Category Archives: History

November 10, 2019 – Russia Celebrates Kalashnikov’s 100th Birthday

On November 10th, 1919, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Михаи́л Тимофе́евич Кала́шников) was born in Kurya, Altai Governorate, Russian SFSR (now Altai Krai, Russia). He grew up from humble beginnings to be known as the father of a very famous rifle, the Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947, or AK-47 as we know it in the West.

Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947 Type II
Photo from Wikipedia

While he died on December 23rd, 2013, at the age of 94, he is still revered as one of the leading small arms designers in history. In memory if him, Russia is celebrating his 100th birthday today. Being a student and fan of his designs, I would like to also say, Happy birthday Mr. Klashnikov.

You definitely need to visit the memorial website that the Kalashnikov Concern is hosting – it is in Russian and your browser can translate some of it but not the videos. Click here to visit the site– knock on the door and click on various items in the study to learn more.

Click here to go to the Klashnikov Media site for the 100th birthday
Image copyright is Kalashnikov Media

Want to learn more about Mikhail Kalashnkov? Then I would suggest the following:

There are a lot of books on the rifle that also discuss Mikhail as you need to understand the designer (really the most publicized of the designers involved) to understand the evolution of the rifle. There is one book that I really like gets into more detail about the man and he even authored the introduction. That books is “Kalashnikov: The Arms and the Man” by Edward Clinton Ezell.

If you want to learn more about the rifle, the best reference source is “AK-47: The Grim Reaper” by Frank Iannamico, now in its second edition.

Videos

There are a few brief videos on YouTube that touch on Mikhail’s life and let you hear different perspectives and see a number of different photos and videos of him at various events:




Without a doubt, Kalashnikov was a superb designer and it does seem very fitting to take a moment and remember him on his birthday. As always, best wishes to all and hope you find this interesting.


Please note that all photos used are the copyright of their respective owners or public domain. The stamp and rifle photos are from Wikimedia and the website screenshot is from Kalashnikov Media’s website.


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.

How A Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 2

This is the second part of my review of the differences I saw between a 7.62×51 IWI Galil Ace pistol and a typical AKM-type rifle. [Click here if you would like to open the first post in a separate window.] The following round out my observations:

Railed handguard

AK handguards have evolved from wood to bakelite to elaborate affairs made of polymers or aluminum. In the case of the Ace, no rhyme intended, an aluminum handguard with Picatinny rail is covered by sculpted rail covers.

The handguard is U-shaped with rails at the the 3-, 6- and 9-O’clock positions. The top rail is integral with the gas tube. Note now they have a cut out read for a pressure switch and the rails are open on the middle for wiring. There is one socket screw on each slide to fasten the handguard to the weapon.
The two socket screws thread into a retainer and have thread locker on them. When you look at the top of the rail, you see a small circle indentation on each side and then just a bit further back a rectangular shaped indentation. The screws are on each side. Also, you also get a good view of the front sight .
These are the three rail covers for the handguard. They lock into place and can be released by pushing the visible button at the back. The panel in the middle is the bottom piece and it has a lip that serves to help you index your hand.

So, two differences to note – a unique railed handguard and it is held in position with screws vs. the traditional AK front handguard retainer.

As a personal comment, I stopped buying tri-railed handguards some time ago because they feel too fat for me once you add on rail covers. The Ace handguards aren’t too terrible but they are fat and shorter than I would like. The stock unit will be replaced by one of the excellent handguards from RS!Regulate – the GAR-9M-N model to be exact and that will be in a future post.

The Gas tube has tabs and a rail but no lever

This is a unique little item right here. The gas tube slides into place via tabs on the unit that mate with slots on the rear base. It does not have a locking lever like an AK does.

The top has a Picatinny rail and the whole unit is locked into place when the dust cover is installed, which pushes the gas tube forward into position. The fitment is so well done that the Picatinny rail is level all the way across the top.

The gas tube goes over the nipple on the front sight block. The relieved tube you see with the screws are where the handguard retainer screws thread in from each side.
This is the gas tube with the rail on top. Note the tabs at the bottom rear and the groove on the rail that mates with the rail from the dust cover.
Here’s another angle – you can see the heat shield on the handguard and the slots on the rear block. We can’t call it a Rear Sight Block (RSB) like we would on an AK because the sight is on the dust cover on the Ace. Here, all it is doing is securing the gas tube.
The fitment of the dust cover and the gas tube are so well done that despite being two separate parts, their two respective rail sections align very nicely.

Integral lower plastic assembly – grip, magazine guide

Part of the revisions from the IMI Galil to the IWI Ace was changing 12 parts from steel to plastic. To be honest, I did not hunt down all 12 and itemize each. What I did readily see was the plastic lower assembly that connects with the steel forged receiver. It has the following:

  • An integral grip that has a hollow storage area
  • Ambidextrous magazine releases
  • An enlarged integral trigger guard
  • A natural hand hold curve just forward of the magazine

Folding Brace Assembly

IWI makes two models of the 7.62×51 pistol – the GAP51 without a brace and the GAP51SB with the brace. I really just needed the GAP51 but went with the GAP51SB because the price was so good from Palmetto State Armory at the time.

What you get with the GAP51SB is an IWI designed integral folder with a 1.25″ diameter pistol tube and an SB Tactical SOB brace. The SOB part makes me smile every time I write it. So, it does give you a well designed fixed length brace and a rock solid folder.

The SB Tactical SOB Brace with the unit locked into position.
That hinge is soooooo cool.
A close up with the brace folded alongside the receiver.
The unit is very compact and functional with the brace closed. Note the IWI logo on the brace but it is definitely an SB unit and the butt end has their logow. SB Tactical OEMs for others as well – meaning they will sell units with the logos of other firms displayed.

Magpul Pmags

No AK ever used Magpul magazines so I think this counts as a difference 🙂 The 7.62×51 Ace uses Magpul’s 7.62×51 PMags. You can get them in a number of sizes as well as a drum if you really want to rock and roll. I bought some 20s, 25s and one of the D50 drums. I’ve not tested the pistol yet but expect it will work great with all of them.

The 7.62×51 Ace uses readily available Magpul Pmags.

The Manual

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a very good AK manual that has tons of illustrations and covers a lot of topics – operating, cleaning, trouble shooting, and a detailed parts breakdown. The IWI Ace manual really is exceptional. The PDF copy is 88 pages long!

IWI puts all of their operator manuals online – click here to visit their site.

Summary

That’s it for differences I’ve noted thus far. In the next post, I’ll share a number of reviews and videos that I watched before I purchased the unit.


References


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.


How a Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 1

The Ace is definitely a modernized AK weapon. One look inside confirms that. The Colombian defense firm of Industria Militar (INDUMIL) began a commercial relationship with Israeli Military Industries (IMI) that would later carve out the small arms division to become Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). Their collaboration was on the Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) and INDUMIL obtained exclusive rights to it.

What the two organizations accomplished is remarkable. The two collaborated and modified 43 of the 96 parts in a base Galil AR to reduce the weight by approximately 1 KG (about 2.2 pounds). 12 of the parts shifted from steel to plastic. The goal wasn’t just to reduce weight, they improved precision as well.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I bought a Galil Ace pistol chambered in 7.62×51. It’s IWI model GAP51SB. Because there was a relationship between IWI and INDUMIL, I asked IWI USA to confirm where the Ace series is made and they told they are all made in Israel. I asked more out of curiosity than anything else.

I decided to see how many differences I could observe between it and a traditional AK. I wish I knew enough about Galil’s to compare a traditional Galil AR to the Ace but being an AK guy, I was very curious to see how the Ace compared.

I tried to be objective about things and started out that way but the more I took the pistol apart, the more genuinely impressed I became. So, let me try and catalog the differences with as many photos as I can.

Two Chamber Muzzle Brake

One thing that caught my eye was the two chamber muzzle brake and that it is held on by a jam nut, which is a nut that is tightened uo from the rear against the brake to lock it in place. The thread is 5/8-24 for the 7.62×51 Ace models.

In comparison, an AK-47 typically has a 14mm diameter by 1mm pitch left hand thread (14x1mm LH). They are held in place by a detent pin that protrudes from the front sight block (FSB) and engages a timing groove that secures the brake in the correct orientation. Now, 14×1 LH is typical for AK-47s but once you add in the variants, threads are all over the place with different style brakes and boosters.

Improved Sights

Note the longer sight radius, integral gas block with front sight, aperatrue rear and protected front sight.

There are five things I noticed right away

  • The Ace has a longer sight radius, which is a fancy term meaning the distance from the rear to the front sight is longer. In general, the longer the sight radius, the more accurately the weapon can be aimed.
  • Aperture rear sight – The Ace sports an aperture (meaning a hole you look through) rear sight that has flips to show either a small circular hole for distance work (300-500 meters) or a larger circular hole for close quarters work (0 to 300 meters).
  • Integral Front Sight and Gas Block – The Ace sports a combination gas block that combines the gas and front sight blocks. Note, AK folks use the term “blocks” to refer to the three sub-assemblies that sit on the top of the barrel – the front sight block (FSB), gas block (GB) and rear sight block (RSB).
  • Both the front sight post and the larger rear aperture have Beta Lights – Tritium Gas – for low-light visibility. In general, tritium is radioactive and will last about 10 years. After that, the sights still work but you will not have the glowing effect.
  • The height of sights enables co-witnessing with optics such as red dots.
View of the front sight and you can see the tritium (white dot) painted on the post.
Rear sight with the close quarters aperture flipped up. Note the tritium circles for low light. This close quarter aperture is 0-300 meters.
View of the rear sight showing the smaller aperture sight flipped down. It is used for distance work and the manual identifies it as 300-500 meters.

Ok, this pistol is in 7.62×51 and has an 11.8″ barrel – I’m real curious to see what it can do within 100 yards. The sights are the same used on the full size 16.5″ barreled rifle so I really don’t think the smaller aperture would ever realistically be needed but we will see.

Railed Dust Cover

The dust cover of the Ace is pretty interesting. Most of the cheap aftermarket railed AK dust covers simply aren’t very stable or consistent when the dust cover is removed, installed and the weapon fired – in short, they don’t really work very well.

The Ace dust cover is beefy and installs very firmly with no travel it is a stable platform to build on. The top of the dust cover has a Picatinny rail section on the top that is welded in place. It aligns with the rail section on the gas tube via a small tab.

This tab slides into a corresponding groove on the gas tube to align the two rail sections,

The rear of the dust cover has a second layer of sheet metal wrapping the bottom making for snug fit and reducing flexion.

This is the dust cover = you can see the rail, dual aperature rear sight and the double reinforced rear bottom that mates with receiver.
You can see the welds that secure the rail to the dust cover plus the reinforced rear.

In short, the dust cover is remarkably solid. I actually have to give it a knife hand chop on the rear to get it to seat down fully into the receiver. It needs to fit tight as the installation of the dust cover also locks the gas tube in place.

Milled Receiver

Speaking of the Ace’s receiver, it’s milled and built like a tank. I found it very well machined with nice touches like a funnel design to help guide the recoil rod assembly into position.

As an example of the care taken in the design, note how the seat for the operating rod assembly is funnel shaped to help with installation.

Note, while the modern AK (AKM ) uses a stamped receiver, the Type 2 and Type 3 AK-47s used milled receivers so it’s not entirely new but it does differ from the AKM. In fact, some countries continued to use milled receivers such as Bulgaria, Finland and Israel in at least some of their weapons.

Milled Recoil Assembly With Rubber Seal

The recoil rod and spring assembly is of a tubular style you typically see in RPKs. The benefit of this is a more consistent pressure being applied to the bolt carrier particularly when it comes to lock up. The thumb tab that locks the dust cover in place seems a tad longer than what I see in other AKs. Last comment is that they added a rubber seal at the rear of the assembly to seal out debris.

Here’s the recoil rod assembly with the dust cover removed. You can see the long thumb tab and also the rubber seal. It also gives you a good view of the plat that seals the length of the groove where the bolt cocking lever passes
Shows the recoil spring, tubular rear, round front shaft and retainer. In an AKM, rather than a tube and rod, two pieces of folded wire form the central element and can bounce all over the place. Not a big deal in a typical AK but it does matter when you want to improve consistency.

Forged Galatz Fire Control Group (FCG)

The Ace FCG is very nice. Let’s face it, most AK FCGs reflect and elegantly utilitarian design that isn’t very refined. I have always been impressed by the simplicity of the AK design and what the Ace designers decided to do was to take the enhanced FCG from the IWI Galatz designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and used it in the Ace weapons.

Here are some differences I noted:

  • A single large forged trigger hook for holding the hammer
  • Engagement surfaces are polished such as where the disconnector grabs the hammer
  • Hammer and trigger springs are separate whereas the AK has two wires spiral wound together that power the hammer and push down the rear of the trigger’s rear ears/bars.
  • The top of the hammer is asymmetrical with only half of the normal bar that adds mass to the top rear of AK hammers. This is what normally gives an AK hammer the hammer-head shark hook.
View of the hammer. Note the polishing. You can see the double-wound hammer spring and a part of the single-wound trigger spring sitting on the left ear of the trigger.
Here it is from another angle. You can see the top rear of the hammer is asymmetrical vs. having the hammer-head shark design typically found in AK rifles.

Out of the box, it felt fair but once I used Superlube grease on the surfaces and Superlube oil on the rotating pins … wow. It is very smooth. [Click here for a blog post I did on Superlube – I use it on all of my firearms now]

Two Selector Levers

An AK has a single selector lever on the right side of the rifle that also serves to seal the receiver. It’s about as basic as you can get. On a semi-auto AK, the selector either physically blocks the trigger from actuating by moving a bar directly above the rear ears of the trigger or it moves out of the way allowing the trigger to move freely. On an automatic weapon it also allows the user to select full-auto or semi-automatic.

The Ace has a thumb control on the left side and more of a switch vs. the traditional long lever on the right side. Internally, the linkages do the same thing for semi-automatic in terms of moving the block bar into or out of position. The Ace has a separate plate for sealing the groove where the cocking handle reciprocates so the selector lever is not doing double-duty in that regard.

Visible are the thumb selector switch at to top of the grip and so is the charging handle and the very interesting articulating plate that pivots down and allows the charging knob to pass by in both directions.
Here’s the right side selector switch located where the traditional long AK selector lever would have been.

Note, the thumb selector connects to the safety bar via a linkage. The movement of the lever is an arc and not a horizontal slider. It is stiff and definitely needs lubrication when you get the weapon. I’ll comment more about that below when reviewing the pistol grip base.

Pistol Grip Base vs. Grip Nut

With AK’s, there tends to be a grip nut or in the case of Yugo-patterned AKs, a grip strap with an integral nut that the grip screw threads into. For the Ace, there is a “pistol grip base” that is uniquely shaped because it has a tube on top and my best guess is that it is to limit travel of the thumb selector and possibly to trap the pin so it can’t back out if it were ever to come loose.

The “barrel” in the middle of the receiver is the top of the “pistol grip base” as IWI terms it in the manual. You can also see the linkage – you’ll definitely want to oil this.
Another angle on the grip nut and thumb selector linkage.
Just behind the selector bar you can see a 6mm thread protruding from the bottom of the receiver. It is threaded into the unique “pistol grip base”.

Bolt Carrier and Bolt

The moment you open up a Galil Ace, you know you are looking at a rifle with an AK heritage and the bolt system clearly is AK inspired. When you look at the bolt and carrier, the refinements are interesting:

  • Most obvious perhaps, the traditional right-hand side cocking left on the bolt carrier has been moved to the left side and is tubular to reduce mass.
  • The bolt carrier has a lightening cut – that would lower mass and impact energy
  • Bolt and carrier do not appear to have serial numbers. While I can’t find confirmation of what I am about to say, perhaps the manufacturing tolernces are so good that the traditional hand fitting and matched components are no longer required.
  • At least for the 7.62×51 version the gas pistol is significantly shorter and has a collar on it.
  • While an AK’s firing pin is free floating, the Ace has a spring loaded firing pin that is pushing it back away from the bolt face. Now some will argue whether this was really needed or not but it is a design difference.
Note the short piston with the collar and that the cocking tube in on the left side.
A better view of the very short gas piston
Here’s a view of the underside of the carrier with the bolt installed. Note the knurling on the kocking lever. I am curious about the pin hole under the cocking tube. It may allow for the swapping out of the lever – some dayI will take it apart and see if this is the actual case.
Here’s the bolt. Definitely a good sized extractor.
Lightening relief/cut on the carrier.
Bottom of the carrier with the bolt removed. Curiously, notice the machining marks where the bolt’s lug would engage with the carrier.

Wrapping Up The First Post

There’s definitely more ground to cover and that will be in the next post. Click here to read it.


References


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.


IWI Galil Ace Pistol In 7.62×51: Development History And Photos Out Of The Box

The Israelis definitely understand the need for quality armaments and let’s start with a quick recap of the history leading up to the Galil. In the 1950s, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) adopted the Belgian FAL but found that their regular drafted troops had a hard time keeping it clean. On one hand, you can blame the troops but on the other you also need to realize that factoring in the dusty environment of the desert, maybe the FAL wasn’t the best design for the situation not to mention its size.

Israeli heavy barrel FAL
Photo Source: Wikipedia

In June 1967, Israel was embroiled in the Six Day War and captured thousands of AK-47 rifles that they then evaluated due to its reliability. The IDF then decided to seek an alternative to the FAL and ultimately went with a design by Yisrael Galil, who had previously helped with the design of the Uzi submachine gun.

Galil’s design was based on the Finnish Valmet Rk 62. The Finn’s also wanted a more refined AK-type rifle and evolved their highly regarded design from the AK that Poland licensed from the Soviets. Compared to the typical AK of the time, the Rk 62 had better metallurgy, a better barrel, an improved sight radius by mounting the rear sight on the dust cover and more.

Valmet Rk 62 rifle with later version plastic furniture and Galil-style roll pin secured buttstock. Photo source: Wikipedia

In terms of the Galil, they took the Rk 62 pattern and evolved the design to the point that it was adopted in 1973 with several models being used. Due to the Military Assistance Program from the United States, 60,000 M16A1 rifles were delivered to the IDF and put into use. Troops liked the M16A1 because it was lighter and more accurate. By 2000, the Galil was mostly phased out of main units and by 2005, it exited the remaining units.

Israeli Military Industries Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) in 5.56x45mm NATO.
Photo from Wikipedia.

The Columbian Connection

Image source: IWI US Media Kit

In 2005, the small-arms division of Israeli Military Industries (IMI), known as “Magen”, was privatized and named Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). IWI sells small arms all over the world. In 2006, the Colombian company INDUMIL secured exclusive worldwide rights to make GALIL automatic rifles (AR) worldwide – they even sold them to IWI.

With IWI suprevision and technology sharing, from 2006 to 2010, INDUMIL modified 43 of the 96 parts in the Galil AR. Of the 43, 12 steel parts were replaced with plastic and a cumulative savings of approximately 1 KG (2.2 lbs) was achieved. The other 30 parts were modified to improve precision. Thus, in 2010, INDUMIL introduced the Galil Ace. It is now offered in rifle, SBR and pistol configurations chambered for 5.56×45, 7.62×39, and 7.62×51. Here are some photos direct from IWI US:

Galil Ace Rifle chambered in 7.62×51. IWI model GAR1651
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
Galil Ace Rifle chambered is 7.62×39. IWI model GAR1639.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
IWI Galil Ace SBR in 7.62×39. This is the GAR3SBR model.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit
IWI Galil Ace SBR in 7.62×51, IWI model GAR51SBR.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit

At this time, Galil Ace rifles are being used in a number of countries including Chile, Columbia and Vietnam. As usual, civilian versions followed including rifles, short barelled rifles (SBRs) and pistol versions to allow people to buy the shorter weapons either with or without braces.

What’s Your Point?

Well, being very interested in Kalahsnikov-related arms, I’ve long wanted to own a Galil. There are a ton of Galil kits available and other projects kepts popping up that precluded me from building a Galil AR. It’s still on my to-do list but I don’t know if I will ever get to it.

So along comes the even more refined Galil Ace weapons. Every single guy I talked to who had one loved it. This includes Scot Hoskinson of RS!Regulate. So, after seeing tons of photos from Scot, I knew I had to get a .308/7.62×51 model and definitely planned on replacing the short handguard with his longer GAR-6M-N unit and I’ll cover that in more detail later.

I started my journey of trying to find one. They were all over Gunbroker with a folding SB Tactical brace installed. To be clear, it’s the SOB brace (I giggle every time I write that product name) on IWI’s folding tube that is dimensioned like some AR pistol buffer tubes at 1.208″. Note, pistol buffer tubes can vary and their outside diameter does not need to be Mil-Spec (1.146″) or Commercial (1.17″). My PSA pistol buffer tube is 1.25″ purely as an example.

This definitely caught my eye – it is the Galil Ace pistol in 7.62×51 with an SB Tactical SOB brace.
Image Source: IWI US Media Kit

I found out a while ago to watch Gunbroker for a while to get a feel for prices so I didn’t jump. As luck would have it, Palmetto State Armory ran a sale on the .308 Ace Pistol with the SOB brace for $1,499 and undercut everybody. I jumped on the deal and told PSA to ship it to my friend and FFL, Scott Igert, who owns Michigan Gun Exchange and is now quite used to my billion and one quirks.

PSA shipped the unit in a few days and it arrived about a week later. As usual, I had to look it over and was amazed at all the changes from the base AK platform. I took the pistol apart and tried to jot down all the differences to then share with folks and that is what I will do in an upcoming post. What they accomplished is very impressive.

Photos

Until I get the more detailed post done, here are a bunch of photos of my unmodified GAP51SB pistol. If you click on one you can see the larger photo and associated comments:



References

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.


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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RCBS 8 mm Mauser Full-Length Die Set, In the Box

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10 original brass 8mm mauser stripper clips 8x57 cal 7.92 x57 california legal

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LEE Decapping Pins 8 x 57mm Mauser, 8mm Mauser, 325 WSM (Pack of 3) SE2324 New

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STD Large Ring K98 K98k Kar98k M98 M-98 8mm Mauser Rear Sight w Base Mount CZ-98

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RELOADING DIES 8MM MAUSER CAL BY C&H

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standard german large ring K98 8mm mauser rifle complete rear sight w base mount

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Part 1: Two Rivers Arms Yugo M76 Rifle – Out of the Box

In 1975, Zastava Arms was approached by the Yugoslavian military with a need for a designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) that was semi-automatic and fired a full power round. Rather than license the Dragunov design, Zastava took a similar path that the Romanians did with the PSL – they took the base Kalashnikov design and scaled it up to handle a full size rifle round that they already had. In the case of Zastava, they chambered the rifle in 7.92×57 (8mm Mauser round). This put the effective range for human sized targets out at about 800 meters (875 yards).

The M76 is an interesting beast. When you pick one up, the first things you notice are that it is both heavy and long. Zatastava opted for a stiff, albeit heavy, milled receiver and a heavy barrel profile. The published statistics for the rifle put the weight at 4.6kg (10.14 pounds) – definitely not light. The barrel is 550mm (21.65 inches) long and the overall length is 1,135mm (44.69 inches).

All Things Yugo

This is where I enter the pictured. In 2006, I saw a photo in Shotgun News of an 8mm AK and thought it was a mistake! Over the years, I both learned more about the extended family of firearms based on the Kalashnikov design, the more I came to really like the Yugoslavian branch of the AK tree. I also very much wanted to own a Yugo M76 but a combination of budget (or lack there of) and reports of quality control problems by commercial US builders held me back.

A few things all came together to get me to finally move on having an M76. First, I got to know Two Rivers Arms over the years both by selling grips to them as well as their building some M72B1s for me. I knew they would do exceptional work. Second, TortOrt released their 80% Yugo M76 receivers and Tim at Two Rivers told me he could work with one of them. Third, I was able to source a complete kit with no furniture but a Green Mountain barrel from Apex and bought a complete Yugo M76 kit from Ivan Drago on GunBroker that did not have the barrel or the optic.

I need to mention something here – I just am not a huge fan of the offset scopes that the Soviets and Communist Bloc (ComBloc) countries came up with. I prefer something low, centered and … modern (gasp). When I talked to Tim at Two Rivers about my plans to not go with the traditional ZRAK 4x optic he was surprised. I already knew I wanted to use one of RS!Regulate’s mounting systems because they are simply the best most adjustable mounts out there. My first thought was to replace the factory optic rail on the receiver with more on an AKM style but we found out that the RS!Regulate AK-303M would have enough adjustment that we could use the factory rail. So, I ordered in the AK-303M lower rail and the AKR upper – RS!Regulate mounts are two piece so you can really dial in what you want.

This is the two piece RS!Regulate mount. The lower piece starts a fourth of the way down where you see a second Picatinny rail. That lower pieces is the AK-303M section. The upper piece is the “AKR” model and can be moved front to back and left to right on the lower allowing you to really dial things in. Pins are provided to lock the position in once everything is worked out.

By the way, on the RS!Regulate parts, either buy them direct or from a reputable vendor – not eBay or Amazon. There are cheap Chinese knockoffs/counterfeits that are for sale and not only is the quality poor but you are taking money from the small business who put in the hard work and money to make these.

Eventually, all of the parts arrive, I packed them in boxes and sent them to Tim at Two Rivers. Then the waiting part happened. With top notch builders, they are backlogged with work. In my case, I asked them to put the project on hold at one point, so all said and done, it was just shy of two years before schedules aligned and the rifle was completed. When Tim called to tell me he was wrapping it up after test firing it, I was pretty excited to say the least.

Out of the Box Impressions

Tim sent the rifle to my friend and FFL, Scott Igert of Modern Antique Firearms and as soon as it arrived, I went over to get it. Scott and I pulled it out of the box. Wow , was it big and cool. The diameter of the barrel was actually surprisingly big.

When I got home, I measured it. The rifle was just under 44-3/4″ long from the tip of the compensator to the top of the recoil pad on the buttstock.

Weight of the rifle without a magazine was 9.86 pounds. It was 10.42 pounds with an empty magazine. I instantly liked the heft as I like heavy rifles and the balance was pretty good. Granted there is a mile of heavy steel in front of the receiver but it was pretty decent.

Here are some photos of the base rifle. You may notice the trigger is silver – I did install an ALG Ultimate trigger (my hands down favorite AK trigger now) before I took these shots and will write up some of the modifications in following posts.

Look at that barrel and giant ejection port!
Here’s a good view of the M76 buttstock with the unique relief in the front. Note, you can interchange Yugo M70 and M72 fixed stocks with the M76 if you are ever so inclined. Then you have that giant unique grip. I wear XL-sized gloves and it is a handful.
It uses the same recoil pad as the M70 and M72 series rifles. Because of the weight and the gas action, I am not expecting a bad recoil.
There is just under 17″ of the 21.65″ barrel sticking out from the end of the wood (not the retainer) you see in the photo. The muzzle brake is integration with the front sight block (FSB) and not removable. The barrel is 0.845″ thick immediately in front of the handguard retainer.
The M76 has a gas regulator and is the silver dial you see above. It has three settings.
Unlike AK rifles, the M76’s muzzle brake is integral with the front sight block – it is not removable. It’s also interesting to note the threading for the attachment of a suppressor. Note the bayonet lug.
Let’s look at the other side now.
The side dovetail scope rail is unique and the RS!Regulate can accommodate it.
It uses a solid recoil rod assembly like the milled AKs and some RPKs use vs. the toggle wire assembly you see in AKMs. The increased rigidity of the recoil rod probably helps handle the heavier load plus aid in consistency of the bolt returning into battery. A number of us used to build AKMs with the milled rods to try and improve accuracy.
The M76 uses a 10 round box magazine.
There is one Achille’s Heel with the M76 (meaning the one weakness) is that the followers have a tendency to jam down hard when the bolt hold open (BHO) follower is hit from behind by the bolt. — that’s pretty ironic really. What happens way too often (in my opinion), is that the bolt hits the BHO causing a cantilever motion and because of an overly large gap, the front of the follower nose dives down into the mag body and it is not easy to get it back up but there is a fix. Note the very small tab just barely visible between the rear of the bolt body and the follower – I welded that in to limit the gap that allowed the nose dive to happen. I’ll write that up in a later post.
Nice shot of the Zastava logo and serialization info above the lightening cut.

I will be writing up my journey in upcoming posts and hope to take this rifle to the range in the near future. Definitely a big shout out to the gang at Two Rivers Arms for another wicked build! Thanks guys!


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.


Yugoslavian m76 oil can (authentic gun oil canisters)

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Protected by ZASTAVA M76 Gun Pistol Rifle Revolver Warning Ammo Aluminum Sign

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Yugoslavia JNA army M76 manual Ex Yugo M-76 manual

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Protected by ZASTAVA M76 Gun Pistol Rifle Revolver Warning Ammo Aluminum Sign

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WAR IN PEACE 17 MODERN SNIPER WEAPONS_HECKLER & KOCH_PARKER-HALE_CHIEFTAIN MBT

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Forgotten Weapons Reviews Two Galils in 5.56 and 7.62mm

The Galil rifles have always fascinated me. Israel designed and adopted them following the disappointing performance of FAL rifles in the desert. The history is pretty interesting and Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons gives you a brief overview in this video.

To learn more, check out these additional resources:


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.



My Cool New Kalashnikov Coffee Cup

Guys, I must confess that I have a coffee addiction 🙂 As most of you know, I am into AK rifles as well. As part of that interest, I have read every biography I could find of Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov to try and better understand what led to the creation of the AK-47 and the eventual family of Kalashnikov designs.

Recently I was searching on Amazon and surprisingly found a coffee cup with a great photo of a young Kalashnikov that was tastefully done and, of courcase, had to order it. I had to wait a few weeks as it shipped from Germany.

When it arrived, I was surprised that the graphic was a different color than what the Amazon ad depicted. I thought about returning it but I do like the cup. The following shows you the cup that arrived – it is pretty cool and the color has grown on me.

My wife’s reaction was “Why did you buy another coffee cup?” To which I answered “But honey, this is Kalashnikov” at which she just turned around while shaking her head 🙂

In case you are looking for a conversation piece, check out this cup. Here’s the listing on Amazon.

7/3/2019 Update: It’s holding up just fine. It does make for a cool conversation piece when people use it. “Who is this guy?” is usually how it starts 🙂


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.


Larry Vickers Interview in Russia – Is the AK Outdated?

During his visit to Russia in 2018, Larry Vickers was interviewed by
Vladimir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, about Larry’s views on the traditional AK platform.

The two discussed a number of topics and I’ll just hit some personal highlights that I found interesting:

  • Larry mentioned that people get hung up on the design of the safety and the short sight radius but the positives of the design far outweigh the negatives. This is especially true because the safety works just fine once you get used to it and the addition of a good red dot is a game changer. I agree with both points.
  • Vladimir asked Larry his caliber preference. Larry said if he had to only pick one, it would be 7.62×39. That’s definitely my go-to caliber for the rifle.
  • Larry made a really interesting point – the tapers of the 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 aid in reliable feeding in the AK platform. The 5.56×45 is at a disadvantage because it does not have the same degree of taper. That caught my attention – I never really stopped and thought about the impacts of case taper on reliability given how to AK operates. Interesting point.

So, is the AK obsolete? In my opinion, it is an extensible platform but watch this interesting video and here Larry’s thoughts first hand.


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.


Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov (+full catalog of weapons)

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The Gun That Changed the World by Mikhail Kalashnikov (English) Paperback Book F

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Gun That Changed the World, Paperback by Kalashnikov, Mikhail; Joly, Elena; B...

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General Mikhail Kalashnikov AK-47 Signed Photo Autograph Beckett Certified BAS

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Kalashnikov Concern’s Own Video About Early AK Variants

As you well know, I am very interested in AK rifles, their history and how they are evolving.  In September 2018, Kalashnikov Concern released a very interesting video that shows you some of their early AK variants.

In the video, Vladimir Onokay, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, will show some unique AKs manufactured in 1948 at the Izhevsk motorcycle factory as well as models produced until the 1950s.

Please note that the following video is hosted in Russia and you may need to let it buffer a bit for smooth viewing.  It’s just over 4 minutes long and any student of the AK design will find it very interesting.

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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