Gun Test: IWI .223 Galil Pistol With Brace
By Holt Bodinson, GUNS Magazine
Photos By Takashi Sato
The important improvements in the modern ACE Galil design begin with weight. The original Galil featured a stout, milled, steel receiver and as-issued weighed approximately 9.6 pounds. The new Galil features a milled steel upper and a polymer lower. This combination knocks off about 2 pounds. The polymer molded lower also makes possible some highly practical styling like the ACE’s generous, enlarged magazine well to guide and glide magazines securely into place and includes a trap pistol grip as well.
The sighting system is vastly improved with the addition of a 12.25-inch Picatinny top rail. The rear sight is a windage adjustable AR-type with an “L” shaped, flip-up aperture calibrated for 300 and 500 meters and an elevation adjustable front post sight. Both front and rear wear Tritium dots for low light work, and IWI throws in a sight tool to make the adjustments a snap. Additionally, the fore-end features three short Picatinny rails with covers for mounting lights, optics and other accessories. The two side-rail covers feature punch-out panels giving the shooter tactile access to any mounted pressure switches.
The original Galil charging handle stood vertical and was placed on the right-hand side of the receiver to facilitate ambidextrous operation. The new, more conventional location places a reciprocating, horizontal handle along the left-hand side of the receiver. A great piece of innovative engineering adds a rocking coverplate over the channel in which the operating handle runs to seal the action from dirt and debris.
The SB Tactical brace folds and keeps the overall length of the ACE at a compact 19.5 inches.
Overleaf: Sharing the spotlight with the Galil Ace is a Tops Knives I.C.E. Dagger, a Chest Rig by Mayflower and a Streamlight ProTac 2L-X flashlight.
To improve the accuracy of the ACE, IWI has incorporated the trigger from the Galil sniper rifle (averaged 6.5 pounds) and redesigned the AK-type gas tube to reduce accuracy-robbing vibrations. The barrel is hammer forged with a 1:7-inch twist and chrome plated.
While the original safety of the Galil was ambidextrous—and continues to be in the ACE—an ambidextrous magazine release is new, as is a last-round bolt catch. Overall, the new Galil ACE is a 21st century update of an already legendary design.
The ACE pistol is stocked with the innovative SB Tactical Pistol Stabilizing Brace. SB designed the stabilizing brace originally for physically impaired shooters. Strapping the brace on firmly secures the shooting arm to the firearm. If you’ll excuse the pun, the pistol can be handily fired 1-handed or with added support from the offhand, and if you roll your head against your upper arm providing a cheekweld, an additional level of stability is created.
As originally configured by SB, their Tactical Pistol Stabilizing Brace can also be fired from the shoulder according to a recent decision from BATFE without creating an NFA taxed-and-certificated short-barreled rifle, but the SB Brace must not be modified in any way by the owner. In short, the SB designed brace is a flexible stocking design for a pistol, is available in a variety of configurations for popular pistols and comes as a factory installed stock from IWI, HK, SIG SAUER, CZ, KRISS and other makers.
All this adds up to a potential for excellent accuracy and we decided to mount the Galil ACE with quality optics. We selected EOTech’s Model 512 holographic red-dot sight supplemented by their superb, 3X, flip-over, G33 magnifier, both units being compatible with the Picatinny rail. It’s a cool combination, giving you the option of operating at 1X in close quarters and by swinging the magnifier in place, instantly viewing longer-range targets at 3X. Both EOTech instruments are rugged, combat-proven optics and have been around a long time. Mounted, they looked like they belonged to the Galil. They were the perfect fit.
A simple rear sight with aperture is flanked by two tritium dots for night use, and is protected by sturdy ears. The front sight also has a tritium dot, is adjustable for elevation and also protected by ears. The IWI Galil ACE takes down easily just as an AK-47 does.
The component parts are much sturdier and more closely fitted however.
A Caldwell pistol rest proved to be an ideal solution for benching the ACE while adding a sandbag under the butt. Because it’s heavy for its length, the ACE creates a stable platform from which to shoot. The 2-stage trigger is light but creepy, and I found the best trigger control was an aggressive pull, rather than trying to slowly squeeze up to the break point.
With its 8.3-inch barrel, I suspected there would be quite a bit of muzzleblast and flash. It proved not to be. To me, shooting the ACE off the bench was like shooting a regular 16-inch barreled AR.
The EOTech optics performed superbly. In the Model 512, elevation and windage adjustments were dead-on, and with 20 daytime reticle illumination settings, it was easy to adjust the red dot-within-a-circle to ambient light conditions. For the 50-yard accuracy tests, I employed the 3X magnifier. The Galil ACE gives up nothing in terms of inherent accuracy and favored the heavier 77-grain loadings, shooting 3-shot groups at 50 yards.
IWI’s compact Galil ACE pistol has a long and distinguished pedigree. It’s nice to see a Galil back on the market after what has been a long period of unavailability. While it fieldstrips like an AK, it’s a much tighter and more refined firearm. The Galil ACE pistol with its SB Pistol Stabilizing Brace is an immediate head-turner and frankly, a whale of a lot of fun to shoot.
The safety is easy to manipulate with either hand and the polymer pistol grip is hollow with a storage cavity for necessities.
Accuracy at 50 yards was quite good, with SIG SAUER 77-grain Match ammo taking top accuracy honors.
Galil’s Combat Pedigree
Rumbling into the Six Day War of 1967 armed with the FN/FAL, the victorious Israel Defense Force came away from the fray with a great deal more respect for the Arabs’ AK-47’s. Their adversaries’ AK’s operated well in the sandy battleground while Israel’s FAL proved to be sand sensitive and awkward in a highly mobile environment. The result was a period of study and weapons testing to identify a replacement for the FAL.
Israel’s greatest ally and source of foreign aid, the United States, had already adopted the M16 and the 5.56mm cartridge. Attracted to the low impulse 5.56mm cartridge, Israel was still impressed by the reliability of the AK-47 and its long-stroke gas-piston design. At the conclusion of a series of destructive field tests by the Golani Brigade involving the M16, Stoner 63, HK33, AK-47 and a design by Uziel Gal, the AK-47 was still considered the best of the lot.
What emerged was a hybrid design developed by firearms designer, Israel Galil. Galil borrowed freely and blended the best elements of the AK-47, the refined Finish AK, known as the Valmet M62, the M16, and the FN/FAL with some unique ideas of his own. The end product was so successful it was adopted in 1972 and reportedly saw action the following year in the Yom Kippur War.
The military Galil was produced by Israel Military Industries (IMI) in a variety of models. There was the Galil ARM with a folding bipod, carrying handle and the FN-style tubular folding stock common to all Galils; a Galil AR without the bipod or carrying handle; a Galil SAR with a short 15-inch barrel; a Micro-Galil (MAR) and a heavy barreled Galil Sniper. Galils were chambered in both 5.56mm NATO and 7.62mm NATO. IMI exported Galils to a number of South American, African and Asian countries and licensed other countries like South Africa to produce the design domestically.
In Israel, the Galil actually proved to be a short-lived design for general issue and was phased out in favor of the M16 and M4 the United States supplied in very ample quantities at very low prices.
In 2005, IMI spun off and privatized its small arms division as Israel Weapons Industries, Ltd. (IWI), and shortly thereafter established its US branch as IWI US, Inc. under the experienced leadership of Michael Kassnar. IWI US currently handles a variety of civilian and LE product lines including TAVOR SAR, TAVOR X95, UZI Pro and Jericho pistols, Galil ACE, Negev LMG, UZI Pro SMG, CTAR and DAN 338.
MAKER: IWI US, P.O. Box 126707, Harrisburg, PA 17112, (717) 695-2081, www.iwi.us
ACTION TYPE: Gas operated, semi-automatic (assembled by IWI US from parts made in Israel and the US)
CALIBER: 5.56x45mm NATO
BARREL LENGTH: 8.3 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 27.5 inches w/brace extended, 19.5 inches folded
WEIGHT: 7.6 pounds, FINISH: Black, SIGHTS: Adjustable front and rear with Tritium dots, Picatinny top rail
STOCKING: SB Pistol Stabilizing Brace. Picatinny tri-rail forearm
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