Being situated in central Texas, it’s hard not to take advantage of training with Green Ops and the many classes they offer. Previously, I’ve covered both their LPVO and AAPM classes here on GAT Daily. But this past Saturday, I showed up to take the Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov class—a one-day class that goes over the finer points of shooting and using a Kalashnikov rifle. This class was equally led by both Green Ops Texas director of Training Matt McGuire and Green Ops Instructor Dale.

Given Dale’s background as a Special Forces 18-Bravo, he is probably one of the most qualified people to teach such a class. For those who aren’t familiar, one of the core specialties of the US Army Special Forces is teaching and training others, be it their teammates or other partner forces. 18-Bravos, also known as Weapons Sergeants, are quite literally the weapons experts of their 12-man teams. 

Who better to teach an AK class stateside?  

Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov Class Overview 

The Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov class is a one-day AK-centric carbine class that focuses on these ‘alternative’ yet still utilitarian firearms. Much of the curriculum overlaps with Green Ops’ normal (read: AR-15 centric) Defensive Carbine class. But obviously, Defensive Kalashnikov specifically touches on the nuances, subtleties, and unique properties of AK pattern firearms.

This rendition of the Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov class was very intimate, with a total of five students and two instructors. The class took place at the RDI Shooting Complex in Pleasanton, Texas. I enjoy these smaller group settings as it often means that everyone gets more individualized attention along with less down time in between individual assessments. 

The beauty of this class is its simplicity. Other than the requisite rifle, its sling, and at least three magazines, there really isn’t much on the list of required gear. Students are free to bring their AKs set up to best suit them. Ammunition-wise, the class officially calls for 400 rounds. Just having completed the class, I don’t think I shot more than 300 rounds in total.

A Gamut of Styles and Set-Ups

Students’ weapons ran the gamut of styles, from my bone-stock Romanian-made Century Arms WASR-10 AK to a suppressed Kalashnikov with all of the bells and whistles from Zenitco. Two students even shot rifles with iron sights (and did fairly well, too).

Most everyone’s guns, including the ones belonging to the instructors’, had some degree of aftermarket accessories or modification. Incidentally, they both were shooting 7.62x39mm AKs with Ultimak “gas tube” Picatinny rails. Dale’s gun had the tried-and-true classic Ultimak + Aimpoint Micro combination, while McGuires’ had an Ultimak with a Trijicon RMR.

Another student and I were shooting rifles with the amazing RS Regulate side rail mounts. Everyone except me had guns with upgraded furniture or pistol grips. I was the only one with a rifle that had wooden furniture, and honestly, I couldn’t remember the last time I shot any rifle with wooden furniture. 

From Cugir, Romania, To Atascosa County, Texas 

Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov Century Arms WASR 10 Romanian AK
Century Arms Romanian WASR-10 with Gideon Optics Advocate Prismatic Sight mounted. Picture taken on the firing line.

Because this was my first-ever Kalashnikov-specific class, I decided to bring and shoot that 7.62x39mm WASR-10 I reviewed earlier this spring. The WASR-10 is directly based on the famous Romanian-made PM md. 63, which is a clone of the original Soviet AKM dating back to 1959.

Fundamentally, the WASR-10 isn’t outfitted any differently than a Soviet or Romanian AKM from the early 1960s. Other than the aforementioned RS Regulate, sling, optic, and mount, I deliberately shot this rifle in this configuration in order to get a feel for what shooting an elementary .30-caliber Kalashnikov felt like.

Given the popularity of the standard AK, I considered it both an intellectual exercise and a practical means to establish a baseline reference to such AKs.

Running the WASR-10

At the time of this writing, the WASR-10 should have north of 500 rounds between this Green Ops class and my original review. It has not had any malfunctions to report since I first shot it, even with minimal lubrication. I’ve primarily fed it Russian-made steel-case ammunition I purchased a decade ago, but the rifle also shot brass-cased Hornady and S&B cartridges without issue.

I will not knock the WASR-10 for its archaic architecture, as it is directly based on the AKM. But the only flaw I noticed during class was that its side rail needed some fine filing. I noticed this after two separate RS Regulate mounts I own started becoming loose from side to side (but not from front to rear). The issue manifested itself after a few magazines in between shooting exercises.

I reached out to RS Regulate and they explained that sometimes Romanian AKs need additional filing on the rear bottom part of their side-rail’s dovetail in order for the RS mounts to be properly and completely attached to the rifle. (The same mount never gave me problems while mounted to my Russian-made Saiga AK I’ve had for years.) Such is life with a Kalashnikov. 

The Morning

The morning of the class began with a discussion about the AK and its place in the defensive-minded civilian’s “ecosystem” of firearms. We talked about what these weapons are, what they aren’t, and how they are best contextualized as modern defensive and practical firearms. Similar discussions and sidebar conversations took place between both instructors and students throughout the day, especially in between shooting drills and catching some shade, topping off magazines, etc.

If running drills and exercises, along with the actual shooting, were the “nuts and bolts” of the class, these discussions were the “glue” of the class. The insights and discussions were invaluable, and once again, this is one of the things that always seems to take place when the class size is smaller.

Only four others besides myself braved the sun and heat to participate. I’ll put it this way, I learned some esoteric knowledge about the original Soviet-designed PBS-1 silencer for the AKM and how it works. I also learned the truth about the SVD Dragunov, and as they say, never meet your heroes

Getting Hands-On

Green Ops Defensive Kalashnikov
Student shooting NRA B-8 targets to see where his shots offset at five-yards.

The hands-on portion of the class began with zeroing and/or verifying zeroes on students’ rifles, along with a discussion on reasonable zeros for AK overall. We learned that fifty yards is an overall reasonable zero for a 7.62×39 Kalashnikov, though I had mine previously zeroed for 100 yards, as is my custom for nearly every rifle. And that was fine, too.

Although AKs aren’t AR-15s, something both rifles have in common is that their sights sit fairly high over their barrels which means that being cognizant of the weapons’ height-over-bore (HOB) is equally as important. For this reason, we spent some time shooting groups between 10, 15, and 25 yards after zeroing to learn where the different holds for height over bore for our rifles lay.

To cap off the zeroes-and-holds portion of the class, we shot a 30-round drill conceived by noted firearms instructor Chuck Pressburg. It involved an NRA B-8 target, with the goal of accounting for height over bore offset at various distances and landing all 30 rounds inside the B-8’s ten-ring. 

To Be Continued In Part 2

P.E. Fitch
I am a shooter first, and a writer second. IG & Twitter: @pfitch45