U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- I have an odd, subconscious obsession with Israeli firearms like the Galil Ace. Some shooters actively obsess over the elegant design of Wild West six-shooters or the rugged, no-frills construction of Soviet rifles. My amassing of Israeli steel wasn’t a deliberate one.
I own an Uzi, an Israeli HiPower, an X95, and two Galil Aces – but it was those last two that really started the buying frenzy.
See, at my core, I’m an AK guy. I own more than my wife knows, and love their durability, reliability, and iconic design. That said, I’m also not blind to the platform’s shortcomings. I’m acutely aware of their ergonomic, accuracy, and scope compatibility shortcomings. It’s a big part of why, even though I love my AKs, it’s an AR that sits by my bedside at night.
That was the big impetus for me buying a pair of Galil Ace firearms. I wanted something that benefited from Western design philosophies pertaining to accuracy and ergonomics, but still had the unstoppable reliability of my favorite Soviet lead-slinger. For the uninformed, that’s pretty much exactly what modern Galils are – let me explain.
Just like the Uzi SMG, the Galil was born out of the IDF’s desire for a domestically designed and produced military firearm. Armed previously with the FN FAL battle rifle, the IDF sought a lighter, more reliable firearm that could handle the superfine sand of the Middle East. During the course of multiple conflicts with their Arab neighbors, the IDF became impressed with the rugged construction and excellent reliability of their adversary’s weapon of choice – the AK-47/AKM.
Instead of directly copying the Soviet assault rifle, the Israeli’s copied a copy of it – the Finnish Valmet. The result was the Galil ARM. Chambered in 5.56mm, the ARM is mechanically an AK-47. In fact, the design is so similar, that 7.62x39mm AKM magazines will insert and lock up in the ARM – though they obviously won’t feed.
Now by several accounts, IDF soldiers loved the Galil’s reliability and light recoil. What they weren’t so fond of was the weight. Tipping the scales at over nine and a half pounds, the ARM handles like a cinder block on the end of a broomstick. Maybe that’s what the next domestically-produced combat rifle for the IDF ended up being the polymer bullpup Tavor.
But eventually, the engineers at IMI decided to slim the old gal down and modernize the desert workhorse – the result is the Galil ACE series of assault rifles. And while these guns are very impressive for their quality, accuracy, and reliability, I was never entirely sold on the polymer handguards. Yes, they work great and are lightweight. But I wanted something built from equally light extruded aluminum, that gave the gun a slightly more modern look. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. Since that’s just what the guys at RS Regulate did with the introduction of their GAR-9.
RS Regulate GAR-9
Built from high-strength anodized extruded aluminum, the GAR-9 replaces the factory polymer railed handguard. Featuring M-Lok slots at the 3, 6, 9 and even a small one at the 12 o’clock position, the GAR-9 is as versatile as it is handsome. The last slot I found was especially useful for mounting a small tactical light in the least obtrusive fashion possible – though shooters should take caution as many lights will block the iron sights. But if a shooter is running optics it won’t matter at all.
But how does it perform?
In testing the GAR-9 held up flawlessly despite the insane muzzle blast of the .308 Galil ACE. Plus it never got too hot to use or hot enough to damage the lights mounted to it. I know this sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but the handguard just works. Installation is simple enough, but I highly recommend removing the gas tube before attempting it. It can be done without doing so, but it’s needlessly, vastly more difficult.
Another aspect of the rail that I found was incredibly impressive, is how it held zero with a laser aiming module attached. Not necessarily what everyone will be mounting to their Galil, but it’s a nice addition, especially for shooters running an IR laser with NVGs.
Overall, with an MSRP of $225, the GAR-9 is by no means cheap – but nothing made by top tier AK optics mount-maker RS Regulate is. Not in terms of the price, or quality. Instead, the GAR-9 offers shooters a slimmer, more durable alternative to the factory polymer rails that will hold up better to use and abuse, as well as temperature extremes.
Personally, the appearance alone is enough for me to buy one. The fact that it works great, holds zero for lasers, and reduces the overall weight is just an added bonus.
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country