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P’s Zastava PAP M90NP 5.56x45mm, Trijicon Accupoint 1-4×24 scope, RS Regulate AK-307 optic rail, PWS FSC47 muzzle brake/flash hider, ACE 8.5″ folding stock, Hogue AK grip and forend (OD green), Krebs safety lever with finger tab. Russian mil-spec AK74 sling, PMAG gen2 (OD green), SKS cleaning rod

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      • How do you like it? I’ve been thinking about getting one of those. I’ve got an AK in 7.62×39, and also want a 5.56 that runs standard AR magazines. I don’t want to spend much over $600 (no Tavor option)

        I am looking at this rifle and the new budget version Ruger AR5.56 and maybe the S&W M&P15 Sport.

        I think this Zastava will give better accuracy than my 7.62, plus give me ammo and magazine compatibility with all the AR’s that everyone has.

        I like the “low maintenance”, ” simplicity” and “high reliability” of the AK platform. I am also more familiar with the AK.

        Any thoughts on these three “budget” 5.56 rifles?

        • In my opinion, if you don’t have a 5.56 rifle yet, get an AR first. If you get something else, you’ll end up with an AR eventually, anyway, from my personal experience (my first 5.56 rifle was a 5.56 Arsenal AK; my second was S&W M&P 15).

          There are objective reasons to like and dislike ARs, but when all is said and done, they’re effectively the standard for civilian, militia, and military semi-auto rifle in US, and there are certain benefits associated with having something compatible on as many levels as possible with what other people around you are using. And if you only have the range in mind, AR is just plain better for that, anyway, other than cleaning – which is solved by being lazy about it 🙂

          As far as budget ARs go, have a look at this:

          What I like there is that you’re getting a free-floated forend, and nitrided barrel and BCG as part of the base package, for the same price you’d pay for that M&P Sport. RF’s entry-level forends are kinda funky (neither Keymod nor M-Lok, but they work with MOE rails and accessories), but in the end, you can still mount stuff that you need where you need it. And you can always upgrade it to something else later.

          I have two uppers from these guys, and the only problem I’ve had with them so far is that they’re skimping on loctite when mounting the forend, so you’ll need to redo the screws right if you don’t want them to fall out after 2-3 range trips, esp. heavier-recoiling .30 cal uppers. But that’s a five minute job.

          In comparison, with Zastava, you’ll need to also get that RS Regulate rail if you want to mount optics or a red dot – no-one else makes Yugo-compatible side rail mounts. I think TWS also makes their “dog leg” hinged cover for Yugos, but it’s about as expensive, and personally I think the side rail is just more sturdy than the removable dust cover, even if the latter is hinged. Ultimak gas tube won’t work with it because it has a non-standard gas tube length (due to barrel being 18″ and not the usual AK 16.5″). Midwest Industries Keymod and M-Lok Yugo AK handguards also don’t work for the same reason – they also need a custom gas tube. So basically you’re stuck with either a stock Century handguard (which sucks), or standard-issue M70 handguard, or Hogue. You can mount rails to Hogue, but there isn’t much space there to begin with, and it gets plain uncomfortable real quick.

        • Thanks for the excellent and detailed response int19h.

          Love your rifle by the way. Like you said, I should probably go AR15 for the first 5.56.

        • The Zatava Paps are fine rifles. The O Pap having the thicker receiver. Good luck getting one for six bills or even getting one period right now as panic buying has cleaned out folks like Atlantic and Buds Gun Shop.

        • This particular model is still in stock at Atlantic Firearms, actually. Price is $650, same as what I got it for back in September:

          BTW, this one also has the thicker receiver. Between that and the longer barrel (well, and all the crap that I’ve attached to it), it’s pretty damn heavy: 10.5 lbs as pictured. Without the scope and the mount, but with an empty mag and sling, it’s just under 9 lbs.

        • Mark Lloyd – I don’t “need” one any time soon. As I mentioned, I’ve got an AK for my “modern sporting rifle” needs (plus I’ve got a ton of other firearms). It is just a “want”, and I can wait for “wants”. Not in “panic” mode. If TEOTWAWKI happens between now and then, the AK, shotties, Marlins, Glocks, Mosin, CZ’s, revolvers, etc. will just have to do.


          By the way, I was looking at these on Atlantic’s website about a week ago (apparently they are sold out now). I think they were going for $629 or so (base model, not with the upgrades shown on the above rifle). That is pretty close to the basic Ruger and Smith AR’s.

        • Apparently Atlantic still has them, and they are $650 rather than $629. Close enough. Leaning toward the AR though (but no panic mode).

      • Wait right there, мой друг. It’s in 5.56, so that’s cultural appropriation of the West, товарищ. #NATORoundsMatter

      • One of the advantages of the AK is the constant curvature feeding system inherent in the 7.62×39 round. I’m not sure how reliable the feeding will be with the much more vertical sides of a 5.56×45 casing. I know that 7.62×39 ARs have a huge problem with feeding because of the reverse.

        In any case, grandpa Misha is rolling in his grave.

        • Yeah, the taper of 7.62×39 does improve feeding somewhat. And AR having that straight magwell doesn’t help with 5.56 (which still has a taper). Still, modern AR mags are plenty reliable in that regard, especially polymer ones where they can make it curved internally while still having straight walls externally. I don’t even remember when I last had a FTF using either PMAG, Lancer A5WM, or even E-Lander. In the end, the ubiquity of 5.56 round and AR mags for it in US won this argument for me. It would be interesting to have an AK that would feed 5.56 from Mini-14 mags – those are also relatively cheap and plentiful in the States, and work more like AK mags in other respects.

          7.62×39 in an AR is a large topic in and of itself. The problem there is the extreme taper of the round combined with the inability to make the mag curve for that part that has to go into the magwell. It basically means that the follower has to tilt somewhat to accommodate, but not enough that it’d bind.

          Having said that, it’s much better than it used to be, now that 2nd generation ASC magazines are out. The old ones were crap, with FTF every several rounds. With the new ones, I can go through 6 full mags with not a single FTF in mine, and I’ve shared them with other people with 7.62×39 ARs to test, with similar results. People running ARAK-21 chambered in 7.62×39 also seem to be doing well with the same mags. So I think it’s “good enough” at this point, but definitely still not the first choice for anything in that caliber. I’ve only got one myself because I already had a couple of guns chambered in that, with a corresponding ammo stash, and had an un-mated complete AR lower (CavArms) lying around; and Radical Firearms had the uppers on sale.

        • I haven’t taken it out to a range long enough to meaningfully measure accuracy yet. Out to 50 yards I’m seeing around 2 MOA, but frankly, that’s probably more my fault than the rifle – I like to build them more than I like to shoot them, and I’m generally happy with “minute of bad guy” and so don’t push further.

          Based on other people’s feedback on AKFiles and AKForum, under 2 MOA at 200 yards is achievable with decent ammo. These are new production guns, so you’re not getting an old, shot-out barrel like you do with WASRs and other milsurp, which is largely the reason for poor accuracy people are used to in AKs.

          Also, it has a surprisingly good trigger. Yeah, it’s the usual Tapco stuff, but either I got lucky, or they’ve got better, because it’s definitely breaking crisper than on my older Arsenal (also with Tapco).

  1. For the curious, here’s the thinking that went into this build.

    You know how on various survivalist/prepper forums or even general gun discussion (like here), every now and then there’s a topic along the lines of “if you could only have one gun, which one would it be?”. So I figured I’d make something like that, just to see how far I can push this concept. The goals were set as follows:

    1. Must be chambered in a caliber that very popular, reasonably efficient, cheap enough to stockpile in bulk, and manufactured in the country (and so not readily affected by import bans, embargoes, and international gun control treaties). This is obviously 5.56×45. For bonus points, needs to be able to use as wide range of bullets as possible – hence 1:7 barrel twist.

    2. Must utilize readily available magazines, cheap enough to stockpile in bulk and manufactured in the country. Hard to beat AR mags here – everyone already has many, and you can still get quality ones for as cheap as $9/mag (E-Lander steel mags). This is actually arguably even more important than #1 should some sort of AWB with mag capacity limits be enacted, which is a distinct possibility post-2016.

    3. Must be a jack of all trades in a sense of being “good enough” in a variety of roles, from CQB to DMR. Hence the 1-4x scope, which is almost as good as a red dot at 1x, and gives enough magnification for long range work out to 500 yards or so (beyond which you’d want a more accurate rifle, anyway) at 4x. For bonus points, Accupoint reticle is battery-free, same as ACOGs – and really bright at that. I also love that RS mount is very easy and quick to remove if needed, giving access to iron sights.

    4. Must be reliable. And I don’t just mean shooting through several thousand rounds reliable, but generally working with zero or low maintenance after prolonged exposure to adverse conditions (rain, mud etc), and easy to handle malfunctions when they arise. Hard to beat an AK at this for a variety of well-known reasons. Zastava offers a little bonus here in form of gas regulator, which can be set to a high setting to deal with really dirty action etc (normally you’d run it on the middle setting).

    5. Must be sturdy. This is a separate point from reliability because it’s basically about withstanding brief but active abuse and wear, rather than prolonged regular use. Think about dropping it on concrete, falling on it barrel first etc. Again, hard to beat an AK here, or really anything made mostly out of steel. The choice of ACE stock was guided largely by this – I’ve also tried Magpul Zhukov-S, and it’s an excellent stock with better ergos, but all-polymer construction doesn’t cut it for this bar, whereas ACE folder is mostly metal and sturdy enough to bludgeon a bear. AK74 sling is there for the same purpose (and also because it just looked right on an AK) – no plastic buckles to break, no hooks to snap. Polymer magwell on Zastava was initially a concern in this regard, until I saw this torture test:

    Hogue furniture is largely personal preference, although I did experiment a lot to see which one felt more comfortable, and remained grippy enough when wet.

    All in all, I think it’s successful in reaching all the goals that were set (though I sincerely hope that I’ll never be in a situation to really test it!). The only remaining concern is that the barrel is not chrome-lined, as is common with all Yugos. It’s not a deal breaker with 5.56, so long as you don’t shoot steel-cased Russian ammo (which I don’t – Wolf Gold is much superior, and cheap enough), but I’m still going to send it to WMD eventually to nitride barrel and receiver, and NiB-coat the BCG, just for the sake of completeness.

    Now, if someone were to make a replacement aluminum or steel magwell for this thing, this would be the cherry on top – one I’d gladly pay some extra for (hint, hint…).

      • I seriously doubt it. I know it’s a pain in the ass to import ARs, and there are few of them available there as a result.

        It would be moot anyway because I wouldn’t be able to own one. By Russian law, you have to own a smoothbore gun for 5 years with no violations before you can apply for a license to own a rifle (even a .22!). And handguns, well, just forget about it.

        It’s one of the long list of reasons why I don’t intend to ever come back to that country.

      • I can answer that one.

        1. Immigrating to Russia is very hard to begin with. Even foreign visitors from the US require an “invitation letter” to get into the country. Getting Russian citizenship is almost as difficult as getting US citizenship for a foreigner.
        2. Weapon laws in Russia are very strict. They make California look positively loose. (You need to own a shotgun for five years before you can buy any rifle.) They also follow the 10 round capacity limit. (Handguns are completely forbidden for civilians.)
        3. While the above are easily circumvented inside the country, there is no “gun community” as such so you would have to break quite a few laws and get in bed with some shady characters.

    • Definitive Arms makes steel AR magwell adapters for 5.56X45 AK pattern rifles. They also have a spring driven last round bolt hold open feature that will fail back to the default AK behavior of not holding the bolt open on the last round. Tim/MACs FFL, Copper Custom, stocks a number of Definitive Arms built 5.56 rifles, modified VEPRs, though they weigh in at almost triple the price of the Zastava. Krebs also manufactures a number of rifles with Definitives adapter.

      Definitive won’t sell the mag adapter directly, you need to send them the rifle for it to be installed by them, as it’s welded in and is a permanent modification. I’ve been itching for a 5.56X45 AK that feeds from STANAGs since I heard about the DA conversion, but my (lack of) employment situation at the time coupled with the high price put the kibosh on that.

      Question, is your 5.56 barrel nitrided or chrome lined? And how hard is it to change barrels if you decided you wanted to put in a heavier/nitrided barrel to improve accuracy?

      • Thanks for reminding me – Definitive Arms are in fact one of the shops (who I consider fairly authoritative on the subject of AKs) who specifically refuse to convert 5.56 Arsenals. Here’s a thread for those interested where they posted, that also has a detailed discussion of bolt differences and other factors.

        I’m also wondering now if Definitive can install their adapter in lieu of Century’s plastic one on my rifle – sounds like it’d be easier for them since the magwell is already milled out. I’ll ask them.

        Now to answer your questions.

        The barrel on M90NP is neither nitrided nor chrome-lined, as is the case for all Yugo rifles (Yugoslavia, and now Serbia, doesn’t have any significant chrome deposits, so back during Cold War they didn’t do chrome because it was too expensive; and now I think they just using the manufacturing processes they already have perfected). For some mysterious reason, they have decided to chrome-line the chamber, though. I suppose it makes cases easier to extract?

        I don’t know how hard it is to replace a barrel, but it shouldn’t be different from any other Yugo AK in that regard, and these are plentiful enough that I wouldn’t expect there to be a problem finding a gunsmith who knows how. Sourcing a new barrel that would match the gas tube and piston dimensions on this is a more interesting question – you’d probably need a custom job for proper gas hole placement. But if you just wanted a nitrided barrel, you can take the stock one and have it nitrided – I plan to do so.

        • Are you sure? Every military Yugo 5.56 barrel is fully chromed, including the mil versions of the M90/M21.

        • Interesting, I didn’t know that. Atlantic Firearms said it’s not chromed, however, and I didn’t check.

          Is there a reliable way to determine this?

        • To answer some earlier questions:

          Definitive Arms mag adapter is not compatible with Zastava M90NP. Different geometry etc. So you’re stuck with the Century adapter if you buy it – unless you or someone you know can make a custom one that would fit (if anyone can make, or know someone who makes, an all-metal adapter, I would also be interested).

          I asked Atlantic about chrome lining, and they said that the specs that the manufacturer sent them do not include “chrome-lined” anywhere, and so they do not guarantee that any particular specimen might or might not have a chrome-lined bore and/or chamber. The consensus on all AK forums that I’ve seen is that the bore is not chrome-lined, but I’ve seen a couple of posts that claim the opposite, and purport to show the “characteristic chrome shine” in photos. I’m not an expert, so I don’t know. Basically assume not chrome lined if you intend to buy.

  2. I have this rifle in its stock form as of now. I am on the fence on whether to keep it or sell it. If I am to keep it then swapping out the stock furniture is a must.

    int19h, how has the Hogue front grip held up so far since that is what I am liking? I don’t want wood and I don’t want a railed forend either since I want to keep it as minimalist as possible plus the barrel gets hot really fast. So far the Hogue handguard has been the only viable-looking option for my wants but I worry about it melting unless I am overthinking otherwise?

    • It has a heat shield (unlike the stock handguard, I must add – and you feel that very quickly once you start shooting), and it’s mostly hard plastic, with rubber being a fairly thin outside layer, so I wouldn’t worry about it melting. So far the most I’ve got through in one session is 6 mags, so 180 rounds, fairly rapidly, and it was doing fine. I haven’t ever heard about Hogue handguards melting, either.

      I don’t know how well it will stand to general wear and tear and abrasion long-term, but I figured that even if the rubber wears off, it’s still better than the stock furniture…

      I also like how solid it is. Doesn’t wiggle at all (whereas the stock forend on my Arsenal does wiggle), and no gap to speak of between the handguard and the gas tube cover.

      Which railed forend were you thinking about? MI won’t fit (wrong gas tube length), and I’m not aware of any other options.

      • Thanks for your input.

        I saw that MI makes a Yugo-specific rail system. If like you say it does not work then no big deal I will stick with the Hogue. With how cheap they are I might just buy two sets so if one goes bad I will have a backup.

  3. Well, it’s no bullpup Mosin Nagant… but very cool nonetheless.

    (And yes, I might just post that on all subsequent “Show us your WOW” posts just to annoy the folks hating on my Mosin!)

  4. At first I was against the whole Ak using AR mags, but when you think about it so what, it even makes sense. The more concerning thing is how reliable the rifle is running 5.56 in place of a “soviet” round. I remember seeing a few unhappy folks with 5.56 Aks on youtube yrs ago. If the bugs are worked out I should be looking into one.
    So hat tip, its a very nice looking rifle. Feed it a case or two, get it dirty, and do a little write up for us…please.

    Oh, whats the deal with the SKS cleaning rod? .30 cal rod for a .22 cal barrel? Did I read something wrong?

    • At the rate I’m shooting, you’ll have to wait for a couple more years before I’ve had a case fed to it 🙂

      The thing to remember is that not all 5.56 AKs are created equal. The first point of distinction is whether the action is based on the 5.45 action, or on the 7.62 one. Arsenals are in the former category, and I’ve heard many bad things about them (to the point where some gunsmiths outright refuse to work on them) that are specifically related to that difference. I haven’t observed problems with mine, but I can’t argue against reports that are so numerous. It’s possible that they have fixed them since the first models, but since there’s no easy way to distinguish new and old, I would steer everyone clear of them.

      On the other hand, you have guns like 5.56 Galils and Valmets, which have a track record that’s pretty much spotless as far as reliability goes. I haven’t heard people complaining about Saiga & Vepr, either.

      For Yugos, it’s a mix. Some earlier Yugos chambered in 5.56 have been notoriously unreliable. I haven’t seen any reports to that effect for M90NP, and AK Operator Union (which were one of the guys reporting those issues) have declared it good to go after testing. But there aren’t that many of them in people’s hands yet (mine has a serial number in 800s), so I suspect we just don’t have enough data.

    • >> Oh, whats the deal with the SKS cleaning rod? .30 cal rod for a .22 cal barrel? Did I read something wrong?

      No, it actually works. It’s fairly thick, but not excessively so, so it fits in the bore just fine with decent amount of space around.

      The reason why it’s there is because the rifle doesn’t come with a cleaning rod out of the box, and the standard AK rod (47 or 74, doesn’t matter) is too short for its 18″ barrel. So I had to find something that would fit – an AK just doesn’t look right without the rod. Turned out that SKS rod fits practically perfectly, is just the right length, and there is an adapter for the tip that lets you attach the usual 5.56 cleaning brushes etc to it.

  5. You have the AK in AR caliber
    I have the Colt Sporter Lightweight AR in AK caliber
    I use both “Frankenmags” and the ASC mags. Both work perfectly.
    Asc has solved the 7.62 x 39 AR magazine problem
    It is of interest to note that 5 AK rounds will fit in standard AR magazine and wiil feed fine.
    My Colt is over 20 years old and has only needed a bolt change after a lug broke off after 10,000 rounds
    Replaced it with a “superbolt” after Colt would not sell me another 7.62 bolt.
    It has digested another case of Tula ammo and is still getting 3 inch, five shot groups with Tula off a grip pod on a bench at 100 yards.
    Don’t get me wrong…I love my x39 Arsenal, and Chinese underfolder and my 5.56 Bushmaster.
    I like the irony of having the rifle chambered in the “wrong” caliber

    • It’s just the standard “ACE original side folding skeleton stock” – they only vary in length. Mine is 8.5″ (keep in mind that receiver adapter adds more to that). As you can see from the photos, the slot in the stock is just wide enough to let a Russian AK sling (1.5″ wide) through – shorter stocks have shorter slots, so keep that in mind.

      Yes, you do need the receiver block. The one that you’ve linked to is not the right one. What you need is a standard Yugo receiver block, code AKRBY:

  6. Great looking Zastava there! I picked one up recently and just had a couple questions, if you don’t mind helping me out!

    1. The Krebs safety. Did you just get the tab and rivet{or weld} it onto your selector, or did you get a complete one?
    2. Have you tried any other hangaurds since your original build? Know off hand if any of the M70 parts out there {TWS, MI, Etc} fit?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I got the complete lever. Had to bend it a little bit so that the positions were actually where they should be (out of the box, when dropped in, it would block the trigger on either position).

      Regarding handguards, the rule of thumb is: if it fits Yugos, and uses the stock gas tube (i.e. requires you to remove it from the stock tube cover and place it into the replacement one), it should fit. So stock Yugo M70 etc handguards fit (if you want wood), and Hogue fits. Presumably, when Magpul releases their forend for Yugos, it will also fit (I have the non-Yugo on my Arsenal, and it also uses the existing tube).

      Things that won’t fit are most railed forends. I can definitely say that MI one won’t fit. Pretty sure that Ultimak won’t, either. I googled up TWS, and it also uses its own custom tube, so same thing.

      The problem is that this thing has a non-standard barrel length for an AK – it’s 18.5″. Consequently, they have moved the gas block forward, as well, and so the piston is longer, and the tube needs to be longer to fit. The stock one, obviously, fits, so any handguard that reuses it works. Handguards themselves are of standard (for Yugo) length.

      I would recommend ditching the stock handguard and going Hogue, because 1) it fits very nice and tight with no rattle – better than stock ones, 2) it is much more ergonomic, and 3) it has a heat shield – stock one doesn’t. Heat shield does actually make a fairly big difference in an AK – they do run hot.

      Alternatively, wait until Magpul makes the Yugo version of their furniture. They have already made the stock (and it fits M90), so surely that must be coming soon.


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