Add Length of Pull to a Yugo M70, M72 or M76 Wood Buttstock WIth A Limbsaver Recoil Pad

Normally, I like the length of the Yugo M70 and M72 buttstocks. They’re shorter than many Western fixed stock designs but I’ve just grown accustomed to the length of pull (LOP). Recently, I had Two Rivers Arms build me a M76 designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and found the stock to be a tad shorter than what I wanted to get in position behind the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope I had bought for it.

Two Rivers Arms custom built Yugo M76 rifle with a RS!Regulate scope mount and Vortex Hog Hunter scope. The UTG rings have been replaced with an American Defense mount and the cheek piece will be replaced but you can get an idea that this is a big rifle and a big optic.

I realized that to make the LOP longer, I had two options. My normal route with an AK is to install a stock adapter and either go to some form of modular stock. In the case of the M76, I really wanted to stick with the original wood. The brought be to my second option – to add a recoil pad.

There are a ton of recoil pads on the market but as far as I know, nobody makes a direct replacement recoil pad for the Yugo military rifles other than me and my pad is a copy of the original. This gives you two options also – either cut the stock and install a “grind to fit” pad that would ruin the original stock or to go with a slip on pad.

Slip on recoil pads are designed to fit a certain range of buttstock sizes based on the height and width. They may not be the best looking of options but they get the job done and don’t require any modifications to the underlying stock — plus for folks who don’t like messing with tools – they can be slid on and off usually very easily.

End of Buttstock Size for Yugo M70B1, M72B1, and M76 Rifles

Zastava made the Yugo rifles but is now in Serbia and makes both commercial and military rifles. The dimensions I am about to give so you can get the proper pad only apply to he military rifles. If you have a Zastava N-PAP for example, your stock is much smaller and I don’t know the dimensions.

If you do have a military sized Yugo M70B1, M72B1 or M76 then the following should sizes should be approximately right:

  • Top to bottom of the buttstock overall: 4.48″ so just under 4-1/2″
  • Left to right at the widest point: 1.29″ so just under 1-1/3″

So that means a slip on buttpad needs to accomodate those dimensions and will slide right over the original recoil pad as well.

Limbsaver by Sims Vibration Labs

Years ago, I happened across Limbsaver recoil pads and started using them more than Pachmayr, which is another leading brand. I’ve had very good luck with Limbsaver so they were my go-to when it came to the M76.

They have a new Air-Tech series that adds 1″ to the LOP and is also remarkably spongy to absorb the recoil. The M76 really doesn’t have a ton of recoil so my decision was more based on the 1″ LOP.

The AirTech slip on pad comes in four sizes:

  • “Small” fits stocks measuring 4-1/2 x 1-1/2 inches to 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches
  • “Small/Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-5/8 x 1-9/16 inches to 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches to 5-1/8″ x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Large” fits stocks measuring 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches to 5-3/8 x 1-7/8 inches

Given those dimensions, I opted to buy the “small” size and it fit beautifully.

The small-sized pad slid right on and fits nice and snug.

I actually wish they had a pad that added about 1/2-3/4″ of pull as that would be perfect. The end result is just a tad longer than what I would dial in with an adjustable Magpul PRS stock but it definitely feels better when I start lining up behind the scope. It’s staying on the rifle!


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Yes, There Is A Published Specification for the AKM Fire Control Group Pins

I had a fellow who was new to AK-47s/AKMs ask me the other day how the two pins work and if there was a published specification for them because his were floating in their holes. I learned a long time ago to try and help guys learn so I took a few photos and sent them to him.

Two Pins for Semi-Auto AKs

In a fully automatic AK, there are three pins and they are referred to collectively as the fire control group (FCG) pins – this includes the hammer pin, trigger pin, and sear pin – once in a while you’ll see the word “axis” thrown in there somewhere. For most civilians, we’ll just see semi-auto AKs so there are just two pins – one for the hammer and one for the trigger assembly which is made up of the trigger and disconnector. They are still called the FCG pins.

For anyone that is interested, a 1968 Soviet era armorer’s manual does have the pin specification:

This is from a Soviet era Armorer’s Guide that specs out the AKM fire control group pin. The shaft is 5mm and is where the trigger and hammer rotate. The same type of pin is used for both the trigger and the hammer – they are not unique.
Here is a pile of pins from a mix of countries. I had them in one of my parts boxes. The diameters of the shafts vary from 4.921 to 4.988mm according to my micrometer. Based on the armorer diagram above, a diameter under 4.97 or over 5.03mm is out of spec. Three of those pins were under 4.97 interestingly enough.

Odds are that the heat treat is messed up on his receiver or someone drilled the holes out of spec. He has enough info now to decide his next steps and since I wrote most of this already, I decided to post it in case it helps someone else.

Accessing the 1968 AKM Armorer’s Manual

I am going to try hosting his huge armorer’s manual PDF file and see how it goes. If people have problems downloading it, I’ll just remove the link – click here for the 64MB PDF file. Note, I am not the owner or creator of that file. Someone did us a huge favor by taking the time to scan in all the pages and share it. It is in Russian and has a ton of diagrams.


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Use Wired and Solar Lights To Improve Home Security

Defending your home and family takes some thought. In general. the more layers of defense you add, the lower your risk is. For example, lights, security alarm, security cameras, dogs, radio running, etc. You can’t eliminate risk but you can certainly lower it to a level you judge as acceptable. An easy deterrent for you to add or improve is outdoor lighting and the reason is simple – people with malicious intents prefer the shadows and don’t want to be lit up for everyone to see.

Hard Wired Lights

When I say “hard wired”, I am talking about lights that are connected to the premises electrical power, such as 120 volts AC in the US. Most folks have at least porch lights and perhaps garage lights. Run them. These are deterrents – if people up to no good see a well lit home, it reduces their interest. Note that I did not say it makes 100% of them skip your home but the cost is trivial these days. If you are worried about cost, install LED bulbs – they seriously cut down power use. It used to be that LED bulbs cost a fortune but you can now routinely find them on sales for $1-2/ea.

Don’t want to run your lights all the time – 24×7? Granted you are wasting money and the lights running may signal “nobody is home”. We do not run out lights around the clock for both reasons – just dusk to dawn.

There are light sensors that simply screw in between the light and the lamp receptacle. Want timers? You can go with timers that flip the switch, timers that replace the switch and even smart programmable switches that connect to your WiFi and you can load schedules, etc. There are even programmable lights that have speakers in them to extend smart home sound systems — remember that an LED light element is going to last a long, long time all things being equal so it’s not as weird as it may sound.

Solar Lights

If you look at your property, odds are there are a lot of dark spots at night – we do. Running power to these areas wasn’t realistic but at the same time I wondered what I could do to light some of them up strategically. The short answer is solar security lights – not just the very dim walkway lights you see in garden centers. These lights range from dim to incredibly bright.

It turns out there are a ton of different model lights that can turn on dusk to dawn (or until the battery drains) or have a motion sensor that trips for some period of time (say 10-30 seconds) and then reset. You have options in terms of the brightness, how broad of an area is lit up, and so forth. I have a variety now.

You know what, these are pretty cool. The lights on the house are on all the time but these motion activated security lights not only give you light when you move around at night but they also serve like tripwires – a person (or deer) goes by and the light comes on startling them and they take off.

Here are some of the lights that I use. They all have motion sensors and have survived at least one Michigan winter including the -20F cold spell we had.

To the left you see a real bright solar security light with the motion sensor up top. A nice thing about this model is that long charging cord from the solar panel to the light. The side of the house where the light is located is in the shade. The side of the house where the panel is gets afternoon sun and recharges. This unit is about 3-4 years old and works great. You can see the garage light above and to the right of the solar panel. It is a dusk-to-dawn model. It has compact fluorescent bulbs currently but when they fail, I will replace them with LEDs.
You can see the small solar light just above the split in the doors. It’s small but does a great job – the solar panel is in the top of the unit. This Baxia BL-SL-101 light has a motion sensor, 28 LEDs, 400 lumen and comes in a four pack. This is one of my go-to lights when I just need a medium amount of light.
This is a Lemontek unit with 62 LEDs and the thing kicks out 2,000 lumen. It has a number of settings including dusk to dawn and motion sensor. We have a number of these and they do a great job. It is one of the models I use when I want a lot of light. You’ll notice a Baxia light back in the recessed area. The Lemontek covers a very broad area and the little one is just for the gate.
Here’s an example of one of our Baxia lights set up in a dark area of our yard. It has started a ton of deer when it has turned on unexpectedly at night due to its motion sensor.
This is an Aootek solar light with 48 LEDs, broad 180 degree illumination thanks to the angled panels, and while they don’t advertise the lumen (brightness), I can tell you it kicks out a lot of light.
This is a 4 year old Hallomall light. They stopped selling these when they introduced a new design so I switched to the Baxia brand. These came in a three pack and all still work. They sell other models that I have not tried.

The cheapest place I have found to buy these is Amazon and I read the reviews. Some have a ton of legitimate reviews and others have none at all – go with the model with more good reviews as opposed to fewer and taking a gamble. If you get a piece of junk, Amazon does have really good customer service but treat that as your safety net and try to buy the best you can. Note, some lights are sold individually and others come in 2, 4 or even larger quantity packages and it pays to do the math and see what is cheaper given the lights you need.

Solar lights do need sunlight to recharge so factor that into your plans. Also, they use batteries. I haven’t needed to open one up yet to replace them but I suspect some of them I will be able to replace the battery and others I will just need to replace the light due to age and oxidation of the solar panel and lens over the LEDs.

Smart Home Systems

Another category of lighting is taking off and those are the ones that are linked to smart home systems such as the Amazon Alexa. You can use voice control to turn on and off lights, set timers and much more through connected switches, outlets and other accessories. We use an Alexa in the kitchen and have a few Dots in other rooms. They are really handy once you get used to them.

Summary

Light up your property to deter vandals, burglars and trespassers. You have so many options using lights running off AC power to the tons and tons of options using solar. I use the AC light so people can see the area around the house is lit up and then I use solar lights to trip as needed and light up dark areas. Look at your property and consider how you might combine them with other security elements to reduce your risks.


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Michigan Gun Exchange’s CPL Class Was Excellent!!

This past Sunday, my wife and I attended Michigan Gun Exchange’s 10 hour Concealed Carry Firearms Training class. It was so well done that I felt I needed to write it up and pass along the info so let me give you a bit of background.

I grew up with rifles and shotguns but not really pistols. When my dad was a boy, he borrowed my grandfather’s tiny derringer to hunt squirrels. As he told me, he got excited and accidentally got the web of this thumb in front of the little barrel and shot/nicked himself. Well, that turned him off to pistols and then in WWII they were issued shot out 1911’s that couldn’t hit the side of a barn. My dad had a Marksmans Badge and was the finest shot I ever met with a rifle but he just did not care for pistols. As a result, I did not have a firearms pistol until college around 1989. What little I knew about how to shoot one, I learned from friends and none of them had formal training either. In other words, I knew my pistol knowledge was lacking big time.

So, for years now, my friend, Scott Igert, and others, have told me I need to get a Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). This isn’t just an application where you simply fill out a form – I would have to take a class. Whoa.

What held me back was three fold – 1) I sucked at pistols and didn’t want to be embarrassed — I have a tremor and have always joked that I might do better at throwing the pistol at the target. 2) Finding the time to actually take the class. 3) Finding an instructor who could actually teach.

Getting Started

What got my wife and I to finally act was the desire to better protect ourselves. It seems like there is so much violence these days that we really owed it to ourselves and our family to proceed with the CPL. This also included the need to better understand defensive pistol shooting for both of us.

To be clear, we paid for this class and while Scott and I have been friends for years, he had no idea I was going to write this post until I sent it to him to review.

Prior to the class, I’d met Andrew Zachary only a few a times as he manages Modern Antique Firearms while Scott is at Benton Township serving as a police officer – his full time day job which he then leaves and goes to his second full time job as the owner of Modern Antique Firearms and Michigan Gun Exchange. That means Andrew gets to wear a lot of hats but he is the chief instructor for a reason — he’s really good at teaching.

That’s Andrew in the front. Brooks Bouwkamp, a range safety officer, is the fellow with his back to us fixing a target. All pistols were cleared and sitting on the tables when this photo was taken.

I was in the shop one day when Scott was working at the township in his police officer role and watched Andrew work with a young lady who wanted to buy a pistol. He was very patient and explained everything. He wasn’t talking down to her or anything negative and that made me realize that he probably was a good teacher. It was a hunch but I’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes a good teacher.

In addition to seeing his interaction, I had also heard good things about Andrew from folks who took his class. You see, on top of Andrew being a good guy, he is a certified instructor from both the NRA and USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) plus years and years of experience.

The Day of the Class

Seven us, including my wife and I, showed up at the Stevensville Grand Mere Pistol Club on Sunday, June 9th at 7:45am, and Andrew kicked things off promptly by 8am. It was raining outside so we all felt better about being indoors!

I could immediately tell that Andrew really cared about the topic and was an effective presenter – he wove in facts, stories, humor and practical tips together. He encouraged note taking, told us where to find more information in the accompanying course book and also had a projected presentation with videos.

The class was well thought out and took a big picture approach to self-defense. It’s not about how to kill or something crazy like that – it’s about how to defend yourself and it builds from the ground up. I used to take Tae Kwon Do years ago so there were a lot of parallel concepts that I could relate to. The best way to defend is to not be in the situation to begin with and only use the force necessary to stop the attack. Personally, I hope I am never in such a serious situation that I have to defend myself with a firearm.

Back to the topic – the class had two portions – most of it was us gathered at a table in a classroom setting and the other involved actual shooting at the range.

Classroom portion

Andrew started with a lot of very straight forward recommendations about avoiding incidents to begin with – be aware of your surroundings, don’t go down dark alleys, have your house light on, set the alarm, etc. The point, and it is a very valid one, is that the pistol is a last resort and a CPL license actually puts more liability on you in many cases because now a firearm is involved. A lot of legal considerations were covered both in general and for the state of Michigan specially.

In terms of a formal agenda, the classroom portion covered:

  • Developing a personal & home protection plan
  • Self-defense firearms basics
  • Shooting fundamentals
  • The legal use of force
  • Violent encounters and their aftermath

In the classroom, Andrew also had training pistols that looked like Glock 17s but were colored bright red and shot a laser. These let us safely practice our grip and trigger pull before we even got out to the range.

Range Portion

We then headed out to the very nice indoor range at the Grand Mere Pistol club. It was clean, well lit and equipped. By this time, Scott Igert and Brooks Bouwkamp had showed up to assist Andrew. This enabled them to ensure safety and give tips from multiple perspectives. For example, one time Brooks saw from across the room that one lady was canting her pistol up as she pulled the trigger.

Safety was stressed first and foremost. Ammunition was set out in five round groups and you could only load the mag when instructed. They would ensure everyone was ready and then we’d load the pistols with them always facing downrange and we’d then do the drills. After set of five rounds, we would clear the weapon and place it back on the table.

I should point out that only four folks shot at time so our class went through in two batches. My wife was in the first batch and I was in the second. Guys, there is a huge benefit to letting a true instructor explain things to your wives objectively. She learned a ton.

My fear of being embarrassed was unfounded. The other students were all starting out also and the instructor team offered tips and encouragement the whole time.

Scott is watching the student on the left. My wife, on the right, did a great job – I am very proud of her!!

Remember how I told you that I sucked at pistols? Folks, I have always had to use a bench rest to get any degree of accuracy. The following photo is from a 50 round box of 9mm 115gr Fiocchi FMJ ammo with my legally registered Polymer 80 Glock 34 clone. That middle group was done with the sights shooting for accuracy at 10 feet. The rest is from defensive point firing. This is easily half the size of what I would have done before the class. Most of the shooting world is probably better than me but I am very happy with the improvement.

Most of the rounds in the circle were shot during aimed fire. Do you see the few groups that are touching? I have never done that before in my life with a pistol without a rest. This was all from the Isosceles stance with the grip Andrew taught me that combines an isometric principle of pushing slightly with my right hand and pulling slightly with the left. I will be practicing that a ton.

Result

We wrapped up between 6 and 7pm and, to be honest, the time flew by. We did take a 30 minute break for lunch and I feel like we learned a ton. My wife and I compared notes and really liked how the class was handled and what all we learned.

Andrew on the left and Scott on the right wrapping the day up answering questions one-on-one.

If you are worried about having an instructor who is a jerk or is there to stroke their own ego, that is not Andrew. He’s there to teach and that’s the highest compliment I can give any instructor. If you are looking for class to get your CPL or even just a solid class for self-defense with pistols, I highly recommend what Michigan Gun Exchange has put together. Their phone number is 269-944-5788.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


6/4/19 Update From Zastava Regarding M91 Rifles

This will be short post and not a very happy one from my perspective. A few days ago, I emailed Zastava USA for an update on their planned importation of the M91 rifle. They responded to me on June 4th and reported that they will have a “very limited number” some time this summer and the MSRP is $3,400. Wow. I had hoped it would be much more affordable than that – I’ll just have to stick with my M76 and M77 at that price point.

I had really hoped they would be more affordable but after my first post, a number of guys in the know said the price was going to be well over $2K depending on the options selected. Well, now I have the first hand info to pass along.

They did not respond about the M93 by the way. So, no updates on that front but given the pricing on the M91, I’m betting it will be high-priced as well.

Sorry I don’t have better news. For folks who can afford them, please post photos and your experiences so I can live vicariously.


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Part 6: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – The First Range Trip

I finally got a chance to take the Yugo M76 to the range and my youngest daughter went with me although now that she’s in college she’s gone a lot. I do have fun when she’s home as she loves shooting also and knows her way around a rifle.

Erika is getting the rifle situated. I forgot my good bench rest so we made do with a Caldwell bag rest I brought along just in case. The weather was great.

We set up at 100 yards and I did the initial test firing and sighting in of the rifle. Function-wise, it was great. We did not have a single failure to feed or eject the whole day.

By the way, my daughter is wearing MPOW 035 ear muff hearing protectors and she said they worked great. She wore them when we were shooting the M76, my .338 Lapua and 9mm Glocks. They are excellent not to mention a good deal. I have three sets of them now for her and others. I am still using my Howard Leight by Honeywell electronic ear muffs.

Both of us were wearing NoCry safety glasses. I use ones that go over my prescription eye glasses and my daughter wears normal ones because she has contacts.

One thing the slowed me up a bit was that the laser bore sight didn’t really help me out much. I have a new one from Wheeler that works great on the actual muzzle end of rifles but it would appear the M76’s brake was not truly perpendicular to the bore. Normally it is pretty slick but at the range, I had to fire a number of rounds to even get them on the backing board first and then finally to the bullseye.

We were shooting S&B 196 grain SPCE ammo. My groups were about 1.5-2″. I’ll get back down to the range one of these days with my better rest so I can test the accuracy. I have some Hornady Vintage Match ammo too that has cool specs but since I didn’t have my bench rest with me, I largely saved it for next time and will explain why I said that in a moment.

Pierced Primers

The only problem we encountered was the firing pin piercing primers. We went through almost 40 rounds and about a third had pierced primers. This is a known issue with M76s and, yes, the rifle is headspaced properly.

At first I thought it might just be the S&B ammo so I tested it with five rounds of Hornady Vintage match also. I think two of the five Hornady rounds were pierced. At any rate, here are some photos of the S&B ammo.

Example pierced primer. It did this both on S&B and Hornady ammo.
At home, I grabbed some random brass and took this photo to show both pierced and cratered primers.

There are a lot of posts about the piercing and cratering of primers with the M76. I’m pretty busy right now but will read all that I can before I do anything.

First, I plan to confirm the pin protrudes between 1.42mm (.056″) minimum and 1.52mm (.060″) maximum.

Second, I want to compare how close the firing pin hole is to the firing pin on my other M76 bolt plus some of my AKs. I don’t think it looks unusually large but it should be investigated.

Third, I have a hypothesis – I think the firing pin needs more of a rounded radius. The current face of the firing pin is relatively flat. There were literally little punched pieces of primer laying on the firing bench that were flat and the primers that intact showed a very flat impact.

Those primer pieces, maybe they should be called chads, show a pretty flat firing pin face.

I’m not going to rush into anything. I do have a second complete bolt assembly that I can look at and scavenge from if need be. If you have suggestions, contact me – info@roninsgrips.com.

Bottom line

We had a lot of fun. The rifle performed very well with no feed or ejection problems, no magazine problems and only the pierced primers were minor issue.

I do need to work on the cheek rest more so it stays in place better.

I definitely look forward to shooting this rifle with a better bench rest and also comparing it side by side with my .308 M77. Also, I’ll report back on what I try to correct the firing pin piercing or cratering primers at some point in the future. Until then, have a great day!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Part 5: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – How to Find the Correct Commercial Ammunition

I’m new to the Yugo M76 rifle and the world of the 8mm Mauser cartridge. When I searched on 8mm Mauser all kinds nomenclature (how it is named) popped up and I had to do some research to understand what to buy. To try and help others I decided to write a blog post to try and clarify what type of ammunition you need to look at for the M76.

IS, JS, IRS & JRS Cartridge Types

When I heard my M76 was almost done being built by Two River Arms, I started shopping for ammo and quickly got confused – I’m good at that. I really didn’t want to deal with old corrosive ammo so my focus was on current commercial offerings and not hunting down old surplus ammo, etc.

First off, you will notice that much of the 8mm Mauser has an “IS” or “JS” designator after the size such as 8×57 IS. The “I” comes from the German word “Infanterie” which means infantry and was mistaken by some to be a “J” so some groups refer to the round using a “JS” designator instead.

When the round was first officially adopted in 1888, it was for 0.318 bore rifles. The “S” dates back to 1903-1905 when “S Patrone” or S ball cartridge was developed for use in S-bore rifles that was larger at 0.323″.

The nomenclature of the rounds can vary because of this and other factors so you are looking for: 8mm Mauser, 8×57 IS, 8×57 JS, 8×57 and so forth. It will likely say IS or JS somewhere especially if it is European but American producers may just say “8mm Mauser”.

Do NOT buy 8×57 IRS or 8×57 JRS. These refer to a rimmed variant that was developed for use in break barrel sporting rifles – double rifles, drilling rifles and so forth. Once in a while you will see it for sale and it will NOT work in a M76. Just remember – if it ends in RS, your day is going to Really Suck 🙂

CIP and SAMMI Specs

The standards body for small arms ammunition in Europe is the Commission internationale permanente pour l’épreuve des armes à feu portatives (“Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms”. They refer to the 7.92×57 Mauser formally as 8×57 IS.

The US standards body is the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufactuers’ Insitute (SAAMI) and they refer to the round both 8mm Mauser and 8x57mm.

I also noticed one interesting detail – the CIP designated rounds are up to 390.00 MPa or 56,565 PSI. Rifles that use the round must be proof tested to 125% of this.

SAAMI is considerably lower at 241.3 MPa or 35,000 PSI and is done is for liability reasons. Among other things, they are concerned that someone may put a modern cartridge in an older narrower throat “I-Series” barrel.

What am I shooting?

I really like Sellier & Bellot from the Czech Republic and they have a number of rounds for the 8mm Mauser listed as 7.92x57JS. The only load I can seem to find from them in the US is the 196 grain Soft Point Cutting Edge (SPCE) cartridge. It functions great and is accurate in my M76. I’m getting about 1.5-2″ at 100 yards with it.

Here’s my S&B 196gr SPCE ammo. It has worked great so far and I am getting about 1.5-2″ groups at 100 yards shooting 5 round groups. I plan on taking my good bench rest the next time I go to the range and see if I can tighten up the groups.

I also have some of the Hornady Vintage Match but haven’t started using it yet. The specs Hornady publishes sure look good and I look forward to trying it.

Hornday Vintage Match 8x57JS. I just bought this and plan on trying this in the near future.
The unique looking top round is the 196 grain S&B Soft Point Cutting Edge (SPCE) round. This is supposed to be designed for medium game including boar, goats and deer. The bottom round is a Hornady Vintage Match cartridge and the bullet is a 196gr Boat Tail Hollow Point (BTHP) .

Where To Learn More

The following websites provide a lot of insight into the 8mm Mauser round for those of you who want to learn more.

Where To Buy 8mm Mauser (8×57 JS or 8×57 IS)

A while back, I wrote a post about my favorite online ammunition vendors and that is still valid. The following is a list of vendors that I have had very good luck with and recommend – I am not paid by any of these folks by the wa. The links below are straight to their respective 8mm Mauser sections:

Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you find ammo for your M76.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Part 4: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – Fixing The Magazines

The M76 is a pretty wicked designated marksman’s rifle capable of firing 1.5-2 minutes of angle with the hard hitting 8mm Mauser round. It does have a pretty bad weakness however – the magazines can jam so hard you need a tool to get the follower to come up. There’s a solution and that’s what this post is about.

So, What’s The Problem?

Zastava designed the M76 with a bolt hold open (BHO) follower. In other words, the follower has a big lobe that blocks the carrier from going forward and thus locks the action open. Sounds great, right? It would have been if they had closed the gap between the follower and the magazine body and/or made the skirt of the follower longer.

What happens way too frequently is that when the carrier cycles forward, it hits the bolt hold open lobe of the follower causing the follower’s nose to dive down and jam the follower. Literally, the end result most of the time is that it is a bear to open the action and get the magazine to release — I found I needed to fashion a dowel to hit the rear of the follower to free it up. Not good.

Some guys report more headaches than others and I can’t readily tell you why. Maybe Zastava realized the problem and corrected it or maybe there’s enough variation in the gap between the magazine body and follower that it does not always happen. I have about nine M76 magazines and they all nose dived when hit by the bolt carrier practically every time.

The bolt carrier slams the follower down so hard that it can be difficult getting the magazine out of the rifle as well as releasing the follower.
A 3/8″ dowel can be hit with a hammer to pop the follower back into position. Yeah, this sucks.

Cleaning The M76 Magazines

I should point out that I bought about a dozen M76 magazines – some from Apex and some from Ivan Drago on GunBroker. They all had a ton of old cosmoline on them and a lot if was on really thick. I pulled the old paper and junk off the eight you see below and left the rest in storage.

Eight cosmoline laden M76 magazines. Some were almost full of the stuff inside. Some had old newspaper stuck on them as well.
I keep a 5-gallon bucket about half full of Ed’s Red cleaner around that I use to remove cosmoline and what not. Click here for the recipe. I let the crusty magazines sit in there for a couple of days because I had other stuff I was working on and the solution needs time to soften everything up. When I am done, I put the lid back on. It’s great for freeing up rusty parts too.
After the soaking in Ed’s Red to soften and even dissolve some of the crud, I disassembled each magazine and wiped them out. What a mess. No photos of that part but here you can see ones that are done and sitting in a box waiting for next steps.

The Solution to M76 Magazines and Nosediving

Let’s start with two things that didn’t work just so you know. My first try was to simply polish all the edges. That did not work and neither did adding Dupont Teflon dry lube.

My second try was to use sand paper to round everything over underneath the lips of the body and the outside edge of the skirt. That did not work either – even with polishing and Dupont Teflon dry lube.

So, with those two failures, I did some searching on the WWW and found that AKblue posted how he welded a small tab of 20 gauge (0.039″) sheet metal to the back of the follower to close the gap. That did work wonderfully for me and let me walk you through the steps.I went to all the big box stores in the area and nobody had 20 gauge sheet metal. I miss 20 years ago when I could go to a local steel store but they are all gone now.

1. I went to OnlineMetals and bought a 12″x12″ sheet of cold roll mild steel – nothing fancy is needed. 12×12 turned out to be way more than I needed. Shipping is what kills you so I wanted to only buy one time even if some experimenting was needed.

Nothing more exciting than a photo of a 12×12″ piece of 20 gauge sheet metal.

2. I needed to figure out some basic template so I could cut out a bunch of tabs to to then try different shapes with by sanding them down. Now I have a big belt sander – you could use a file or whatever works for you.

That high quality rendering is from an ancient CAD application called pen and paper. The back of the follower was over 0.7055″ wide – I think I just measured the back bent portion and not the sides so take this as a starting point and not an absolute.. Plus wait until you see the fancy ultra precise cutting method (that’s a joke by the way)! In terms of height, I measured about 0.525″ from the lower shelf to the bottom and then added a 0.25″ to have metal to grind down to a shape that worked so the tabs I cut were about 0.71″ wide and about 0.75-.8″ tall.
So much for precision – I used these shears to do the cutting due to the depth of the sheet, I allowed for the thickness of the cutter and clamped a straight edge to guide me from the front to the back. In this photo, the stuff is just sitting there for the photo – I did not have it laid out properly yet. I told you it was high tech, Note, I cut the sheet for the approximate 0.775 dimension.
I scribed the line for the 0.7050 dimension and cut it with my bandsaw. I wasn’t kidding when I said the dimensions were ballparks. I had two criteria I wanted to honor – the tab should not protrude from the top or sides of the follower and I wanted enough material at the bottom to do some experimenting and shaping on.
I then used a Dremel to remove burs. I did not want anything to hang up inside the magazine.
I sanded the back of the follower and sprayed both it and the tab with brake cleaner before welding just to get rid of any contaminants. This is a Harbor Freight 120 volt spot welder and it has the tongs on it for welding in AK rails hence the unique shape of the lower tong if you are familiar with them. If you don’t have a spot welder then I would drill or punch a hole in the tab and shoot a weld with a MIG, etc. I really am not sure if epoxy would hold up with this use case and am recommending true welding for reliability
I didn’t have much room to move the tongs around. I could get two heavy spot welds. This photo shows part of a third attempt but I settled on just two for the rest.
First off, the tab is way too long. I am maybe an 1/8-3/16″ at the base of that curve. You’ll also notice that I sanded the back so it would not drag on the magazine body. I polished all the parts using the little rubberized polishing bits in my Dremel.
I did apply a light coat of Super Lube grease to the back to help the parts get to know each other. After things wear in, I bet I will not need it.

You can see the tab. I made sure that the tab was below the lip of the follower. In other words, I did not want it protruding. I went around and polished all edges to make sure nothing would snag.
Here’s another angle – you can just barely see the tab.
Testing of the magazines was done with Realistic Snap Caps. These were great because they are just like the real 8mm Mauser rounds and I could confirm that feeding was okay.

Bottom Line

Welding in the tab did the trick. I think it works for two big reasons – it closed up a rather large gap at the rear that allowed the follower to tilt down to begin with plus by making the skirt of the follower a bit longer, it could not tip as much either. I don’t think the exact shape of the bottom of the tab matters a great deal but you definitely must debur and polish each By adding a bit of Super Lube grease to the back, everything slid very smoothly. I am assuming it will not be needed as parts wear in and time will tell.

Also, I bought way too much 20 gauge sheet metal. You could get by with a far, far smaller sheet. I thought I would have to experiment more and it turned out to be simpler than I thought.

When I went to range feeding was great and not one problem with the follower nosediving when the carrier returned on an empty mag. Problem solved.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Part 3: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – The Trigger

When I sent the M76 to Two Rivers Arms to build, I was still using Tapco G2 triggers in my AK builds. Since then, I have moved to ALG Defense’s AK Trigger Ultimate With Lightning Bow (AKT-UL) for anything I’ve built in the last two years. Folks, these are wicked triggers and absolutely hands down my favorite AK triggers.

The top trigger is the ALG AKT-UL. You can see the distinctive shape and the silver colored Nickel Boron finish. The bottom is the Tapco G2 I originally sent to Two Rivers to use. The AKT-UL comes with a new disconnector spring but uses the existing hammer spring. ALG does sell a heavy hammer spring separately if you want it. The extra spring is an auxiliary trigger spring for increasing the pull, which I don’t use. One small pin can be installed and filed down as needed if the safety doesn’t block the trigger sufficiently. I have not needed it so far on any of my rifles. I think the second pin is just a spare.

Not only does the AKT-UL give you three compliance parts as it includes the hammer, trigger and disconnector but the feel is amazing. Now if you know how to tune a G2 trigger, you are used to having a fairly decent AK trigger. The AKT-UL units step it up a notch for sure. ALG does have a shorter and more crisp pull for sure plus they will tell you the trigger has about a 3.5 pound pull which you can tweak a bit by bending the hammer spring.

I got out my Lyman digital trigger gauge and did 20 pulls. The average was 3 pounds 13 ounces and the nice wide trigger shoe makes it feel less.

This is a peek in the M76 receiver as it came from Two Rivers. You can see the Tapco G2 fire control group, orientation of the hammer spring and the pin retaining wire that I am not a huge fan of and replace with a plate. This layout is what you see in most AK rifles unless you get into specialized trigger systems on some of the more modern military designs. For a new person, note the orientation of both the hammer and its spring.

Installation Notes

Safety First Always – Make Sure Your Weapon Is Unloaded! Always assume a weapon is loaded until you confirm it is not. Keep ammo away from your work area and don’t test fit with live ammunition.

Second – read their instructions – they work and you have options. This is not one of those cases where the instructions suck – they are actually quite good. The come with the trigger plus ALG makes them available online – click here to read the instructions for both the Enhanced (EL) and Ultimate (UL) triggers.

I really don’t have any surprises to report. It installed the same as any other AK fire control group and I didn’t need to use any pins and I certainly didn’t want a heavier pull so I didn’t use the auxiliary trigger spring either:

1. Install the hammer with the ears to the rear and spring around the back of the hammer. If it fights you during installation and the little legs that sit on the trigger are facing down, odds are you have the spring installed right. I lubricated all pins with Super Lube Grease before installation. That stuff is my favorite grease now.

Here, the new hammer is installed. Note how the “ears” of the hammer are facing towards the back of the rifle. It’s a common mistake for people new to the AK family of weapons to think that is the part that hits the firing pin but it is not. Also, note how the spring is going around the hammer. You can’t see them but the legs of the hammer spring are facing down. I use needle nose pliers to lift them around out of the way to install the trigger and then set them on the back legs/bars of the trigger.

2. Here’s a tip you will not see in the instructions. A trick I was taught years ago is to use a slave pin that will allow you to assemble the trigger, disconnector and its spring outside of the rifle. This makes it sooooo much easier!! What you do is cut a spare fire control pin or a piece of 5mm stock (0.1969″ or 13/64″ – cheap drill bits work great) down so it fits just inside the trigger pin hole from left to right and slightly taper the ends using a file or sandpaper. Trust me, if you don’t take a few minutes to do this, it is a heck of a juggling act to get the trigger in place with the pin pushed through while keeping the disconnector and its spring in place (don’t forget the little disconnector spring!!).

Here, you can see the slave pin and how it is holding the disconnector nicely in place. I’m not sure why ALG added the window in the disconnector to see the spring but it sure is handy to confirm the spring is there. Perhaps that is why they did it.

3. The trigger is installed by lowering it into position, pushing a fire control pin through the receiver and into the trigger carefully pushing the slave pin out the other side where you can grab it. Note, you will need to wiggle the trigger around some and I just do that with my right hand as I feel the pin through with my left.

4. Next, I used one of our fire control group retaining plates to secure the pins in place instead of the retaining wire. The wire is fine and you can use it if you prefer – I simply don’t care for them. Unlike some plates on the market, our plate is approximately 1.186mm thick and completely fills the groove of the pins to keep them from walking left or right and potentially falling out of the receiver.

Top is our AK fire control group plate. Below it is the type of retaining wire you would see in a M76. AKMs are a bit different due to the differences for automatic fire.

You install the plate by inserting the nose groove into the hammer pin and then rotating the plate down so it secures the trigger pin as well. The rear hole of the plate, the only hole really,is where the selector/safety lever passes through and locks it into position.

This photo shows how the front of the plate engages the hammer pin and the middle groove secures the trigger pin.
Here. everything is installed except for the selector/safety lever so you can see the fire control group and the plate.

That’s it for the trigger. Next up was the need to fix the magazines so they would not nose dive when empty and hit by the bolt carrier. That will be my next post.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Part 2: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – Mounting the Optic

I let the cat out of the bag a bit with my first post – I don’t like the Communist offset scopes. Yes, they are traditionally correct but I prefer a scope mounted on the centerline of the rifle with better optics including variable magnification. I had a combination in mind right from the start – the RS!Regulate mounting system and a Vortex Hog Hunter scope – why? Because I actually want to use this rifle to hunt hogs.

RS!Regulate Mount

Based on past projects, I knew that the best mounting system for my project would be the RS!Regulate system. The reason I am so adamant about this is that the design allows for a ton of flexibility in terms of front to back movement as well as left to right. Specifically, I chose the AK-303M lower rail and the AKR upper.

You basically install the AK-303M lower on the side rail. You can adjust the screw under the lever to adjust how much tension is applied when the lever is locked down.

My next step was to install the AKR top section and located it about three slots back as a starting point. In my case, that worked just fine. I then eyeballed the left to right location over the centerline of the rifle and installed the screws. Note, I do not drill and install the pins until test firing just in case I decide to move the rail around.

Here is my M76 with the two parts of the mount. You can get a good look at the side rail on the receiver as well. Don’t get ripped off by cheap counterfeit products that don’t hold up – only buy your RS!Regulate mounts either direct from them or a reputable dealer – not Amazon or eBay.

This is the AK-303M lower rail section. You can see the shiny adjustment screw right under the “-30” part of the AK-303M product stamp.
This gives you a good view of the AKR unit and how the ingenious design allows you to basically use an upward facing Picatinny rail on the AK-303M to mate with the downward facing rail on the 303M. The slots are where the screws go and you can see how they enable the left to right movement. The circular holes are where you can drill and install pins *after* you finalize the layout – I would recommend doing this after test firing or even several range visits.

Vortex Crossfire II Hog Hunter Scope

Part of my design criteria for the rifle was to use it for hog hunting. That would entail using a scope that is pretty versatile in daylight as well as dusk. To accomplish this, you need a scope with a big objective to gather as much light as possible (50mm or better), a 30mm tube and good glass to aid in the transmission of the image.

In terms of the reticle, I really did not see a need for something really fancy with tons of MRAD or MOA markings for calculating distance, drop and windage. However, I did know that I would need some form of illumination for low light.

Lastly, in all candor, I knew I was putting an optic on a rifle that would likely shoot 1.5-2″ at 100 yards. I did not need to put a super-high end optic on the rifle – just one that was good enough and reliable.

After doing some reading, the ideal scope with the above design criteria and a very affordable price turned out to be the Vortex Optics Hog Hunter (SKU: CF2-31049). The specs are pretty good:

  • Magnification 3-12x
  • Reticle: V-Brite Illuminated (MOA) – The center 0.5 MOA Red Dot is illuminated and the subtensions are in MOA
  • Objective Lens Diameter 56 mm
  • Eye Relief 3.5 inches
  • Field of View 36.7-9.2 ft/100 yds
  • Tube Size 30 mm
  • Turret Style Capped
  • Adjustment Graduation 1/4 MOA
  • Travel Per Rotation 15 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment 60 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment 60 MOA
  • Parallax Setting 10 yards to infinity
  • Length 14.3 inches
  • Weight 21.1 oz (just over 1.3 pounds)
This is the Vortex Hog Hunter 3-12x56mm scope. You can see the RS!Regulate mount on the rifle and also the UTG rings that I used for prototyping. Now you may be wondering why I am using quick release rings on a removable scope mount so let’s discuss that next.

Quick note on the lens caps. They are from Vortex but I am not super excited by that front one. They seem very well made but it is definitely a stretch to get the rubber over that huge front bell. I’m going to stick with them for now.

Figuring Out The Rings

In most cases, you want to mount the scope as close to the center of the bore as you can. This reduces the angle from the center of the scope to the center of the bore.

This is overly simplistic in that it ignores ballistics but it is trying to illustrate that all things being equal, a lower mounted scope will be closer to the centerline of the bore after the zero point and require less adjustment/correction than a higher mounted scope.

So here’s the tough part – any AK-type rifle has a big rear sight block (RSB) that is pinned to the barrel that not only holds the rear leaf sight but also holds the rear of the gas tube in position and the front of the dust cover is inserted into a slot — in short, it has to be here. Thus, any optic must clear the RSB somehow.

The RSB is pinned to the barrel and holds both the rear sight and secures the rear of the gas tube. Problematically, it extends above both the dust cover and the gas tube.

So this means we have two options – either the optic must slide into position and clear the RSB while doing so -or- we vertically lower the scope into position. To slide the scope in either means you go with tall enough rings and/or a small enough front objective that the front of the scope can clear.

The vertical option means we can use both a bigger objective and lower rings but begs the question – what do we do if we need to open the rifle up in the field? That is why I opt for quick release rings. Now, let me point out the photos show interim UTG rings that will not be on the rifle long term. I had them in storage from way back when and used them and some other models to do some “what if” scenarios.

The problem with this model of ring from UTG is that they use a round screw that goes through the Picatinny rail channel – they should be using square stock to securely and consistently secure the ring to the rail. While I do not expect a ton of recoil from the M76, I would rather the rings sit securely in the rail and not move around or place uneven stresses on the rails.

In the next few weeks, the UTG rings will be replaced by an American Defense AD-Recon-SL-30-STD one piece mount. American Defense makes top notch gear. The UTG rings definitely helped me prototype the layout and identify that I needed rings that measured from the base of the ring to the center line at least 0.915″. The AD-Recon-SL will hold to scope just a tad higher at 1.110″ and I am okay with that almost 0.195″ difference. It’s real tight right now as you can see:

Voodoo Cheek Pad

The one thing I quickly found out was that I needed a cheek piece to give me a better weld. I have used Voodoo Tactical cheekpieces a number of times in the past so I used one hear to give me about a 1/2″ lift to better line up behind the scope.

You can access that top soft cavity and add or remove material to give you whatever height and “feel” that you want.
I’m going to do some tailoring of the straps in the near future. While I am using the hook & loop (velcro) straps came with the Voodoo pad right now, I’ve been using this cool industrial hook & loop tape that is double sided with the hook on one side and the loop on the other that ought to really clean this up.

The Result

Right now, I’m happy. I need to get the ADM mount in and get to the range but everything is very promising so far.

Okay, in the next post, I’ll tell you about the ALG trigger.


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