YUGO M76: AK SNIPER REBORN

A 10-round magazine feeds Century’s version of the M76, and…

A 10-round magazine feeds Century’s version of the M76, and its AK controls and iron sights duplicate the original design. Its piston operating system gaurantees it’ll run.

Since the Yugoslavian Army adopted the Mauser M48 bolt-action rifle after World War II, hundreds of millions of rounds of 7.92x57mm ammunition (more commonly called 8x57mm Mauser) were manufactured to feed more than 1.2 million M48 rifles, which were produced until 1965. With this huge inventory of 8mm Mauser ammo on hand, it made perfect sense to build a semi-automatic squad designated marksman rifle to fire it—thus the M76 was born.

Several years ago, Zastava Arms began exporting the M76, which is obviously based on the AK-47 select-fire assault rifle. One American importer brought several M76 systems into the country and sold them to the public. After some were sold, the BATFE’s technical branch found a way to label the M76 as a “bad” weapon. They discovered that the M76 rifles first imported still retained the auto-safety sear feature, making the rifle a “machine gun” in their eyes, even though the M76 was never intended to be fired on full-auto. This dictum is applied to any semi-auto with an auto-safety sear or with a cutout in the receiver to accept one. Ultimately, the BATFE tracked every one of the M76 rifles down, confiscated them and destroyed them.

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It is speculated that the engineers at Zastava took the Communist-supplied technical data package for the AK-47 and scaled it up for the 8x57mm cartridge. Along the way, they simply ignored the auto-safety sear feature, leaving it as part of the M76’s design, even though the rifle was not intended to be used in a full-auto configuration. Fast-forward several years and Century International Arms of Delray Beach, Florida, has figured out a way to offer the M76 legally to the public. Steven Kehaya, Century’s engineering and product development manager, had the company mill new, legal-for-sale semi-auto receivers and make new 4140 ordnance steel barrels. Using these new barrels and receivers, along with Tapco trigger assemblies and refurbished M76 parts kits, Century Arms has built the M76 Sporter rifle—a gun any serious Communist Bloc–firearms enthusiast will want to own.

Under The M76 Hood

Century’s M76 Sporter precisely matches the specifications for the original M76. Without a magazine or optic, the M76 weighs 10.25 pounds. Its overall length is 44.5 inches, and the 21.5-inch, button-rifled barrel is cut with four grooves with a 1-in-9.5-inch right-hand twist rate. The upper and lower forearms, buttstock and pistol grip—the entire wooden furniture kit—is native teak. Note that either the sealing finish was removed in the refurbishing process or had never been applied.

The M76 Sporter is capable of firing 8x57mm Mauser ammunition with a variation in muzzle pressure by virtue of a three-position gas regulator. It also allows the rifle to keep running when dirty. The regulator can be adjusted by rotating a ring that is held in place with a spring clip. The No. 1 position is the one the rifle was set to upon arrival, and testing was conducted without adjusting the gas setting. Attached to the front of the gas block assembly is a sling attachment point. A corresponding rear sling attachment is located on the bottom of the buttstock with two wood screws.

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The M76’s flash suppressor does a fair job cutting muzzle flash and stays true to older AK designs, along with the front sight.

Observing the operation of the M76 Sporter, it becomes very obvious that it was based upon Mikhail Kalashnikov’s designs. When the rifle is fired, powder gases are diverted into the gas cylinder on top of the barrel. The elongated AK-style piston drives to the rear, and the bolt carrier, which is attached to the piston extension, travels back until gas pressure drops. When the bolt carrier is on its way back, it resets the hammer. The recoil spring, which is compressed on the backstroke of the bolt carrier, strips a round from the magazine and chambers the round. When the bolt comes to rest, the bolt carrier continues forward a little more than half a centimeter while the bolt’s two locking lugs engage the recesses in the barrel extension. The trigger mechanism in the M76 Sporter finds its inspiration in the M1 Garand. Close inspection of the trigger’s mainspring reveals that it is a multi-strand twisted spring.

Load Comments
  • ted

    Title of article incorrect. Should be M76.

    In less than two minutes I have found glaring proof-reading errors on two online articles. Editors please check! (and I’m not even looking for them!)

  • justin riley

    Great weapon! for a man with a hard time shooting a rifle for a weaker right arm I have put 2 to 3 bullets in the same hole at times just get newer ammo for it and it’s Great and you can still find the Serbian army serving with it.

  • Haris Peios

    The Romanian made PSL sniper gun is similar to the Yugoslavian M76/78.

  • Oggy

    1. Yugoslavian army (and its predecessor – Serbian army) used 7.92×57mm before WW1, not since WW2.

    2. There is a, lets say a version of M78 that fires 3 round bursts, intended as long range support and thus the existence of auto safety.