Yugoslav M70A: The AK With a Real Magazine Holdopen

Yugoslavia began development of a Kalashnikov pattern rifle in 1959. The Yugoslav rifle would be distinct from the standard Soviet model, as evidenced by features like the gas cutoff for grenade launching and the early use of a true bolt hold open feature.

The first version was the M64, but this saw very limited production. The first large scale model produced was the M70 (fixed stock) and M70A (under folder), and that is what we are looking at today. Note that these rifles are frequently misidentified as the M64 pattern.

These rifles include a bolt holdopen attached by a screw in the left side of the receiver. They use a magazine that is identical to the standard AK magazine, but with a notch cut in the left side for actuating the hold open. This device was removed form later versions of the rifle and retroactively removed form many M70 and M70A rifles because its presence prevented the use of standard AK magazines – and that was seen as more important than the hold open feature. In its place, Yugoslavia adopted a new magazine follower with a flat rear surface that would hold the bolt open, but only until the magazine was removed. This at least altered the user that the magazine was empty, which is worthwhile.

Rifles retaining the hold open device are very rare today in the former Yugoslavia, and essentially nonexistent in the US. Thanks to this rifle’s owner for sharing it with me, along with the very cool Slovenian deployment case!


  1. Er, Ian, Yugoslavia was never a member of the Warsaw Pact. Fascinating little bolt hold open and interesting change to a ubiquitous magazine.

  2. Ian, I am afraid you put the bayonet the other way round (when you were demonstrating how it was supposedly to work as a wire cutter) – the ‘false edge’ (swage) does the job here…

    • Can confirm. Saw that the first time through, thought “Man, something is wrong with that…”, and didn’t bother to analyze what. Kudos for catching that.

  3. BTW: is there publicly available drawings with proper dimensions and tolerances about the Yugoslavian bolt hold open device?

    You might also interested in:
    1. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Yugo M64 / M70A Bolt Hold Open Feature

    2. Yugoslavian AK operating manual from 1983 in original language:

    3. Yugoslavian AK repair manual from 1985 in original language:

  4. I think, though I could be wrong, that that rifle case was meant for issue to Slovene reservists to keep at home the same way that Swiss militia members kept their rifles. If you look closely, you might find that the latches are meant to take seals so that you’d have a sealed case that could only be opened in either emergency or on mobilization orders.

    I remember talking to some Slovene reservists not long after the wars kicked off, and they said they were going to a system like this, with the weapons stored at home, as opposed to the old Yugoslav way they’d kept centralized armories in most communities. The thing that kicked off the Slovenian departure from Yugoslavia was that the JNA made a move towards confiscating those community armories, and the Slovenes got their first. After their campaign against the JNA, throwing them out, the idea was “Never again…”, and they went to the home storage idea.

    In Croatia and Bosnia, the JNA did manage to get control of the local armories. Didn’t work out too well for the locals… Much of the armament was turned over to regime-loyal ethnic Serbs, with the ensuing nastiness that accrued.

  5. @”The thing that kicked off the Slovenian departure from Yugoslavia was that the JNA made a move towards confiscating those community armories, and the Slovenes got their first.”
    – actually, it was the opposite, idea of sloven. departure pushed JNA in trying to confiscate the Teritorrial defense armories.

    What saved them from bloody war is that there was no significant Serb population in some areas (like in some other republics), so JNA did not have their fifth column to fall unto.
    Plus they perfidly used teenagers from yearly military training (them being often from all over Yugoslavia, not only Serbs) as their main force, of course these did not wanted to fight against slovenians.
    Similar was to a degree in Croatia, example of ironic tragedy, where JNA, among others, in few places mobilized a number of unfortunate Bosniaks/muslims in their ranks in 1991, and just a year later bosnian serbs attacked and burned the villages of even these very muslim people they used in JNA ranks.
    Out of all nations, Bosniaks were the most disoriented in breakup of Yugoslavia, they even believed with war going on elsewhere in its continued existence, and basicly were very pro-yugoslavian nationalist oriented, thats why being so unprepared and turning their eyes away, they suffered the 1992. onslaught the most.

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