5 Reasons the Galil ACE is a Better AK than an AK
::GASP:: Some upstart ignoramus thinks the Galil ACE, an Israeli knock-off, is better than Mikhail Kalashnikov’s Magnum Opus?!
I’ve sent tens of thousands of rounds through all variety of AKM/AK-47/AK-74M in my life, and I’m an enormous fan of the platform. But after hundreds, if not thousands of hours behind the Iron Curtain’s favorite lead-slinger, I’m intimately familiar with both its advantages and shortcomings.
Still, it’s not like the AKM is an outdated design, simply one that could use a little modernization. So instead of dousing a pig with lipstick, maybe a new design is a better idea. So, I had to make my list of 5 reasons the Galil ACE is a better AK than the actual AK.
Before I start comparing aspects, keep in mind that in my experience, reliability is identical between the two. So much so, that I’m not going to mention it further on. Plus, both designs utilize the ultra-reliable, super affordable AK-47 magazines.
While ergonomics can be a very subjective element of a gun’s design, certain aspects of a design are objectively, “worse” than others. For instance, while the AK’s rock-and-lock magazine insertion is very positive, few people would argue that it’s faster than reloading an AR-15.
Likewise, certain areas of the Galil ACE’s design make for a much more user-friendly experience than others. For instance, the safety on the standard AKM is effective, but very slow to use and it requires the shooter to remove their firing hand from the pistol grip.
Despite the Galil ACE utilizing the same method of operation as an AK, it instead ops for a more AR-influenced safety that can be actuated with the shooting hand without shifting the grip. This is both much faster, and allows the shooter to toggle the safety while keeping the gun in a ready position should a sudden target appear.
Also, the Galil ACE addresses one of the biggest complaints I have about the AK – the charging handle.
On the AKM, the charging handle was designed to be familiar to soldiers who were previously issued Mosin Nagant rifles, and thus on the right side. This is great in theory, as most people are right-handed, and thus charging the weapon is easier for them.
In reality, shooters and soldiers need to keep their firing hand on the pistol grip to make sure they can get the gun back up and running as soon as possible. Thankfully, the Galil uses the same style of reciprocating charging handle, but shifts it to the left side of the gun. Allowing shooters to charge the action with their support hand. Brilliant!
Iron Sights or Why I hate Post and Notch Sights on a Rifle
Let’s face it, the sights on the AKM suck. They were antiquated when they were on the Mosin Nagant rifle, antiquated on the SKS, AK-47, AKM and every Russian weapon since. They just aren’t great for anything. They’re neither especially precise or fast.
In the world of firearms, there are basically two main types or iron sight configurations: aperture and post-and-notch.
Aperture sights utilize an aperture or ghost ring at the rear with a front post towards the muzzle. To align, the shooter places the post in the center of the circle. Since the aperture is normally very close to the shooter’s eye, it’s very out of focus. This means the shooter’s eye naturally finds the front post and instantly, subconsciously aligns it. Also, by design, this means that most guns that employ this have length sight radiuses which aids in precision. This is what the Galil ACE uses.
On AKM or basically any Soviet rifle, the sights used are post and notch type. As its name suggested, these sights consist of a front sight post and a rear sight notch. To align the sights, the shooter simply places the post inside the notch. Seems simple, but it has a few drawbacks.
In theory, these types of sights are more precise since aligning them isn’t as subjective or nebulous as aperture-style. However, since AK rifles have a vastly shorter sight radius (distance between sights) any advantages of these sights are lost since they’re too close together to allow more granular precision aiming.
Optics-Ready from the Factory
AKs and optics didn’t play well together until recently when companies like RSRegulate starting making ultra-low-profile scope mounts. Prior to this, shooters had to adopt a, “chin-weld” to obtain a proper sight picture with any sort of optic.
This is because AKs use a side rail for mounting dog-leg mounts for the scopes themselves. Another consequence of this, is that unless shooters are using a horizontally-adjustable rail like those from RS Regulate, there optics have a very real chance of not being directly above the bore line.
This matters, because it means any sort of BDC reticle will be off horizontally at some distance. Since the optic will be zeroed for both a single point vertically and horizontally where the optic’s line of sight converges with the bullet’s trajectory.
How does the Galil ACE do this better?
It uses a full-length picatinny rail that begins on the gas-tube and continues across the dust cover. Railed dust covers on AKs are normally about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. But on a rifle designed around it, these rails work fine. Plus, unlike AK’s that need aftermarket stocks to use larger-sized optics, the Galil ACE ships with a snap-on riser allowing shooters to get a proper sight picture regardless of the optic.
Suppressor Compatibility and the Hot-Gas Money Shot of Suppressed AKM Rifles
I freaking hate shooting suppressed rifles that are overgassed. Nothing ruins accuracy like getting blasted in the face with hot carbon from your rifle, making your eyes water and taking you off target. Thankfully the designers of the Galil ACE felt the same way… or did they?
With the AKM, the designers wanted to make a rifle that would run under even the worst conditions. Conditions that might include mud, carbon buildup or even frozen rifles. Their solution was to over-gas the rifle and include ventilation ports on the gas tube to allow the system to partially self-regulate.
On the stock rifle, this works great. The gun ejects somewhat violently, but runs extraordinarily well, lending to the mythos of the AK’s unstoppable reliability. When the rifle is suppressed and back pressure is exponentially increased, the vent holes can’t keep up, and the system floods the receiver with excess hot, expanding gas. Since the AKM dust cover is anything but airtight, some of the rapidly expanding hot gas it directed rearward to the shooter’s face.
On the Galil ACE, the dust cover design is similar, but incorporates a rubber gasket that functions as a recoil buffer. This results in nearly zero gas escaping towards the shooter’s face. This makes for a vastly more comfortable shooting experience with a sound suppressor than the AK. Also, unlike the AK, the Galil uses a much more common thread pitch on its muzzle. (1/2x28in and 5/8x24in vs 14x1mm LH and 24x1mm RH) This means finding muzzle devices that work with your Galil is much easier than with the Soviet lead-slingers.
Galil ACE Really Better?
Better is obviously subjective to an extent, but I will say that the Galil ACE is much more user-friendly than the AK series of rifles. Between better ergonomics, easier-to-use sights, optic compatibility and suppressor-friendly design, the Galil just feels like an improved, westernized AKM. Which is exactly how the Israelis Intended it to be.
Jim is a freelance writer for dozens of firearm publications, the host of the YouTube channel Burst Review and the youngest author to write a cover story for Shotgun News in its 86-years of operation. Jim loves anything that goes, ‘boom’ but particularly enjoys military firearms from the Cold War and WW2. When he’s not slinging lead downrange he can be round hiking in the mountains with his wife Kim and their vicious attack dog, Peanut.