued tool.
The 16-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged out of a single stock of Chrome-Moly-Vanadium steel, and chrome-lined; four left-handed grooves with a 1:9.45" pitch will stabilize any 7.62x39mm commercial or military load. A 5/8×24 TPI right-handed threading at the muzzle hosts a factory-issued Birdcage-style flash hider.
The first Galil ACE rifles distributed to gunwriters in north America for testing and evaluation provided great results in terms of accuracy: the 7.62x39mm version we're looking at here, when fired from a bench rest, would put an entire magazine in the chest of a NRA standard B-27 target at 200 yards (182 meters).
Similarly, the prestigious American Rifleman publication would report groups ranging between 2,1 cm / 0.83" and 4,64 cm / 1.83” at 100 yards (91,44 meters) from the bench rest, depending from the ammunition. Whether premium loads or Romanian surplus, however, the Galil ACE would chew them all and keep going, with an extremely high reliability rate even for an AK platform.
Our range time with the Galil ACE has confirmed the impressions of many other testers. Precision manufacturing, high technology machineries and materials do have a positive influence over performance.
With an average price tag just over 2000 US$ in the United States and just under 3000€ in most of Europe, the IWI Galil ACE rifle is not the cheapest AK variant around.
IWI Galil ACE - Specifications
7,62x39mm Soviet / 5,56x45mm NATO / 7,62x51mm NATO
Long-stroke piston driven, non-adjustable gas system
Two-stage, M1 Garand / Galil Sniper 21.4N/4.8 lbf trigger
Ambidextrous manual safety switch
AK/AKM magazines of any make, model, material, and capacity (RPK-style drums will not fit due to the slant magazine well design)
Chrome-lined, cold-hammer forged
7,62x39mm Soviet: 16" / 1:9.45" twist
7,62x51mm NATO: 16" / 1:12" twist
5,56x45mm NATO: 13.2" / 1:7" twist
Adjustable front and rear sight
Full-length top MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail
887 mm / 34.5" (buttstock unfolded and collapsed)
3,86 kg / 7.5 lbs
Milled, black finished stainless steel receiver
Railed steel handguard with polymer rail covers
CrMoV steel barrel
Black polymer stock and lower receiver
For availability and price, please contact your local dealer