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!