Zastava ZPAP85: An AK Pistol In America’s Favorite Caliber

Zastava ZPAP85: An AK Pistol In America’s Favorite Caliber

The ZPAP85 is Zastava’s AK pistol offering in 5.56x45mm. It is one of the only currently imported 5.56 AK variants available and serves up some potential advantages over traditional 7.62 AKs.

What Is A ZPAP85?

  • Semi-Auto AK Pistol In 5.56x45mm
  • Made In Serbia
  • Based On Zastava M85
  • Krinkov-Style Rear Sight

Much of what can be said about the ZPAP85 is also true for the ZPAP92, which we already covered. We’ll hit the high points of the ZPAP85 here but for more information and history check out our article on the ZPAP92.

Zastava ZPAP85
Zastava ZPAP85

Capitalist Cartridge For A Commbloc Carbine

Of the two currently imported Zastava AK pistols, the distinct feature of the ZPAP85 is its caliber. The ZPAP85 is chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO, unlike the ZPAP92 which is in the classic 7.62x39mm. There are pros and cons to this caliber choice, and careful consideration should be taken before purchasing any 5.56 AK to make sure it’s right for you.

An obvious advantage to the 5.56 chambering is the lighter recoil impulse. A shooter of any skill level will be able to shoot tighter groups and do it faster with a 5.56 AK when compared to the chunkier 7.62 versions. Keeping your sights on target is objectively easier when firing a projectile with less mass.

The 5.56 cartridge is also higher velocity and flatter shooting than 7.62×39, lending itself to increased accuracy. Normally 5.56 also has excellent wounding capabilities, but here we get to our first downside of the ZPAP85. 5.56 gains its excellent wound-producing capabilities from velocity rather than mass. The projectile was designed to yaw, deform or fragment when entering soft tissue at above ~2,500 FPS, creating larger or multiple wound channels and cavitation. As its lethality is dependent on velocity, 5.56 becomes less effective out of shorter barrels. A 10-inch AR barrel firing M855 only barely achieves 2,500 FPS at the muzzle, meaning the round’s chances of upsetting significantly drop after 25-50 yards. 7.62×39’s velocity is not nearly as affected by barrel length, giving it relatively consistent performance independent of the platform.

It is important to recognize that the difference in performance between a ZPAP85 and a 5.56 gun with a 16-inch barrel is much more substantial than the difference between a 16-inch ZPAP and a ZPAP92. That being said, 5.56 out of a 10-inch barrel is certainly still lethal and can be more than adequate in a CQB role, especially when factoring in the potential for faster follow-up shots.

Another potential advantage of 5.56 is dependent on the individual. Being as we live in America, home of the AR-15, most shooters have more 5.56 stored away than any other caliber. Getting into a new caliber can be daunting, especially with the prices and availability right now. For those looking for an AK to shoot who already have thousands of 5.56 rounds stockpiled, having an AK in the same caliber is alluring. Keep in mind, however, that you will also likely need more magazines, which leads us to yet another downside of 5.56 AKs.

Even if you already have the ammo, if you buy a ZPAP85 you will probably also want more than the one mag that is included with the gun. 5.56 AK mags are the least common and most expensive AK mags of the three most common calibers- 7.62, 5.45, and 5.56. They are available, but you will spend more time finding them and pay more for them than you would for a surplus AKM or AK-74 mag.

ZPAP85 5.56 magazine.
ZPAP85 5.56 magazine.


The M85

In Yugoslavian military service, the M85 carbine was derived from the M80 rifle, the 5.56 version of their prolific M70. Like we discussed in our ZPAP92 article, both of these carbines were the Yugoslavian response to the Soviet development of the AKS-74U, which was their submachine gun/PDW version of the AK-74. These weapons were intended for use by vehicle crews and other soldiers who may benefit from the extra compactness.

This variant is not as prolific in global conflicts or military service as the M92 due to its caliber and is mainly a commercial export weapon at this point.

M85 Carbine
M85 Carbine. Photo:Armed Conflicts



All major details of the ZPAP85 are identical to the ZPAP95. They are both made using Zastava’s newest generation of 1.5mm thick stamped receivers and bulged front trunnions. They both have chrome-lined 10-inch barrels, hinged top covers, and Krinkov-style rear sights. Neither have a scope rail, and both are threaded for a 26×1.5 LH pitch. Besides the caliber, the only other significant difference between the two is the ZPAP85’s lack of a pre-drilled rear trunnion.

The ZPAP92’s rear trunnion comes pre-drilled and ready to accept a variety of brace or sling mounting hardware sold by Zastava, and I do not understand why the ZPAP85 does not as well. There are plenty of other AK brace mounting options available, some that require permanent modification to the gun and others that do not, so regardless you will be able to find one that works for you even if it requires a little extra drilling.

I am only aware of two other 5.56 AK pistols that have been imported into the United States-the Bulgarian Arsenal SAM7K series, and Polish Mini Beryls from FB Radom. While these are both still technically current imports, they are also both rarer and more expensive than the ZPAP85. While there may be some desirable aspects of the Arsenal and FB Radom guns, Zastava’s ability to provide a consistent flow of AKs at a relatively competitive price point has ensured their position in the market above the Bulgarian or Polish manufacturers.

If you are in the market for a 5.56 AK and money is of no issue, the other options are worth checking out, but for most people, the ZPAP85 will be their best and likely only choice. The ZPAP85 is undoubtedly a fine firearm, but its quirks prevent it from reaching the popularity of classic 7.62 AKs like the ZPAP92. If you are a first-time AK buyer, I’d recommend getting something else. But if you are looking to expand your AK collection into a new caliber, the ZPAP85 is a high-quality and available option.

For more info on Zastava Arms, please visit

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