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[Video+Review] Galil ACE Gen 2: Best Modern AK Variant?

We dive into an Israeli design with the IWI Galil ACE Gen 2. Does it stack up against the Gen 2 ACE? Come find out.

    The IWI Galil ACE earned a reputation for its fun yet reliable design and with ton of variations to choose from, we thought we’d found the perfect ACE in the 5.56 Gen 1…

    Galil ACE pew pew
    IWI Galil ACE Gen 1 pistol in 5.56.

    But then came the Gen 2.

    Of course, you know we had to try our hand at the latest in the Galil ACE series.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Shooting
    Galil ACE Gen 2

    So, today, we’re looking at the new Gen 2 Galil ACE. I’ll walk you through its specs and features, take it to the range, and see how it differs from the first-gen model.

    If you’re not keen on reading, no worries, check out the full video review below for all the details.

    Make sure to also take a look at Pew Pew Tactical on YouTube for more gun stuff.

    Table of Contents


    What Is the Galil ACE?

    Before we dive into this ACE, let’s clear something up first. There are decades of history leading up to this version. If you want more on that history, check out our article on…you guessed it, the History of the Galil.

    And before the angry comments pile up, yes, this is not a “real Galil.”

    Israeli police with Micro Galil
    Israeli police with Micro Galil.

    It’s the ACE – IWI’s modern version of the AK-47/Valmet….sort of.

    Basically, you get the same mechanics as the Galil, but in a lighter, smaller platform with a polymer lower receiver.

    IWI’s ACE first splashed on the scene in 2008, and IWI released several variations since – rifles and pistols chambered in 7.62x39mm, 7.62 NATO, 5.56, and 5.45x39mm.

    Common Rifle Calibers
    Common Rifle Calibers

    And now the Gen 2 has arrived in a pistol and rifle form.

    For this review, I tested the full-length rifle chambered in 7.62×39.

    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Ace Gen 2: Specs & All

    The Gen 2 brings a milled steel design with polymer lower to save some weight.

    My full-length tester featured a 16-inch barrel with an 18-inch top rail and a free-float M-LOK handguard. The pistol sees an 8-inch barrel, but both the rifle and pistol barrels are chrome-lined.

    Galil ACE Gen 2
    Galil ACE Gen 2

    Down the road, IWI says they’ll offer 13-inch barrels…much better for the 5.56 round.

    Forward of the barrel sits a basic flash hider. Let’s be real, though; it’s begging to be replaced.

    A flattop rail gives you plenty of space to mount sights and an optic, but it’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t come with anything out of the box. So, you’ll need to invest in some iron sights.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 MLOK Handguard
    Flattop rail and M-LOK means options galore.

    The trigger is a two-stage job with a long uptake, good break, and long reset. You can tell where you are at any point with this trigger, and it takes no time to get used to.

    A Magpul CTR stock comes on the rifle, while the pistol version sports an SB Tactical Brace.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Magpul CTR Stock
    Peep that Magpul CTR Stock.

    I really liked the side-folding capability on the Magpul stock — great for transport and storage. Not to mention, and this is the important part, the ACE is fully operational even when folded.

    All in all, the rifle weighs a good bit at 9-pounds unloaded. It feels pretty heavy…and that’s without lights and optics. Add in your bells and whistles and, oh man, it seems like a whopper.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Folded
    Yes, the gun still fires in the folded position!

    The ACE Gen 2 ships with one 30-round P-MAG magazine.

    Important note on mags while we’re here: IWI says only American-made magazines should be used with the Galil ACE.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Ameircan Mags
    American-made mags only!

    Why? Well, it’s a little something called 922r compliance. We won’t get into the weeds about that here, but if you want more info, read up on the topic here.

    IWI prices the ACE Gen 2 at $1,899. Looking around at street price, right now, it sits close to that $1,900 mark.

    Some Upgrades

    The Galil ACE Gen 2 offers plenty of room for accessories and upgrades. So, let’s talk about those.

    I highly recommend tossing on some backup iron sights, flashlight, optic, and sling at the very least.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Shooting
    For the most functionality, toss on some accessories.

    We recommend the ever-faithful Magpul MBUS set for irons, but we have other options in our Best Backup Iron Sights round-up.

    I used the Sig Sauer Romeo 4H, but we have a ton of other recommendations on the Best AR Optics for you to narrow down what suits you best.

    at Optics Planet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    As far as lights, we dig the SureFire M600 Scout. But again, you can find more light recommendations lights here.

    And again, if you’re adding mags to your stash, go for American-made!

    ACE Gen 1 vs. Gen 2

    Since I previously reviewed the Gen 1 ACE pistol; I was excited to see how these two measured up against one another.

    That said, my Gen 1 is a 5.56 chambered model, so, yeah, it’s a tad weird to put these side-by-side since we’re looking at different sizes and chamberings…but that’s how it goes in the ACE world – lots of variations.

    Galil ACE Gen 1 and 2
    Galil ACE Gen 2, left, and 1, right.

    So, what’s different?

    First, IWI now uses a regular AR-style buffer tube, meaning you can use any stock on the market. Talk about a huge upgrade!

    I always appreciate options. Switching to an AR-style buffer serves up plenty of opportunities to deck the rear of this gun out as you want.

    Second, the Gen 1 ACE opts for a giant handguard. Under all that plastic sits a quad rail system.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Folded

    Honestly, it’s big and bulky but, you get an M-LOK free-floating handguard which is a plus.

    Third, this new iteration is way more comfortable to shoot than the first. IWI improved ergonomics by shortening the distance to the ambi safety. It’s less of a reach to engage, which makes the gun easier to run now.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Selector
    Easy to reach!

    The new grip on the Gen 2 also feels a lot more comfortable. IWI also says it upgraded the trigger. But to be honest, I have no idea what they’ve done. But whatever it is, it works.

    Finally, this new generation will come in even more variations with a third barrel length on the horizon and more 5.45 options.

    Again, options are nice.

    Range Time!

    With the specs out of the way, let’s talk about how it handled at the range. As we are currently enduring an ammo shortage, I only ran 300-rounds through the ACE.

    But I used every magazine I could get my hands on.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Loading Mag
    I tested a variety of mags.

    So, how did it do?


    No surprise there because that’s the ACE’s reputation — supreme reliability.

    These guns run and run well. I encountered zero malfunctions or major issues over the course of those 300 rounds. It just ran…and ran…and ran.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Shooting
    It ran great!

    The only problem I encountered was with the Palm AK magazine. It would not go into the receiver. But, keep in mind, this is a sample size of one. All the other mags ran great, though.

    Note, the charging handle sits on the side. This is a lot of fun to grip and rip; never forget that it reciprocates. Keep your hands where they belong, y’all.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Charging Handle
    Watch that handle!

    Accuracy-wise, you’re gonna stack holes in the MOA range at medium ranges. So plink all day if you can afford it.

    I can’t overstate this; it ran great and will literally go through Armageddon with you.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Shooting
    Galil ACE Gen 2 Shooting

    The upgraded ergonomics in the Gen 2 lends itself to a pleasant day at the range.

    Loads of M-LOK just really upped the look and feel too. I was able to dial in what I wanted and make sure it suited me just right.

    The Downsides

    As far as shortcomings, well, it’s a little heavy??

    Maybe it would be cool to be able to change out the grip? Or IWI could ship with some Magpul iron sights?

    I’m just reaching at this point…

    Galil ACE Gen 2
    It’s pretty solid.

    All in all, the Galil ACE Gen 2 is a fantastic rifle with a lot going for it. So, it’s hard to narrow down a bunch of bad on this thing.

    My gripes are nitpicky at this point.

    By the Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    True to its name, it’s reliable. I saw zero malfunctions or major problems on the range. The ACE runs and runs great.

    Ergonomics: 4.5/5

    The ACE feels good. From the placement of the ambi selector to the feel of the trigger, it all works and works well.

    Accuracy: 5/5

    Shots landed as intended on target. Worth adding that you’ll need to supply your own sights since it doesn’t come with any, but once you get your setup worked out, you’ll nail any target.

    Galil ACE Gen 2 Sig Sauer Romeo 4H
    You’ll need an optic or, at the very least, some irons.

    Customization: 5/5

    As an AR-style rifle, the world is your oyster. There’s plenty of upgrades and extras you can add to this platform to make it yours.

    Value: 4/5

    The only reason I knocked a star off is you only get one P-MAG and no irons. For a $1,900 rifle, a second mag and iron sights would have been nice.

    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Overall: 4.5/5

    The Galil ACE Gen 2 brought a nice look and feel that worked well on the range. I had a great time testing this rifle and feel it’s a solid rifle for any shooter.


    Overall, I had a great time with the Galil ACE Gen 2 rifle from IWI. Chambered in 7.62, this gun gets two major thumbs up from me.

    Galil ACE Gen 2
    It’s a nice gun, period.

    The upgrades over the Gen 1 take this rifle to the next level, providing a more comfortable handling experience.

    The ACE is known for its robust design and reliability, and both continue with the Gen 2. In short, I love it.

    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    To see the ACE Gen 2 in action, check out the video below.

    What do you think of the ACE? Let us know in the comments below. To get a better look at the Gen 1 ACE, see our initial review here and get some background on the Galil in general with a peek into its history.

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    3 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      Purchased mine several weeks ago and finally took it to the range. Yes, it’s heavy, but I was still impressed with accuracy at indoor range distances (15-20 yds). And that’s just using Magpul MBUS sights. My next outing with the Galil Ace II will be to an outdoor range with a red dot or scope to see how it performs at longer distances. One thing to note is the handguard gets mighty toasty after a couple of magazines. Lightweight gloves didn’t do much to insulate my hands, and I had to take a few breaks between magazines to let it cool to a comfortable temperature. I understand now why the reviewer used a vertical grip, and I have one in my parts pile that will be installed ASAP. Despite that (and the typical AK lack of a bolt hold-open) I’m happy with it. Just need to do a few more bicep curls…

      September 5, 2021 6:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I balked at reading the nine pound weight until I remembered my opap m70 is just over 8 pounds and doesn’t have near as many modern options to customize. I’m not sure how many other rifle options are out there for this 7.62x39 caliber that take all the normal mags and appreciably lighter. That price though is still a bit steep for me. But I definitely want one in both rifle and pistol format. Glad you got the 2nd gen reviewed.

      June 24, 2021 7:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Great review!! I bought this one immediately and added basically all the same stuff (splurged for offset pro Magpul). It is an absolute tac driver like Johnny said. I’ve been waiting on this review for a while! Barnaul, brown Bear, Tula, and Belom brass all feed perfect. I agree I need to upgrade the flash hider but it’s an amazing gun. Amazing quality!

      June 24, 2021 3:32 pm
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