“Exceptional Quality and Precision is the theme that runs throught every aspect of this superb rifle.”
The Serbian manufacturer Zastava Arms provides this humble description:
A review by Paul from TVG in the UK. Note this review is with the M07 chambered in 7.62x54R.
The Zastava Arms business has been in existence since 1853 and details can be found on its website at the following address: http://www.zastava-arms.rs/en/imagetext/foundation Information in western publications is scarce to non existent and therefore the following is taken from their website. Zastava make a wide range of military and civilian firearms. Like many manufacturers the civilian firearms, range from economy to expensive models. In their military division, products vary from assault rifles to machine guns and automatic grenade launchers.
Zastava produce six precision rifle models but only three are based around the M07 chassis. The M07 is fitted with a wood laminate stock and is available in 7.62 NATO only, the M07 AF&AS has a aluminium chassis style stock, folding and is available in both 7.62 NATO and 7.62x54R, the M07 AS is identical to the AF model but has a fixed butt and is available in .300WM.
Looking at Zasatava’s product line I would say this is a purpose designed precision rifle and not a converted sporting or target rifle. It is a magazine fed, bolt action rifle fitted with a match barrel and trigger mechanism. The rifle is fitted with an aluminium chassis system with a folding adjustable butt. The rifle can be fitted with a variety of optics, bipod, muzzle break or moderator and is available in 7.62mm NATO, 6.5x55SE, 300 winmag or 7.62x54R Russian.
The receiver is an all steel design with a relatively simple layout and is 222mm long including the tang. The polygonal receiver is 35mm at its widest point and has a integral picatinny rail which is machine to NATO Spec STD-MIL-1913. The ejection port is 82mm in length and will accommodate both the NATO and Russian cartridges. The barrel is fitted utilising the traditional screw thread and the receiver is machined with the locking lug recesses suitable for the classic Mauser bolt. The tang and the method of fitting the trigger unit is also the same as the Mauser. Those readers who are experienced with the Parker Hale target rifle will instantly recognise the method of securing Zastava’s match trigger assembly. Unlike most mauser clones the M07 AF does not use the traditional mauser style bolt stop/release. Instead it uses a user friendly plunger which is located just behind the picatinny rail. Another positive design point I would like to highlight with the plunger is there is sufficient clearance to remove the bolt without having to fold the butt or remove the cheek pad, something I have come across on the last three sniper rifle designs I have worked on.
Another unusual, novel and cost effective feature is the way that the aluminium chassis secures to the receiver. Unlike western designs, such as the British Accuracy International which has a one piece chassis, the M07 AF chassis is in two parts with the front section securing to the recoil lug and the rear section securing to the rear of the receiver and the tang. I will discuss the chassis in more detail in a separate section.
The receiver is finished in a non reflective tactical grey finish and on the left side, the receiver is engraved with the company crest and place of manufacture.
The match grade barrel is cold forged in chrome-vanadium steel and has a barrel length of 25.5” and in calibre 7.62x54R has a four groove barrel with a 1 in 9.5” twist. It is 1.22” wide at the chamber and narrows to 0.87” at the muzzle. The muzzle is threaded with a M18 thread to permit the fitting of a muzzle break or moderator and has a square crowned and is fitted with a thread protector.
Like the receiver the barrel is finished in a non reflective tactical grey finish and around the chamber the calibre, model and proof marks are stamped.
The trigger assembly on the classic traditional military mauser is secured by a single pin which is kept under tension by the triggers main spring. The M07 AF is fitted with an adjustable match trigger, secured using the same method, only it is locked in place with a screw. The trigger is a single pull and releases at 1.43lbs, it is adjustable for length of pull and I believe for weight. However I have been unable to access the trigger assembly as I cant remove the pistol grip for fear of damaging it and therefore I have been unable to make any adjustments.
Another point which is worth considering, is there is no mention of any trigger adjustment in the manual and therefore it it may be possible that Zastava consider this to be a workshop or dealer task.
The bolt assembly is largely a classic mauser design but with some subtle modern differences. The firing pin assembly,cocking piece, locking lugs, to some extent the bolt shroud and the method of operation are Mauser, however this is where the similarities stop. The most obvious visual differ- ence is the lack of the mauser style extractor claw, which has been replaced with a modern spring load extractor. The fitting of the this type of extractor allows individual rounds to be hand feed into the chamber, something that was not possible with the old style claw. Another improvement is the cartridge rim is now fully enclosed, which im- proves mechanical safety. As the receiver is no longer fitted with the ejector, this is now accommodated in the bolt face with a plunger style ejector.
The bolt handle has a much more modern profile compared with the traditional mauser and is heavily cranked to permit the fitting of a scope. The bolt shroud has a modern and cost effective shape which is easier to manufacturer and accommodates the safety catch. The safety catch cannot be applied unless the bolt is cocked or to describe matters more technically, the firing pin is retained by the sear. When the bolt is cocked and the safety catch is fully forward the rifle can be discharged, with the safety catch in the half way position, the firing pin cannot be released but the bolt can be withdrawn and any live round or empty case in the chamber can be removed. With the safety catch in the rear position, the firing pin and the bolt is fully locked.
The stock is somewhat unusual and novel in design. Unlike western models, the aluminium chassis system consists of two parts and the exterior “skins” consist of substantial 3mm aluminium plate.
The front chassis section secures to the receiver recoil lug with three screws and is manufactured from solid aluminium and supports the bipod spigot and the sling swivel. To assist in reducing the weight the solid aluminium has been machined with various lightning slots. The spigot attached to the forend is for the versa pod type bipod and as such will accept various models. The front sling swivel is a substantial ambidextrous plate which fits across both sides of the chassis. The rear chassis houses the trigger mechanism, trigger guard, pistol grip and magazine release catch and secures to the tang and the rear of the receiver. The trigger guard is polymer in construction and appears fairly robust. The pistol grip is an aluminium frame enclosed with a rubber grip whichhas a good ergonomic profile. The magazine catch is a spring loaded plate, which when pushed forward releases the magazine. The design is simple, practical and the magazine engages and disengages effectively, however is not ambidextrous and the magazine catch is only accessible from the right side of the rifle. This means when in the prone shooting position the operator cannot see the catch and has to “feel” the catch, to release the magazine.
Connecting the two chassis assemblies are two substantial side plates. Each plate is 3mm thick and is fitted with a further plate which acts as a guide for the magazine. Fitting to the front and rear chassis assembly, these two plates serve a number of functions. They add substantial strength and weight to the overall stock, they improve the handling of the rifle and protect the magazine.
Fitted to the rear chassis is the butt assembly of which there are two versions, fixed and folding. The AF version has a folding stock and can be adjusted for length with the fitting of spacers. The whole butt assembly is angled up- wards by 10° and is secured to the rear chassis by a single large hex bolt. Folding the butt is achieved by lifting the butt upwards against its axis pin spring and rotating to the left. However the folding mechanism uses two corresponding cam faces to lock the butt into position and whilst very secure, I find it very difficult to disengage the cams by hand and require a screwdriver to lever the two cams apart.
The butt assembly is fitted with an adjustable cheek pad but with the 10° angle any adjustment was unnecessary and with low scope rings I struggled to get decent eye alignment. The butt pad can be adjust for height but cannot be adjusted without the use of tools. One minor criticism is with the butt plate and when shooting the rifle in the prone position. Normally the shooter will support the butt with his left hand but there is very little to grip and the edges of the plates are fairly sharp and have not been relieved.
The magazine body and base plate are manufactured from 2mm thick polymer and feels both substantial and robust. The rim is strengthened with a steel plate which protects the polymer body from the insertion of the ammunition and the cycling of the bolt. The magazine can support fives rounds of .308 but in 7.62x54R can only hold three rounds due to the cartridge rim.
Although I am not an advocate of supporting the rifle by the magazine, the large base plate does allow this method of support and unlike magazines with simple metal base plate, this large design protects the magazine and keeps debris at bay.
Engaging and disengaging the magazine is very easy and effective and to date I have not experienced any misfeeds.