The M70A might be one of the most overlooked and affordable pistols to hit the market in quite sometime. The Serbian made pistol is a modern adaptation of a Soviet TT pistol, a design of famed Russian firearms designer Fedor Tokarev. There are distinct differences between the Soviet TT and the Zastava M70A, the chief ones being the M70A features a slide mounted safety and is chambered in the world’s most popular pistol caliber the 9×19 millimeter parabellum.
In order to fully understand the Zastava M70A, you need to look at the history of it’s inspirations the Soviet TT pistol and the early John Browning designed pocket pistols that were popular in the early 20th century. It doesn’t take a trained gunsmith to take a glance at the Colt 1903 pocket pistol, then look at the Soviet TT and see where the Soviets stole the idea. The TT served the former Soviet Union and its puppet states of the Warsaw Pact from roughly 1930 right up until today. The TT-30 and all the licensed designs were made by Russia, Yugoslavia, China, Poland, Hungary and Romania to name a few. I would say it has most likely served in ever theater of operations since World War II, and that wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
The Zastava like the TT-30 and later models both feature a single stack magazine with nine rounds, and sights that I would classify as crude. They are to put it mildly fixed combat sights free of any semblance of dots or markings. I imagine in the Soviet Doctrine of war, pistols were not used for distance shooting, more than likely they were used to shoot people in the head execution style, as was the Soviet custom. Now I know that may ruffle a few feathers here and there but there is no doubt that the TT series of pistols were used on a great many Soviet political prisoners. It was also used on more than a few Germans I would imagine.
The pistols both break down the same and aside from a slide mounted safety the two pistols are almost mirror images of each other. They both feature solid steel frames that can be used as a hammer if the need arises. That is one of the best things about Eastern European weapons, if you run out of ammunition they make a really effective bludgeoning tool. The trigger on the Zastava M70 is what I would call effective, but not pretty. Make no mistakes here, this is not a tack driver or a Sig P210, this is a tool of war and has a trigger pull that you would expect, heavy and predictable.
Zastava M70A Specifications
Weight: 1.94 lbs
Barrel Length: 4.56″
Height: 5.11 ”
Now to some people my initial description of the Zastava M70A might seem a bit rough and plain, that is exactly what I was trying to convey. The M70A is not a flashy polymer high capacity “wonder 9,” it is not a long sleek classy 9mm like the Sig Sauer P210 or some competition target pistol. It’s a very capable and compact pistol that gets the job done reliably and effectively like it’s inspiration the Soviet TT. The other thing that the Zastava M70A isn’t is expensive. New from Southern Ohio Gun it retails for just under $220.00, that’s a nice deal on a gun that is made with old world craftsmanship. Sorry people in the Republic of Kalifornia the M70A is not on the approved list from the California Department of Justice.
The pistol does have some features that I noted early that make it eye catching in a very old school soviet way. The slide mounted safety is a feature that is both desirable and makes sense. It’s position on the side allows the pistol to retain its vintage early 20th century style lines and allows the use of original TT style grips. The model I received features ribbed plastic grips that lack the traditional Red Army Star, although wood grips are also an option. Features that should also be noted include a magazine safety which seems to be very common in European pistols. All of the magazines I tried with the M70A do not fall free from the pistol when the magazine release is depressed, I have been told this is also by design but at this time I am unable to confirm if that is a fact.
In the M70A it can be seen in the image above that the fire control / safety selector is clearly marked with a crisply engraved S for Safety and F for Fire. I will honestly say that for a $220 pistol I was surprised that the safety was so well marked and operated as quickly and crisply as it does. I can say there are other pistols that cost more than do not have as solid of a safety lock up as the M70A.
The entire trigger group of the pistol pulls out from the frame as a single unit, this is essentially an early thinking process and design of what Sig Sauer has done with their new lines of polymer pistols. There are a few videos on YouTube that do a fantastic job of explaining the proper operation of the trigger group. I have included a few at the bottom since they will be extremely helpful to anyone that ends up purchasing one of these Serbian pocket pistols. I have watched the videos I have linked to the article and there is some valuable information in them.
There might be a few things that might turn a person away from the Zastava M70A, such as the hard to find and relatively expensive 9 round single stack magazines. The fact the look and feel of the gun is very “old school” and fans of polymer guns maybe turned off by the materials used in. As with many lower priced guns, there maybe some unwanted grittiness in the action from left over tooling marks. Most of the grittiness can be reduced with a little cleaning and liberal application of files or high grit sand paper. If this isn’t your idea of fun than unfortunately this pistol might not be for you.
In my opinion with a little cleaner and sandpaper the M70A makes an excellent range gun, perfect for plinking cans or paper targets with the family. Not only is it affordable, It’s compact enough for users with small hands, and not what I would call intimidating to new shooters. Add that to the more than 70 year track history of this type of pistol chambered in a cheap and easy to find caliber such as the 9x19mm and you have the makings of a fun project pistol that you really don’t have to clean very often.
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