A Personal Review of the IWI 2 Day Galil/AK-47 Operators Course

Both Galil and AK lovers are welcome to the two day Operators class taught by Israel Weapon Industries. This is the class that I would recommend for AK users as it is specific to the foreign weapon system and not just another practical firearms handling course with an AK thrown in. The instructors have true foreign weapons knowledge and you will learn more than manipulations when in this class.

When it comes to AK courses across the firearms industry there are many that lack actual foreign weapon experience. These courses often follow their normal practical rifle curriculum, but instead with AK’s. The 2 day Galil/AK-47 Operators course from IWI was not that. Instead, it was an in depth course on the history of the AK platform, specific tricks and pieces of knowledge for the build and mechanics of the firearm, all taught by an instructor that was a true foreign weapons subject matter expert. If I were to recommend any AK course it would hands down be this one.

I am pretty new to actually running the platform however I do have some limited experience with working on the AK platform in a prior line of work. The pace of the 2 day course and the level of depth that went into every drill helped me be confident and successful at the end of the weekend. Below will be a quick overview of what we did each day, some specifics as to why this course stood out from the rest, and some gear recommendations that will help you be successful in the course.

The Class Taken

Galil/ AK-47 Operator Course

Date: April 01 – 02, 2023
Hours 8:00am – 5:00pm
Prerequisite: None
Price: $500
Round Count: 600
Location: Gerrardstown, WV (Peacemaker National Training Center)

There were about 15 students in the course and two instructors. We shot on the zero range of the Peacemaker National Training Center. On this specific range we were able to shoot paper targets, steel, and out to 300yds.

Day One

Day One started in the classroom with AK history briefs, knowledge on modifications and mechanics of the platform, field stripping and lubrication/maintenance points, zeroing procedures, and a safety brief. This is where I first found respect for the knowledge that the main instructor, Thomas Alibrando, had. He knew tricks on disassembling and reassembling weapons. He also showed the class the different ways that the Galil and AK platforms were built that could hinder or help sights staying zeroed. The curriculum in itself was genius I mean, we all go to classes where students are having malfunctions due to not lubricating their guns. Why not force them to do it in a teaching setting?

seating an ak dust cover
The chop method is a way that Tom taught me to seat the dust cover on an AK. They’re often finicky when locking in on the front so this method helped a lot. Photo: IWI

The only thing I would have liked to see is more information on ammunition, especially due to the current shortage.

We then went out to the range and covered the items below.

Day One Range Drills

  • zeroing at 25 yds
  • verifying at 100yds
  • proper shooting stance
  • safety manipulations (demo’d four different kinds)
  • low ready, high ready, battle ready
  • difference between trigger holds and resets after the shot
  • charging the gun (demo’d four different kinds)
  • brief about equipment
  • steel competition

This course had specific zeroing targets for the AK and galil platforms due to their different sights and holdovers. The instructors in the class also divided us up by AK and Galil platform to make the zeroing procedures easier and even the drills. This organization kept for the whole class and really helped. It’s worth it to note that the instructors had their proper AK iron sight adjustment tools and took time over lunch to help a student that was having troubles zeroing due to a loose scope.

IWI zero target
Specific to AK and Galil targets made zeroing much easier. Tom took the time to explain each different type of zero as far as irons vs optics, height over bore, and 50 or 100 yd zeros. Photo: IWI

The way that Tom taught the manipulation drills also showed why this is a true AK platform class. AK’s often have different kinds of safety levers such as Krebs safety’s or the standard lever. Sometimes these levers are also bent very tight to the receiver and hard to press. Tom spoke on all of this and showed different ways to move the safety ie two finger, one finger, knuckle, etc. He also showed when to move the safety during presentation. All key things that are different between the AK and rifle platform. Charging the gun was no different. There are multiple ways to do this and Tom showed the fastest and most efficient way but allowed us to try the other ways as well.

Ending the day with a little steel competition allowed the students to end on a high note.

Day Two

We immediately went out to the range on day two and went over the drills below.

  • magazine changes (four different kinds)
  • malfunction set up drills with partners (blue falcon drills)
  • par time drills/half and half drill
  • positioning
  • proper assessment
  • turn and shoot drills/el pres
  • partner long range shooting at 175 yds and 300 yds
  • competition to win a prize from IWI
  • brief about AK and Galil magazines
  • 15 rounds of full auto shooting from a Galil Ace provided by IWI
magazine change ak
Magazine changes were one of the highlights of this course. I had zero idea on the proper way to do these, let alone the four different methods. I was very proficient after the class. This magazine change shown is the type where you release one magazine, with another already in your hand press the release latch with your thumb and seat the other mag. Photo: IWI

I am honestly glad that the curriculum allowed for magazine changes to be on day two instead of one. There was a lot of information dropped on day one, especially for half of the day being inside the classroom. Tom demo’d each type of magazine change, including yes, the magazine sweep. Speaking of, I highly recommend gloves for this class. The magazine changes and safety manipulations caused for some cut up hands.

The instructors way of teaching assessment drills was also different than I have ever seen. While many kind of touch on the post engagement assessment drills, and students often kinda fake the assessment, the instructors found a way to make students try. They did this by holding up fingers or an item. If the students saw two fingers, they need to give the target two extra shots. If they saw an item in the instructors hands, they better remember that item. It worked and I found myself actually looking around after the engagement, not just turning my head.

To end the day IWI provided a full auto Galil Ace and a magazine of ammo for each student to shoot. Genius marketing…

full auto galil
Full auto Galil for the win. It really put a smile on the students faces to end a hard working weekend with some full auto love. Photo: IWI

Gear Recommendations

Students within the class ranged from brand new to the platform to this being their fourth AK class and having a good amount of experience on the platform. Those that were brand new fought with a lot of their gear making the class even more difficult to keep up with. The three largest things that were struggled with were slings, magazine pouches, and magazines.

Slings including their AK attachment points are not an option when it comes to practical rifle handling courses. The sling should have the ability to be adjusted quickly for tension and should be a two point sling, NOT single point. I found myself tightening and loosening the sling after almost every drill and the tension did help with arm fatigue and controlling the gun. Some options for this type of sling is the BFG Vickers Sling, Magpul MS1, and the VTAC sling. Students should ensure that they have an easily adjustable sling and also a way to attach it to the gun as AK’s are a very different platform. While paracord is a last minute fix, it isn’t the best option. If your AK doesn’t have a quick detach point there are other options such as the Molded Universal Wire Loop from Blue Force Gear. This simply loops through your AK rail no matter what kind of rail it is.

charging method ak
This is a photo of the over the gun charging method. Notice that I am wearing gloves, have the sling ready to be used once presenting to the target, and I have a dump pouch for extra magazines. Photo: IWI

Next issue being magazine pouches. AK magazines have the front locking lip on the body of the magazine making finding magazine pouches a little difficult. During the course you’ll have a lot of magazines on your body at one time and may need to stow one back into a magazine pouch dependent on the drill. Having magazine pouches that allow for easy magazine removable and stowage is paramount. A couple of good options for pouches that have a wider opening and allow for room for the locking lip are the soft-shell scorpion magazine carrier from G-code and the TACO from HSGI.

Lastly, the proper magazine. There are a ton of different kinds of AK magazines out there and even some tricks to get Galil magazines working properly (learned it in the class). This makes having magazines that don’t work properly a very normal thing in the foreign weapons world and it was shown in class. A few students were having magazine issues which also slowed them down in class. The most recommended AK magazine by the instructor is the Xtech Tactical Magazine. The next being from the AK/AKM GEN 3 PMAG from Magpul. Ensure that you buy the proper generation with the steel reinforced magazine locking lip.

Future Classes

Galil /AK Operator Course – 2 Day
August 05 – 06, 2023

Location: Gerrardstown, WV

Galil/ AK-47 Operator Course

Prerequisite: None

Class Status: Open

Anna Martinez
Anna is a Federal Weapons Gunsmith with 8 years of previous experience within the US Army Ordnance Corps (91F). She has taken multiple armorer and weapons proficiency classes to include FN, Knights Armament, and Small Arms Weapons Expert course. She also writes for American Gunsmith, AR Build Junkie, and is active in Precision Rifle sports around the nation.