The Galil Ace enjoys an almost mythic status among American shooters. This is due to its Israeli military heritage and combat-proven reputation for reliability. In fact, it’s one of the few designs based on the AKM to improve upon it objectively.
Updating the Galil Ace
Despite this, the original Galil had a few shortcomings, mainly in weight. The original Galil weighs in at an exhausting 8.7 pounds unloaded. With a loaded magazine, the weight quickly hits 10 pounds, and that’s without any optics attached. Not that shooters will have to worry about that because there’s no easy way to attach optics on an original Galil.
Despite this, the Galil is still a formidable weapon and one with a proven method of operation. So, it was no surprise when the Israeli military developed the Galil into a true modern fighting rifle. Specifically, the Galil SAR and its civilian counterpart, the ACE.
Make no mistake, the ACE is a phenomenal firearm, but it could use a few extras to really let the design shine. The most driving factor behind the ACE’s development was the hefty weight of the original Galil rifle. Because of this, all accessories should either be lightweight or not dramatically disturb the gun’s center of balance.
Additionally, every upgrade in this article addresses either a limitation of the ACE’s design or simply helps the gun fully realize its potential when used as either a home defense or fighting rifle.
So, with that in mind, here are six upgrades that maximize the Galil ACE’s performance as a do-everything firearm.
1 – Sig ROMEO3 Reflex Sight
In terms of increasing accuracy and speed, nothing tops replacing iron sights with optics. While magnified optics increase effective range and accuracy, they also restrict the gun’s usefulness at closer range because they limit peripheral vision, which is critical at closer range.
With hundreds of different optic options on the market, why choose the Sig Romeo? The ROMEO3 is a very competent reflex sight. It features a brilliant 3 MOA dot, powered by a single CR2032 battery, phosphorescent brightness controls, and two different mounts. The Romeo comes installed with a quick-detach mount set to the standard AR-15 iron sight height for easy co-witnessing.
The second mount is a tension-style claw that clamps onto Picatinny rails with a single bolt. This alternate mount is much lower than the QD one and is better suited to firearms with lower comb height like AKs, shotguns and, of course, our Galil ACE carbine.
In testing, I found the Romeo more than capable of handling the recoil of anything thrown its way. This includes my go-to scattergun, the 12-gauge VEPR 12, and a Marlin lever-action rifle chambered in .45-70 Gov.
Best of all, the little optic only weighs 1.4 ounces and is fully adjustable for windage and elevation up to 100 minutes of angle. Lastly, for shooters who run night vision devices, the Romeo features nine daytime illumination settings and two specifically for use with NVGs.
For more information, please visit SigSauer.com.
2 – RS Regulate Handguard
As much as I enjoy the weight savings of a polymer handguard, I don’t yet trust it for mounting mission-critical accessories— at least on semi- or full-auto firearms that heat up excessively.
This could be excused if the gun in question could utilize true free-floating handguards. But sadly the Galil ACE mounts its handguards in a somewhat similar fashion to an HK G3 and FN FAL. Meaning the handguard is secured both to the front trunnion area of the receiver and to the barrel near where the gas tube meets the front sight tower.
When it comes to railed handguards, shooters are best served with a solution that combines free-floating the barrel and multiple mounting slots with lightweight, durable construction. Up until recently, no such handguard existed for the Galil ACE. But the engineers over at RS Regulate remedied that problem with their GAR-10M-R M-Lok handguard.
The RS Regulate Galil handguard is available in either an M-Lok or KeyMod configuration. Likewise, you can get it in multiple lengths for every caliber of Galil ACE currently offered by IWI. More impressive is that despite being made of 7075 anodized aluminum, the RS Regulate handguard weighs 30 percent less than the factory polymer Picatinny rail.
The rail features M-Lok or KeyMod rail segments at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions and an open-top design. Additionally, the rail also includes a pair of QD sling mounts at the front.
Incidentally, both versions are exceptionally well-ventilated from the mounting points. This allows them to dissipate any excess barrel heat quickly. This, in turn, reduces how quickly the gun loses accuracy from barrel expansion and its effects on barrel harmonics.
For more information, please visit RSRegulate.com.
3 – Circle 10 Magazine
Don’t be fooled by the Circle 10 Factory mag’s appearance. This magazine isn’t manufactured by ProMag but from Bulgarian state-owned military factories. These magazines are more durable than even the gold standard military surplus stamped steel AK magazines. How?
They’re built from high-impact special polymer that is both heat and chemical resistant. But they take it one step further. Underneath the ultra-rugged polymer, shell are steel-reinforced locking lugs and feed lips. The former of which is especially important on AK magazines.
This is because, unlike STANAGs, Warsaw Pact-favorite AK magazines rock into place. Consequently, the little tab that secures the magazine inside the rifle bears the brunt of the entire gun’s weight should the rifle fall on the magazine.
Some AK-savvy readers might be thinking to themselves, “What about the new AK PMAGs from Magpul that feature steel reinforcements?”
Fair point, but unlike Magpul’s offerings, these Bulgarian mags have been battle tested for several decades. The only downside to these Eastern European magazines over Magpul’s offerings is the price. Circle 10 mags aren’t imported in the same number they once were and now command prices of around $60.
Personally, these magazines are great “End-of-the-World” or bugout mags. They aren’t worth it for shooters who want to punch paper all day. But for those who need a mag that can take insane amounts of punishment and still run—the Bulgarian Circle 10 is without equal.
Check for them at any magazine importer via ’net recon.
4 – Streamlight LED
Hitting targets is tough enough in broad daylight on a fixed range. Throw into the mix moving targets in the middle of friendlies in low or no light, and safely putting rounds on target becomes nearly impossible. This is why I always recommend putting a powerful, reliable weapon light on any gun that could see serious use.
For our Galil Ace, that light is the Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 2. What the Streamlight weapon light lacks in brevity, it more than makes up for in performance, versatility, and durability.
Running off a pair of CR123A lithium batteries, the ProTac 2 blasts 625 lumens of eye-searing light from its LED emitter on high mode. While operating in this high-performance mode, the ProTac can throw light out to 297 meters for two hours straight. On low, the light’s range is reduced to 89 meters at 60 lumens but runs for an astonishing 21 hours.
The Rail Mount 2 ships with an anodized aluminum Picatinny rail mount with an oversized tension knob for rapid mounting or removal. The ProTac Rail Mount 2 is clearly designed for use on rifles and shotguns. It ships with a remote tape switch that mounts to a mil-standard Picatinny rail. Shooters lacking spare space on their rail for the pressure switch can use either the included zip ties or 3M sticky tape.
For more information, please visit Streamlight.com.
5 – Phase 5 Mini Hand Stop
While this might seem like an odd addition with all the other high-ticket items on the list, the Phase 5 Mini Hand Stop is truly indispensable on the Galil.
In the shown configuration, the Galil ACE features the pressure switch for the ProTac 2 on the gas tube rail. To ensure that while using the thumb-over-bore technique, the shooter can reliably actuate their tactical light every time, they need a physical point of reference for the support hand.
For me, the Phase 5 Mini is ideal. It’s lightweight enough to not alter the weapon’s balance. However, it’s also durable enough that shooters can utilize it as a brace when firing from cover.
I’ve personally got five of these mounted on various rifles, shotguns and even submachine guns that I use in competition and training. I’ve fired thousands of rounds through these guns with different Phase 5 stops installed. As a result, I can confidently say your hands will fail before these little bomb-proof guys will.
For more information, please visit Phase5WSI.com.
6 – SilencerCo Suppressor
Having owned a suppressor for only a few short years has totally spoiled me on them. The difference in terms of shooter comfort when firing suppressed versus unsuppressed is night and day. It’s tantamount to driving without a muffler vs with one.
Unfortunately, suppressing the Galil ACE is a bit of an issue. Not for any AK-like reasons like nonconcentric bores or destabilized ammo. But because of how muzzle devices attach to the gun. Because a slight misalignment can cause catastrophic failures in suppressors. The guns they attach to must have perfect, repeatable mounting methods.
Nearly every modern firearm goes about that by using a shoulder or 90-degree flat spot behind the threaded portion of the muzzle to index the suppressor. This ensures that the suppressor is perfectly parallel with the barrel.
The Galil doesn’t do that. Instead, the gun uses a counter-pressure nut that shooters then torque against their desired muzzle device to secure it. The problem is that it’s easy to accidentally misalign the suppressor to the bore.
My solution is different. Instead of indexing off the shoulder, I forced the suppressor to index off the front of the muzzle near the crown. The only issue is that the gun then needs to have a very clean crown. Likewise, the mount used needs to be extra long to accommodate the amount of excess threaded barrel on the Galil.
Thankfully, my go-to .30-caliber can from SilencerCo has room to spare when using the ASR QD mounts now included on SilencerCo rifle-caliber suppressors. In testing, the Saker 762 encountered no baffle strikes. Also, when running just the ASR flash suppressor without the sound suppressor, it was pleasant to shoot and did a great job of reducing muzzle flash.
For more information, please visit SilencerCo.com.
7 – Hornady 7.62x39mm
Let’s face it, 7.62x39mm is somewhat lacking in the terminal ballistics department and the commercial availability of non-FMJ loadings. If shooters are lucky enough to find 7.62x39mm defensive or hunting ammunition, it’s often vastly overpriced and available only in 20-round boxes.
Thankfully, the ammunition engineers at Hornady Manufacturing feel the same way as this author. For this reason, Hornady offered its own affordable loading—the 123-grain SST.
Utilizing lacquered steel casings, this Hornady offering is very different from their normal creme de la creme, brass, and nickel-plated casing premium ammunition – at least in appearance. Hornady utilized these green casings because they’re weatherproof and much less expensive than their brass-cased offerings.
This makes sense since most buyers will be AKM enthusiasts accustomed to lower ammunition prices.
Furthermore, both the AK and Galil are built to tight tolerances allowing carbon or dirt build-up without affecting functionality. Thus, any lacquer that finds its way into the receiver won’t negatively affect the rifle’s reliability.
What about performance? Hornady’s SST rounds proved marginally more accurate in testing than military loadings from Wolf, Tula, and Golden Tiger. In fact, approximately 1.5 MOA better.
But where the rounds really shine is in the terminal ballistics department. While I’m no ballistician, my personal experience speaks volumes for the 7.62x39mm SST round. While hunting with the round, I had no issue ethically culling medium game like white-tailed deer and aggressive game like wild boar with a single well-placed round.
For more information, please visit Hornady.com.
Your Ace Is Wild
Overall, the Galil ACE is a very competent weapon system on the cusp of perfection. With a few of the upgrades listed above, shooters can transform their Galil into a real Ace on the line.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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