Zastava M72

The Zastava M72 is a light machine gun developed and manufactured by then Yugoslav Zastava Arms company.[2][3] Generally, the M72 is almost a direct copy of the Soviet RPK light machine gun, the only visual differences being in barrel, wooden stock, no side rail mount and slightly in design of the wooden handguard.

Zastava M72
Zastava M72
TypeLight machine gun
Place of originYugoslavia
Service history
In service1973–present
WarsYugoslav Wars
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Syrian Civil War[1]
Production history
ManufacturerZastava Arms
Mass5.5 kg
Length1025 mm
Barrel length542 mm

ActionGas-actuated (rotating bolt)
Rate of fire620 RPM
Muzzle velocity745 m/s
Effective firing range400 m
Feed system30, 40 round box magazines or 75 round drum magazine
SightsAdjustable iron sights, optional mount required for optical sights


The Zastava M72 chambers and fires the 7.62×39mm M43 round. It is a gas-operated, air-cooled, drum-fed firearm with a fixed stock.

This weapon is a near copy of the Soviet RPK light machine gun. There are a few differences on the M72/M72A. It does not have a scope side rail mount, the butt is also different, having the shape of a regular AK-47 rifle. It has a reinforced receiver, night sights and no carrying handle. The barrel also differs from other RPK rifles because of the cooling fins to help with heat dissipation from prolonged fire. The M72 only appears with a heavy profile barrel as opposed to Russian and Romanian RPK rifles that can come in both light or heavy barrel configurations.


  • M72 - Standard version with a fixed wooden stock. Utilizes a milled receiver.
  • M72B1 - Same as the M72, but with an updated stamped receiver instead of the milled receiver.
  • M72AB1 - Same as the M72B1, but with a folding stock.

Many variants have also been made in Iraq under the name of 'Tabuk' (i.e. Tabuk Sniper Rifle), which are direct copies of the M70A and M72.

A semi automatic variant of the M72B1 is produced in the United States using original parts kits with a US made receiver and barrel.

Design details

The Zastava M72/M72A is a gas-operated, air-cooled, drum-fed, selective fire, shoulder-fired weapon with a bipod. It is a squad automatic weapon, like the Soviet RPK but has unique design features.


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