TFB Review: Zastava M90


TFB Review: Zastava M90

TFB Review: Zastava M90
Photo Credit: James Rose

First unveiled at TFB’s GunFest 2021, the Zastava PAP M90 PS is the newest rifle from Zastava Arms that’s destined for American shores. The Zastava Arms M90 features a fully chrome-lined 18.25″ barrel that comes with an adjustable gas system from the factory.  All of this in a 5.56 chambering makes the M90 a very desirable option for fans of AKM pattern rifles. Zastava Arms USA CEO Ranko was kind enough to allow me to do this full in-depth review of this pre-production rifle. Let’s go over what sets the M90 apart.

Features

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90, optic, mags and accessories. Photo credit: James Rose

Die-hard AK enthusiasts are quick to point out that this isn’t the first time the M90 has been imported. This newer M90 takes the existing M90 DNA and combines it with some added refinements and new creature comforts.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 with the stock folded. Photo credit: James Rose

Features like a folding Magpul ZKUKOV-s Stock and Magpul MOE Grip serve as modern upgrades that also meet 922R compliance.  For those that are partial to the modern AK look, Zastava has indicated there will be a version that features wood furniture.  Additionally, their existing wood M70 furniture will fit on this rifle if you decide you want to change it up later.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 Hogue hanguard. Photo credit: James Rose

My favorite ergonomic enhancement is hands down this OverMolded Rubber Handguard from Hogue.  It looks great and the rubber is great at giving you additional grip for managing recoil.  It’s even slotted so you can attach M1913 Picatinny rails (not pictured) for accessory attachment.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 piston head. Photo credit: James Rose

The M90 incorporates a three-position adjustable gas system with a hollow piston head (a design feature carried over from the Zastava M91).  This allows the M90 to be adjusted for changing conditions, different ammunition, and suppressor use.

  • Setting 3 – (Highest Gassed) For use during the first 200 rounds to break the rifle in, and then you can turn the rifle down to setting 2.
  • Setting 2 – Normal use.
  • Setting 1 – (Lowest Gassed) For suppressed or high-temperature use.

There are two ways to adjust the gas block.  Remove the handguard and turn the adjustment freely or by lifting up the small leaf spring to rotate to the position without disassembly.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 gas system adjustment. Photo credit: James Rose

While it takes a second longer, I personally found it easier to remove the handguard for adjustment.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 assist button. Photo credit: James Rose

A feature I’ve always liked on Zastava rifles is the spring-loaded release button for disassembly and re-assembly.  To use this, you push the recoil spring inward with your left thumb, and push the release button with your right.  This holds the recoil spring slightly forward and makes it easier to remove the dust cover.  Push the button again, and the recoil spring returns to the rear.  It’s certainly not a must-have feature, but it’s nice not having to fight the top cover when disassembling or re-assembling the rifle.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 sights. Photo credit: James Rose

From the factory, the M90 features a polished leaf-style rear sight with adjustments out to 1000 meters.

Accessories

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 polymer and steel magazines. Photo credit: James Rose

There are two different magazines available for the Zastava M90 rifle.  In addition to the steel 5.56 magazines already available, Zastava now has a 30 round polymer magazine option as well.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 polymer magazine. Photo credit: James Rose

The polymer magazines are a little cheaper at $24.99 and feature a last round bolt hold open (LRBHO) follower.  In order to meet military standards, the polymer mags have a rear steel-reinforced locking block and follower for added durability.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 with Zastava Picatinny Optic Mount. Photo credit: James Rose

Zastava was kind enough to send over their scope mount as well.  The mount is made of 6061 T6 aluminum and features a low v-shaped cut in the center that allows for use of the factory iron sights while mounted.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 optic choices. Photo credit: James Rose

Of course, the included optic rail allows for the use of legacy options like this PSO4 optic I was keen to try.

Range Time

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 testing. Photo credit: James Rose

Not wanting to duplicate the James Reeves TFBtv review of the M90, I took a slightly different approach when it came to testing.  As the rifle was well past 200 rounds, I was eager to see how the M90 performed suppressed using a wider variety of ammunition.  This would include everything from bulk steel cased ammo to match hollow points.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 suppressed with Dead Air Wolverine. Photo credit: James Rose

Zastava was kind enough to send over a couple of the polymer M90 magazines (not featured in the TFB tv video) for testing.  I experienced similar stoppages with the steel mag that was used in the TFBtv review.  I tested a set of new steel magazines that were loaned to me and these ran flawlessly.  Bad mag set aside, it was back to testing.

Keen to take all the recoil out of the gun, I was quick to put the gun on the lowest gas setting.  Once that had changed, I never felt the need to change it back.  Shooting the M90 on setting number 1 was incredibly pleasant. This reduced backpressure takes a large chunk of the already almost non-existent recoil out of the gun.  Suppressed the gun was totally hearing safe with the Wolverine and was very pleasant to shoot outdoors.

Pro’s and Cons

The longer barrel on the M90 utilizes the full performance range of commonly available .223 and 5.56 spec ammo.  Paired this with an adjustable gas block, and this where AKM durability meets modern refinement.  Initial shots fired by others were almost immediately followed by chuckles at just how pleasant the gun was to shoot.

TFB Review: Zastava M90

Zastava M90 at the range. Photo credit: James Rose

The weak point of any 5.56 AK will always be the magazines.  Zastava has done a great job of bringing a cheaper polymer option to the market, but for those of you waiting on magazines from 3rd parties, don’t hold your breath. In addition, and common to all AKM pattern rifles, the M90 isn’t light. It weighs in at 8.65lbs unloaded. With accessories added, the weight starts to add up quickly.

The Verdict

TFB Review: Zastava M90

TFB Review – Zastava M90. Photo credit: James Rose

Like other Zastava guns I’ve reviewed, the M90 did not disappoint.  It’s chambered in a commonly available cartridge, and its 18.25″ barrel capitalizes on the full velocity potential.  Overall I think the M90 is the perfect addition to the US market, and has just the right blend of AK nostalgia while being optic and silencer ready.

I think Zastava Arms USA can expect to sell a lot of these when they arrive later this summer.  I’m certainly looking to pick one up when they become available.

Huge thank you to CEO Ranko, and Zastava Arms USA for making this pre-release review happen.  If you haven’t already, watch the TFBtv review done by James Reeves.

Zastava PAP M90 PS Features:

  • Barrel Length: 18.25″
  • Weight:8.65 lbs (unloaded)
  • Barrel Coating: Chrome Lined (Chrome Lined Chamber)
  • Twist Rate: 1:7
  • Muzzle Thread Pitch:  14x1LH
  • Gas System:  Long Stroke 3-Position Adjustable
  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO / .223 Rem
  • Receiver Thickness: 1.5mm
  • Handguard: Hogue Rubber Handguard (w/ rail mounting points)
  • Pistol Grip: Magpul MOE
  • Stock: Magpul ZHUKOV-S (Additional Options Coming After Launch)
  • 922r Compliant Parts:  Muzzle break – Foregrip – Pistol Grip – Stock – Magazine
  • Price: TBD (Competitive)
  • Release Date: SOON!  Summer 2021


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