Zastava M91 at the Range

Today I am out at the range with a new M91 from Zastava USA. This is the civilian version of the Serbian M91 sniper’s rifle, which was developed in the 1990s to replace the M76 in Serbian Army service. The M76 was chambered for 8mm Mauser, while the M91 uses 7.62x54R. Aside from a 3-position adjustable gas system, the M91 is functionally the same as the Romanian PSL; essentially an AK action scaled up to a full-size cartridge.

The rifle was comfortable to shoot even on the highest gas setting (recommended by the user manual for the first 200 rounds fired, presumably to break in the action). Getting a good sight picture was a little bit awkward as a lefty, since the scope is offset slightly to the left of the barrel, and I found it preferable to not use the cheek rest because of this. The scope is a POSP 4×24 that came with the rifle, which seems nice enough, although I do have some concerns about parallax with it – moving my head within the eye box seemed to cause significant movement in the reticle. I was using PPU Match 7.62x54R ammunition, and shooting at 100 yards I got very consistent 4″ groups of 10 shots each. Whether this was the rifle or the optic or me, I cannot say.

Thanks to Zastava USA for providing the rifle!


  1. As told with the precedent post presenting the bipod is under the forearm/hanguard. It is formally instructed for Drag/Tigr to rest just in front of the clip on the receiver where is the location for the normal bipod. Contorsion of Ian to shoot from right would probably not make the things better. Last week end with my Tigr (and reload) I shot three bullets : two holes joining and the third at less than the MOA, but I was in a miraculous instant and the TIGR too. Also those guns heat and don’t like long series.

    • “Also those guns heat and donโ€™t like long series.”

      There is reason why sniper rifles are manual repeaters.

        • Manually-repeating rifles are not intended for constant hours-on-end nonstop shooting. That’s a job for the machine gun!

      • Denny,
        I’d agree in the sense that the ability to fire 10+ shots in rapid succession is a pointless / wasted capability in a rifle focused on pure accuracy.

        On the other hand, repeatability – the ability to fire a SECOND shot without moving anything but the trigger finger – favors the semi, demanding less from the shooter / support system to achieve consistent hits.

        • “…the ability to fire a SECOND shot without moving anything but the trigger finger โ€ฆ”

          That is lovely in theory Mike, but look at the gun what is ACTUALLY doing. It is hopping and popping all over the place. So, every time you released a shot you have to start over: acquire target picture, align sights and gently pull trigger. Next time around same thing.

          Sure, you can try to give it order like to dog “stay”, but it will not.

          • A) That depends on the “dog” / rifle. The Z91 seems to kick quite a bit due to its 7.62x54R chambering. A 5.56mm AR will move less, and measures such as free recoil travel, brakes / suppressors, pads, barrel mass, etc. may mitigate that movement yet further. Remember as well that, all else being equal, the autoloader will have less felt recoil.

            B) Some dogs may stay, and some may not. Here’s something that doesn’t really depend at all: tell any given dog at any level of training to “stay” while gently squeezing your finger with 2-3lb of pressure against the D-ring on his collar. Then do the same thing with the same dog, but immediately follow it up by yanking on his collar, paw, etc. with the force / length of motion required to operate a bolt handle. Which time will he be more likely to move? This is true whether you’re talking about a dog, a rifle, or anything that isn’t of vastly greater mass than the person applying the force. In the second case, you’re working at cross purposes with yourself – adding unwanted motion; telling the rifle to “stay”, while moving it.

            An experienced operator can train himself to isolate the motion and develop muscle memory for his previous grip, so it isn’t an absolute barrier – just, like I said, a big difference in demands on the shooter. Since you mentioned snipers, who combine high degrees of both natural skill and training, the difference may not be all that severe. On the other hand, I’d contend that, if you took two rifles (bolt and semi) in a mild / intermediate caliber, demonstrating the same level of absolute accuracy (locked in a vise) and handed them to any pool of ordinary shooters for freehand prone shooting, a significant majority would shoot better 2-3 shot groups from the semi. Then again, maybe they’d rush the shots and prove me wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

            I’m absolutely interested in your idea / technique, and have asked Ian for your address. Thanks and take care!

        • Actually – to first point of your note – by firing quicker, not necessarily more accurately, you increase FIRE DENSITY which can make up for loss of accuracy. That is certainly upgrade over manual operation, no doubt.

        • Mike, to this “hopping & popping” I have a cure for it (no, not muzzle break)…. I know I can discredit myself majorly by this, but I do not worry too much. There is nothing at stake here, we are just politely chatting. ๐Ÿ™‚

          If you care for what I just said, ask my e-mail with Ian.

      • “(…)There is reason why sniper rifles are manual repeaters.(…)”
        Both repeating and self-loading sniper rifles do exist. If you do not care about next shots first one are acceptable, but are you able to guarantee than in any possible tactical situation need for firing faster (if maybe less accurate) will never emerge?

        • No doubt Daweo,
          there is place for semi-auto as “assistant-sniper rifle”. It delivers shots quicker. Also, in “real world” of killing fields (let’s name their true purpose) the intended targets are rarely stationary.

          When comes to my own spotty shooting I prefer manual operated rifle; it’s more “pure” to me. Although, I must admit, I lately acquired Russian made SKS for change; it is almost as old as me. I really appreciate its common sense practical and rugged design.

          Eto moya devochka ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This confirmed what I thought – NOT a sniper rifle.

    I do twice as tight group with CZ 7.62×39 carbine (with scope) at 100m, mind you from bench. But, the shooter is doing what he can. Real “desant” (trooper) as my own term goes.

    • We learn that accurized guns shoot accurately. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Groups would have looked differently had he put the rifle on sandbags instead of a bipod. What Ian’s M91 certainly needs is a freefloat forearm that disconnects the bipod from the barrel. putting load on the thin barrel is certainly going to cause shift in point of impact.

  3. I am having a LOT of problems getting 54R to feed properly from the stocks mags. Another thing is, the scope mount does not lock in securely since I took it off once. Its a weird bolt that doesn’t lend itself to being adjusted. On the bright side, I LOVE the trigger.

    • If Iโ€™m guessing right Iโ€™m going to assume itโ€™s how your loading the mags up, make sure the rim of each bullet is in front of the last one you put in should help

  4. No offense, Ian, but I’d like to see what an experienced, right-handed, precision shooter could do with this once he’d checked out the potential issue with the scope. Also, I can’t help but wonder if a lighter grain bullet might not yield tighter groups. The Russians’ new SVD has 1:8 twist for 180gr bullets, but the M91 is 1:9, not too far off, but I wonder what ammo the Serbs issue for this rifle?

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