Tag Archives: Optics

What Is The Best Optic For A Yugo M76 Rifle?

I did a series of posts back in the Fall of 2019 about a custom Yugo M76 that I had Two Rivers Arms build for me that I then added my own optic to [click here for the series]. A fellow recently contacted me about what optic he ought to get for his rifle, I replied and it also occurred to me that more explanation would make for a good blog post.

What is a Yugo M76?

It is a smei-automatic 10-round Designated Marksman’s Rifle (DMR) designed and built by Zastava for the Yugoslav military chambered in 8mm Mauser (7.92x57mm with an IS or JS designator at the end of the size). The 8mm Mauser round is in the same ballpark class as the American .30-06 round to give you a rough equivalent.

Let me revisit the “DMR” designation – because that is what the M76 is. The M76 was designed for a designated marksman in a squad to have much further reach than the rest of the team would have. It was not a surgical weapon and instead stressed reliability and good enough accuracy with an effective range of about 800 meters with 1.5-2 minutes of angle (MOA).

This photo is from Wikipedia and it lets you see the ZRAK optic on the M76. By the way, Wikipedia does have a nice summary write up on the M76.

What does that tell us?

That short intro starts hinting at the type of scope you might want to consider. It’s firing a relatively powerful cartridge but isn’t the most precise rifle on the planet. I can also tell you that while there is recoil, it’s not bad at all.

Choice #1 – Mounting Styles

The very first thing to consider is what type of mount you wish to use. The M76 inherits the robust side-mount rail but with some unique dimensions. The rifle was originally paired with an offset 4x ZRAK scope that slid onto that rail and clamped into place. This offset design isn’t for all folks but it definitely works for people familiar with it.

Here you can see the optic side mount rail. It sits securely in a groove in the milled receiver and is riveted in place.

The second route is to get a mount that clamps on the above rail but then centers the optic over the centerline of the bore. Call me an old school American but that is definitely my preference.

You can get mounts this way that directly hold the optic directly with the scope rings being built directly into the mount or you can get mounts that have a Picatinny rail on top that you can then secure whatever optic you want. This is my preference just so you know because it gives me more flexibility down the road.

RS Regulate mounts are the way to go!!

The best side mounts I have found that enable a ton of flexibility and adjustment are the RS Regulate brand mounts designed by Scot Hoskinson. He offers a number of different options so you need to stop by his site and take a look.

This is the RS Regulate AK-303M lower paired with the AKR upper rail.

Note, RS Regulate mounts are being counterfeited in China. I’d recommend only buying direct or from a reputable dealer below:

What optic to use?

On one hand, you could stick with the communist block styling . You can hunt around and buy 4x ZRAK optics still. There are also a lot of different offset mount optics that you can look into that are side mounted for example 8x and variable power. Just confirm the clamp on a particular model has enough adjustment to fasten onto the M76’s rail.

As of my writing this, there aren’t any ZRAK scopes on eBay but Apex Gun Parts does have some in fair to good condition (meaning very worn) and they are a good firm to deal with. Kalinka Optics has a variety of offset mount optics and is also reputable. If you really want an offset scope, I’d recommend Kalinka and go with something new.

With that said, you may be wondering “but what size scope?” The 8mm round definitely has some reach and you have to ask yourself what do you really plan on doing? This “what am I going to use it for” question is known as the “use case”.

When the Yugoslavs designed the M76, they needed a middle of the road simple optic that would allow the shooter to hit something man sized out to 800 meters. Four power magnification fits that bill because it gives you a wide field of view (meaning what you can see left to right and up and down in he scope – the more you see, the wider the field of view). They weren’t looking for precision by any means – just good enough to extend the reach of the shooter.

I’m 53 and while I grew up shooting a lot with iron sights, I can’t see very well at 100 yards and I sure can’t shoot precisely. Now remember, the M76 you have will likely be shooting1-4 MOA (1-4″ at about 100 yards, 2-8″ at 200 yards and so forth). It all depends on the condition of the rifle and the type of ammo you are shooting not to mention your own abilities. Spending a fortune on a giant quality surgical scope, like a 6-24x, is overkill…. unless that is what you really want.

What I would recommend is a variable power and I tend to favor 4-16x because I have the nice bright field of view at 4x and can zoom in if needed. Most of my shooting is within 200 yards so this works just fine for me on my DMR rifles.

Now you may be wondering “But I saw the photo of that giant scope you are running – what’s up with that?” Good question and let me explain.

That’s a Vortex Crossfire II 3-12×56 scope known as the “hog hunter” and my buddy shooting it during a range visit this summer.

My “use case” when I was planning for the optics was for hog hunting. I wanted a really big objective to suck in light for shooting at dusk and an illuminated recticle. I also happened to already have it left over from another project. It is quite affordable by the way.

So, the Hog Hunter seemed like a great match – 3-12x for fast shooting in close to having a 12x for distance shots. The big 56mm objective does pull in a lot of light. The lit recticle is only bright enough to make a difference at night and isn’t as bright as what you would see on a tactical scope.

Having used it for a while now, I’ll tell you that it delivers on the above with a couple of caveats that may make you stay away from it unless thye don’t bother you:

First, it is a big scope – far bigger than what you may think in terms of dimensions and weight due to the big objective. It’s almost 13.5″ long and 21.1 ounches.

Second. it is a giant objective and you will need to plan for. I had to carefully calculate the rings needed for it to clear the front handguard and I needed them to be quick release because the scope mount could not slide backwards due to the big objective hitting the rear sight block (RSB) of the rifle. I am still using the AD-RECON-SL mount and it is solid!

For a lot of folks, starting with an objective around 40mm tends to give you a nice bright image. I tend to use 44-50mm objectives scopes the most. Think of it this way – the bigger the objective, the more light it can pull in all other things being equal.

So where am I at today and what scope would I recommend?

I still am running the Hog Hunter and like it. If I had it to do over,I would get a 4-16x magnification and a 44-50mm objective. Recticle-wise, I’m fine with just about anything for what I plan to use it for but if I were to specify one, I’d get one with Mil-Rad (Mil-Dot) graduations because that is what I am familiar with.

There are also other variable zoom scopes out there as well such as 2.5-10x, 3-9x, 1-6x, 1-8x, etc. These are all options if you still have good eyes and want an even wider field of view on the low end. I run all of those combinations on rifles where I plan to be relatively close and not so much for long distance. Point being it is up to you – I wanted a higher power scope for shots starting often at 100 yards.

Vortex makes really good optics and I would move with whatever I could afford at the time. What you will notice is that as you move up their product line , the bigger price tag also comes with clearer and brighter optics *but* they all have Vortex’s no nonsense warranty.

Vortex Optics Offerings

I am going to present their various offerings that I would recommend and am able to show the scopes listed at various merchants as well so you can shop around:

Let’s start with their entry-level Crossfire II scopes:


Next, let’s look at the Diamondback and Diamondback Tactical series scopes:


The following are Strike Eagle scopes and the designs are focusing more on tactical versatility.


Even higher end are the various Viper HS scopes. I have a number of these and find them to be bright, clear and rugged:


My favorite Vortex scopes that I afford is the Viper PST Gen III series. Yeah, budget does have a role and have not been able to afford a Razor but the PSTs excellent. When I can afford a really exceptional optic, I look at the PSTs. A number of vendors still carry Gen II scopes and they work great also. I’ve had several Gen IIs and only one Gen III so far.


In Conclusion

I hope this helps give you some ideas of what optic to put on your M76 rifle. I really like Vortex Optics and am a user – I’m happy with the Hog Hunter but it is big. I think you’d be very happy with just about any of their scopes depending on what you want to do.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Vortex Second Generation 1-6 and 1-8×24 Strike Eagles Are On Sale At PSA With Free Mount and Shipping – Coupon Good Thu 5/13/2020

PSA has a deal going on through 5/13 (they extended the deal) on the new second generation Vortex Strike Eagle Scopes. The deal includes the optic, a Vortex 2″ cantilever offset mount (their 14919 CME-202 mount to be specific) and PSA is including free shipping. Use Coupon Code: Strike

What are the differences?

  • Has the new 5.56 calibrated reticle – the AR-BDC3
  • Integral throw lever on the zoom ring
  • Slight design change to the 1-6 body so it looks like the 1-8

Click on the photo to open the PSA page


This is a short post – you might want to snag this deal while you can. I have a first gen 1-6 and really like it. The scope has a great field of view at 1x and helps you zoom in to see things better.

I hope this helps you out.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


By the way, the following are first generation Strike Eagle listings at other vendors so you can compare – I have a first gen 1-6×24 and it has held up great. It’s living on my Beowulf right now so it’s up to you as to whether the new features matter enough:

Changed my Yugo M76 Scope Mount To An American Defense AD-RECON-SL and It’s Rock Solid!!

When I was adding the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope to my M76 with RS!Regulate side mount optics rail, all I had to prototype with were UTG rings. While the UTG rings aren’t too bad, I have stopped using them with centerfire rifles because they have a rounded screw that passes through the Picatinny rail rail slot. It’s rounded shape and only partially filling the slot risks damaging the rail and the zero shifting because the ring(s) can move.

These are the UTG low profile rings. Note how the screw is round and not rectangular? Also, after 30 rounds of 8mm Mauser firing, the rear flip lever rattled loose.

What is really needed is a quality ring or scope mount that uses a bar that properly fits into the Picatinny Rail slots and locks the optic securely and consistently into position. American Defense mounts are that way and they have an excellent locking lever.

I started using American Defense mounts for my Vortex Crossfire Red Dot optics a little over a year ago and was very satisfied with them and very impressed by their quick release lever design. So, when I needed a new mount for my M76 that was strong enough to hold the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope on my M76 and would clear rear sight block but also be close to the bore, the American Defense AD-RECON-SL immediately came to mind.

American Defense AD-RECON-SL

American Defense started with their QD Auto Lock System – the quick release lever system they developed. – and have branched into a variety of offerings from there including scope, bipod, light, laser and other mounts. In short, they are capitalizing on their really rugged QD levers.

So, the first thing I did was to measure the UTG mount from the top of the rail to the optic center, which I used the top of the lower half ring. That measure came to about 0.975″ and I knew any mount I bought had to be at least that or bigger. The front objective was all but touching the gas tube cover with those UTG low rings.

The AD Recon series has a variety of heights and offsets to select from and they publish specs for you to make an informed decision. In my case, because the RS!Regulate side mount already has front-to-back adjustment, I didn’t feel that I needed any offset but I did want to find as low of a scope mount as I could.

In looking at the specs, the AD-RECON-SL seemed to fit the bill. It had no offset and was their lowest mount with a 1.110″ center for scope with a 30mm tube. it was a tad higher but the slightly higher 0.135″ difference really didn’t worry me so I went ahead an ordered one.

Folks, the AD-RECON-SL did not disappoint. It is really a gorgeous piece of engineering. The fitment is excellent and is finished in a black hard coat. Here are some photos:

Here’s the side of the unit with the adjustment nuts. I love the flag on the side.
Here it is with their patented QD levers. The small lever you see in the middle of the bigger lever is the locking mechanism that keeps the unit secure. The moment you flip those rings you know your dealing with quality.
See how American Defense uses bars to lock the mount into the Picatinny rail? This is the way to go. It makes for a very secure and consistent engagement meaning your optic’s zero will not shift and the rail will not get damaged over time under heavy recoil with a simple round screw.
Yeah… that’s the American Defense unit on the left and the little UTG ring on the right. I would have no hesitation recommending the UTG rings for a rimfire or light recoil applications but not for something where there is significant recoil and a heavy optic combined.
Here’s another angle.

But Why Have QD Rings on a RS!Regulate Mount?

I do need to explain this. I can bet that I will need to take the dust cover off for some reason and don’t want to rely on tools. If I am hunting, I may not have any tools with me and need to clear a jam or something. That means I need a way to remove the scope and rail to get access to the dust cover.

The RS!Regulate’s lower rail does have a quick take down lever that solidly clamps on the M76 rail. That is not the issue and may make you wonder I need another quick release system. The challenge is that the Hog Hunter scope has a giant 56mm front objective for gathering as much light as possible in low-light situations such as dusk. It will hit the M76’s rear sight block if pulled straight back when mounted as low as I want. The solution is to use the AD-RECON-SL optic mount to enable me to lift the scope off the RS!Regulate’s top rail and then I can slide the RS!Regulate assembly off. The combination definitely works.

Installation

Taking the mount apart was easy – remove the four screws on each ring. I was pleasantly surprised that they used a precision pin to guide the rings into position and not just the screws. Again, this makes it stronger and more consistent.

Here’s a close up of the base. The middle hole is for the guide pin and the outer holes are for the screws.
Here you can see the four halves of the rings. The half to the top left with the guide pin. Its counterpart is already installed in the back.
An important design aspect to note is that the halves are not symmerical from top to bottom. The side with the pin is a no-brainer – that goes in the base. The other two halves without pins need to have the thinner section at the bottom for the pieces to mate up correctly. You can see in the top left half that the bottom part with the alignment pin is not as tall as the top. The lower-right is also a good angle for you to see the thinner bottom relative to the top.

There is an installation detail that you may not guess and they detail it in their installation instructions – you install the bottom screws first and tighten them down to the 20-25 in/lbs torque spec first. For folks not used to working with small fasteners, please note that is inch pounds and not foot pounds).

The bottom is torqued down first and then the top. There will be a small gap at the top. This method of bottom then top torquing centers the optic in their design. The only thread locker they will recommend is VC-3 Vibra-tite and the use of anything else will void the warranty. I’ve used a lot of Vibra-tite with Kydex holsters – it’s interesting in that you clean the fastener, apply the VC-3, let it dry and then assemble. It creates a rubbery surface that pretty much negates vibration. It also stays put when you unscrew and reinstall screws. It’s interesting stuff. They include a small packet of it with the mount but I also keep it around for working with Kydex fasteners and other situations where I expect there will be a need to uninstall and reinstall or adjust screws.

Here’s the M76 rifle with the American Defense mount installed. Note I used my Vortex torquing screw driver to do the installation. It’s definitely a precision instrument and what I use for all optics work now. I take care to return it to zero after each use.
Here it is from another angle.
I changed cheek pieces to get a better cheek weld. This unit is nice and stable. I’m so-so about the cheek pad itself and wish it was a bit wider but it is better than the Voodoo cheek pad that was there. I’m still hunting for an even better cheek weld and have some options I want to try that I will report on at a later date after I have a chance to try them. To be clear- it is a solid cheek piece and the right height but personally I do not like the feel of that relatively narrow riser.

In Summary

The combination of the RS!Regulate side mount system and the AD-RECON-SL optic mount is absolutely rock solid as in zero flex at all. even with the big and heavy Vortex Hog Hunter scope. I really think I have the ideal optic solution now for the rifle. The length of pull is better thanks to the installation of a SVL slip-on Limbsaver pad. I still need to find a better cheek piece to get my eye just the way I want it comfortably behind the scope and have some options to try. Last thing to report is that I did do some work on the firing pin but haven’t had time to test the rifle again.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.