American Rifleman | Zastava ZPAP M70: An Authentic AK for the U.S. Market

From its creation after World War I to its end at the end of the Cold War, the Yugoslav Republic carved a unique niche in Eastern Europe. The country’s independence also extended to the arms industry. They showed themselves ready to produce the best of foreign designs, from the FN Model 24 Mauser to the German MG42 machine gun to the Soviet SKS, in their own unique configuration.

The most famous and productive Yugoslav firearm is its native version of the Soviet AK-47. In the late 1950s, they developed a version of the Warsaw Pact (which Yugoslavia never acceded to) standard AK with a few twists and turns, including a mechanical bolt-opening device and a built-in grenade launch system.

In 1970 the design was updated and officially adopted by the armed forces as the M70. The Yugoslavs would eventually choose to use an RPK-style receiver for the AK-47 light machine guns that used thicker 1.5mm stamped metal and a sturdy “domed” front tenon.

The mechanical device for opening the bolt was replaced by a magazine follower that locked the bolt back when empty. Versions of the rifle were also made for export in the Western 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO calibers. To date, over four million Yugoslav AK firearms have been manufactured.

The main components of the Zastava ZPAP M70, including the barrel and receiver, are made in Serbia.  The rifles are imported into the US by Zastava USA, which adds the appropriate number of American-made parts for 922 (r) compliance.

The main components of the Zastava ZPAP M70, including the barrel and receiver, are made in Serbia. The rifles are imported into the US by Zastava USA, which adds the appropriate number of American-made parts for 922 (r) compliance.

The manufacturer of the M70, Zastava Arms, opened its doors in 1853 as a state arms factory for the newly independent Kingdom of Serbia. It served through the Yugoslav Republic and into what is now the nation of Serbia. New commercial Zastava products, from semi-automatic handguns to bolt action rifles, have been imported into the United States since the 1980s. In 2019 the company opened its US subsidiary as Zastava Arms USA.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a safety lever / dust cover with a notch to lock the bolt backwards.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a safety lever / dust cover with a notch to lock the bolt backwards.

Zastava USA products include AK rifles and handguns of the semi-automatic “PAP” series. The original version of the ZPAP rifle on offer used a 1mm thick, stamped receiver with a standard front spigot.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a heavier,

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a heavier, “domed” front spigot that comes from the RPK light machinegun version of the AK.

This year they updated the rifle with a 1.5mm thick stamp receiver and domed tang, as well as a chrome-lined barrel (a feature not found on the military version of the M70). AK purists will notice some differences between the ZPAP and its military counterpart.

The civil version of the M70 erases the grenade launching system and adds a Yugo pattern receiver side mount for the optics (a feature of the current Serbian M21A service rifle). In contrast to the Russian AK telescopic sight assembly, there are numerous assembly systems (for newcomers to the AK world, the buttocks and the handguards of the AKs with Yugo pattern are not compatible with standard AK parts, but with retrofit fillings the gap).

The ZPAP uses standard magazines of the type 7.62 x 39 mm with double stack and any capacity (the screw also has the correct double stack shape). The magazine supplied has a stud holder. In our tests, the magazine reliably held the bolt open after the last round was fired. Removing the magazine will allow the bolt to close naturally.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 rifle has a lock that secures the return spring guide.  A button on the left back of the receiver must be pressed to allow the return spring guide to be pushed in to release the dust cover.  The lock also holds the return spring guide in place so the dust cover can be reattached.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 rifle has a lock that secures the return spring guide. A button on the left back of the receiver must be pressed to allow the return spring guide to be pushed in to release the dust cover. The lock also holds the return spring guide in place so the dust cover can be reattached.

When the magazine is empty, the shooter has the option of manually opening the bolt using a notch in the safety lever / dust cap. The included magazine fit securely with no noticeable “wobble”, and the rifle worked reliably with a variety of commercial and surplus AK magazines of varying capacities.

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a 1.5mm thick receiver that is thicker than the standard and uses a high performance receiver

The Zastava ZPAP M70 uses a 1.5mm thick stamp receiver that is thicker than the standard and uses a sturdy “domed” front spigot that comes from the AK’s RPK light machine gun version.

Another unique M70 feature of the ZPAP is the locking mechanism of the dust cap. Activation takes place via a small button on the left back of the receiver, which must be pressed in before the dust cap can be removed. When reassembling the rifle, the lock holds the return spring guide forward while the dust cap is reattached. Gone are the days of karate when you got your AK dust cover back in place. The cover latch makes stripping and assembling the ZPAP a breeze.

The main components of the rifle, including the barrel and receiver, are made in Serbia and imported to the USA, where the appropriate number of American-made parts are added to comply with 922 (r). The additions include an American walnut stock that uses a traditional Soviet AK profile rather than the signature Yugo AK stock profile. The rifle is also available with a telescopic M4 type stock and a synthetic hand guard.

The wood and metal finish of the ZPAP M70, including the riveting work on the stamped receiver, is consistently excellent. Two minor criticisms. The first is the wood-to-metal fit. It’s great by AK ratios, but the quality of the wood the ZPAP carries seems to require more careful adjustment. Second, the pistol grip lacks the diamond or texturing required to obtain a positive grip in non-ideal conditions.

On the route, the reliability of the ZPAP was pure Kalashnikov. From the cheapest steel-case imported ammunition to the high-quality American brass casing with a brass case, the ZPAP worked smoothly from the first round. We ignored the scope mount and ran our accuracy tests with the ZPAP’s standard AK open sights. It matched the classic look of the rifle, and so Mikhail intended it anyway.

The better than typical trigger breaks at just over four pounds. After about 3/8-inch exposure and positive reset. The average accuracy of the five-shot groups was just over three inches, with Hornady’s American Gunner charge rotated in groups of just over two inches with its HP Match bullet, and the AK platform’s short radius of view and less than excellent reputation for accuracy.

With the ZPAP M70, Zastava Arms USA has launched one of the most productive and well-known Kalashnikov variants on the US market. The result checks all the boxes for the AK lover with a well-made and authentic rifle that is well under a thousand dollars.

Technical data of the Zastava Arm ZPAP M70

MANUFACTURERS: Zastava Oruzje AD, Kragujevac, Serbia and Zastava Arms USA., 55 Bradrock Dr. Suite B, Des Plaines, IL 60018; (847) 250-9727; zastavaarmsusa.com
MODEL: ZPAP M70 rifle ZR7762WM
ACTION: LONG PISTON, GAS-OPERATED, PIVOT, SEMI-AUTOMATIC, CENTERING RIFLE
CHAMBER: 7.62 × 39 mm
RECEIVER: STAMPED STEEL
BARREL: COLD HAMMER-FORGED, CHROME-LINED, MUZZLE THREAD M14X1 LH
GUN: FOUR SLOT, 1:10 ”RH TWIST
TRIGGER: SINGLE STAGE, 4 pounds, 4 ounces. PULL
FRONT VIEW: POST ADJUSTABLE FOR INCREASE AND PROFIT
BACK: OPEN LADDER ADJUSTABLE FOR ELEVATION
BARREL LENGTH: 16.31
OVERALL LENGTH: 35.25 ”
HEIGHT: 7.25 “W / O MAGAZINE
WEIGHT, UNLOADED: 7 LBS. 14.7 ounces. W / O MAGAZINE, 8 pounds. 10.7 ounces. W / MAGAZINE
MAGAZINE: DETACHABLE BOX, 30 ROUNDS
EQUIPMENT: OPERATION MANUAL
RRP: $ 929.99

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