Nicer Than It Looks: Yugoslav M56 at the Range

The Yugoslav M56 is a hybrid of the MP40 general design with the Soviet 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge, and a gun whose practical shootability is surprisingly better than its looks would lead one to expect. This is largely the result of a very long receiver tube, which ensures that the bolt does not impact the rear endcap when cycling. That said, the stock and grip could really benefit from a more ergonomic design. This particular M56 is a very rare example of a fully transferrable one on the US NFA registry…


  1. “(…)Yugoslav M56 is a hybrid of the MP40 general design with the Soviet 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge(…)”
    Note that bolt handle is on opposite side w.r.t to MP40 (right opposed to left) thus apparently they did not desired 100% emulation of said German sub-machine gun.

    M56 has also unique ability not present in mentioned inspirations, namely ability to fix bayonet see 4th item in Image Gallery: in
    I wonder how installing/uninstalling bayonets affected spread?

    “(…)stock(…)could really benefit from a more ergonomic design.(…)”
    Be warned that average height of male population of Europe has grown significantly in 20th century. I was unable to unveil data for SHS Kingdom, but there are data which could be used as proxy, see 1st chart from top
    and disregard all traces but Greece and Italy (they were adjacent to Yugoslavia), note that X axis pertains to year of birth so we should look at ~1936 as recruit entering service in 1956 would be born in said year. It is between 165…170 cm. Thus I found possible stock is not too short but just right for then average Yugoslavs.

    • Shot up here young folk; all 6ft going like the U.S, I am from 1980 @ 5’9″ taller than me the majority.

      Increase in overweight folk also; might be something “in the water; bottle” they say now, some plastic chemical.

      Or not… But it has been suggested; Bisphenol A. Trace amounts.

      Think it is lack of activity mainly personally; not playing Army with toy guns, instead doing it on a computer.

      • Although that doesn’t exlpain height; parents peering at top shelf mags, entered the offsprings genotype… Giraffe syndrome, no? I am not a Doctor.

        Be proved if they shrink again; evolving to porn hub. Meh.

    • Ouch

      Memories of people’s new girlfriends appearing at the range, flashing a lot of cleavage…

      One way to save brass from getting trodden on

  2. no amount of technical knowledge can make up for real world experience. we seem to forget that alot these days.

  3. Entertaining short “hands on” video. Admittedly, after Ian’s previous “too simple?” video on the homely ex-JNA M56, one get’s the picture that it is the SMG equivalent of the much-maligned old “Yugo” brand cars… As it gets fired more often, in spite of its idiosyncrasies, it turns out it ain’t so bad, and could certainly “get the job done.” Arguably, 7.62x25mm may even be a “better” cartridge in some regards to the more typical 9x19mm, no?

    A minor quibble: Admittedly, the M49/57 or Crna Zastava Automat M49 *looks* a lot like the Shpagin PPSh41 SMG, and as far as I know, actually uses an interchangeable 35-rd. magazine… But the gun is actually more of a Yugoslav 7.62x25mm copy of the *other SMG* with which Tito’s forces were utterly and intimately familiar with: The Italian Beretta Moschetto M38 9mm. People–even über-knowledgeable firearm cognoscenti like Mr. M’Collum!–routinely describe it as a Shpagin derivative, but it just ain’t so! Of course, the counter-argument I suppose is that these weapons are all blowback-operated SMGs, so they are all just derivatives of the MP18,I, right…?

    • I suppose the Italians might raise an exception to all blowback SMGs being derived from the MP18,I, although admittedly it was internationally much more influential than the Villar Perosa or the OVP SMG.

    • “Beretta” claims that The trigger unit with fire selector lever, located inside trigger guard, is copied from Soviet PPSh-41.The bolt group, with return spring enclosed in tubular guide, is a derivative of Beretta M38A, and the cross-bolt safety, located in front of trigger guard, is copied from Beretta M38/49,although the location of button is slightly different. The basic layout with wooden stock and shrouded barrel is also similar to PPSh-41,although the barrel shroud and receiver are made from steel tubing rather than stampings. The disassembly procedure is different, as M49 is disassembled by screwing off the rear cap of receiver and then pulling the bolt group out of the receiver.
      Therefore M49 was influenced by all mentioned designs.

      “(…)Of course, the counter-argument I suppose is that these weapons are all blowback-operated SMGs, so they are all just derivatives of the MP18,I, right…?”
      I counter your counter with M1 Thompson which is derivative of Annihilator not mentioned sub-machine gun.

  4. Looking at the receiver tube, it does look fairly slim

    I was always struck by how slim a Sterling receiver was as well

    The designers could have achieved useful shortening of the receiver, and retained the same room for the bolt to travel before it hits the end cap

    Just by going a little bit fatter on the receiver

    If you continue the receiver tube as a barrel jacket, a fatter tube gets you more clearance between your hand and a sizzlingly hot barrel.

    Wonder why the designers of this and of the MPs 38 and 40, went for the exposed barrels?

    • Keith,

      Wasn’t the idea that the MP38/40 could be fired through vehicle ports, hence the addition of the lug under the barrel to stop them being pulled back into the vehicle?

  5. Not really required on the ppsh… So maybe this was really about 9mm; a way with the long reciever “You can tell somebody has thought; about what the author discovered” to improve 9mm… Mp40’s. But 7.62x25mm was the cartridge, to be used; given, circumstances.

    Nice gun; lot of thought in the design, albeit it looks… A bit odd. Should 9mm it prove the point.

  6. Theres one for Elon Musk etc; folks with spare cash, buy this and make it 9mm… See if it fires better “on target” than a mp40. Prove the now dead, clearly… Via age, designer right.

  7. Consription; scared troops.

    I am telling you people right now; Ppsh with 43 mag well.

    Every man/woman will be able to; Obliterate.

    No other gun achieves this. Aim at the balls/womens bits.


  8. You’ve a good point about the reputation of 7.62×25

    W E Fairbairn wrote that when he was commanding the anti gang parts of the Shanghai municipal police

    That any mention of 7.63×25 Mauser, sent his guys scrambling for their body armour.

  9. I’ve always wondered, if the 7.62 Tokarev caliber was so bad that they had to replace it after WWII, then why was it so damn successful during the war and after, in the various roles it was put into…?

    And, it certainly seems like a potential “caliber of the future”, when it comes to dealing with body armor and so forth. So, why isn’t it in more use?

    Few times I’ve fired it, once in a Tokarev and another time in a Czech CZ 52, it certainly seemed like a potent caliber; although like most Americans, I prefer my pistol calibers to be something a bit bigger.

    It does make one wonder just how much “fashion” influences things… What were the deficiencies of the 7.62 range of calibers that led to their utter lack of penetration into the US market, and de-emphasis in the world small arms market? Were those real?

    As well, why the hell hasn’t it come back for use against body armor…? My friend’s CZ 52 with the hot Czech loads was the only handgun we ever found that just zipped through everything we ever shot it at, including PASGT helmets, body armor, and about anything we put in front of it. If I remember right, we did one impromptu improvised “Let’s see what happens…” shot with a PASGT vest draped over an M1 steel helmet that was placed over an extra small PASGT Kevlar, and the little steel-core (passed the magnet test…) bullet from that CZ 52 zipped right through all six layers handily. I’m kinda curious how it would fare against the various plates we were issued in the early 2000’s, now that I think about it…

    • When the soviet army and much of its allies replaced the 7,62 with 9 mm Makarov, the role of sub-machine gun was being filled with the Avtomat Kalashnikova. So the compact little Makarov pistol was designed for officers to carry around and other such roles. So there was not really a place for it anymore.

      Only major user of 7,62 Tok is China at the moment I think. It may make a comeback against body armour, but then soldiers normally wear hard plates on the body, so I do not see much use for an armour piercing pistol cartrdige, that is going to fail against plates. Same problem with the small scale issues 4,6 and 5,7 mm PDW cartridsges. So one can stay with 9*19 and hope for hitting the openings in the armour coverage, i guess?

  10. Name of the factory that made it, is (or brand)
    “Crvena Zastava” (red flag), not “Yugoslav”.

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