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Zastava M70 Pistol: The Pocket Tokarev

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The Zastava M70 pistol is a bit hefty for a pocket gun, but at their current prices, this little .32 is still a solid option.

Zastava M70 Pistol Specs:

The nature of pocket pistols relegates them to the role of backup guns, something to have on you more for peace of mind and emergency situations than full-time CCW duty. Because of this, many are hesitant to spend money on something they hardly intend to shoot or only occasionally carry. Many of these guns can tend on the higher side of the price spectrum and collectability, but most people looking to add a pocket pistol to their collection today would prefer to spend as little as possible. For those individuals, there may not be a better option on the market right now than the Zastava M70 pistol.

Photo:Rock Island Auction Company.

History Of The Zastava M70 Pistol

Production of the M70 pistol began in 1970 at the famous Zastava Arms plant in what was then Yugoslavia. Used by the Yugoslavian police as well as military officers, it was intended to be lighter and more comfortable to carry than the standard service pistol-sized M57s. It stayed in service with these groups for about twenty years until it was replaced by the CZ 99, Zastava’s Sig P226 clone. As with every gun that could be readily found at the time, plenty of Zastava M70 pistols saw use during the conflicts in the Balkans as well.

Design And Features

The Zastava M70 pistol is essentially a scaled-down version of their M57 Tokarev clone. Chambered for the .32 ACP cartridge, it is able to utilize a straight blowback action rather than the Tokarev’s traditional Browning tilting-barrel system. It features a 3.7-inch barrel and a proportionally shorter grip that is just barely large enough to fill an average man’s hand. Like the Tokarev, it is single-action only.

Zastava M70 shooting. Photo: Wikipedia

Unlike many other imported Commbloc pistols, the Zastava M70 was originally designed with a manual safety. This means that there is no need for one to be haphazardly added for legal importation into the United States like is necessary with most standard Tokarev designs. While the safety’s two positions have quite a bit of travel distance between them, they are oriented in the ideal way so that flicking it forward readies it to fire. It feeds from 8-round magazines but can be carried cocked and locked with a ninth in the chamber.

The Zastava M70 is very similar in size to the Walther PPK/s, only having a slightly longer barrel and weighing a few ounces more. The extra weight and bulk certainly aren’t ideal traits for a pocket pistol, but the added weight and all-steel construction should make for a very durable piece with little felt recoil—an advantage if you ever actually need to use it.

Zastava M70 Pistol Vs Walther PPK/s. Photo: HandgunHero

Something to keep in mind about the M70 while shopping for one is that many of the imported versions come with a non-original rear sight. From the factory, these pistols have a very basic rear notch sight, but for importation reasons many are brought in with a ridiculous and unusable “sporter” sight. Made of black plastic and about twice as high as they should be, if the pistol you buy has one of these it should immediately be replaced. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find original surplus M70 pistol sights for sale, but there are other options. Guides can be found online showing how to modify a standard M57 rear sight to fit an M70, and there are also aftermarket 3-dot fiber optic sights available from Optik Arms in Bosnia. Considering that the latter of those costs about 25% as much as the pistol itself, ideally you should try and buy an M70 that still has its original irons.

Zastava M70 with “sporter” sight for import. Photo:Rock Island Auction Company.

Zastava M70 pistols can still easily be found for less than $200, making them an excellent choice for those on a budget. For the money, they are pretty nice guns. While a bit on the chunkier side, M70s are still small enough to be comfortably carried in a jacket pocket, and the extra heft should make them more enjoyable to shoot than most other pocket pistols of this size. For those who have been hunting for a cheap backup gun that offers much of the utility of a Walther PPK at less than a quarter of the price, the Zastava M70 pistol is still a solid option.

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