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The M-70 is a modern military assault rifle developed and manufactured by Zastava Arms of Kragujevacmarker, Republic of Serbiamarker. The M70 is designed on the basis of famous Kalashnikov rifles from Russiamarker, which has been proven in numerous wars fought worldwide in the last sixty years of its service.

Overview

The Zastava M70 rifle chambers and fires the M67 7.62x39mm round. It is a gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire firearm with an under-folding stock.

History and Variants

In serial production, Zastava Arms produces two variants of the rifle – M70 B1 and M70 AB2.

Models M70 B1 and M70 AB2 have integral rifle grenade sights, and in original manufacture have or had a rifle grenade attachment.M72 B1 LMG has an integral folding bipod.M72 AB1 LMG has a bipod, which can be removed (thus creating the possibility to shoot from firing ports on armoured vehicles)

Initial research on a domestic version of the AK appears to have begun in 1959, and the first models submitted by Zastava for inspection/field trials to the Yugoslavian military seem to have been the M-64 series rifles with milled receivers, threaded barrels, familiar Yugo handguard, gas cutoff for grenade launching, and apparently several more unique differences from mainstay AKs 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 it performed satisfactorily, the Yugoslav military did not adopt the rifle as the standard infantry armament. Soon thereafter one of the changes that followed would be that the shape of the charging handle reverted back to that of normal AKs.

In 1970, a second opportunity presented itself, and Zastava was given the go ahead to begin army funded production of the AP M-70 and M-70A series (Automatska Puska Model 1970), of which the M-70A was the underfolding version. They still maintained milled receivers, threaded barrels, the internal bolt hold open, and many other features of the M-64 rifles.

Before production of larger series of these models, cost cutting measures in production, resulted in the removal of the internal bolt hold open, and relocation to the magazine follower. In addition, the installation of the barrel through threading into the receiver was replaced by the cheaper method of pressing and pinning the barrel into receiver. Rifles produced with these new features were known as models AP M-70B (fixed stock version), and M-70AB (underfolding version).

As with the M-70 series of APs, these models failed to be produced in larger series before further cost efficient production measures resulted in yet another model. This time the milled receiver was replaced by a stamped receiver of 0.9mm thickness, a rate reducer was added to the trigger group, and a muzzle brake replaced the muzzle nut that originally came on the two prior models. Yugoslavian AKs produced with these features were named models AP M-70B1 (fixed stock) and M-70AB1 (underfolding version).

These models failed to be produced in larger series as well, before final changes to the M70 series of rifles, resulted in the AP M-70B2 (fixed stock) and M-70AB2 (underfolding stock) models. These last two models featured a thicker 1.5mm stamped receiver and bulged front trunnion, which was intended to strengthen the rifle to make it more suitable for frequent grenade launching. These two models would become the most produced of the M70 series, and in turn also the most widely used by the JNA (Yugoslav National Army), and the various armies of the Yugoslav wars in 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 M70B1 model.

All of the M70 models share the grenade launching ability with gas cutoff, the lengthened handguard with 3 cooling slots, iron sights with flip-up illuminating elements, initially filled with phosphorus and later with tritium, 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 (The R most likely stands for Rafal) and J for semi-automatic fire (The J most likely for Jedan).

General consensus in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most likely in the other former Yugoslav countries, particularly Serbia, seems to be that the quality of Yugoslavian AKs, and subsequent Serbian AKs, is superior to that of any other type of AK including those of Russian manufacture. As such they were more desirable to have during the war, regardless of side, and are rumored to perform better in particular during continual automatic fire, as the barrel apparently heats up significantly less than for foreign models. Furthermore it is mentioned that in 1993, during the war in Bosnia, 20 rifles almost identical to one of the 2 AP M70AB series were produced in the "Bratstvo" factory in Novi Travnik, Bosnia, and performed satisfactorily during field trials. However, for unknown reasons, no further production runs were carried out beyond these initial 20 rifles.

It is also mentioned that in combat, M-70 rifles subject to use in grenade launching became risky to operate as the receiver cover plunger eventually came loose and fell out of its housing. Without this plunger further launching of grenades was not recommended because of the pressures involved. A longer term problem that resulted from extensive grenade launching was the eventual widening of the barrel, which dropped the rifle's accuracy with regular ammunition.

Design and Features

The Zastava M70 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire, shoulder-fired weapon with a folding or wooden stock.

The Zastava M70 can be identified from other AK rifles by the 3 cooling slots in the foregrip, the light-coloured teak furniture, the grenade-launching sight on the gas block and the black rubber buttplate on versions with a fixed stock.

The receiver of the M70 is 1.5mm thick (compared to 1mm receiver of the AKM) making it more rigid and the barrel is not chrome-lined, making it more accurate than a standard AKM.
Factory Accessories




Users

Was also used during the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War.Imported to Zaire (now DRC) in 1997 to equip government forces.

References



See also



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