The AK family of rifles is quite diverse. Builders and collectors of these rifles are always noting differences between models and, as a while, the Yugoslavian AKs are pretty unique. I've been a hobby builder since 2006 and find the design differences fascinating. A bit over a year ago, I approached Bob Hunnicutt, the editor of SGN, with an idea for a piece on building an AK based on milled Yugo receiver parts but with a sheetmetal receiver. Times and opportunities change and opened the door to create a series of articles for the SGN website and this will be the first of many that lay out the background, parts and methods.
In the 1950s, the Yugoslavian arms manufacturer Zavpodi Crvena Zastava reviewed the Russian Avtomat Kalashnikova (AK) and realized its vast potential. In the 1964 they started manufacturing the M64 under license but with a number of modifications that make the Yugo family of AKs unique, notably its capability to launch grenades, bolt hold-open device, flip-up night sight, recoil spring lock, rubber recoil pad on the fixed stock model and one of the best AK grip designs in terms of ergonomics. Like any design, it evolved over time.
When they created the M70, they retained the forged receiver and made some updates, including the design of the receiver and attaching the rear stock with a single 8mm bolt that traversed the length of the stock, ending under the rubber butt pad. The M70A was the underfolder stock model while the M70 designation referred to the forged receiver fixed stock model.
The M70B1 denotes the move to the less costly to manufacture 1.5mm thick stamped sheet metal receiver, which Russia had already done. The M70AB2 refers to a stamped underfolder version. In this article, we will build our own version of a M70B1. It's not as heavy duty as the bulged side genuine M70B1s but it's no slouch either — especially given we will not be launching rifle grenades!
Despite the unique design differences, Yugo rifles are undeniably based on the AK design and are both interesting rifles to build as well excellent rifles to fire. In this article we will review how to build a version of a M70B1 in a cost-effective manner by leveraging the front stub of a milled M70, thus getting around sourcing issues as some parts are becoming increasingly expensive to find and, thus, expensive.
The reader needs to bear in mind that most rifles can be bought assembled for less than what it costs to build a single rifle. Indeed, there are complete AK-type rifles for sale right now for well under $400. Building a rifle is more about better understanding the design and the reward of building something yourself as opposed to cost savings. The intent of the article series is to give you "food for thought" that you can then change however you see fit.
Over the course of following weeks we will review the build and considerations for part selection, fabrication, assembly, and the final finish.