Well, the pandemic threw all my plans right out the window including having time to go to the range. I bought and customized my 7.62×51/.308 Galil Ace Pistol in the Fall of 2019 and just recently was able to take it to the range with my daughter and good friend Niko.
When I was planning the customization of the Ace, I wanted a holographic sight for rapid target acquisition in close, parallax free viewing and also a magnifier to help me out to a hundred yards or so. By the way, tons of guys go further even without a magnifier but this is just me.
Being a Vortex Optics fan and having read good reviews of their Razor AMG UH-1 optic, I bought one plus the V3XM Micro 3x magnifier. I have to admit that I was nervous. Years back I built an AR-15 and installed both a full size red dot and a full size 3x magnifier and honestly did not like it. The combination used a ton of top rail space due to the size of the two parts and it was heavy. To be honest, I found myself wishing I’d just bought a 1-4x or 1-6x optic at the time.
Why Bother With A Magnifier?
In case you are wondering why I even wanted the 3x magnification, it’s s a simple answer. As I get older,I find myself needing more magnification for any degree of target shooting as I get closer to 100 yards and beyond. Yeah, make fun of me but in talking with a lot of 50+ year old guys, I’m not the only one. I tend to favor 1-6 and 1-8x Vortex Strike Eagles for relatively close in optics – they are light, rugged and allow me to trade off field of view and magnification.
At any rate, back to the UH-1, the UH-1 itself weighs about 11oz and the Micro 3X (V3XM) magnifier adds 9.55oz. So you are looking at about 20-21oz or just over 1.25 pounds for the combination. A 1-6x Strike Eagle weighs 18.5oz and then you need to add at least a basic cantilever mount at 1.3oz, you are totalling 19.8oz.
Why am I bringing this up? Some situations really require variable magnification optics and the 1-6x and 1-8x Strikefires are hard to beat. In other cases, you are expecting situations where you will need little to no magnification then the UH-1 wins hands down. Why? Target acquisition is screamingly fast and you don’t have parallax. No parallax means that no matter how you look at the projected recticle (the hologram), the recticle is on the target. With regular scopes, as your eye position changes relative to the recticle, the point of impact changes. This is one reason why a good consistent cheek weld is so important with a traditional optic. Bottom line is that holographic sights seriously rock when it comes to speed of target acquisition.
A 7.62×51 Galil Ace Is Not A Distance Weapon
Another thing to point out is that this weapon is not a target rifle by any stretch of the immagination – it’s for close in work. The 7.62×51 Galil Ace pistol has an 11.8″ barrel and that short length is really going to limit the weapon to less than 200 yards and that is just my opinion because that short length will reduce the velocity of the bullet and there will be more bullet drop at a given distance. The reason is simple – the 7.62×51 and .308 cartridges are still burning powder, generating more pressure and bullet speedwhen the bullet exits the muzzle – all that burning powder makes for an impressive muzzle flash but that’s actually a waste of powder and why it will have less velocity than a weapon with a longer barrel.
How far do I intend to shoot the Ace? Now that’s the real question and is what drove the selection of the optic. I honestly plan to shoot it under 50 yards the majority of the time. I can flip the magnifier out of the way if I don’t need it.
A Bit Of Range Time
How did it work at the range? It was fantastic. The Ace itself ran great with PPU M80 FMJ ammo and the optic pairing was way better than I expected. The recticle was nice and bright even during mid-day son and it was easy to swing the magnifier in and out of position. All three of us liked the Ace and optic combination. After shooting the Ace for the first time, I can definitely see why they have such a excellent reputation.
I really like the pairing of the UH-1 optic and the V3XM magnifier on my Galil Ace. The pairing works really, really well and I am already planning on getting one of the new second generation UH-1 optics for a new build I am planning – a 7.25″ 12.7×42 (Beowulf) pistol 🙂
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Ace is definitely a modernized AK weapon. One look inside confirms that. The Colombian defense firm ofIndustria 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.
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.
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.
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.
The rear of the dust cover has a second layer of sheet metal wrapping the bottom making for snug fit and reducing flexion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.