Right side view of Zastava M72B1 light machine gun.
Source: Zastava Arms - © Copyright lies with original owner
The M72 is a Cold War era light machine gun of Yugoslav origin. It was derived from the M70 assault rifle in a similar fashion as the Soviet RPK was derived from the AKM. Early development models featured a quick change barrel, but the final design was made simpler.
The M72 is a light machine gun variant of the M70. It features the same operating mechanism with long stroke gas piston. The overal design is very similar to the Soviet RPK. The M72 features a longer barrel and folding bipod than the M70 assault rifle. Unlike the M70 the M72 doesn't have a longer handguard with three slots, nor the ability to fire rifle grenades. A distinguishing feature is the ribbed barrel section in front of the gas block for improved cooling.
The M72 fires the 7.62x39mm Soviet cartridge from a 30 round box magazine. The 40 round box and 75 round drum developed for the Soviet RPK can also be used, but are less common. The rate of fire is rather low at about 620 rpm. The effective range is about 400 meters against point targets and 600 meters against area targets.
The M72 light machine gun is in widespread use, although it is less common than its Soviet counterpart. Many nations that have adopted the M70 assault rifle also use the M72. It was produced under license in Iraq as the Al Quds.
Iraqi soldier taking aim with Iraqi produced Al Quds variant of the Zastava M72B1 light machine gun. Note the wooden grip as found on Iraqi contract and local production models.
Source: US Marine Corps (LCpl J.A. Chaverri) - © Public domain
M72: Original production model with milled receiver, similar to the early M70 assault rifles. This was soon replaced in production with the B1 and AB1.
M72B1: Improved production model with simpler to produced stamped receiver. This is the most common version of the M72 light machine gun. It has a fixed wooden stock.
M72AB1: Folding stock variant of the M72B1. This model is rather unique since it features an underfolding stock similar to the M70AB2 and AKMS. It is the only Kalashnikov light machine gun variant to feature this type of folding stock.
Source: US Marine Corps (SSgt Jemssy Alvarez)
Copyright: Public domain
Source: James McCauley
Copyright: GNU Attribution Share Alike license
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