New Zastava M19 Modular Army Rifle
Assault Rifles, Guns

New Zastava M19 Modular Army Rifle

Serbian Army recently adopted a new Zastava M19 modular (MCS) rifle in 6.5×39mm Grendel and 7.62×39 mm calibers developed by Zastava Arms with the goal of replacing aging M70, a local derivate of AK47.

Zastava Arms from Kragujevac, Serbia has a long history of quality guns and weapons manufacturing. For the last 50 years focus of manufacturer was focused on licensed AK variants, which are amongst the most quality variables of the AK systems globally. 

Zastava M19 Next Gen Ak47 4
All images with the courtesy of TFB TV and BLOG / &

AK platform in its original state is now obsolete in various elements, so Zastava first introduced the M21 rifle, integrating new materials onto an old and trustworthy platform, but from data on the field (mostly foreign forces using it for private military personal armament) it was obvious that there is quite a lot of room for improvement, not only on the basis of the materials but also on the mechanism and caliber.

Introducing Zastava M19 MCS (Multi Caliber System) modular rifle


zastava m19 rifles in caliber variations
Zastava M19 in both calibers, 6.5 Grendel (25 rounds magazine) and 7.62×39 (30 rounds magazine) with 4×28 scopes and red-dot reflex sights

19 after 21 is a bit confusing in the nomenclature, but the new rifle is a real improvement in every important detail, compared with both AK47 and AK74, but also in comparison with a mentioned popular M-21 rifle.

This is the Next-Gen AK47: The Zastava M19 MCS

“This is the Next-Gen AK47: The Zastava M19 MCS” Youtube video summarized content

The Zastava M19 Modular Combat System: A Next-Gen AK-47

– James from TFB TV visits the Zastava factory in Serbia to check out the new M19 MCS (Modular Combat System) rifle
– Interviews Dragan, one of the engineers who designed the M19

Key Features of the M19:
– Modular AK design for the 21st century, with numerous revisions and upgrades
– Retains the original Kalashnikov gas-operated long stroke piston system, fire control unit, and magazine compatibility
– Only about 15% parts compatibility with the traditional M70 AK
– Folding stock similar to SCAR or ACR
– AR-15 style charging handle
– Ambidextrous safety selector similar to HK or B&T rifles
– Redesigned handguard with integrated Picatinny rail for optics
– Ability to quickly change barrels and calibers (7.62x39mm and 6.5 Grendel)
– 10-inch and 16-inch barrel length options for various scenarios
– Can swap barrel lengths while gun is still hot and charged
– Recently adopted by the Serbian military in 2022

Performance and Ergonomics:
– Similar performance to the M92 or M70 AKs, but in a redesigned and updated chassis
– Ergonomic upgrades, improved recoil impulse, trigger control, and faster mag changes
– Modernized manual of arms takes some getting used to compared to traditional AKs
– Overall improvements over the original Kalashnikov design

Future Prospects:
– Potential for a 5.56 NATO version with 300 Blackout barrel swap in the future
– Could be available in the US civilian market in a couple years

Interview with Dragan:
– M19 is lighter than the M70, weighing around 3.5kg (1kg less than M70)
– 1.5mm stamped sheet metal receiver, 12mm shorter than M70
– Chrome-lined barrel with same muzzle thread pitch as M70
– Adjustable gas system
– Purpose of quick barrel change is more for swapping lengths than calibers
– Zastava developing a new modular rifle in 5.56x45mm and 5.45x39mm

Conclusion of the video:
The Zastava M19 MCS represents an impressive update to the classic AK platform, offering modularity, improved ergonomics, and the ability to adapt to various mission profiles. As the first American to review the rifle, James’ experiences provide valuable insights into this next-generation AK design.

—- article continues —-

Zastava M-19 main features

  • A modular rifle or MCS (Multi Caliber System) chambered in medium 6.5×39mm Grendel for power and range and cheap & available 7.62×39 mm for training
  • The effective range of 800 meters with 6.5 Grendel
  • Easy and quick replacement of the barrels, without disassembling the rifle and without using tools
  • Ambidextrous controls with AR-style central positioned charging handle
  • Cold forged chrome-lined barrels in various lengths (submachine gun, assault rifle, light machine gun or designated marksman rifle)
  • Integrated upper receiver with full-length top Picatinny rail with secondary rail under the receiver
  • SCAR-looking fully customizable folding-telescopic polymer buttstock with adjustable cheek rest
  • Comes with a 4×28 day and reflex optical sights, as well as a thermal sight
  • Working temperature range from -30 to +50 celsius

6.5×39mm Grendel / 7.62×39 mm caliber MCS modular rifle

As Cappy loves to say “everybody loves modular”. Modular is the main buzzword of armies all around the world, but in this particular case, with this multi-caliber system and benefits and problems it solves, that description is attributed properly.

6.5 Grendel vs 7.62x39 dimensions
6.5 Grendel vs 7.62x39mm dimensions

Improved ballistics of 6.5 Grendel is obvious by an increase in long-range impact and improved lethality but it’s a “new” round with currently limited availability.
Keeping an option to use good ol’ and globally available (in almost unlimited quantities) 7.62×39 enables cheap training, easier logistics and an option for less rich countries to mass adopt M-19.

m19 zastava assault riffle
Zastava M19 with 4×32 day scope made by Teleoptik Ziroskopi
Zastava M19 Next Gen Ak47 3
All images with the courtesy of TFB TV and BLOG / &

6.5 Grendel vs 5.56×45 ballistics comparison

6.5 Grendel5.56×45
Muzzle Velocity25803265
Muzzle Energy18181302
Ballistic Coefficient0.5060.272
Velocity @ 250 yds.21642497
Energy @ 250 yds.1280707
Velocity @ 500 yds.17901699
Energy @ 500 yds.876353
Velocity @ 750 yds.14661185
Energy @ 750 yds.587172
Velocity @ 1000 yds.1211947
Energy @ 1000 yds.400110

It’s not rainbows and unicorns with M19

Current design features have some room for additional improvement which would produce an almost perfect assault and battle rifle for a multitude of countries with budget challenges and without native small arms industry.

These are some of the potential design issues with the current design issues of M-19 Zastava, which are probably fixable before mass production and adoption.m-19-zastava

Lack of the bolt hold and release button

After the new magazine is inserted, an operator needs to use a charging handle to load a new bullet into the barrel. By adding a bolt release button that procedure would be much more streamlined, especially in lower positions, kneeling or prone. That would also add additional speed on reload and enable operators to keep their eyes on the target. 

Zastava M19 Next Gen Ak47 13
All images with the courtesy of TFB TV and BLOG / &

Lack of charging handle on the right side of the rifle

You can use the only centrally positioned charging handle for both hands, which is not perfect in laying positions, and also increase the learning curve with users used to the old AK bolt mechanism where the charging handle is usually operated by using the left hand in various ways. 

Zastava M19 Next Gen Ak47 9
All images with the courtesy of TFB TV and BLOG / &


Even with these issues, Zastava M19 is a modern assault/battle rifle designed and developed by the company with 169 years of experience in weapons manufacturing.

The rifle is adopted in the armament of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Serbia in smaller quantities, for final tests and feedback, so it is realistic that some additional changes will be requested and implemented before complete introduction in the whole force and potential commercialization and export.

Note: If any image in the article looks good, it’s with courtesy of, @tfbtv and James.

February 10, 2022
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