ZPAP92: 7.62×39 AK Pistol Review

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By Dennis Howard •  9 min read

Many experts estimate that there is one Kalishnikov firearm on earth for every 70 people. This is a lot of weapons and speaks to the success of the AK legacy.

Not all of those millions of AKs are military rifles. Many AK pattern rifles and pistols count in that number, and the Zastava ZPAP92 fits into that category.

The Zastava Arms Company in Serbia imports 4 models of the ZPAP riles or pistols to the United States.

The ZPAP85 is an AK pistol chambered for 5.56×45. The ZPAPM70 is a civilian version of the battle-tested M70 automatic rifle chambered for 7.62×39. The ZPAPM90 is a semi-automatic version of the M70 with an adjustable gas block and chambered for 5.56×45.

This article focuses on the ZPAP92, the civilian version of the M92 carbine chambered for 7.72×39, but without the stock which qualifies it as a pistol under current NFA rules. We will look at the construction, quality, and functionality of these Serbian-built AK pistols.

The AK Firearm Platform and the Zastava ZPAP92

The Kalisnikov pattern rifles have a long history. First introduced to the Russian armed forces just after World War II, this design has become widely adopted and copied around the world for both military and civilian use. The Zastava ZPAP92 is a relatively new entry into the market and was, by all accounts, designed specifically for the United States civilian market.

Mikhail Malashnikov with a model of the AK-47

Before getting into the details of the Zastava Arms ZPAP92, let’s get a quick rundown on the basic specification for these firearms. This will give us a place to start our closer examination of these imported rifles.

ZPAP92 Specifications

Zastava has adapted the basic AK47 design into a pistol for the U.S. market. The ZPAP92 shares many operating features and basic components with the AK47. However, the stock has been removed on the ZPAP92 and the select-fire system is not available. The firearm only operates in semi-automatic mode to meet stringent U.S. import and firearms regulations.

Here are the specs:

Zastava has been building firearms and artillery since 1853. This company is no stranger to the U.S. and other markets. Their products are routinely sold in at least 40 different countries.

With this basic information in hand, let’s look at the ZPAP92 in detail. Each different model of ZPAP rifle includes a variety of features, some of which are unique to individual models.

The Receiver and Operating System

If you are familiar with the AK operating system and the AK receiver, you will find the ZPAP92 a familiar firearm. The receiver is, like most AKs, made of stamped metal and is a dimpled receiver.

The receiver has a hinged top cover that facilitates the take-down and maintenance aspects of these guns.

The ZPAP82 uses a standard AK47 combined bolt carrier and gas piston design. The bolt carrier has a chrome bolt of durability and longevity. Gas from the barrel impinges on the gas piston driving the bolt carrier group backward which extracts the spent cartridge. The recoil sprint forced the bolt forward where a fresh cartridge is picked up from the magazine and loaded into the chamber.

Unlike older AK designs, the ZPAP92 hinged top cover secures quite nicely to the receiver, making it a suitable platform for mounting an optical device to your rifle. There are several aftermarket replacements available that make mounting an optic to the hinged top cover quick and easy.

The bolt carrier group operation cocks the hammer and readied the rifle for another shot as soon as the shooter pulls the trigger again. This is an efficient and robust design that has proven itself over many years and in many conflicts.

The Barrel

The ZPAP92 has a 10-inch barrel length in keeping with its status as a pistol. The barrel is cold hammer-forged. The chrome-lined barrel is resistant to wear and should last most shooters for thousands of rounds without any reduced accuracy or problems.

The barrel comes from Zastava Arms USA with a threaded muzzle. However, the thread protector cap is welded onto the barrel. This is to allow Zastava to sell these AK pistols in states that prohibit threaded barrels and muzzle devices, especially suppressors.

However, if you live where barrel threads are legal, a few minutes’ work can remove the welds and free the thread protector.

The Stock

As a pistol under the NFA rules, the ZPAP92 has no stock, only a pistol grip. However, Zastava anticipated that some shooters would upgrade their AK pistol to include a pistol brace. Pistol braces are currently legal under the BATF interpretations and rules. However, as it is unclear how long this situation will continue, do get your legal pistol brace now.

There are several manufacturers who offer aftermarket pistol braces for AK47-style rifles. Zastava conveniently pre-drills the rear of the receiver for the mounting screw used by several of these companies. A folding pistol brace is available and makes a great addition to your ZPAP92 firearms.

The Safety Lever

In keeping with the AK 47 heritage, the ZPAP92 uses the same safety configuration. The safety level made of stamped metal is located on the right side of the receiver and faces forward.

Pushing the lever down disengages the safety and allows the gun to fire. Raising the safety level engages the safety and also blocks the bolt carrier group from chambering a round.

The Sights

Zastava Arms has chosen to outfit the ZPAP92s imported into the United States with a Krinkov-style rear sight. These are dual aperture iron sights that are crudely adjustable for windage. The front sight is a standard post with adjustments for elevation. Suffice it to say that the iron sights are serviceable but won’t win any prizes on the range.

It should be noted that a Yugo pattern hinged dust cover fits the ZPAP92 nicely and provides a length of Picatinny rail.

This makes mounting a red dot or low-power optic much easier and quicker. It is a nice add-on and well worth the money. If you choose to mount an optic, you old sight won’t be missed.

Firearm Furniture

The ZPAP92 has a nicely finished wood handguard. For an AK 47 pistol, it is a nice touch. The pistol grip is a polymer construction that is functional, if not all that elegant. There is any number of manufacturers of aftermarket accessories for AK grips and other parts that you can purchase to give your ZPAP92 a custom flavor.

On the Range

Here is where the fun begins. The ZPAP92 is a ton of fun to shoot. The 7.62×39 round is easily managed in the pistol configuration but lacks in accuracy.

You must remember that these short-barreled weapons are meant for portability and easy maneuvering in and out of vehicles. Long accurate shots were never in the plan. I loaded up enough ammo to go through ten magazines for the testing.

Short Range Testing

I started my tests at 15 and 25 yards. Instead of a standard target, I stapled an 8-inch white paper plate to a target backer and used that for my aiming point. I figure if I can hit within an 8-inch circle at 25 yards or less, I can probably deliver a knockdown hit.

I fired 180 rounds at these two distances. For the last few magazines, I set up two targets, 15 yards apart and tried transitioning between targets. This proved difficult for me with just the ZPAP92 pistol configuration. I scored about an 80 percent hit rate doing target transitions.

Long Range Testing

I didn’t expect much out of my long-range testing without a pistol brace. My suspicions proved true. The further away from 25 yards I moved the target, the worse my groupings became. I lay some of the blame on my skills. I am not as steady nor are my eyes as good as they once were.

I was shooting at a standard silhouette target. My worst grouping of five shots put only 3 rounds on the paper at 100 yards. This set of shots was near the end of my testing, and I must admit that I was fatigued, which didn’t help my abilities.

The best group was at 35 yards, and I managed to put 5 rounds within a 4-inch circle. I must also say that I was prone and resting the pistol on a duffle bag.

My Thoughts on Accuracy

An AK rifle is never going to be a long-range competitive shooter. The lack of a stock, the short barrel, and my age and eyesight all work against the ZPAP92 under these circumstances.

However, if I was interested in sub-MOA groups at 400 yards, I would have a different firearm. A rifle with a 26-inch barrel and a 9-36×56 scope isn’t the easiest thing to conceal. Getting it in and out of a vehicle quickly is not even conceivable.

On the other hand, a ZPAP92, with a folding pistol brace is quite a different story. The short length makes exiting a vehicle rapidly an easy task. The ability to put rounds 25 yards down range with a reasonable amount of accuracy makes this AK pistol a very viable option for self-defense.

The Rest of The Story

I am not an AK person. I much prefer an AR platform. However, ARs have their downsides as well. I carry an AR pistol in my pickup truck every day. I have learned that my AR needs weekly attention to stay in top running condition. I have friends who carry AK pistols in the same way and never give them a thought. The AK platform is rugged, reliable, and can absorb an amazing amount of abuse and neglect while continuing to function.

If you are interested in a ZPAP92, visit your local sellers now. The Zasatva ZPAP92s are becoming popular firearms and buyers are often waiting months to get their weapon delivered.

My Final Thoughts

If an AK style pistol is on your mind, the Zastava ZPAP92 should be next on your mind. While I am not an overall fan of the AK platform, I must admit that this little AK pistol gets the job done with as much style and grace as an AK can manage.

It is not the most beautiful gun I have ever held, but it functions reliably, delivers consistent accuracy where it counts, and is backed by Zastava Arms USA and a one year warranty.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.