Review: IWI US Galil ACE Gen II Rifle
The Galil rifle has a rich history that dates back to the 1960s, when the Israel Defense Forces sought to replace its existing FN FAL battle rifle in use since the 1950s. Fairly long and heavy, the FN FAL was not exactly ideal in sandy locales or tight urban quarters and, as legend has it, wasn’t as robust as the AK-47. Based on the AK-47 design, which was of course renowned for its reliability, the first Galil was developed by Yisrael Galili, whose name the rifle bears to this day.
Fast forward through the decades and combat-experience-based upgrades, and the result was a modernized, lighter, more accurate variant in IWI’s Galil ACE Gen I, which kept the machined-steel upper receiver and added a polymer handguard to help reduce the weight by nearly 2 pounds. What the AK lacked in the accuracy department, the Galil made up for thanks to several modern innovations. While retaining the legendary reliability of the Kalashnikov, IWI US added other features like a bolt catch with the capability of locking back on the last round and a folding buttstock.
Now, IWI has updated the platform to the Galil ACE Gen II, available in both 7.62×39 mm and 5.56 NATO (reviewed here), as well as pistol and rifle platforms in both chamberings. Assembled in the U.S., the ACE Gen II represents more than 50 years of innovation in the IWI line of rifles. Like the original, the Gen II features charging handle on the left side of the firearm, with the ambidextrous safety selector on the lower left and right sides of the firearm. The throw of the safety switch has been shortened for easier operation in this new generation. This is noticeable when using the left- and right-hand side control of the lever. The right-hand side of the receiver also features a bolt catch/release lever just above and rear of the trigger guard, especially handy for locking the bolt back.
To appeal to American gun owners, one of the changes made on the Gen II rifle is the inclusion of an M4-style buttstock. The buttstock features QD sling-attachment points and offers several inches of adjustment, allowing the rifle to fit a variety of different-size shooters. Do you need a bulkier stock with an empty buffer tube on a piston gun? No, but the M4-style buttstock has become such a mainstay on American rifles that many are familiar with the design and have come to expect it. It’s functional, makes sense in the American market and fits a wide variety of existing accessories. For those who do prefer the M4 stock, it’s hard to turn your nose up at Magpul’s CTR, which comes on this Galil. Like the original, the Gen II features the same folding mechanism (easily engaged with a bit of upward force), which is quite handy for convenient storage or ease of transport.
Another welcome addition to the ACE Gen II is the extended trigger profile. Slightly longer than the original and noticeably smoother, the improved trigger performance aids in the accuracy department. Unlike the Gen I, the newer model doesn’t come with iron sights, but they are replaced by a full-length Picatinny top rail. It seems likely many shooters would prefer an extended space to mount optics or accessories, so the trade-off is worth it in my opinion. It’s not a big deal to pick out a set of aftermarket flip-up sights that work for you, in terms of both cost and convenience.
While the Gen I came with a military-style, rounded fore-end which covered rail sections, but had to be removed to mount any accessories, the new Gen II rifle features a sleek and incredibly useful aluminum fore-end with M-Lok slots. Many attachment points run along the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions of the freefloated handguard, making it easy to add whatever accessories you deem necessary. If you’re looking to add lights, lasers or foregrips, the new handguard is a welcome addition.
For testing, the rifle contained a Leupold 1.5-4×20 mm VX-Freedom, which offers crisp, clear glass and plenty of accuracy out to 200 yards. Several loads were tested at the 100-yard range, and everything from Hornady’s 55-grain Frontier load to Nosler’s 69-grain HPBT performed well in the accuracy department.
IWI US’s Galil ACE Gen II is a worthy addition to an esteemed rifle lineage, which continues to provide shooters with impressive reliability and consistent accuracy. Thanks to an M-Lok handguard, it’s more versatile than ever, and it isn’t unwieldy.
Article by ERIC CONN