By: Warren Gray
Copyright © 2023
“IWI US is proud to bring back the world-famous, Galil ACE family of pistols
and rifles…based upon the reliable mechanism of the original, Galil rifle…
Drawing inspiration from the legendary Russian AK-47…the IWI Galil ACE
has been continuously improved over the last 40 years, resulting in today’s
extremely reliable and highly accurate Galil ACE.”
— IWI US web site, 2023
Israel Weapon Industries’ (IWI) U.S. factory in Middletown, Pennsylvania, just southeast of Harrisburg, produces the Galil ACE Gen. II rifle series in 5.56mm, 7.62mm NATO, 7.62x39mm, and 5.45x39mm. The most powerful of the ACE series is the ACE-N 52 in 7.62mm NATO, with a 16-inch barrel, or very similar ACE Gen. II #GAR55. These newer weapons replace 14 of the original ACE rifle series (since 2008), but the company still manufactures the Galil ACE Pistol in 7.62x51mm, and the nearly identical Galil ACE SBR (short-barrel rifle, #GAR51SBR) with an 11.8-inch barrel and 20-round magazine. Like the original Ford Model T of 1908, it comes in “any color you want, as long as it’s black.”
Galil ACE weapons in various calibers are currently in use with military and police forces in at least 21 countries, including Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine (license-built as the Fort-229), and Vietnam.
Here in the United States, IWI US, Inc. began operations in 2013, and launched their Law Enforcement Division in 2014. While the ACE Gen. II #GAR55 is available to civilian shooters, the Galil ACE SBR in 7.62mm NATO remains the most compact and powerful choice for law enforcement professionals.
Dave Bahde of GunsAmerica Digest reviewed the very similar, Galil ACE rifle with a 16-inch barrel on June 21, 2017, writing that, “We now have a new variant of the classic Galil in 7.62x51mm, available here for civilian purchase…with a milled steel receiver for strength and durability. An AR-style folding stock is adjustable for length of pull, and includes a rubber recoil pad. Note that the rifle can be fired with the stock folded…The barrel is…cold-hammer-forged CrMoV, chrome lined…capped with a muzzle brake…Sights are fully adjustable and robust, with tritium inserts.
“Assembled in the United States…this Galil accepts any SR-25-patterned magazine. Using an ambidextrous magazine release…As a primary rifle, it was set up for fast targeting to deliver .308 power from 300 yards and in, most likely closer…This rifle is as reliable as any semi-auto I have tested in 7.62x51mm…It reliably fed and fired 10 different types of ammunition…without issue…The best change in this rifle…It’s a two-stage trigger…This one measured just under five pounds…Rapid-fire doubles and triples were easy and controllable…and the effective muzzle brake held recoil to a minimum…without creating too much blast and noise.
“Most surprising was (its) accuracy…at 100 yards…My best group measured a tad over .75 inches…I put 10 rounds on an 8-inch steel at 300 yards…(and) six out of 10 on a 12-inch steel at 500 yards…This rifle was a joy to shoot, about perfect for the task set for it. Accuracy was excellent, with controllability and a great trigger. It was reliable with every magazine I could find, and fed several types of ammunition…If you are looking for an accurate and reliable .308 semi geared toward hard use, this is a must.”
Jon Wayne Taylor added for The Truth About Guns on July 20, 2017, that, “The IWI Galil ACE (with 16-inch barrel) in 7.62mm NATO is as fascinating a firearm as the original Galil, chambered in a true, battle-rifle cartridge…the gun will run just fine…one-handed, with the stock still folded…The ACE was designed as a fighting gun…Controlled pairs at 25 and 50 yards weren’t a problem…I was once again impressed with the sight set-up of this rifle. It’s still the best I’ve seen.
“(The) 7.62 NATO ACE ran flawlessly…We never had a jam, misfeed, failure to eject, or malfunction of any type…The ACE is a great rifle…I’d take a 7.62 NATO ACE over my M4 for combat any day. It runs perfectly, shoulders quickly, and delivers a wide range of .308-caliber projectiles with better-than-good-enough accuracy.”
The short-barreled, semiautomatic, Galil ACE SBR in 7.62mm NATO for law enforcement use is almost exactly the same weapon, except that the barrel is reduced to just 11.8 inches, and an adjustable, polymer cheekrest is added for use with a scope or other optics. The iron sights include an adjustable front post with tritium insert, and two-dot, tritium rear-aperture sight, which remain visible when low-mounting simple optics, such as the Aimpoint T2 red-dot device.
The Galil ACE SBR rifle weighs a modest 6.72 pounds empty, measures only 30.25 inches overall with the stock extended, and uses Magpul Gen. M3 20-round magazines. At a retail price of $2,099, you certainly pay for all of that compact firepower, but it’s very difficult to find a 7.62mm/.308-caliber weapon with such a short, handy barrel these days (except for the brand-new SIG MCX Raptor, with 7.9-inch barrel, probably the shortest .308 carbine in the world today, at $4,200+), even shorter than the 12.4-inch barrel on the time-honored, H&K G3KA4 special carbine, or the 13-inch barrels on the HK417A2 (German) military/police carbine, at $3,600 to $4,200, or the B&T (Swiss) APC308 carbine, at $3,800+, and considerably less expensive than any of those competitors. Relatively speaking, that makes it a real bargain for police department SWAT teams or the military, after all.
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Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism, and is an NRA member. He served in Europe and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, four college degrees, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author, historian, and hunter. You may visit his website at: warrengray54.vistaprintdigital.com.