During SHOT Show 2017 Industry Day at the Range, I dropped by the IWI USA booth to see what they had for attendees to shoot. Besides their highly competitive Galil ACE 308, they had also brought the 5.56mm variant of the ACE, which is just now making it into the country. I got a chance to fire these two rifles side by side to compare them. Sadly, IWI’s reps tactically operate their booths with touchscreen-baffling gloves on, and since I ride solo at shows like this that meant I got no photos of me actually shooting the rifles. Oh well, we’ll have to make do with some glamor shots.
The Galil 308 and 5.56 are remarkably similar guns, their only mechanical difference being the presence of a bolt catch on the smallbore variant (the reason for the absence of a last round hold open on the 308 remains a mystery to me). In weight, size, and handling, the two rifles are very nearly identical; the 308 variant is on the lighter side for its caliber, while the 5.56 variant is somewhat porky for a mousegun. Recoil for both weapons felt indistinguishable, too, primarily because IWI puts very healthy two-chamber brake on the .30 cal variant. Neither rifle was punishing to shoot, but the bolt group picks up a pretty good head of steam, meaning the guns tend to buck a little more than their AR-derived counterparts in the same calibers.
MSRP on the 5.56mm version is supposed to be $1899, almost identical to the other two rifles in the family. Like them, it seems to be retailing at around $1700.