A Zastava M70 AB2
|Place of origin||Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia)|
|Used by||See Users|
Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia
War in Afghanistan
Libyan Civil War
Syrian Civil War
Iraqi Civil War
|Weight||3.70 kg (8.2 lb)|
|Length||940 mm (37 in)|
|Barrel length||415 mm (16.3 in)|
|Action||Gas-operated (rotating bolt)|
|Rate of fire||620 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||720 m/s (2,400 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||410 m (450 yd)|
|Feed system||30-round detachable box magazine, can accept 75 round drum magazines|
The Zastava M70 (Serbian Cyrillic: Застава М70) is an assault rifle developed and produced by Zastava Arms in Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia). The design of the M70 was based on modified Soviet AK-47 and AKM assault rifles and it became the standard issue weapon in the Yugoslav People's Army in 1970. The M70 is an air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire rifle. This weapon is also available as the O-PAP in the USA without select fire capabilities.
Development of the domestic Kalashnikov variant began in 1959, and the first models submitted by Zastava for military field trials were with the early M64 (or M59) series of rifles with milled receivers, threaded barrels, familiar Zastava handguards, gas cutoffs for grenade launching, and several other diversities from the mainstay AK design, such as a bolt hold open device on the right side of the receiver, and a charging handle that appeared different from other AK models. Though performances were satisfactory, the Yugoslav military did not adopt the rifle as the standard infantry armament.
In 1970, the green light was given to begin with army-funded mass production of the AP M70 and M70 A series (Automatska Puška Model 1970, "Automatic Rifle Model 1970") of which the M70 A was the folding stock version. It became the standard issue weapon in the Yugoslav People's Army in 1970.
Before the larger models of these rifles were made, cost-cutting measures in production resulted in the removal of the internal bolt hold open, and relocation to the magazine follower. In addition, the usual placement of the barrel through threading into the receiver was replaced by the cheaper method of pressing and pinning the barrel into the receiver. Rifles produced with these new features were known as models AP M70 B (fixed stock version), and M70 AB (folding stock version). As with the M70 series of automatic rifles, these models failed to be produced in larger quantities before further cost-efficiency production measures gave way to yet another model.
This time the milled receiver was replaced by a receiver stamped from a smooth 0.9 mm (0.04 in) thick sheet of steel, a firing rate reducer was added to the trigger group, and the muzzle brake replaced the muzzle nut that originally came on the two prior models; the produced models were AP M70 B1 (fixed stock) and M70 AB1 (folding stock).
These models eventually failed to mass-produce as well, before final alterations to the M70 rifle design resulted with the AP M70 B2 (fixed stock) and M70 AB2 (folding stock) models. These last two models featured a thicker 1.5 mm (0.06 in) stamped receiver and bulged front trunnion, which was intended to strengthen the rifle in order to make it more suitable for frequent grenade launching. These two models would become the most widely produced of the M70 series, and in turn the most widely used model used by the JNA, as well as the various armed groups fighting in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Parts kits imported into the U.S. however, show markings that appear to contradict the final fixed stock model name. On these kits the bulged, thicker stamped receiver model is actually the M70 B1 model.
All of the M70 models share the grenade launching ability with gas cutoff, the lengthened wooden handguard with 3 cooling slots, iron sights with flip-up illuminating elements, initially filled with phosphorus and later with tritium (Which is used on the current production M70's), to improve aiming at night; the plunger that keeps the receiver cover in place during grenade launching, and a non-chrome lined barrel. Fire selectors have R markings for automatic fire (R for rafalna, "burst fire") and J for semi-automatic fire (J for jedinačna, "single").
Design and features
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The M70 can easily be told apart from other AK rifles by the three cooling slots on the foregrip, the light-coloured elm wood furniture and the black rubber buttplate on fixed-stock M70s. The M70s also have a grenade-launching sight and gas cut-off on the gas block, and are capable of launching rifle-grenades. To launch them a 22 mm diameter grenade launching adapter is screwed on in place of the slant brake or other muzzle device.
The receiver of the M70 is 1.5 mm thick, compared to the 1 mm thick receiver of the AKM, making it more rigid. The receiver has a bulge at the front to accommodate an enlarged trunnion similar to a RPK receiver, with the front trunnion rivet configuration likewise resembling a RPK and not an AKM. Likewise, the barrel is not chrome-lined, making it more accurate than a standard AKM, but at the cost of increased susceptibility to corrosion. The lack of chrome lining is consistent with other Zastava built rifles of Soviet design (such as the Yugoslavian M59 or M59/66). Unlike other AK variants, a lock button must be depressed on the left side of the receiver as the first step for field stripping, to enable depressing the rear spring guide to remove the receiver dust cover. It is probable this feature is intended to prevent the loss of the top cover due to recoil when firing rifle grenades.
- M70 – milled receiver, fixed stock
- M70 A – milled receiver, underfolding stock
- M70 A1 – milled receiver, underfolding stock, mount for night or optical sights
- M70 B1 – stamped receiver, fixed stock
- M70 AB2 – stamped receiver, underfolding stock
- M70 B1N – stamped receiver, fixed stock, mount for night or optical sights
- M70 AB2N – stamped receiver, underfolding stock, mount for night or optical sights
- M70 AB3 – stamped receiver, underfolding stock, rifle grenade sight removed and replaced with a BGP 40 mm underslung grenade launcher
- M70 B3 – stamped receiver, fixed stock, rifle grenade sight removed and replaced with a BGP 40 mm underslung grenade launcher
- M92 – carbine, the shorter variant of the M70AB2
- PAP M70 – semi-automatic variant intended for the civilian market
- Tabuk Sniper Rifle - Iraqi long barrel stamped receiver and fixed stock variant
After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the military inventory of each republic passed to the successor states.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Croatian Army (planned withdrawal from service)
- Kenya Police
- Kosovo Security Force
- Army of the Republic of Macedonia
- Palestinian Authority
- Slovenian Police
Iraqi Police officer holds a Zastava M70 AB2.
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- "Oropali SKB Banko v Ljubljani" [SKB bank in Ljubljana robbed]. RTV Slovenija (in Slovenian). October 12, 2015.
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