Category Archives: Israel

How to Replace An IMI Galil Recoil Spring

I have written a number of posts now about my purchase of a James River Armory Gallant, which is a Galil ARM. During function testing, I noticed that the surplus recoil spring that JRA used was on the weak side. I would pull the bolt carrier back just a bit and the spring couldn’t push it all the way closed.

Other ways you may find out your spring is weak is if it is ejecting brass a mile away, the recoil feels different or the back of the carrier is showing signs of hitting the rear of the receiver. I always function test new rifles or kit builds that I have done and would recommend you do the same.

What to do?

The fix is real simple – replace the old surplus spring with a new one. Now there is some confusion about the recoil spring because the Galil AR, ARM and SAR rifles are chambered in 5.56 NATO. They do, in fact, use a standard AKM recoil spring even though those rifles are chambered for 7.62×39. This means you have a ton of options – surplus, new old stock (meaning old but unused usually), plus new springs from ALG, Wolff, etc. In my case, I had spare ALG recoil springs on-hand used one

The Galil recoil assembly is above and the brand new ALG spring is below, still in it’s packaging.
The recoil spring assembly may look challenging to take apart but it is actually very simple. The rod is two pieces, the spring and then the retaining end cap. If you remove the spring pressure from the end cap, it slides right off the rod and everything comes apart. NOTE – the spring is under tension so keep everything under control or you will be chasing parts and you do not want to lose that little retaining end cap.
I usually hold the rear of the assembly in a vise, use one hand to compress the spring and then the other to remove the retainer. You can the release the tension in the spring in a controller manner. If you don’t use a vise, you’ll wish you had three hands. Note, some guys will use small vise grip pliers with rubber tube or electrical tape on the jaws to clamp down on the rod with the spring slightly pushed back. They then remove the retainer and control the release of the spring as they remove the vise grips. Whatever works for you is fine. I go with the vise route and not the pliers because I don’t want to risk deforming/marring the surface of the rod.
This is a photo of the retaining end cap and the end of the guide rod. See how the rod is notched? The end cap just slides right on and the spring sits on the retainer holding it in place. It’s elegant in its simplicity.
At the top is the original spring. The lower spring is the ALG unit. Note the interesting “dead” center with the spring coils that are right next to each other. ALG says “The 2 to 3 dead coils in the center change the natural frequency of the spring, which prevents harmonics from damaging the spring and reducing its free length.” It’s interesting – we’ll see how it holds up.
The Galil’s use a tube recoil rod that I really like. The older milled AKs used them until switching to a cheaper and easier to make linkage of two bent wires. Many RPKs still use the tube style. I tend to think it creates a more consistent return but not everyone agrees with me and that’s fine. I don’t have a mountain of collected data from experiments to support my hunch. Regardless, to re-assemble the recoil rod assembly, I use this long center punch to support the inner rod as I compress the wire. Any object small enough to fit in the rear tube to support the front rod would work.
So you push or pull the wire back as you apply pressure to keep the inner rod slid out forward.
Here I have the spring easily held back and have placed the retaining cap back on. I then just guided the spring back into position and ensured it was sitting square on the end cap.
Here the end result. The newly assembled unit is to the top. A recoil spring assembly from a Galil SAR kit is under it for comparison and the old original spring is at the bottom.

In Summary

It’s easy to swap out the recoil spring and the rifle functions great with the ALG unit. Definitely function test your rifles before going to the range the first time to avoid surprises.

I hope this helps you out.



Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Cleaning and Tuning IMI Galil 5.56 Magazines

I have written a number of posts now about my purchase of a James River Armory Gallant, which is a Galil ARM wherein they provided a new US made receiver, barrel and pistol grip. They wanted to keep their costs down so the remaining three parts they needed for 922r compliance was to use a US-made Tapco Galil Magazine that is polymer and looks nothing like the original not to mention they are no longer being made!

The top mag is a polymer Tapco and the bottom is an original IMI surplus 35 round mag.

I wanted to use IMI surplus steel 35-round magazines that not only are the authentic ones to use but they are abundantly available. That meant I had to replace three more parts on the Gallant and the easiest is to swap the original Galil fire control group (the hammer, trigger and disconnector) with a US made group. The ALG AKT-EL is perfect for the job so I ordered one from PSA and installed it (click here for the big blog post I did about it). Next up was to source, clean and tune some original IMI Galil Mags, which is what this post will be about.

Finding the Mags

You can find surplus steel 35 round IMI Galil mags all over the place at websites that deal with surplus and gun parts. I bought all of mine from Numrich and they are in great shape at a fair price but you can also find them at Apex Gun Parts, Robert RTG, Aim Surplus and other places.

Numrich is a good firm to deal with. A few days after I ordered, a box showed up with my mags. Keep reading through because you do need to do some work.

Cleaning and Lubricating

Ok, these are surplus and they have been moved all over. Most feel like they have something on them for corrosion and are sticky. Some have a slightly dirty feel as dust and what not have stuck to the surfaces.

Do NOT try to use the magazines as-is. Take a few minutes to clean and lubricate them.

The bottom piece of sheet metal is the floor plate. Put a small blade screwdriver in the right end and pry while pushing down the locking tab you see sticking out in the middle. With the tab out of the way the base plate will come off and then the spring loaded internals are going to come flying out. To avoid this, pull the floor plate off about half way and then use your free hand to secure the internals as you remove the floor plate the rest of the way.
Once you have them all apart. you’re going to have a table like this.
I cleaned everything with brake cleaner and let it dry.
The parkerized finish did not let the follower slide as easy as I would like so I coated the inside of the magazine, follower, and spring with Super Lube Dri-Film Lubricant. Basically it is a PTFE (Teflon) in a solvent. So, you spray it on, the solvent evaporates and a film of PTFE remains. I like this because it lubricates without attracting dirt.
The white are the PTFE particles left after evaporation. All you need to care about is the inside. This is just extra that leaked out and I thought it would help to show what it looks like. Super Lube sounds like an infomercial brand but their lubricants are really good. The PTFE made a remarkable difference in how smooth the follower moved. Parkerized surfaces are rough and either they need to wear in or have something like PTFE to help.
To clean them up and make them look nice, I apply silicone spray and then wipe it off with a towel. I then let them evaporate for a while.

Fitting the Mags

Out of the eight mags I bought, three of them needed some help as they would not seat fully. In these cases, modify the magazine. If you told me none fit, I would look at the mag catch but in this case most fit so the issue was the mags.

I did not have a problem with any feed lips. The problems were all with the strip of sheet metal that is holding the mag catch tab. If you look close, it’s the strip hitting the receiver that is blocking seating the mag fully.
To resolve the issue, I used a small flap sander on my Dremel and put a beveled edge on the strip where it was hitting. Problem solved.

To do any testing with dummy rounds – not live rounds. I use A-Zoom brand dummy rounds, just FYI and I also was using my surplus steel Galil mags at this point because my 922r parts count was being met thanks to the new fire control group.

To test, I loaded up 10 of the blue A-Zoom snap caps and made sure they would cycle. In terms of hand feeding and extracting, I have to say JRA nailed it. The action was smooth and the Gallant fed from the surplus mags just as smoothly as the Tapco mag.

The mags look and function great as a result. Some of the mags did require some fitting so let me explain that next.

In Summary:

I can now use surplus mags like I wanted thanks to the ALG fire control group and these cleaned up mags. I hope this post helps you out.



Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Function Testing an IMI Galil / JRA Gallant

Let me open with this comment:

ALWAYS Function Test Before You Go To The Range With a New or Modified Galil or AK Rifle or Pistol!!

Seriously – don’t wait to go to the range to do this. You can find out a lot of things at home with all your tools and supplies on hand vs. being somewhere wishing you were home.

Before function testing, I clean and lube the rifle. I like to use Super Lube grease during break in on all sliding surfaces and a few drops of Super Lube liquid lubricant on anything that rotates.

Use whatever your favorite bore cleaner is to clean out the barrel and the chamber. You will be surprised to see all of the dirt / dust / junk that comes out of a new barrel. Just because a given weapon is “new” does not mean it is clean.

Function Testing

First, I just test the mechanism without mags or dummy rounds. You can find out a lot by doing this and I do it without the dust cover on so I can see what is going on:

  1. Pull the bolt bolt carrier back and let it go. It should slam home without binding or sticking. If it does, try cycling the action 10-20 times and see if it smooths out. Some guys will cycle their AK a couple of hundred times before the range to smooth things out. I tend to find they are okay after a few dozen cyclings with lubrication or I need to take it apart and fix something such as a burr or rough surface.
  2. Pull the trigger, you should see it be released and it should firmly whack the firing pin. If it seems lame, the spring may be worn out or broken. I would recommend converting over to an ALG fire control group (PSA sells a custom version of the ALG-EKT that will work fine in any Galil or AK rifle – they are in stock and at a great price) and replace both the hammer and disconnector springs (the ALG will come with the disconnector spring but not the main hammer spring. ALG sells them and that’s what I use but I prefer the double wound spring model vs. the single spring unit they also sell. The Russians went with a double or “spiral wound” spring to increase the fault tolerance risk of a single spring breaking).
  3. Something unique to Galils is that they have a spring loaded firing pin whereas regular AKs just have a floating firing pin in the bolt body. You can get into arguments about this one. AKs work fine without a spring but you do have a risk of a pin sticking out or slamming home with enough force to cause a sensitive primer to detonate and cause a misfire. Thus some like putting a spring in the bolt that forces the firing pin backwards to reduce the odds of a misfire. Others will argue there is more risk of debris causing the spring to jam or the spring itself breaking and jamming the pin. Folks, this is like arguing Chevy vs. Ford – you aren’t going to convince a staunch believer of one side or the other that you are right and he is wrong. The Galil is not the only firearm design to do this and they work just fine. At any rate, just make sure the pin does not stay stuck out on a Galil. You should be able to push the exposed firing pin at the back of the bolt and both see and feel it freely move.
  4. Next, cycle the bolt carrier to cock the hammer, engage the safety lever next to block the trigger and try to squeeze the trigger – you should not be able to pull the trigger and have it fire. If you can then you will need to adjust the gap between the trigger and safety bar. With the ALG, this means you trimmed off too much, need to remove the first roll pin and start over with the second. If you don’t have an ALG, you will need to decide if you want to weld on some material onto the trigger leg or safety bar and then trim to fit.
  5. This next one tests the disconnector – with the trigger pulled back, cycle the action and you should see the hammer get caught/captured by the disconnector. When you let go of the trigger, the hammer should switch from the disconnector to the front hammer hooks on the trigger. This is a fascinating display of geometry. Now, if the disconnector does not catch the hammer or release it, you may need a new disconnector spring or have forgotten to install the spring.

Photos of the Bolt

This is the rear of the unique Galil spring loaded firing pin. Other AK variants do not have this. Put a drop or two of oil on the back side and let the lubricant run in. When you push on this button, it should depress and return smoothly and easily. If it sticks, it needs to be disassembled, inspected and cleaned to be safe. The reason I bring this up is that if the other end of the pin is sticking out of the bolt face, it will fire a primer when the bolt slams into a cartridge at some point of the feeding process.
I make sure the extractor at the top can move freely in and out. It has a fairly stiff spring in there so a cartridge’s rim slides against the ramped face of the extractor pushing it out of way until it snaps back into the slot of the extractor slot of the 5.56 NATO cartridge. Note the brass coloring. The Galil ARM parts kit that JRA used to assemble this Gallant saw a lot of use. I did headspace it also just to be safe and it was properly headspaced by JRA.

Next, do the above with magazines and with dummy rounds – not live rounds. I use A-Zoom brand dummy rounds, just FYI and I also was using my surplus steel Galil mags at this point because my 922r parts count was being met thanks to the new fire control group.

Comments about the above:

  • When it comes to step one above, I want to see the dummy round get stripped from the magazine and be fed up into the chamber nice and smooth. I will do this 10-20x to make sure it looks good. Things that can mess this up are: magazine not seating fully, bent magazine feed lips, no bullet guide installed, needing a slight radius at the start of the chamber to help line up cartridges, or if you bent the receiver while building or using the rifle (I’ve done both over the years so it happens.
  • When I am cycling the rifle, does it stall/slow down at any point during the feeding of the ammo? Guess what? The Gallant failed this – the old surplus spring was too weak and I replaced it with an ALG spring – (Any AKM spring will work even though the Galil is 5.56 NATO and the AKMs are 7.6×39).

I then Install the dust cover and make sure that nothing is binding. At this point, your rifle should be good for testing at the range. Always, always, always test combinations of ammo and magazines on a given weapon before you rely on them. Do the function testing and take them to the range.

I hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Replacing the IMI Galil / JRA Gallant’s Fire Control Group with a New ALG AKT-EL set

The AR, ARM and SAR IMI Galil rifles use an AK-style fire control group. I didn’t include the little Micro Galil as I am not sure about them. For the others though, this means you can swap out the IMI-designed group for the AK group of your choice.

I needed to do this because my JRA Gallant (which is a kit assembled rifle using an IMI Galil ARM kit) came with a single Tapco plastic Galil magazine and I wanted to use steel surplus magazines. Now, there is a regulation known as 922r that requires a foreign rifle not approved for importation into the US (read that as military style weapons typically like AKs, Uzis, etc.) certain number of American made parts to be legal based on a list the ATF came up with. In the case of the Galils, you need to replace 6 parts.

The Gallant has American made: receiver, barrel, and pistol grip. The Tapco magazine gave it the other three. To use the surplus mags, I needed to replace another three – the trigger, disconnector and hammer. I like ALG triggers and while I prefer the Ultra, the Enhanced trigger is still really good. Let me give you a tip – you can get a great deal on enhanced ALG triggers from Palmetto (PSA).

The Thumb Selector

There are two unique parts to the Galil design that you need to bear in mind. First, the thumb selector lever is actually connected to the selector lever inside the receiver. This leads us to the second item – because of the thumb lever, the very popular fire control group plates can’t be used to secure the hammer and trigger pins so don’t lose whatever wire retainer comes with your weapon. If you do lose/need one, get a Dissident Arms AK retaining wire.

Starting from the right edge of the receiver, you can see the grip nut on the bottom. The selector lever and thumb extension are two parts located above it. You can then see selector, and the hammer retained by the twin hooks of the trigger. Note the two part springs IMI used – in an AK, there is a single fire control spring that does double duty to both handle the hammer and the trigger. With the Galil, the hammer spring is a twisted wire design but there is a unique dedicated trigger spring. Purely from a redundancy perspective, I prefer the braided AK spring the handles both. I am not too sure how the Galil design would fair if the trigger spring failed on one side. It is secured on both trigger forks independently so…. not sure how well it would work if one side failed.

Remove the IMI Group

First off, remove the dust cover. Next, remove the recoil spring and bolt assembly. You can then look down right at the innards of the rifle.

The dust cover is off and you can see the recoil spring assembly and the back of the bolt carrier. Both of these plus the pistol grip will need to be removed so you can then remove the selector lever, thumb selector and, finally, the fire control group.

Remove the pistol grip by unscrewing the grip screw on the bottom. You can then have enough room to swing the selector lever so the notch in the receiver will allow you to remove the lever from the left side.

To remove the hammer and trigger pins, you must first remove whatever retaining wire the builder used. JRA used this really elegantly simple retaining wire where you push it up off the hammer pin and then can push it back and remove it from the trigger pin.

The retaining clip’s front edge is just to the right of the braided hammer spring. I inserted a small screw drive and pried upward and the clip came right off. Now not all builds use this same type of clip but it is wonderfully simple.
This is a close up of the retaining wire and one of the fire control group pins. The pins are the same for the hammer and the trigger. The rear of the retainer that looks like a semi-circle goes into the trigger pin’s groove and then the wire is rotated down and pressed onto the hammer. The small lip on that part allows the pin to flex and snap into place into the groove of the hammer pin. It’s really quite elegant. Yes, I realize my bench cover is messy.
Last photo of the retaining wire. It also gives you a good look at the really beefy double hook trigger that the Galil uses. If it weren’t for 922r, I would have left it in. Note the orientation of the hammer spring.

You can either remove the hammer first and then the trigger or vice versa because the springs are independent. I removed the hammer first .

Here’s the hammer. Note the short dedicated spring. If installed, the legs would be rotated clockwise 180 degrees.
The hammer face is polished smooth allowing for the bolt carrier to pass over it very easily. I suspect the JRA builder did this because it is uniform. When forearms “wear in” and the parts get to know each other, you see a polishing of sorts. If this was done by wear then it is surprisingly uniform. Again, if it weren’t for 922r and my wanting to use surplus mags, I would have run with it.
After having a few “where did that part go?” moments over the years, I now use magnetic trays and put small parts in them. I have a variety of sizes that I’ve picked up over the years and they really make keeping track of parts easier.
For whatever reason, IMI opted to use a single strand wire for the trigger. It’s fairly fault tolerant – if one side breaks the other would still provide some function but I do find it an interesting departure from the typical AK where the legs of the hammer spring provide the pressure to reset the trigger. At any rate, the spring shown goes into a small hole in the trigger on each side.
To remove the spring, use a small blade screwdriver. Insert the head between the wire and trigger and twist to remove the spring from the hole. Do this on each side and then the trigger pin can be pushed out. The pin will be under tension so don’t try beating on it before you release the spring.
Here’s a good look at the trigger group. Top left is the trigger. It is a double hook design (meaning it has a hook on each front side to grab the hammer). You can see one of the unique holes drilled in the hook to hold the trigger spring. To the right of it is the unique IMI Galil trigger spring – single wound. In the middle is the disconnector and the spring is still in the body – those can weaken over time. At the bottom is the trigger axis pin.

Install the ALG Group

Despite the unique springs in the Galil, any AKM (AK Modern) fire control group will work in there – Tapco, Fime, ALG, etc. Right now, my favorite AK triggers are from ALG.

As a bit of background, ALG is the sister company of Geissele Automatics who make my favorite AR triggers. ALG are the initials of Amy Lynn Geissele (the wife of Bill Geissele who founded Geiselle Automatics). ALG was founded in 2012.

At any rate, ALG makes two AK triggers and both count towards three 922r parts (hammer, disconnector and the trigger each get one point). The AK Trigger Ultimate with Lightning Bow (AKT-UL) is hands down my favorite. It’s light, crisp and my preferred trigger for a designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) build.

When I can’t find or afford the AKT-UL, I use the AK Trigger Enhanced with Lightning Bow (AKT-EL). It’s still far, far better than the typical OEM AK trigger and works just great for normal AK builds. Normally you can find these triggers very easily but not right now – at least not from most normal suppliers who carry them unless you are willing to sign up for in stock notifications and wait.

COVID-19 variants, democrats handing out free money incentivizing people not to work and continued panic buying have just snarled supply chains everywhere. Trying to find some parts can just be a bear an ALG triggers for an AK are a good example but I am going to let you in on a little secret.

As I mentioned earlier, Palmetto State Armory (PSA) buys tons of modified ALG triggers for use in their various AK pattern rifles plus they make the triggers available for sale on their website (click here to go to the PSA page). These triggers work just fine in other AKs and in Galils. Not only are they almost always in stock – I can’t think of a time they were not when I needed them – but they are only $59.99. Folks, you can’t beat that. Bottom line, that is what I am running in my JRA Gallant and it ought to work in any Galil build.

This is the PSA version of the EKT-UL. It runs just fine in a Galil/Gallant.
To help smooth things out, I always put a rubberized polishing bit in my Dremel and polish all surfaces that will make contact – the area on the hammer where the hooks and disconnector grab, the bottom of the hooks and the bottom of the disconnector. I can’t stress this enough – you just want to lightly polish. You absolutely do NOT want to remove material or you will likely mess up the functioning of the trigger. Never use sand paper. I like rubber polishing bits but felt bobs with polishing compound work also.
The fastest lowest stress way to install an AK trigger is to use a slave pin during assembly. You put the spring in the disconnector, position the disconnector in the trigger and then push in the slave pin told hold it all together. Then, when you install the actual trigger pin with the assembly in the rifle, the slave pin exits the other wise as it is pushed out by the trigger pin being inserted. It just so happens that we make and sell them. Click here to go to our store’s page.
In case you aren’t familiar with AKs, note the orientation of the hammer spring. It can be a bear to install due to the torque the spring is generating. The legs of the spring set on the back legs/bars of the trigger.
By the way, here’s a little trick for you when you do install a hammer – use a small zip tie to secure the legs of the spring in the proper orientation. Get the hammer in place with the pin installed and then cut the zip tie. Note the positioning of the spring in the photo above so you can zip tie it accordingly.
One thing with the ALG triggers, they supply you two roll pins in case you need to adjust the gap between the back leg of the trigger and the selector/safety lever. The hole you see above and to the left of the disconnector is where the roll pin goes if you need it. I installed the hammer and trigger and tried testing. Without the pin, like you see it right now, the safety does not sufficiently block the trigger and it will fire. In other words, it needs the pin or there will be no safety mechanism.
The fastest way I have found to install that roll pin is to tap it far enough to start and then fully seat it with a vise. You can do whatever you’d like. It will need trimming from here.
You can use a file, sanding drum or whatever to remove enough material so the height of the pin allows the safety bar to move into position easily but also no longer allows the trigger to move enough to release the hammer. The ALG trigger comes with two pins just in case but my recommendation is to just take your time, remove a little and test over and over until it fits just right. You can’t tell from the photos but I think it took me around six tries to get it to fit right. Don’t rush is the message.
I like the design of the Gallan’t fire control pin retaining wire clip so I used that. Normally with AKs, I use plates but the big Galil does have a unique non-operating/left-side to accommodate the thumb lever so a normal plate will not work. Again, I like the clip JRA made and used it (I still use it actually).

Now, there is one gotcha and I want you to know right now very clearly before you pull your hair out. The ALG trigger is slightly wider so the leading edge of the original IMI Galil grip will cause it to bind. I did all the testing without the grip and then when I installed it, the trigger no longer worked right. Seriously, I had a WTF moment because this does not happen on AKs … then I remembered the long part of the Galil grip and sure enough it was preventing the trigger from rotating freely.

It’s an odd angle but you can clearly see where the grip was causing the ALG to bind. I just removed a bit of material from that leading edge and it was good to go. In hindsight, I could have used a drum sander on a Dremel and just removed material from the inside edge where the problem was. I used my belt sander and that’s the only reason I removed material all the way across. I’ll go the Dremel route next time.

Done

So that’s an overview of installing the ALG fire control group in a Galil. It’s really straight forward and other than few small unique features of the Galil, it’s a straight forward swap just like any AK.

Up next, I will go over cleaning the surplus Galil mags and getting them ready.

Note, I will do a function testing post also – always clean, lube and function test a Galil or AK before you take it to the range to avoid surprises.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



My First IMI Galil Kind Of – First Impressions of My New James River Arms Gallant

I have wanted to build an IMI Galil from a kit for years and just never got around to it.  One thing that kept me from jumping in was that I had never really dug into the design deeply by taking one apart and looking at everything.

In 2006, like a lot of guys, I read the late Steve Matthews great article in Firearm News about building your own AK rifle or pistol.  For whatever reason, the AK building bug bit me hard and I wound up with a number of barreled Romy-G kits along with flats, rivets and tools from AK-Builder.

I read everything I could and guys kept telling me you “just gotta dig in, do it and learn”. Well sir, I did. I trashed my first flat or two – I think I messed up the bend on one and the other I ruined the top rails as I didn’t cut them right. Yes, back in those days we had to put Dykem Blue on the top rails and scribe a line to cut to using a layout jig AK-Builder eventually came out with.  I messed up a lot and I learned a lot. 

A fair amount of the mistakes were caused because I had never really studied AKs prior to trying to build my first one. Over the years I have learned a ton more but one lesson sure has stuck with me – it’s way easier to build something if you have first had experience with the design including disassembly.

Fast Forward To December 2020

Everyone was in a panic buying everything firearm oriented in sight and I was trying to figure out whether to make the slightly sideways leap from AK designs that I knew to a Galil that was based on the Finnish RK.62 and had a screw in barrel (not pressed and had to be headspaced, the extractor cut and barrel populated later), some wierd looking thumb selector (no idea what that linkage was going to look like) plus I was sure I would run into other little unque surprises.

So I took a rather odd gamble.  Other than custom shops, like the amazing Jeff Miller at Hillbilly Arms, there are two shops cranking out IMI Galil clones using original Galil ARM and AR kits married to new US barrels and receivers.  ATI and their Galeio and James River Armory (JRA) and their Gallant, which uses Galil ARM kits.  Note, they are using new receivers and appear to have corrected issues they had with their earlier 2019-ish models.

The JRA seemed to get good reviews and was affordable around $1,000.  Now, a receiver will run you $400-500 once you include S&H plus your FFL’s transfer fee.  A barrel will run you $99-199 depending on what you get and then you will spend another $300-400 for a kit.  All of a sudden, looking at that JRA rifle as a parts kit became really attractive plus they use an 18″ 1:9 twist that can stabilize up to 62 grain M855 “green tip” bullets – actually it can go up to 72 in theory but I wanted to be able to shoot M855.  The original Galil’s had 1:12 twists that could stabilize the older M193 55 grain rounds but not M855 – when you see targets where guys fired M855 rounds through a 1:12 Galil barrel, the bullets often “keyhole” or hit sideways.  So, the 1:9 twist rate really appealed to me.

Apparently JRA has an exclusive distribution agreement with Classic Firearms. It’s interesting really – Classic has a number of Gallant models and their description is actually quite thorough in hindsight – Classic was sold out but I turned on notify for the Gallant models I was interested in and maybe 2-3 weeks later I got a notice that one was back in stock so I jumped and ordered one – this is the link for the one I bought.

I wish I could say it went smooth but FedEx’s Ground Service (the old RPS group they bought years ago) threw a big monkey wrench in things. Classic shipped promptly but FedEx Ground’s South Bend office has been having huge problems due to lack of staff.  It took maybe 2-3 weeks from when they got it until they actually delivered it to my FFL.

Scott Igert, the owner of Michigan Gun Exchange is a good friend of mine and I use him for all of my FFL needs plus he has the best gun store in Southwest Michigan in my honest opinion. At any rate, Scott sent me a photo of an AK and told me my Galil was in. Leave it to Scott to pull a prank and I knew full well he knew what a Galil looked like so he didn’t get me as good this time … unlike other times 🙂 That’s what friends are for.

At any rate, I went and snagged the Gallant, took it home and promptly took it apart.  I didn’t really care about the warranty because short of some huge problem with the receiver or a bent barrel, it wasn’t going back.

The Gallant ships in a hard case to protect the rifle. I snapped this photo literally when I got home and opened the case to take a serious look at the rifle.

So let me itemize my observations

They tell you right up front it is supposed to look battle worn. The skeptic in me thinks it was a way to cut costs but another side of me likes the look – the receiver and barrel are black, parts with the original finish have the grey/green parkerized finish on them and the wood has a look that only a ton of grease oil and God knows what can achieve.  I actually found myself liking it.

I’ve not done the battle worn look before and like it. I originally thought I would refinish the rifle but am now leaning towards leaving it the way it is  including the wood handguard.  For me, that blocking handguard is one of the iconic “signs” that tells you that you’re looking at a Galil ARM.

For 922r compliance, they have a US 1:9 barrel, a US receiver, a US Galil-Ultra looking grip made my Phoenix Technologies here in the US and a US Tapco magazine.  Now that last one gets a bit of a groan – the Tapco magazines are plastic, they work, but there are a ton of nice steel surplus 35 round mags out there that would make the rifle no longer 922r compliant if inserted.  As best as I can tell, they used an original Galil fire control group with it’s forged trigger hooks and two part spring setup – one spring for the trigger and one for the hammer – if it is aftermarket, it is not marked.

Note, I emailed JRA and asked them about the compliance parts. So far, they have not responded. Classic says on their web page that surplus mags fit (and they do by the way) but there is no mention of compliance.

Now, there are a two primary mindsets out there when it comes to 922r compliance: Some worry about it because they want to be legal. Some don’t care for whatever reason and that is their decsion. As for myself, I ensure that anything I build or modify is 922r compliant.  So, I wanted to use steel surplus Israeli mags so I decided to swap out the original IMI hammer, trigger and disconnect with a new ALG enhanced fire control group (FCG).  Yes, an AK FCG will work in an IMI Galil. If Classic tells me they actually sourced a US made IMI-style FCG, I will update this. I’m writing this post after already making the change to the ALG.

Heresa quick snapshot of the FCG that came with the JRA. Note that there hammer and trigger springs are independent. Also note that the person assembling the rifle took the time to polish the hammer face so the bolt carrier would cycle smoother. On the negative side, those are metal chips in the receiver from machining — I cleaned everything out. I’ll post more details as I do posts for each change I made.

The buttstock made me groan. It had a giant splash of yellow paint on the very butt of the stock for some reason.  The color was hideous, the horizontal tube had a few small nicks, and the finish was a bit more beat up than I preferred so decided I would swap it out for one in better shape from a SAR kit I had.

I am sure there is some meaning behind these colors but … yuck.

The rifle did come with an ARM bipod but it had a bunch of rust in the mechanism. It worked but definitely need cleaning and refinishing.

The Classic Firearms listing is straight up and honest – they bought a bunch of the detachable ARM bipods in the surplus market that were in good shape but not great. Mine had most of the finish gone from the legs and some rusting in the mechanism but it was fully operational. It would be an easy refinishing job some day when I have time. The ARM already weighs quite a bit empty so having a bipod installed was not on my high priority list *but* I did want a bipod to be complete.

The handguard was way, way to loose. This was pointed out in the ad so I expected some – but not what I felt. I don’t like it when they shake and rattle so that needed to be tightened up. The wood was in good shape though and I really liked the coloring.

Note how the rear forged retainer is canted with the top forward. There are two coil tensioning springs – one on each side – of the bottom. Because the handguard was so loose, they were causing the retainer to cant. Definitely fixable.

The barrel looked good – it was not bent and the components were installed right — other than the notch for the handguard not being close enough as mentioned previously. The bore was also nice and shiney with nice sharp rifling.

The barrel looked good inside and out. I was happy that they picked a 1:9 twist rate as I tend to shoot M855 62 grain ammo the most.

The top cover is still driving me nuts when it comes to installation. It is a delicate balancing act to get the recoil spring assembly to stay in the receiver groove and go into the dust cover vs. going out of the groove and falling into the receiver. I  have some Galil receiver stubs and I want to see if the receiver that JRA used is too short or if the IMI suffered from the same headache. I haven’t decided yet if I just want to live with it or cut the tab down about 1/8th-3/16th of an inch shorter, cut new grooves in it and the refinish the whole rod assembly.

Getting the recoil rod to stay in the right place and pop out of the dust cover during assembly is more of adventure than I care for. Honestly, that tab/button does not need to stick out that far sheesh.

Happily the rifle was properly headspaced and it fed rounds nicely. For a kit built rifle, it cycled and the FCG operated smoothly – surprisingly smoothly.  Okay, it looked like I had a solid foundation to build on. So far, so good.

At this point, I knew I was going to keep it so it was time to start making changes. I put the rifle back together and started thinking about what I was going to do.  I’ll detail what I did in subsequent posts.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Customizing An IWI Galil Ace Pistol – Installing a RS Regulate Handguard, SBA4 Brace & Vortex Optics

In my previous posts, I covered a bit of the history of the Galil Ace, did two posts about the differences between the Ace and an AKM that I observed (click here for the first and here for the second) and now that leads up to me making a few tweaks of my own to my 7.62×51 Ace pistol.

Moved to a SB Tactical SBA4 Brace

My Ace came with a SB Tactical SOB brace mounted on a proprietary IWI tube with a very heavy hinge. While the SOB is rugged, it is not adjustable so I installed and SB Tactical SBA4 brace. Seriously, the SBA4 is the most rugged brace I have found yet.

The SOB4 brace is what comes with GAP51SB pistols. Palmetto had a great deal on this model and that’s why I bought it. If I could have found the pistol model without a brace cheaper, I would have done that.
The SBA4 brace is beefier and more rigid that previous braces. The bottom e dges do not flop around like they do on the SOB and SBA3 braces. The FSM-AR adapter is between the tube and the receiver.

Now some may wonder why I didn’t just file for a short barreled rifle (SBR) tax stamp and run a normal stock. I may very well do this in the future but I didn’t want to deal with it right now. Both PSA and Brownells have the brace available.

The Ace design allows for very easy changing of a rear block by simply driving out one roll pin. The block can the be lifted straight out and whatever you want installed in its place.

The Ace is resting on a green bench block and I used a roll pin punch to tap out that single pin. That’s all you need to do and then the rear plate of the receiver that holds the hinge, or anything else for that matter, will lift right out.
With the pin removed, it literally lifts out. Notice how the “plate” or “block” sits in a groove and that’s what provide the bulk of the strength. The roll pin is just stopping vertical travel and is more than enough.

Since the SBA4 is ATF approved, I opted for a modular adapter block from KNS Precision going to an Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) folding M4 adapter – the FSM-AR. Note, if you install a folder, buy one with the boss – the raised oval shape. It will fit into the groove in the KNS Precision adapter and make for a very solid connection.

This is the external face of the KNS Precision adapter. The groove is where the boss from the FSM-AR adapter will sit to limit movement. I’d recommend always getting adapters with the bosses unless you intentionally do not want them. The two screw holes allow for variations in mounting.
This is the back side of the KNS adapter. The one roll pin goes through one of the grooves to hold it in place. It is very nicely done – kudos to KNS Precision.
The KNS adapter just slides right in and is secured by the roll pin.
This is the Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) FSM-AR adapter. You can see the oval boss on the left part of the folder. This gets flipped over and screwed into the KNS adapter. Also, oil the hinge at some point before you close it. Sometimes they can be a bear to actuate when dry — personal experience talking there. Also, use blue Loctite on all screws or they will shoot loose.

Special note – the charging handle for my Ace pistol is on the left side. In my case, I was not worried about operating when folded. If you want to fire with the stock folded, you must go with a right side folding mechanism. If I had it to do over, I would have used a right-side folder but I simply used what I had in this case to cut cost plus I don’t plan on folding it much.

Here’s the Ace folder open to the left and the brace assembly does interfere with the charging handle. If you want a weapon that will operate with the brace folded, then go with a unit that folds to the right.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension (buffer tube) and I used a generic castle nut that I had in my tool box along with an end plate that has hoops to connect a sling.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension/buffer tube. You will need to supply your own castle nut .

I only use my Magpul wrench now for installing castle nuts as it enables a very positive/sure connection. I’ve done my fair share of scratching stuff with tools that used older methods and the MagPul is the way to go. I also used an automatic center punch to stake the nut.

For dealing with castle nuts, you simply can’t beat the Magpul wrench. I don’t use the combo wrench below it any more because I have scratched a ton of tubes accidentally with it.

The Magpul armorer’s wrench is available from both Brownells and PSA. Again, I highly recommend this wrench over others that I have used.

All in all, it was a very straight forward swap and allows for some adjustment now. In case you are wondering, the SBA4 is very beefy. I do not like the SBA3 as the end is soft and and ears that go around the shooter’s forearm just kind of bend and flop around. The SBA4 is very well done.

I definitely will SBR it at some point down the road but am happy with what I have for now.

Installed a RS Regulate GAR-9M-N Handguard

I was not fond of the original handguards and was pretty sure I would like the GAR-9M-N handguard from RS Regulate based on photos that Scot Hoskinson had posted. Let me tell you, it is a huge improvement. First off, it’s way longer and second it uses a M-LOK attachment method for accessories so you don’t have unnecessary rails bulking up the girth like you do with the originals.

This is the RS Regulate GAR-9M-N handguard for Ace pistols. It’s machining and finish are excellent. Installation was very easy.

Scot Hoskinson, the owner of RS Regulate, has put together a real nice installation guide with plenty of illustrations. The one thing I’ll tell you is that the two original handguard screws from IWI have threadlocker on them.

Just behind the mouth of the gas tube & front sight block is the mounting point that holds the two screws that retain the original Ace handguards. They do have threadlocker on them so warm them up to make removal easier.
I used a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen bit and the retaining screw on each side came right out. Note, you will see two rivets on each side – one rivet head is visible between the wrench handle and the bit. You don’t need to do anything to those. You just need to remove the two screws. You can see one of the above just forward of the bit.

You can heat them up and make them easier to loosen, use a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen/hex head to break the screws free or, what I did, was a bit of both. With the gas tube off and out of the way, you can see where the two screws mount on the barrel. I heated that up and backed them out with the ratchet pretty easily.

Once the screws are removed, slide the handguard forward slightly and pull the rear down. It will come right off.

From there, you basically pull the stock handguard down nose first and pull forward. Then, follow Scot’s instructions. You will need to pay attention and install a small spacer between the barrel mounting point and the handguard when you install the new screws. I applied blue Loc-tite and torqued them down to 25 in/lbs per Scot’s instructions. You also have to install one long screw at the rear that you’ll want to use the blue Loc-tite and torque to 25 in/lbs also.

The RS!Regulate comes with the three screws, two spacers and an allen wrench. I applied medium-strenght Blue Loctite and used my Vortex Optics torque driver to tighten the screws to 25 in/lbs.
The installation instructions where spot on and I did not encounter any surprises at all. The unit bolted right up with no fitting needed.
The fitment is really superb. Here the rail is sliding over the rear block and will be secured later with the long screw that squeezes the rail’s walls together further locking it in place.
I like the RS!Regulate unit far, far more than the original. It’s longer and it fits my hand way better in terms of girth.

This is a slick handguard – the fit and finish are superb. I’ve come to expect that from all RS!Regulate products. Scot’s created another great product in my honest opinion. His AK scope mounts are the best hands down in case you aren’t familiar with them.

Opted For a Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 Optic and 3x Magnifier

I figure this will be a close in weapon – certainly within 200 yards probably – and will figure that out when I get it to the range. With that in mind, putting a high power optic on it just does not make a lot of sense but I also wanted magnification just in case so I checked out what Vortex Optics had to offer.

I’ve now used a boat load of their red dots and scopes on all kinds of firearms including 12 gauges, .50 Beowulf and .338 Lapua. They’re solidly built, good glass and back by a no-nonsense warranty. So they are my go-to for optics and have been for several years. Yes, I do actually have to buy them and no, they do not pay me to say that.

At any rate, I’d been eyeing the Razor AMG UH-1 for a while. Now that is a mouthful and I notice a lot of guys just refer to it has the “Huey” due to the UH-1 helicopter. It’s a true holographic sight which means a laser image (a hologram) is projected into the viewing window. The benefit of this is that regardless of the angle you look through the lens at, if the dot is on the target, it’s going to hit there.

The Razor AMG UH-1 or “Huey” mounts easily with its quick release lever and is ruggedly built.
It has a large viewing window that makes sight acquisition very fast.
The controls are well laid out and easy to use.

Battery life is somewhere around 1,500 hours and there are a lot of variables that can influence that including the brightness of the reticle (there are 14 levels), whether you are using a CR123A battery or a rechargeable LFP123A. Note, Vortex found that recoil kills the basic rechargable RCR123 batteries in 2-300 rounds. They stopped testing the LFP123A at 10,000 rounds and it was still working. I’m using the supplied CR123A still at this point and will likely use Surefire CR123A batteries going forward as I keep them in stock for lights.

In short, the Huey is very slick and it’s getting great reviews. I’ve been a long-time red dot fan and the UH-1 is my favorite at this point.

To get a better view at 100-200 yards, what I did was to pair the Huey sight with the Vortex V3XM Micro 3x magnifier. What this does is give me the ability to install, remove or even swing the installed optic out of the way when I need or don’t need the target to be magnified 3x.

Some assembly was required and I applied medium-strength Blue Loctite to the screws.
Here’s the Vortex Micro 3x magnifier paired with the Huey.

The V3XM is small, light, has a quick release lever also, just like the Huey, and pairs very nicely with it.

Magpul PMags and Drums

The 7.62×51 Ace uses Magpul’s 7.62×51 PMags. You can get them in a number of sizes as well as a drum if you really want to rock and roll. I bought some 20s, 25s and one of the D50 drums. I’ve not tested the pistol yet but expect it will work great with all of them. Note, both PSA and Gun Mag Warehouse have a variety of mags and drums that will fit.

Here’s the end result with the SBA4 brace, RS!Regulate rail and Vortex Optics combo.

Summary

The pistol really turned out slick. It balances well and ought to be a blast. Now just to find some time to get to the range before it really gets cold 🙂 Here are some photos for you:


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How A Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 2

This is the second part of my review of the differences I saw between a 7.62×51 IWI Galil Ace pistol and a typical AKM-type rifle. [Click here if you would like to open the first post in a separate window.] The following round out my observations:

Railed handguard

AK handguards have evolved from wood to bakelite to elaborate affairs made of polymers or aluminum. In the case of the Ace, no rhyme intended, an aluminum handguard with Picatinny rail is covered by sculpted rail covers.

The handguard is U-shaped with rails at the the 3-, 6- and 9-O’clock positions. The top rail is integral with the gas tube. Note now they have a cut out read for a pressure switch and the rails are open on the middle for wiring. There is one socket screw on each slide to fasten the handguard to the weapon.
The two socket screws thread into a retainer and have thread locker on them. When you look at the top of the rail, you see a small circle indentation on each side and then just a bit further back a rectangular shaped indentation. The screws are on each side. Also, you also get a good view of the front sight .
These are the three rail covers for the handguard. They lock into place and can be released by pushing the visible button at the back. The panel in the middle is the bottom piece and it has a lip that serves to help you index your hand.

So, two differences to note – a unique railed handguard and it is held in position with screws vs. the traditional AK front handguard retainer.

As a personal comment, I stopped buying tri-railed handguards some time ago because they feel too fat for me once you add on rail covers. The Ace handguards aren’t too terrible but they are fat and shorter than I would like. The stock unit will be replaced by one of the excellent handguards from RS!Regulate – the GAR-9M-N model to be exact and that will be in a future post.

The Gas tube has tabs and a rail but no locking lever

This is a unique little item right here. The gas tube slides into place via tabs on the unit that mate with slots on the rear base. It does not have a locking lever like an AK does.

The top has a Picatinny rail and the whole unit is locked into place when the dust cover is installed, which pushes the gas tube forward into position. The fitment is so well done that the Picatinny rail is level all the way across the top.

The gas tube goes over the nipple on the front sight block. The relieved tube you see with the screws are where the handguard retainer screws thread in from each side.
This is the gas tube with the rail on top. Note the tabs at the bottom rear and the groove on the rail that mates with the rail from the dust cover.
Here’s another angle – you can see the heat shield on the handguard and the slots on the rear block. We can’t call it a Rear Sight Block (RSB) like we would on an AK because the sight is on the dust cover on the Ace. Here, all it is doing is securing the gas tube.
The fitment of the dust cover and the gas tube are so well done that despite being two separate parts, their two respective rail sections align very nicely.

Integral lower plastic assembly – grip, magazine guide

Part of the revisions from the IMI Galil to the IWI Ace was changing 12 parts from steel to plastic. To be honest, I did not hunt down all 12 and itemize each. What I did readily see was the plastic lower assembly that connects with the steel forged receiver. It has the following:

  • An integral grip that has a hollow storage area
  • Ambidextrous magazine releases
  • An enlarged integral trigger guard
  • A natural hand hold curve just forward of the magazine

Folding Brace Assembly

IWI makes two models of the 7.62×51 pistol – the GAP51 without a brace and the GAP51SB with the brace. I really just needed the GAP51 but went with the GAP51SB because the price was so good from Palmetto State Armory at the time.

What you get with the GAP51SB is an IWI designed integral folder with a 1.25″ diameter pistol tube and an SB Tactical SOB brace. The SOB part makes me smile every time I write it. So, it does give you a well designed fixed length brace and a rock solid folder.

The SB Tactical SOB Brace with the unit locked into position.
That hinge is soooooo cool.
A close up with the brace folded alongside the receiver.
The unit is very compact and functional with the brace closed. Note the IWI logo on the brace but it is definitely an SB unit and the butt end has their logow. SB Tactical OEMs for others as well – meaning they will sell units with the logos of other firms displayed.

Magpul Pmags

No AK ever used Magpul magazines so I think this counts as a difference 🙂 The 7.62×51 Ace uses Magpul’s 7.62×51 PMags. You can get them in a number of sizes as well as a drum if you really want to rock and roll. I bought some 20s, 25s and one of the D50 drums. I’ve not tested the pistol yet but expect it will work great with all of them. Note, both PSA and Gun Mag Warehouse have a variety of mags and drums that will fit.

The 7.62×51 Ace uses readily available Magpul Pmags.

The Manual

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a very good AK manual that has tons of illustrations and covers a lot of topics – operating, cleaning, trouble shooting, and a detailed parts breakdown. The IWI Ace manual really is exceptional. The PDF copy is 88 pages long!

IWI puts all of their operator manuals online – click here to visit their site.

Summary

That’s it for differences I’ve noted thus far. In the next post, I’ll share a number of reviews and videos that I watched before I purchased the unit. By the way, this pistol is amazingly well made. It’s the most impressive firearm in terms of design and execution that I’ve seen in a long time. If you get a deal on one, buy it.


References


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How a Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 1

The Ace is definitely a modernized AK weapon. One look inside confirms that. The Colombian defense firm of Industria Militar (INDUMIL) began a commercial relationship with Israeli Military Industries (IMI) that would later carve out the small arms division to become Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). Their collaboration was on the Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) and INDUMIL obtained exclusive rights to it.

What the two organizations accomplished is remarkable. The two collaborated and modified 43 of the 96 parts in a base Galil AR to reduce the weight by approximately 1 KG (about 2.2 pounds). 12 of the parts shifted from steel to plastic. The goal wasn’t just to reduce weight, they improved precision as well.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I bought a Galil Ace pistol chambered in 7.62×51. It’s IWI model GAP51SB. [Click here to see what PSA current has for sale] Because there was a relationship between IWI and INDUMIL, I asked IWI USA to confirm where the Ace series is made and they told they are all made in Israel. I asked more out of curiosity than anything else.

I decided to see how many differences I could observe between it and a traditional AK. I wish I knew enough about Galil’s to compare a traditional Galil AR to the Ace but being an AK guy, I was very curious to see how the Ace compared.

I tried to be objective about things and started out that way but the more I took the pistol apart, the more genuinely impressed I became. So, let me try and catalog the differences with as many photos as I can.

Two Chamber Muzzle Brake

One thing that caught my eye was the two chamber muzzle brake and that it is held on by a jam nut, which is a nut that is tightened uo from the rear against the brake to lock it in place. The thread is 5/8-24 for the 7.62×51 Ace models.

In comparison, an AK-47 typically has a 14mm diameter by 1mm pitch left hand thread (14x1mm LH). They are held in place by a detent pin that protrudes from the front sight block (FSB) and engages a timing groove that secures the brake in the correct orientation. Now, 14×1 LH is typical for AK-47s but once you add in the variants, threads are all over the place with different style brakes and boosters.

Improved Sights

Note the longer sight radius, integral gas block with front sight, aperatrue rear and protected front sight.

There are five things I noticed right away

  • The Ace has a longer sight radius, which is a fancy term meaning the distance from the rear to the front sight is longer. In general, the longer the sight radius, the more accurately the weapon can be aimed.
  • Aperture rear sight – The Ace sports an aperture (meaning a hole you look through) rear sight that has flips to show either a small circular hole for distance work (300-500 meters) or a larger circular hole for close quarters work (0 to 300 meters).
  • Integral Front Sight and Gas Block – The Ace sports a combination gas block that combines the gas and front sight blocks. Note, AK folks use the term “blocks” to refer to the three sub-assemblies that sit on the top of the barrel – the front sight block (FSB), gas block (GB) and rear sight block (RSB).
  • Both the front sight post and the larger rear aperture have Beta Lights – Tritium Gas – for low-light visibility. In general, tritium is radioactive and will last about 10 years. After that, the sights still work but you will not have the glowing effect.
  • The height of sights enables co-witnessing with optics such as red dots.
View of the front sight and you can see the tritium (white dot) painted on the post.
Rear sight with the close quarters aperture flipped up. Note the tritium circles for low light. This close quarter aperture is 0-300 meters.
View of the rear sight showing the smaller aperture sight flipped down. It is used for distance work and the manual identifies it as 300-500 meters.

Ok, this pistol is in 7.62×51 and has an 11.8″ barrel – I’m real curious to see what it can do within 100 yards. The sights are the same used on the full size 16.5″ barreled rifle so I really don’t think the smaller aperture would ever realistically be needed but we will see.

Railed Dust Cover

The dust cover of the Ace is pretty interesting. Most of the cheap aftermarket railed AK dust covers simply aren’t very stable or consistent when the dust cover is removed, installed and the weapon fired – in short, they don’t really work very well.

The Ace dust cover is beefy and installs very firmly with no travel it is a stable platform to build on. The top of the dust cover has a Picatinny rail section on the top that is welded in place. It aligns with the rail section on the gas tube via a small tab.

This tab slides into a corresponding groove on the gas tube to align the two rail sections,

The rear of the dust cover has a second layer of sheet metal wrapping the bottom making for snug fit and reducing flexion.

This is the dust cover = you can see the rail, dual aperature rear sight and the double reinforced rear bottom that mates with receiver.
You can see the welds that secure the rail to the dust cover plus the reinforced rear.

In short, the dust cover is remarkably solid. I actually have to give it a knife hand chop on the rear to get it to seat down fully into the receiver. It needs to fit tight as the installation of the dust cover also locks the gas tube in place.

Milled Receiver

Speaking of the Ace’s receiver, it’s milled and built like a tank. I found it very well machined with nice touches like a funnel design to help guide the recoil rod assembly into position.

As an example of the care taken in the design, note how the seat for the operating rod assembly is funnel shaped to help with installation.

Note, while the modern AK (AKM ) uses a stamped receiver, the Type 2 and Type 3 AK-47s used milled receivers so it’s not entirely new but it does differ from the AKM. In fact, some countries continued to use milled receivers such as Bulgaria, Finland and Israel in at least some of their weapons.

Milled Recoil Assembly With Rubber Seal

The recoil rod and spring assembly is of a tubular style you typically see in RPKs. The benefit of this is a more consistent pressure being applied to the bolt carrier particularly when it comes to lock up. The thumb tab that locks the dust cover in place seems a tad longer than what I see in other AKs. Last comment is that they added a rubber seal at the rear of the assembly to seal out debris.

Here’s the recoil rod assembly with the dust cover removed. You can see the long thumb tab and also the rubber seal. It also gives you a good view of the plat that seals the length of the groove where the bolt cocking lever passes
Shows the recoil spring, tubular rear, round front shaft and retainer. In an AKM, rather than a tube and rod, two pieces of folded wire form the central element and can bounce all over the place. Not a big deal in a typical AK but it does matter when you want to improve consistency.

Forged Galatz Fire Control Group (FCG)

The Ace FCG is very nice. Let’s face it, most AK FCGs reflect and elegantly utilitarian design that isn’t very refined. I have always been impressed by the simplicity of the AK design and what the Ace designers decided to do was to take the enhanced FCG from the IWI Galatz designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and used it in the Ace weapons.

Here are some differences I noted:

  • A single large forged trigger hook for holding the hammer
  • Engagement surfaces are polished such as where the disconnector grabs the hammer
  • Hammer and trigger springs are separate whereas the AK has two wires spiral wound together that power the hammer and push down the rear of the trigger’s rear ears/bars.
  • The top of the hammer is asymmetrical with only half of the normal bar that adds mass to the top rear of AK hammers. This is what normally gives an AK hammer the hammer-head shark hook.
View of the hammer. Note the polishing. You can see the double-wound hammer spring and a part of the single-wound trigger spring sitting on the left ear of the trigger.
Here it is from another angle. You can see the top rear of the hammer is asymmetrical vs. having the hammer-head shark design typically found in AK rifles.

Out of the box, it felt fair but once I used Superlube grease on the surfaces and Superlube oil on the rotating pins … wow. It is very smooth. [Click here for a blog post I did on Superlube – I use it on all of my firearms now]

Two Selector Levers

An AK has a single selector lever on the right side of the rifle that also serves to seal the receiver. It’s about as basic as you can get. On a semi-auto AK, the selector either physically blocks the trigger from actuating by moving a bar directly above the rear ears of the trigger or it moves out of the way allowing the trigger to move freely. On an automatic weapon it also allows the user to select full-auto or semi-automatic.

The Ace has a thumb control on the left side and more of a switch vs. the traditional long lever on the right side. Internally, the linkages do the same thing for semi-automatic in terms of moving the block bar into or out of position. The Ace has a separate plate for sealing the groove where the cocking handle reciprocates so the selector lever is not doing double-duty in that regard.

Visible are the thumb selector switch at to top of the grip and so is the charging handle and the very interesting articulating plate that pivots down and allows the charging knob to pass by in both directions.
Here’s the right side selector switch located where the traditional long AK selector lever would have been.

Note, the thumb selector connects to the safety bar via a linkage. The movement of the lever is an arc and not a horizontal slider. It is stiff and definitely needs lubrication when you get the weapon. I’ll comment more about that below when reviewing the pistol grip base.

Pistol Grip Base vs. Grip Nut

With AK’s, there tends to be a grip nut or in the case of Yugo-patterned AKs, a grip strap with an integral nut that the grip screw threads into. For the Ace, there is a “pistol grip base” that is uniquely shaped because it has a tube on top and my best guess is that it is to limit travel of the thumb selector and possibly to trap the pin so it can’t back out if it were ever to come loose.

The “barrel” in the middle of the receiver is the top of the “pistol grip base” as IWI terms it in the manual. You can also see the linkage – you’ll definitely want to oil this.
Another angle on the grip nut and thumb selector linkage.
Just behind the selector bar you can see a 6mm thread protruding from the bottom of the receiver. It is threaded into the unique “pistol grip base”.

Bolt Carrier and Bolt

The moment you open up a Galil Ace, you know you are looking at a rifle with an AK heritage and the bolt system clearly is AK inspired. When you look at the bolt and carrier, the refinements are interesting:

  • Most obvious perhaps, the traditional right-hand side cocking left on the bolt carrier has been moved to the left side and is tubular to reduce mass.
  • The bolt carrier has a lightening cut – that would lower mass and impact energy
  • Bolt and carrier do not appear to have serial numbers. While I can’t find confirmation of what I am about to say, perhaps the manufacturing tolernces are so good that the traditional hand fitting and matched components are no longer required.
  • At least for the 7.62×51 version the gas pistol is significantly shorter and has a collar on it.
  • While an AK’s firing pin is free floating, the Ace has a spring loaded firing pin that is pushing it back away from the bolt face. Now some will argue whether this was really needed or not but it is a design difference.
Note the short piston with the collar and that the cocking tube in on the left side.
A better view of the very short gas piston
Here’s a view of the underside of the carrier with the bolt installed. Note the knurling on the kocking lever. I am curious about the pin hole under the cocking tube. It may allow for the swapping out of the lever – some dayI will take it apart and see if this is the actual case.
Here’s the bolt. Definitely a good sized extractor.
Lightening relief/cut on the carrier.
Bottom of the carrier with the bolt removed. Curiously, notice the machining marks where the bolt’s lug would engage with the carrier.

Wrapping Up The First Post

There’s definitely more ground to cover and that will be in the next post. Click here to read it.


References


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