When my Marine Corps brother Andy called me up to tell me that I could have free reign of his Class 3 gun shop (and bar-b-que), Defcon-1 Armory and Chow Hall, to write about any of the military surplus firearms he has, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, if history isn’t kept alive, it disappears forever. When he told me that he received a Finnish AK variant called the Valmet M76W, of course my response was: what the heck is that? . . .
First, some history
Unfortunately, Finland found themselves positioned on the wrong team during WWII when they aligned themselves with Nazi Germany. Because of this, they were unable to manufacture weapons until the late 1950s. The Finnish company Valmet began production of its first AK variant rifle, the M60, sometime between 1958-1960. This rifle was only available with a tubular stock, and one cartridge size: 7.62X39.
The M76 Rifle
Several years and revisions later, Valmet began production of the M76. There were a few variations, to include the “W” model denoting the wood stock, and several others with folding tubular, fixed plastic and other stocks available in a few different cartridge sizes.
The rifle pictured is chambered in .223. However Valmet turned out other camberings including 7.62X39, 7.62X51 and the rare .222, which was primarily exported to France.
In fact, besides domestic use, this rifle was produced as much to exported to both civilian and military markets across the globe. Civilians saw an exclusive semi-auto rifle, while military buyers would receive the select-fire M76.
The quality construction has tight tolerances without an excessive amount of wobble. Like the AK, M76 receivers were usually made from stamped steel which were then riveted and reinforced for strength. However, there are several examples of M76s with milled receivers floating around as well.
One of the most recognizable characteristics on this rifle is the three prong flash suppressor/bayonet lug and the rear sight located on the backside of the receiver’s cover. Apparently, one of the selling points was the flash suppressor’s ability to cut barbed wire. Simply place the wire through the three prongs and squeeze the trigger. Of course, you’d give away your position and run out of ammo more sooner, but hey, at least you could walk into the slaughter more comfortably.
While the exact number of M76s is nearly impossible to determine, some estimates claim that there were less than 1,000 of this particular model ever imported into the United States. Because so few of them mad the journey, they can command a higher street price than some of the other imported AKs variants, even when in bad shape. An M76 in average condition can command $1,500+. Of course, price increases with quality.
Valmet was responsible for producing many reliable and fairly accurate weapons that, by today’s standards, are considered rare. Most gun shops will never see one of these rifles, so if you’re in the market, you’ll probably have to purchase yours online, and at a premium.