Zastava M93 Black Arrow: Serbia’s .50 Cal Anti-Materiel Rifle

The M93 Black Arrow is a .50 caliber anti-materiel rifle developed by Zastava to replace some applications of the RPG with better accuracy. It was originally produced in 12.7x108mm, the same as used in the DShK machine guns then in use by the Serbian military. Later production (including this example) included 12.7×99 Browning, which is much more common in Western nations.

The mechanics of the gun are very interesting, as it is essentially a scaled-up French FR-F1 with the exception of the front half of the bolt, which uses Mauser-style locking lugs and extractor.

46 Comments

  1. Hi Ian! I am from Serbia and I was a soldier in Serbian Army. You made a little mistake about scope mounting on earlier version. Scope mounting on earlier version was the same as M76 (side rail). And I hated that design. This one is much better. Overall great presentation. Good luck on the range!

  2. “The mechanics of the gun are very interesting, as it is essentially a scaled-up French FR-F1”

    And, sacre bleu, Ian is reviewing it! Who woulda thunk?

    Humping this 33 plus pound bear all over the mountains of the Balkans…Somebody tell the NFL, there must be some big, strong guys in Serbia!

    Augmenting the RPG at longer ranges…So it has gone back to its roots, it’s an Anti-Tank Rifle. There weren’t any left over PTRD’s or Boys lying around? (The British were a big supporter of Tito in World War Twice. Churchill’s son was even a Liaison Officer to the Partisans)) I thought with its Swiss like defense policy of a nation in arms, the Yugoslavs never got rid of anything, but carefully tucked stuff away in a warehouse againt a rany day.

    Isn’t one reason that the 12.7mm Russian caliber guns weren’t imported is that 12.7mm Russian is also known as “51 caliber” and ATF rules say anything over 50 caliber is a Destructive Device?

      • Denny, My understanding is that a lot of Partisans died in place to buy time for Tito and his staff to escape

        “Fierce Partisan resistance in the town itself and along the approaches to Drvar contributed to the failure of the mission. Other factors included the German intelligence agencies refusing to share the limited information available on Tito’s exact location, and the lack of contingency planning by the commander of the German airborne force”

        “Parts of Stürmer Group landed their gliders in a field immediately south of the Drvar cave and came under fire from members of the Tito Escort Battalion on the high ground in the area of the cave. The Draufgänger Group landed their gliders at the “Western Cross”, then assaulted a building they believed was the Partisan communications centre. The building was actually the office of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia Central Committee, who resisted fanatically until the building was levelled using satchel charges. Both Blue Group and Green Group, consisting of parachute troops that landed in the eastern part of Drvar where most of the population lived, were also engaged in heavy fighting. The Young Communist League of Yugoslavia had just finished a conference in Drvar, and many of the delegates were still staying in the town. Many youths took up whatever arms they could obtain and commenced fighting the parachutists who were attempting to establish a cordon on the eastern side of the town.

        About 2 km further east on the road to Mokronoge was a Partisan officer training school with about 130 students. On hearing the fighting from the direction of Drvar, the students marched west initially armed with only pistols and a few rifles. They split into two groups, a smaller group that crossed the Unac and advanced west along the railway line on the ridge leading toward Tito’s cave, and a larger group that collected arms and ammunition from several stray canisters of German equipment dropped by parachute. The larger group of students attacked Green and Blue Groups from the east around 08:00, suffering severe casualties, but maintained continuous pressure on the German flank.”

        • “(…)lot of Partisans died (…)”
          Note that estimates vary wildly https://codenames.info/operation/rosselsprung-ii/ says that According to a German report, the ground troops of the XV Gebirgskorps lost 213 men killed, 881 wounded, and 51 missing during the operation, and the same report claimed that 6,000 partisans had been killed. According to Kumm, the commander of the 7th SS Gebirgsdivision, the partisan losses included 1,916 confirmed and another 1,400 estimated killed, and 161 taken prisoner. Kumm also claimed that six Allied aircraft had been shot down during the operation. According to a partisan source, the Yugoslavs’ total losses were 399 persons killed, 479 wounded and at least 85 missing.

      • “were thy just lucky?”
        https://codenames.info/operation/rosselsprung-ii/ does imply that there was carelessness of partisan, which ignored warning from British mission
        On 23 May, a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch battlefield reconnaissance aeroplane flew a number of parallel runs up and down the Una river valley over Drvar at an altitude of about 1,970 ft (600 m), which was clear evidence that aerial photography was being undertaken. The aeroplane paid particular attention to the villages of Prinavor and Trninić Brijeg, where the British military mission and US military personnel were located. This flight was observed by Street, the acting commander of the British mission, who assumed it was spotting for a bombing raid and advised both Tito and the Americans. Both Allied missions therefore moved their locations.

        Despite the intelligence they had received and the observations made by the British, the partisans seem to have been largely unconcerned about the threat, and Tito’s chief-of-staff, General-pukovnik Arso Jovanović, stating that a German attack was impossible. The most obvious indicator that Tito himself was unaware of the imminent attack is that he remained at the Drvar cave overnight on the evening of 24 May, after his birthday celebrations, instead of returning to Bastasi.

      • Or did they really escaped??

        Denny, there was (or is) a long standing myth, that real Tito was actually killed in Drvar landing, and was quickly replaced by russian agent, for obvious reasons of preserving the partisans movement. Other say his murder happened in 1930s Russia.

        There are some unconfirmed stories, that after the war, upon visit to “his” home village, people did not recognize him, as well as his own mother publicly proclaiming “This is not my Jozha”. (mother quickly disappeared after that).
        Also some other details like missing finger, knowing to play piano, his speech in older years that slurred to russian accent etc.

        Other prong of the story (myth), used in a movie, is, that real Josip Broz was killed in ww1 russian front (as he was KuK soldier) and russian imposter assumed his papers and identity.

    • This documentary is dated from following month. Marshall Tito is shown alive and well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB-wB9z5pzM

      It is a less known fact that the Yugoslavia was the only country who liberated themselves without major help from USSR or USA. That permitted their leadership to chart an independent political course in spite of being called “communists” by the West. Their actual economy was a mix of socialism and free enterprise. There was a relative sense of freedom, however closely supervised by state security apparatus.

      • I think that calling what was Yugoslavia “Communist” is a bit of an inaccuracy. Tito was more a pragmatic nationalist who, in my opinion, would have been perfectly happy declaring himself the new king of a Royalist Yugoslavia–If only the zeitgeist of the times had allowed for it all. I may have taken the wrong things from my reading, but I get the general impression that he wasn’t at all a doctrinaire Marxist wedded to the ideology with bands of iron. Authoritarian tyrant, in the ancient Greek sense? Certainly. Communist ideologue? Nope.

        One does wonder what would have become of Yugoslavia-that-was, had the US and others not applied the pressure to him and his regime later on, over the nascent Islamic revival that Izitbegovic fanned back into flame. Had that not happened, then possibly, just possibly, the dog-whistle that created wouldn’t have called up the Serbian paranoia about revanchist Islam near their shared territory, and, well… Yeah. Yet another case where the US State Department created issues-through-idiocy. Having met some of the bright lights who were on the Belgrade station, I suspect that they had not a whit of an idea about what they were messing with, and I further suspect that they played more of a role in the whole thing coming down around everyone’s ears than anyone thinks. Izitbegovic should have vanished into the “night-and-fog” the way a lot of other “ethnic patriots” in Yugoslavia did, and if he had gone that way early on, maybe things wouldn’t have gone as far as they did.

        Tito’s other mistake, aside from giving in to “international pressure”, was that he did not groom an effective successor, nor did he do enough to make sure that the lid would stay on the pot after he was gone. Like all too many of his ilk, it was more of the usual “apres moi, le deluge…” syndrome. Franco managed things better, at least in the short term–Although, in the long run, what he really did was put the same sort of socialist nutters into a position of moral pre-eminency in Spanish politics.

        Whole thing’s a bloody mess, just like anything in the Balkans or the Middle East. I wish we could just disarm the various idiots in both regions, give them foam swords, and have them go at it for the world’s entertainment. Not to mention, providing some salutary lessons about the sheer idiocies involved…

        I mean, seriously… You can’t even distinguish between Slovene, Croat, Serb, or Bosniak in a flippin’ genetic test. They’re all the same people; separated by history and the viciousness of outside empires. An awful lot of the Serbs are still living out the persecutions of the Hapsburgs and Ottomans, while the rest of the minor ethnicities remain outraged that the Serbs won’t forgive them for being Quislings a few tens of generations back… If you look at the history with any sort of even-handedness, it’s one continuous tale of tit-for-tat, ringing down the generations.

        Serbian friend of the family once remarked to me that the problem was that the Balkans produced way, way too much history for local consumption, and that the only answer was to export it… This remark was the result of us observing the rather internecine manner that all the “fraternal” organizations of former Yugoslavs essentially blew themselves up over doings in the Old Country not long after the troubles started. He was, I might mention, a first-generation immigrant; most of the most outraged members of those fraternal organizations were second- or third-generation sorts, who only barely spoke a few words of the home language, and who really didn’t even know who the players were in modern Yugoslavia or even what the hell was really going on. Whole thing was ‘effing surreal, to observe.

        Other than the Scots or Irish, I don’t think that there were many “little ethnic groups” that really maintained their identities quite as belligerently as the various former Yugoslavs did. They did, however, keep it mostly in-house, so outsiders never saw or knew just why the hell the local Serbo-Croatian group was now two different organizations, one Serb and one Croatian. Internally? I’m surprised that there weren’t killings, as outraged as some of the members got. And, hell… There may have been, it’s just that they occurred back on Yugoslav turf. Ever wonder how some of the weirder things showed up during the last set of Balkan wars? Just go digging into the financial records for some of the “fraternal organizations”… I know they hit my stepdad’s family up for money, hint-hint, kinda the same way I remember certain Irish Catholic priests hit me up for money that would have wound up with either Sinn Fein or the IRA…

        Idiots. They’re all idiots, top-to-bottom, side-to-side… The ones that can’t even speak the language and who’ve been here since before there was a Yugoslavia or an Irish Republic are the worst; I know a guy who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the IRA back in the 1970s. His daughter, my age, casually informed me a couple of years ago that she’d done the whole “23andme” deal. Turns out, there’s no way her dad could have possibly been more than maybe about a quarter actual ethnic Irish; the rest was from elsewhere in the British Isles and Italy, in terms of markers, if you assume you can trust that sort of stuff.

        I hate to tell people this, because they hate hearing it, but if you were born in the US, odds are pretty damn good you’ve got about as much to do with the ethnicity of your surname as any random roll of a 20-sided die in a game of D&D. Friend of mine was raised by a Southern good ol’ boy, as racist as you can possibly imagine. Turns out, there was a reason for all that–Silly bugger was actually about as much African as he was European. Friend and his wife ran a full family background, and discovered that when the father of said “Southerner” moved up north to work at Boeing, he also took the opportunity to pass over the color line, ‘cos he could.

        Way off topic, but… Hey, ya got me going.

        • Well, Iread long time ago that Tito had displaced populations in order to mix ethnics and religions and create a new multiple Yougoslavia and that was largely a bad thing, creatin =g minorities everywhere and enhancing the problem in the war.

          • That is not true, at least not in that brutal stalinist population transfer sense; after ww2 there were occurances of (even somewhat forceful) migrations of people from war ravaged and extremely poor (agriculturally) regions like from Herzegovina
            to Eastern Slavonia (which was also depopulated from war and expelling all of ethnic germans, “Volksdeutche”), both croats and serbs.
            But goal of these migrations was always economic, and not some kind of “divide and conquer” strategy devised by Tito or communists.

            Though when war started there were immediately problems with villages and towns that developed there post ww2 of which some were ethnically serbian majority, that thus wanted to secede and eventually join Serbia. But their main geographic problem being that they are actually more west then some croatian towns and villages (most famous is Vukovar), which stood between, thus they needed to be ethnically cleansed and occupied to connect to Serbia, which was done in late 1991.

            These are the examples that I know, but maybe from other exYu republics were similar post ww2 regional transfers, most notably people coming to serbian Vojvodina, as it is also a lowland plain extremely suited for agriculture.

        • Thanks for that. Back at the start of this channel the comments on here were often as informative as the actual video. That’s isn’t often the case now, but your’s is an exception.

        • That is a lots of reading; thank you. I will give it some time later.

          I think I know good part of answer to former Yugoslavia’s wows; it was a result of centuries long Turkish occupation. It created immense amount of jealousy among various Slavic nationalities I have read many years ago a book with name Balkan Ghosts by Robert D. Kaplan. It spelled it there clearly; the Balkan nations adopted cruelty which experienced in hands of Turks and applied it on one another (similarly suffered Russians under Mongols and Tatars with similar result). It is also good to know that formation of Yugoslavia in wake of WWI was a natural process in which every participating nation held its stakes and was content with result.

          As a Central European and person who had friends in Croatia (and spoke the language) I know relatively little about political oppression by central government during Tito’s regime power. He always made a sense of multiethnic unifier. During national holidays parades the slogan chorus was: “Tito-Partia-Narodna Armija” (Tito-Party-National Army). My sense is (and I heard testimonies from locals) that the central issue, was a residual ethnic discord bubbling under the surface of united country – going back to Turkish occupation times.

          Regarding that name calling – I think we ought to collectively admit, that the was NO (be it the heavenly or hellish) communism in any of those countries, including the one I came from. As matter of fact the “socialism” is what the leaders declared and held up to their best or worst vision/ capability. I do not think it would crumble on its own or so suddenly f it was not for the end of USSSR.

          My own view is that the Yugoslavia was indeed a socialist country in its most tolerable/ enjoyable form and it was also potentially most the successful one. Further, my own speculation is that it was taken down by The City (bankers) simply because it was a “bad example” to globalist post-capitalist system. It was clearly a proof that socialism can exist and create conditions for bearable if not prosperous life of its citizenry – and thorn in the eye of those who are in charge worldwide.

          • My opinion has always been that Tito was a guy who glommed onto what he thought would work best to weld the country of Yugoslavia together, and if it would have been something else, then that’s what he would have been. In all my reading and talking to people who lived there, the feel I get is that the ideology came second, and the idea of a unified Yugoslavia came first.

            And, to a degree, I think that many of the steps he took contributed to what happened in the 1990s. He tried to do things in a hurry, and what you’re really needing in that sort of affair is centuries rather than decades. People just hadn’t forgotten enough, or given up enough grudges. The Serbs, particularly–And, if you know the history they have with the Bosniak Muslims, then you know why. You don’t forget generations of your kids being sold at auction in Istanbul, sent there by your turncoat neighbors who voluntarily became Muslim and took positions in the occupation government. There’s also the historic and entirely predictable hatred between the peasantry being exploited by the more sophisticated townies who’d gone all Quisling on them… It isn’t a new story; indeed, you can see some of the same tensions in the same region, going back to Roman times, when some of those same cities and towns were founded. Latinized townies, recidivist country folk still keeping tribal mentalities and loyalties, considering those that took up “civilization” as being corrupt race-traitors…

            It’s truly astonishing how long the Balkans have been a bloody mess, really. Interspersed with periods of quiet civilization–It’s as if there’s some sort of endemic virus in the water, or something, which creates periods of high madness and slaughter that come around every so often, or whenever the local environment gets disrupted.

            You can look at it and try to understand things, as an outsider, but about all you’re ever going to do is trace the outlines of it all. Usually, the way they stereotypically do at crime scenes in the movies…

            Probably the most bizarre feature of the whole thing is the self-awareness you can sometimes run into, with the participants. They know it’s utter insanity, but… They still head off to the sound of gunfire, knowing that the whole enterprise is insane, and they can’t explain why they feel compelled to go running back into the fire.

          • Denny, unfortunately it is a wrong conclusion, there is no paradise type of socialism, and especially not in a country so freakish as Yugoslavia. As Thatcher said, socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money, and here it is a perfect example:

            It was first and foremost, a forcefully unified entity that prospered on hovering between two blocks, west and soviets, that provided it with huge amount of funds. An anecdote goes that Tito went to White House and asked for money, threathening to go to the Soviets if they do not provide. After US gave him xxx amount of money, he went to Moscow and boasted there: US gave me xxx, I’m sure you are richer and can give me more!

            Best thing that could happen to civil war torn Yugoslavia in 1945. is if US occupied it – just look the economic miracles of occupied Japan and Germany.
            However yugoslavians arent germans or japanese, and for their lazy and corrupt mentality and lifestyle (which developed after centuries of life under or near turkish occupation),
            a “socialist” type of state where few people work hard for many who work somewhat, and on the top there is a party and military nomenclature who does nothing but only blabber about “brotherhood and unity” while enjoying the greatest power and riches – it was a perfect system for that kind of nations and people – where its a goal to get everything overnight, and not after a lifetime of work and savings.

            As in 1990 other superpower block collapsed, the leverage of swimming between disappered, and so did Yugoslavia,
            thus gradually every ex eastern block state returned to what they were before – Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Poles are now in economy and political might far above any exYugo state, just like they were before ww2. While exYugo states swim in mud becoming more and more of a protectorates and colonies cheaply educating and exporting their workforce to Western Europe states – occasionally dreaming and lamenting of an historical era that would never ever return, where their states were respectable and maybe an actual player on a world scene.

          • “It’s truly astonishing how long the Balkans have been a bloody mess, really. Interspersed with periods of quiet civilization–It’s as if there’s some sort of endemic virus in the water, or something, which creates periods of high madness and slaughter that come around every so often, or whenever the local environment gets disrupted.”

            Man, please stop with this poetic pseudo-historic trolling bullshit, please.
            If you are not from or around Yugoslavia, pardon my language but; do not poke your nose in an ass where it does not belong.

        • Nickname for those 2nd gen migrants that suddenly found patriotism was “Chicago Brigade”, or “Munich Brigade”, depending on where they have settled.

          • I got the distinct feeling that they weren’t very well-liked or respected, at all–Especially once they ran out of money.

            That which was Yugoslavia descended into madness with a speed that was incomprehensible to outsiders, yet when you look back at things in retrospect…? That “one big happy family” really… Wasn’t.

            About all I can say is that the US State Department had their filthy hands in there, and they weren’t very bright about what they got up to. I met and interacted with some of that crew during the period when we were ramping up for the intervention, and I’m here to tell you… For people that were supposedly “foreign area experts” on that region, the vast majority were stone-ignorant. And, most of ’em didn’t even speak the language, either!

            Mind-boggling, TBH. All of a piece with the current stupidity that agency has gotten up to, I’m afraid. The “elites” running the US right now are nowhere near what they think they are or what they need to be, in terms of competence or knowledge. You look back over the last thirty-plus years, and that much is freakin’ obvious…

          • @ Kirk

            … you nailed it, Sir. But as you and many of us know there is no recourse (way to fix things). Within greater framework of “democracy” the big money and those who wield it are the Kings. Enough said.

            Thanks to all who added to discussion with me – col.Beausabre, Kirk, Daweo and others. Dekuji pekne!

          • “Munich battalion” was a derisive croatian term describing the able bodied men that during 1990s war escaped the draft, briskly moved out of the country and settled in western Europe, mainly Germany. Often to return when “things settled down”, and, its true, often (now) presenting themselves as supreme war-mongering patriots, way above people that actually participated or suffered in the war.

            It is not known of their exact amount (maybe thousands),
            but many entered the upper echelons of society and politics post-war, especially ones that studied on prestige universities in the west (and almost all of such were descendants of former communist ruling elites that had the money and outside connections, and by such means continued to rule in new “democratic” society)

        • “You can’t even distinguish between Slovene, Croat, Serb, or Bosniak in a flippin’ genetic test. They’re all the same people; separated by history and the viciousness of outside empires”

          If you ever travelled these parts you casually describe and blabber about so much,
          you would be surprised to see that people even differ in their facial and body composition, not just between states, but even inside the same state. Bosniaks notoriously have this problem, as of all surrounding nations, they multiplicated the most in last 60 years (from 700 thousand to 2 million),
          but of course from the same gene pool; so its very easy to spot how many of them have same facial characteristics and looks – which are noticeably different from serbs and croats that also live in B&H state with them.

          In conclusion, people of ex Yugoslavia may be speaking similar language, but that should not fool you into romantically ignorant thinking that they are genetically completely the same.

        • “Serbian friend of the family once remarked to me that the problem was that the Balkans produced way, way too much history for local consumption”

          Brilliant ironic quote, but correctly attributed to no other then great Winston Churchill

        • Daweo,
          this is way beyond subject of discussion (Serb .50 cal. rifle) but when we are so far, let’s just add this. Perhaps some others appreciate it too; for those who do not, I sincerely apologize.

          We from CSSR were able to travel to SFRJ only under condition that we secure a currency credit from our state bank. Those who were denied it could not materialize the trip, had they valid passport or not. The trip purpose had to be declared; it fit into a category “capitalist countries and Yugoslavia”. Very strange indeed.

          I believe that should put a big light on the issue of what “socialist” or “capitalist” meant at the time and in greater context. And yes, the Dinar was internationally interchangeable, thanks to Yugoslav banking connection with the West. The same connection later proved to be deadly. It allowed western banks to devaluate Dinar and set off the unrests. Carpe diem – seize the opportunity when it arises.

          • More complicated story, there was a strong cooperation with France in the ’60/70/80s in rocket motor department (and not just that). Weapon is inspired by LRAC, but there are some major differences, mostly hidden inside rocket motor and warhead.

    • The bore diameter and bullet diameter are identical on both 12.7x108mm and the .50 BMG (12.7x99mm NATO).

      Both use a bore of 0.500″ and bullets of 0.51 diameter.

    • The reason we have .500 handgun bullets (although the .500 Linebaugh revolvers use a .510 bullet) was the .50 Desert Eagle. IMI used a polygonal rifling and the ATF’s gauge (based on bore, not bullet/groove diameter) dropped through, so they reduced the bullet diameter from .510 to .500. This rule does not apply to rifles – only handguns. Otherwise we’d have to get our .577, .600 & 700 Nitro Express doubles registered as destructive devices.

      • Harold, Excellent point, I’d forgotten about big game rifles as I’m maibly attuned to military weapons. Thank you

      • Correct me if I am wrong but my information is that any “firearm” (muzzleloaders are not “firearms”) with a bore above 0.50 is a destructive device by default. Firearms and cartridges may be exempted by name if they have “a sporting purpose” which allows for shotguns, elephant guns and even such weirdness as .950 JDJ rifles (definitely stretching the definition of the sporting purpose here), but all of those are exceptions (just like a lot of old pistols with shoulder stocks were exempt from NFA even before the ruling on arm braces but that doesn’t mean it was legal to use any old pistol with a shoulder stock).

    • “…So it has gone back to its roots, it’s an Anti-Tank Rifle…”(C)

      The funny thing is that this is really an anti-tank rifle.
      All these heavy Yugoslav freaks from the 90s are practically useless in the role of a sniper rifle, due to poor accuracy.
      They were developed mainly for firing at tank infrared searchlights. Which were used to illuminate targets when using old (new ones were a terrible shortage) night devices.
      When firing with ordinary armor-piercing bullets, the distance should be small, or it was required to hit several times. What was further aggravated by the shortage of metal-ceramic bullets. Therefore, they pretty soon made an even bigger freak on the cartridge from the air cannon.

      • Inaccuracy came from a fact that there was no “match” 12.7x108mm ammo.
        Firing at tank IR sight is a myth behind Croatian RT-20 rifle. Real story is much more mundane – they had surplus of 20mm barrels and decided to make AMRs.
        Tactically M93s were and are still supposed to be used vs soft-skin vehicles, light log bunkers, mortar positions and such at ranges up the 1200m. They can be used vs armored vehicles in the pinch, but that is really secondary role.
        None was going to shoot it at the tank sight when Infantry Battalion had something like 12+ ATGM launchers, 18 x 82mm RCL, 20+ multi-use AT launchers and something like 200 LAWs all of them much more suited for AT role.

        • “…Real story is much more mundane – they had surplus of 20mm barrels and decided to make AMRs…”(C)

          Yes, of course.
          And they made the M93 to get rid of the excess 12.7 rounds.
          And yet, they urgently needed something to shoot the King Kongs, which were dropped on them by the mean Yankees.

          This rifle is useless as a sniper rifle and very limited as an anti-material rifle. Yes, there are several targets that he can pick, but the main effect of such a weapon is psychological.

          In that case, they have seriously failed. They should have put a horn on the muzzle like a megaphone. LOL

          • I have actually spoken with one of the constructors of RT-20. His words about surplus 20mm barrels.

    • “Humping this 33 plus pound bear all over the mountains of the Balkans…Somebody tell the NFL, there must be some big, strong guys in Serbia!”

      Serbia is composed of mostly flat terrain.

      • “I have actually spoken with one of the constructors of RT-20. His words about surplus 20mm barrels.”(С)

        I do not doubt for a second that You talked to the designer.
        As well as the fact that he told You something like that.
        Amateur designers, in general, love to tell all sorts of stories and legends. 😉
        But in life in general, and in war in particular, no one will do anything just in order to apply the extra parts somewhere.
        Everything that is done (and no matter how strange it may seem) is done to solve pressing problems. And the pressing problem of that place and time, was the infrared searchlights, used to illuminate the targets of their night sights and blind those of the enemy.

        • Idk who we talked to, or what is the truth of told stuff, not to bash his input,
          but the rifle was at least in some moment (and I think still is), offered for export; they thought it would be a big sensation on international market, 20mm rifle/cannon under 20kgs, it even went on some international military exhibitions post 1995. It is not known publicly if they ever hit a substantial sales contract, probably not.

          Problem is, in my opinion, I don’t think there were that much 20mm barrels from 1 or 3 barreled guns (trocijevac) that could warrant serial production by cannibalizing them, also if they even had surplus guns army wanted to get rid of, or scrap, they would have all been with worn and used barrels, unsuitable for “sniper” rifle.
          But I do believe (or could believe freely) that maybe first prototypes featured barrels obtained in that way.

          One by small degree similar, extremely stupid myth is that because one small yugoslavian car steering wheel shaft was the same size as 16ga shell (so many people in rural areas made homemade out of it),
          myth went that in Zastava plant (that made both cars and weapons) they used discarded shotgun barrels to make the steering wheel shaft (!?). It goes without saying any factory that was negligent enough in production that
          it made so much waste that it could be (re)used for another product, would bankrupt in short time.
          But that was the popular thing in Yugoslavia, lot of stuff behind its army and its business was semi-shrouded in widely propagated myths – not uncommon in propaganda fueled “communist” societies.

          • Storm, they had somewhat less than 100 barrels. Those were spare barrels for “trocevac”, but as a weapons were at premium they decided to use those to make something immediately useful, vs worry about changing barrels one day after 6 months. Thus AMR idea was born, as it was a simplest thing to make. It was late 1991. when idea was born, and you know what kinds of improvisations were made in those days…
            Development took a while, and prototype and 1st production guns (about 80) had those barrels (through those were modified, shortened and drilled for “recoilless” adapter). Then they have changed to newly manufactured barrels, but only about 60 new barrels were made. Total production was about 150, including prototypes.
            Post war Croatian state has lost all of interest in weapon development, with only HS product surviving (and actually succeeding) in the end from number of perspective developers/workshops. Some turned to civilian products, some to criminal market (Vugrek IIRC his name).
            As for RT-20, I have fired one, captured from KLA. One round of TP ammo was enough to tell me that I have no intention to repeat an experience ever again. Problem is that it is far, very far from the “recoilless”, but that “recoilless” part forces you to hold it in very odd angle (same way you would fire “Zolja” from prone position), which makes very, very awkward recoil management and very fierce recoil. In the end Croatian army retired those as they tended to give brain damage to users over longer use…
            Pity, since principle was sound in theory, and with less powerful ammo (no need for 20×110 when “recoilless” principle reduces muzzle velocity to a little over 600m/s, negating benefits of 20×110), and few refinements it could be specialist but pretty good thing. For a what it was, wartime improvisation it gets 9/10. But it sorely lacked refinements and that put it in the “early grave”.
            Hope Ian will one day at least handle it, but a word of caution – it’s recoil is worse and concussion much worse than with M93. I have fired both, when I was younger and more stupid.
            PS. You have to make clear distinction between “common folks” level of propaganda and myths (which were not just a product of communism, but a general lack of knowledge + people’s natural habit of embellishing own exploits) and what mechanical engineers that worked even remotely on weapons programs knew. Contrast was stark.

  3. I am pretty sure there are no buffer springs in Butt. It they were, you would see retaining cross pins. No pins, no springs.
    There is not an ‘impossible’ recoil force out of 50cal semi-auto rifle; about comparable with 12 gauge shotgun with 3″ shots. With bolt action it may be more, depending on each particular design.

    I am not aware of similar rifle (in caliber and purpose) originated in Eastern Europe in previous century except of this http://www.zvi.cz/en/products/sniper-rifle-falcon.html

    Now there is whole bunch of them in including brand new 50cal Kalashnikov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwUkeIZ11tk

  4. Thank you Ian for reviewing this rifle as it is one of my all time favorites!
    Please keep up with the wonderful work you have been doing, thank you sir!

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