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Zastava M19 MCS modular assault rifle (Serbia)

The Zastava M19 Modular Combat System (M19 MAP – Modularna automatska puška in Serbian language) is the newest infantry rifle developed by Serbian company Zastava Arms for Serbian army. It was officially adopted in 2020 to replace the old 7.62x39mm Zastava M70 assault rifles in use by the Serbian military.

Development of this rifle commenced around 2016, and the first prototype was known as the Zastava M17. It was based on the previous Zastava M05 rifle, which itself is an evolutionary version of the M70AB2 rifle, but chambered for the relatively new 6.5x39mm Grendel ammunition of American origin.

 

prototype Zastava M17 assault rifle, chambered for the 6.5mm Grendel ammunition
prototype Zastava M17 assault rifle, chambered for the 6.5mm Grendel ammunition

 

 

Zastava M19 assault rifle
Zastava M19 assault rifle chambered for the 6.5mm Grendel ammunition

 

Serbian company PPU was an early manufacturer of this ammunition for American commercial market, and, apparently, the new 6.5mm Grendel cartridge made a sufficient impression on the Serb military to warrant development of a dedicated military version, and then a rifle to fire it. It must be noted that the 6.5mm Grendel failed to attract any sufficient interest from the military users elsewhere, including the USA. One reason why Serbs probably liked this round is that 6.5mm Grendel is based on the old 7.62x39mm M1943 Russian cartridge, which is not well suited for the American M16 rifle / M4 carbine platform, but is a perfect fit for the Kalashnikov platform that the Serbian army uses since late 1960s. Also, 6.5mm Grendel offers noticeable improvements in the accuracy, range and overall combat effectiveness over the old 7.62x39mm ammunition. On the other hand, its comparison to the high velocity, small bore assault rifle cartridges such as 5.56x45mm NATO or 5.45x39mm shows much less advantages, and even certain disadvantages such as greater recoil and greater ammunition weight of the 6.5mm system.

 

 

L to R: 5.45х39mm, 5.56х45mm NATO, 6.5mm Grendel, 7.62х39mm
L to R: 5.45х39mm, 5.56х45mm NATO, 6.5mm Grendel, 7.62х39mm

 

Final result of the Serbian military rifle program became the Zastava M19 modular assault rifle. Its modularity comes from the fact that it has user-changeable barrels in two calibers, the old 7.62x39mm, which is still in use by Serbian military, and the new 6.5x39mm Grendel. For each caliber, there are two barrel lengths, the standard 415mm (16,3”) and the CQB/PDW 254mm (10”).

 

 

Zastava M19 assault rifle
Zastava M19 assault rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm ammunition, with alternate barrel and magazine for the 6.5mm Grendel ammunition

 

The Zastava M19 assault rifle is based on the proven Kalashnikov system, using Zastava’s own M70AB2 / RPK-style receiver as a base. Long stroke gas system with two-lug rotary bolt is retained, and a manual gas regulator is added to each gas block, mounted on the detachable barrels.

Top cover is machined from aluminum alloy, has an integral Picatinny rail at the top and attaches to the receiver using two cross pins. Safety/fire selector levers are ambidextrous. Quite unusually, the T-shaped charging handle is moved to the rear of the receiver in the AR-15-style, and does not move when gun is fired. There’s no obvious forward assist feature, and no automatic bolt hold-open device. Ammunition is fed from Kalashnikov-type magazines in 7.62x39mm, or from specially designed box magazines with 20 or 25 round capacity in 6.5mm.

 

Rifle features aluminum alloy forend with optional Key-mod slots. The side-folding and adjustable shoulder stock, apparently, is inspired by Magpul products, presenting combination of features of their ACR and Zhukov-S stocks.

 

Standard sighting equipment for the Zastava M19 rifle is the Teleoptic NO M20 4X fixed power telescope sight, which is installed onto the Picatinny rail. An optional Red Dot sight can be mounted atop the telescope for CQB work. Alternatively, rifle can be equipped with the IR/Night sight.

 

Specification Value
Full text name Zastava M19 MCS modular assault rifle (Serbia)
Caliber cartridge 6.5 Grendel (6.5x39), 7.62x39mm M43 Soviet Intermediate Cartridge
Action type select-fire
Trigger type sa
Overall length, mm 910 mm (with 415 mm barrel)
Barrel length, mm 254 mm or 415 mm
Weight empty, kg 3,85 kg (with 415 mm barrel)
Magazine capacity, rounds 20, 25, 30
Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min no data