Course Review: IWI Galil / AK Operator 2-Day Course

The Kalashnikov automatic rifle/AK platform is a very different platform than other rifles, thus needing a specialty operator class for it. While many practical firearms courses will have an AK-specific class, it is simply their usual rifle curriculum with an AK thrown in. They often lack a certain level of knowledge needed from true AK subject matter experts. The two-day Galil/AK operator course from Isreal Weapon Industries (IWI) fills that gap with instructors that truly know the platform and how to operate it.

I recently took this course and would recommend this course over any other AK operator course on the market. Below is what to expect from this course, day by day, and how to sign up for future classes.

The Class

  • Galil/ AK-47 Operator Course
  • Date: April 01 – 02, 2023
  • Hours 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Prerequisite: None
  • Price: $500
  • Round Count: 600
  • Location: Gerrardstown, WV

Course Instructors: Thomas Alibrando w/ Assistant Instructor John. Tom has a lot of foreign weapons experience due to contracting overseas with multiple agencies and his time on a SWAT section. He teaches multiple courses across IWI. John spent time in a foreign armed forces entity and served in many different countries and capacities.

Students and Student Experience Levels: 12 students were in the class with half of them being very new to their AK or Galil platform, the other half being either experienced on their AK/Galil platform or new to the platform but an experienced shooter. A couple of students were repeat students in this class.

The Range

Peacemaker range located in Gerrardstown, West Virginia is a great range that is off the beaten path. It has multiple square bays, about six different classrooms, and two areas of long-range shooting, one that goes out to about 600, and the other goes past 1k. There is also a zeroing range that has some steel off to the side at 300 yards. This is where the class was held over the two days. It has employees there every day and is run pretty well as there is always an employee at the zero range and one near the square bays to help direct people on the range.

Peacemaker hosts many different classes as well as shooting matches. Memberships are available but classes and matches are open to non-members.

kneeling shooting at steel
The zeroing range on Peacemaker has room for both paper targets and close or far steel. This photo was taken during positional shooting drills at steel. (Photo: IWI)

Day 1 — Classroom Portion

First, sitting down in the classroom there are multiple swag items on the table—an IWI branded shot glass, water bottle, handout of the PowerPoint that we will be going over, and my favorite a hard-covered book that has room for notes and a listing of different IWI firearms.

We spent about three hours in the classroom. Topics included: 

  • Safety brief
  • History of the AK and Galil
  • Field strip and reassembly
  • Differences in parts over time and between platforms
  • Lubrication and maintenance
  • Aftermarket parts and modifications
  • Zeroing procedures
ak piston and bolt
Using the classroom as a way to enable students to learn how to lube and disassemble/reassemble their weapons was a great way for the instructors to look over students’ weapons before getting to the range. Tom’s knowledge of individual parts of the firearm was a great addition. (Photo: IWI)

Thomas, the main firearms instructor for IWI, was a true foreign weapons SME. You could tell just in his knowledge of the individual parts of the guns and how they have changed over time. He took the time to ensure everyone saw specific parts of the weapons by going around the room and handling others’ firearms to show the difference. He taught different tricks in how to disassemble and reassemble the guns, such as tricks to slap the dust cover on. Also, he showed the Galil and how that dustcover is seated differently than an AK.

Tom also used this time to ensure that everyone’s guns were properly lubed and ready to fire by going over the proper methods for lubrication and maintenance. There were a few students that needed help with their slings and Tom actually loaned out some of his equipment to help them get through the course.

Day One — Range Time

After eating lunch and leaving the classroom we drove over to the square range. During the last portion of the day, the students went over the drills below. It’s worth it to note that Tom demonstrated every drill that he gave us. There was one drill on day two (with a very small par time that he set for himself) that he missed the first time. But during lunch, he went back down range and completed the drill in his allotted time. That just showed how passionate he is about the job and his abilities.

  • Zeroing at 25 yds
  • 10 shots at 100
  • Shooting stance demo and drill
  • Safety manipulations demo and drill
  • Low ready, high ready, battle ready
  • Trigger hold to rear and trigger reset demo and drill
  • Charging the gun demo and drill
  • Brief about buttstocks, kit, and slings
  • Steel shoot competition
zeroing targets
Tom’s zeroing targets were made specifically for the AK and Galil platform. These weapon platforms often have different kinds of zeros between iron sights and optics, so the targets made it easier.

Day One was when it really became apparent that this class and instructor were designed for AK/Galil and it wasn’t just a recycled practical rifle class. The first thing Tom did was organize the class with Galil users on one side and AK users on the other. This helped him track the types of optic placements and zero’s needed. The zeroing targets were made for the AK with holdover boxes labeled for different kinds of zeroes and guns. AKs are a different animal when it comes to optic systems due to the many places that optics can be placed and many of these AKs were running irons so the targets were great. Zeroing didn’t feel rushed and a few had some optic mounts come loose. This was fixed on the line and the zero was adjusted for that student.

As far as the drill and demos, Tom made them specific to the AK and Galil platforms including Krebs safety manipulations vs non-Krebs safety, using one finger to move the safety vs two, etc. The racking of the gun was specific to the individual platform as well and he showed four different methods to do that. He then had us try each method during the drill but then allowed us to choose what works for us during the rest of the class.

We ended the day with a talk from Tom about specific pieces of kit made for the AK such as chest rigs and types of slings. We also went over different types of buttstocks and how they may affect the mounting height of the optic. One of the AK rigs Tom mentioned is a chest rig with an AK insert from SpiritusSystems, see that right below.


Day Two — Range Time

Day Two was all about mag changes, malfunction drills, and fast and accurate shots down range, then some distance shooting. I would say day two was where ¾ of our ammo was spent.

  • Magazine changes
  • Malfunction drills with partners
  • Par time drills/half and half drill
  • Positioning drills
  • Assessment drills
  • 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
mag change with ak
The instructors taught multiple ways to change a magazine and allowed us to try each way. (Photo: IWI)

Day two included A LOT of shooting. One of my more favorite things that I haven’t seen anyone else do is the way that the instructors did the assessment drills. Many classes do drills where they ask the shooter to “assess” their surroundings after they engage their target. This usually involves a shooter looking around but not really looking at anything. In this class, though, the instructors actually held up items or fingers showing how many more rounds to put on the target. If the shooter wasn’t actually assessing and seeing how many fingers were being held up, the instructors would know.

At the end of the second day, Tom went over some specifics on magazines such as a magazine modification he likes to do for the Galil due to its specific feed ramp and which magazines work best for the AK platform, one mention being the Xtech magazines. We then had a friendly shooting competition to win an IWI rifle bag.

One of the cooler things that made this class particularly special, though, was that IWI provided a full auto Galil ACE for each student to shoot.

shooting the galil ace
The 2 day Galil/AK Operator course from IWI involves a high round count with many iterations of mag changes, safety manipulations, and zeroing techniques specific to the AK/Galil platform. True foreign weapons SMEs ran this course and allowed their students to have a great time while becoming better on their chosen platform. Shooting a Galil ACE on full auto during the course was also a lot of fun! (Photo: IWI)


Overall, the money is worth the squeeze on this class. The fact that it’s two days allowed a lot of information to be put out without overwhelming the different levels of students. It also allowed students to try different weapon manipulations and see what works best.

The instructors were true SMEs for foreign weapons and the curriculum was created for the Galil/AK. It seemed as though a lot of work was put into it and it showed by how much better students got over the two days while still having a good time.

Upon successfully completing this class you will receive a certificate and a 20% off an IWI item (including firearms) that is easy to redeem. That in itself can be worth the course fee.

The only thing that I would say to make this class even better is to have one more instructor and dive a little bit deeper into the types and history of AK ammunition and what is available right now.

student group photo for IWI Galil / AK Operators course
This class was able to make each of these students confident with their platform and know what to work on at home. The broad range of knowledge and experience between students didn’t hinder the class flow. The instructors adapted the curriculum to meet everyone’s needs. (Photo: IWI)

Future IWI Classes

Galil/ AK-47 Operator Course

August 05 – 06, 2023

Location: Gerrardstown, WV

  • Price: $500.00
  • Max Participants: 12
  • Course Instructor: Thomas Alibrando
  • Class Status: Open

Other IWI classes

  • Level 1-3 Tavor and X95 Operator
  • Tavor and X95 Armorer
  • Home Defense Course
  • Pistol Operator Course
  • Pistol Mechanics Course
Anne Smith is a Veteran of the full time MNARNG force as a Small Arms Repairer and worked to bolster their marksmanship team. Mainly a technical writer and gunsmith within the Federal world she comes with many armorer classes under her belt such as KAC, Glock, every FN weapon in the book, and Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE). So, sorry to bore you with the knowledge that actually make firearms shoot. Currently heavily into the long range world she competes in National Rifle League Hunter and various Gas Gun Precision Series.

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