Handguns > Semi-Auto

Zastava M70A 9 mm Pistol

The M70A is an affordable TT-30 clone with improved safety features and increased ammo capacity that works for self-defense.

5/6/2013

In 1930, the Soviet military began investigating potential replacements for the aging Nagant M1895 revolver in use as its army's sidearm. By January of 1931, the Revolutionary Military Council sanctioned the testing of the new TT-30 semi-automatic pistol, designed by Fedor Tokarev. Chambered to fire the 7.62x25 Tokarev cartridge, based on the 7.63x25 mm Mauser round, the pistol passed inspection and was adopted for service.

Renowned for its simplicity and rugged reliability, the TT-30, and its variants, saw extensive service during World War II, and can still be found in service today. Vintage versions of this pistol have become popular collectors’ items. With the growing interest in this historical handgun, as well as the continued demand for affordable pistols, Zastava Arms of Serbia has launched two new versions of the TT-30 pistol, distributed by Century Arms International. Updated for sale on the U.S. market, the M57 is configured to fire the original 7.62x25 Tokarev cartridge, while the M70A is chambered for the popular 9 mm Luger round.

Founded in 1853, Zastava Arms of Serbia was one of the original factories contracted to build the TT-30 for the Soviet forces more than 80 years ago. Having produced thousands of these guns, this is well-traveled territory for the company. Most of the internal and external features of the M70A are identical to the TT-30, with just a few changes.

Like the original, the M70A is a short-recoil operated, single-action semi-automatic pistol. The slide, frame, magazines and external components are constructed from blued steel. The only polymer used in this gun is found in the two removable black grip panels. The external shape of the M70A closely resembles John Browning’s FN Model 1903 semi-auto. Internally, Fedor Tokarev chose to employ the barrel dropping short-recoil system Browning used in the now iconic 1911 pistol.

The 1-inch wide slide houses a 4.5-inch barrel with traditional land-and-groove rifling. The recoil assembly consists of a single, round-wire spring captured on a steel guide rod. The historically accurate sight system includes a small drift-adjustable dovetailed front blade sight and a tall rear sight cut with a small u-notch, also drift adjustable. The steel trigger rests in a rounded trigger guard, with a good size magazine release button behind it on the frame. The slim grip frame is nearly vertical with a smooth-faced front strap and backstrap. The top of the grip is rounded to protect the hand from the external hammer, but there is no beavertail or grip safety.

To meet importation requirements, Zastava added some new safety features to the M70A. A magazine safety prevents the pistol from firing with the magazine removed, and a slide-mounted thumb safety has been installed on the left. This safety swings up to the fire position, like a Beretta 92 pistol, instead of down like a 1911. The thumb safety blocks the trigger to prevent the pistol from firing, and it provides a firing pin block as well. The aftermarket thumb safeties installed on existing TT-30 variants to allow them to be sold in the U.S are a mixed lot. The ones I've handled have been loose or mushy, which doesn't instill much confidence in their functionality. The M70A's thumb safety, on the other hand, was properly mounted and tight. A spring-loaded ball dent provides an audible "snick" when the safety is locked into place. The final update to the TT-30 design was to re-work the steel magazines to hold nine rounds instead of the original eight.

But is the M70A more than just a replica or range toy? Could it be pressed into service as a self-defense pistol for those who don't have much money to spend on a handgun? Based on its battle proven design, reliability and updated safety features, the M70A could certainly be used to fill a defensive role. The M70A is not as heavy as one might expect of an all-steel pistol. With an unloaded weight of 27.2 ounces, this pistol is on par with other packable handguns like the Ruger SP101 and the Glock G36.

Concealed carry practitioners have found creative ways of hauling full-size pistols around as part of their daily defense plan. One carry system that was quick to fit to the M70A, which doesn't have many ready-to-wear holster options at the moment, was the Hazard 4 modular Tonto Concealed Carry Mini-Messenger bag. The adjustable holster took about one minute to adjust to the pistol, useing a hook-and-loop fastener to hold a handgun in position in your choice of two pockets configured for the job. There was plenty of pocket space left for spare magazines, a tablet computer and other small items like keys, cell phones and pens.

On the range, the M70A proved to be a soft-shooting and reliable pistol. The trigger did not feel as heavy as the 8 pounds, 10 ounces of pressure the trigger gauge implied. After a bit of military-style take up, the trigger stroke was short and crisp, feeling more like 4 to 5 pounds at the break. With the weight of the pistol working to reduce the already moderate levels of felt recoil produced by the 9 mm cartridge, quick follow-up shots were easy to place. The slide was relatively light to cycle with a tight fit to the frame. It felt a little rough to start, but it smoothed out over the course of fire. The two magazines provided with the pistol functioned reliably and did not, in typical European fashion, drop free when released. Instead, they had to be manually removed from the grip while the magazine release was depressed.

The historically accurate (i.e. rudimentary) sights, which were never easy to work with, made it tough to form tight groups with the M70A at 25 yards. However, the pistol did keep all rounds in the central area of 12x18-inch silhouette targets at this distance. Moving the target up to 15 yards and working from a bench rest produced consistent five-shot groups that hovered right around 2.5 inches in size using both target-grade and defensive ammunition. The M70A did not experience any malfunctions or failures in the course of testing.

So where does the Zastava M70A 9 mm fit into the scheme of things? As a new-production pistol, it doesn't qualify as a collectable or relic like the original TT-30 pistols, but it can be safely fired without the worry of failures or loss of value that attends the use of historic firearms. Although it is a basic, military-style pistol without the frills and extra polish of many commercially produced guns, the M70A runs very well for a handgun with a suggested retail price under $300 dollars. It certainly is a refreshing change from the standardized 1911 and striker-fired polymer pistols currently dominating the market.

Distributor: Century International Arms; www.centuryarms.com
Model: Zastava M70A
Action: Single-action semi-auto
Caliber: 9 mm Luger
Finish: Blued steel
Grips: Black plastic
Sights: Fixed
Barrel Length: 4.5”
Overall Length: 7.75”
Height: 6”
Width: 1”
Weight: 27.2 ozs.
Capacity: 9+1 Rrounds
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two nine-round magazines, bore brush, manual
Suggested Retail Price: $299.95

Zastava M70A shooting results

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37 Responses to Zastava M70A 9 mm Pistol

Roy wrote:
September 07, 2014

Just bought one yesterday from J & G sales , took it to range and it works great. Mine also shoots about 6 in to left and slightly low. Other than that it was perfect.

Bill wrote:
August 21, 2014

I just purchased one of these pistols and brought it to the range this weekend. It was shooting about 6-8' to the left - I plan on trying to adjust the windage on the rear site but wanted to see anyone has had this same issue out of the box and / or if there is anything additional in particular that I should be aware of with these pistols. Thanks!

Phillip wrote:
July 25, 2014

I know this forum is about the Zastava M70A but, I have a Surplus TTC from Romainia, Cugir 1953, Identical to the M70A, paid $203 and some change. Got some S&B FMJ ammo , nothing wrong at all with the gun, AT ALL! Nice blued finish, not crazy about the safety, bad location, (but the M70A has a much better safety system) grouped 4' at 20-30 yds., at that distance it put rounds through 6 layers of decking boards, and lodged in the 7th (7.62x25 has1600fps @ the muzz), not bad. No FTF's or stovepipes, they said it was in excellent grade and it was. Got 250 rds of Prvi Partizan JHP'S for personal protection. Easy to clean, and takedown is a cinch, I just don't carry it cocked and locked. It shipped oiled up, but without the cosmo. I went to worldwarsupply.com and ordered an authentic reproduction leather holster for it ($24.00. + $4.99 S&H), would be a perfect fit for the M70A. I am very happy with my Tokarev, I'd like to kill a deer with it this hunting season. If the M70/57's are anything like their grandpappy, I'll have to have one of those too!

Edward K. Johnson wrote:
July 14, 2014

Well, I have been to the range and fired several hundred rounds thru it. Had one stovepipe. Shoots right at point of aim! Magazines were difficult to remove and trigger was stiff. Reluctently I removed the grips (Looked Difficult) and cleaned the interior of the grip. Took out trigger group and soaked it in spirits and cleaned three times. Cleaned trigger yoke. Lubed all theses areas with breakfree and re-assembled. Took care of mags sticking and heavy trigger. Very well pleased with my purchase.

Edward Johnson wrote:
July 05, 2014

I just bought a m70a from J and G Guns. Their service was great. The gun arrived in two days in a very nice container. The owner's manual is very thorough. The gun itself is nicely blued and the machining is beautiful. Like others couldn't get mags out. Used a screwdriver padded it a cleaning patch to give it a nudge. Mag release button needed lubrication. haven't been to range yet. I am reserving comments until I run about 400 rounds thru it. Slide is very stiff, so it needs some breaking in. Well pleased so far.

Duncan wrote:
May 05, 2014

APEX GUN PARTS HAVE M70A MAGAZINE FOR $28.00

MTodd5325 wrote:
May 03, 2014

I've given up. It looks like no one is going to import 9mm mags for the M70a. I don't know why not. It's a great gun. But it looks like it's being abandoned. No parts. No spare Mags. Zip in the way of support. I'm going to take out the spacer for the magazine (in the frame) and sell one 9mm mag on Ebay while I use the rest as spares (I have two). The remaining M70a will be converted to use Tokarav M57 mags (which I see in other posts the weapon does very reliably). Out.

bobby wrote:
February 14, 2014

I love the m70a 9mm it is he'll if a gun I don't see why people don't like

MTodd5325 wrote:
December 13, 2013

Rumor is that all European manufacturers use Meg-gar to make their followers and springs. However, Meg-gar has a preexisting commitment to SIG and Glock. That is now filled and mags for other European manufacturers should begin showing up soon. Again, heard on gun-talk radio. See more desperate Zastava owners seeking mags (one paid $147 for a spare) at http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=2&f=217&t=233382 and also see http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?302911-Zastava-M70A-Tokarev!

MTodd5325 wrote:
November 05, 2013

Latest from CAI is that mags will (allegedly) be in around Christmas. The most I can figure is that mag production at Zastava was only enough for the pistols they shipped. Best guess is that Zastava has to expand production to supply extra mags and that's the delay.

James Alan Hoffman wrote:
October 31, 2013

I bought one of these from Aim Surplus back in August, I was looking for a cheap thinner 9mm to have arount than my alloy frame walther p1, for under $300 this was a nice gun, however after taking it to the range you can't hit the broad side of a barn with it untill you put about 100 rounds through it, used American Eagle and Tula Brass, had a few hangups within the first 4 mag worth, but once i was thru 150 rounds it fed and operated well without any other issues. so this is not some cheap plastic job, breakout the old 1911 breakin procedure book! and it will run like a champ, feels great in the hand, and yes the old style sights suck, perhapse if someone would make aftermarket fiber-optic sights for the m70a would greatly improve it, olny drawbacks: crude sights, only 2 mags with no-one selling extra oem mags and no aftermarket mags or accessories. Pro's: under $300 from aim w/ shipping and ffl transfer, will take any 9mm parabellum loading, okay with both brass and steel case rounds. just don't compare it to a Glock or a CZ! but about as good as a cheap 9mm 1911 with cheap sights. but to get it going good expect to speen $600 and a day at the range ($300 for the pistol, $300 for a case of 9mm to break in the pistol, and a day or two for a whole lot of shooting!)

William Barnett-Lewis wrote:
October 10, 2013

I've got one on order but this review is so modern NRA. Keeping Gun Makers happy since 1977. Gun _Owners_? Not so much.

Phil wrote:
September 24, 2013

Okay, this morning, I took it out to the range to see how it worked. First off, it wouldn't chamber a round. We're talking Winchester 115gr FMJ. The rounds kept jamming on the feed ramp. I manually chambered a round and it fired okay and extracted just fine. It then chambered rounds properly for about the next 16 rounds, then jammed up again. After that, it chambered properly for the rest of the 100 rounds. Makes me wonder what it would do with hollow points, which it is supposedly able to shoot. I got 1 stove pipe out of 100 rounds. That was during shooting a couple of magazines rapid fire. The sights are horrible. At about 15 feet, I was shooting to the left by about one foot and down by about one foot. At least the front sight stayed on. It's a cool looking, cheap pistol, but at this point, I really wouldn't recommend using it for carry and self defense. Maybe after a little work on the sights and a few hundred more rounds down the pipe, things will improve.

Phil wrote:
September 21, 2013

I took one out to the range to see what it could do. After about 80 rounds, the front sight fell off and got lost in the grass. CAI agreed to replace the gun with a new one. That took about a month. The new gun is an earlier serial number with crude looking grind marks on the top of the slide on each side of the front sight. Looks like it was done at the factory. Not thrilled about that, but the slide is much easier to rack, so I guess it's a wash. I put some Locktite on the front sight just in case. So, we'll see how it works out.

MTodd5325 wrote:
September 15, 2013

Now can anyone tell me when 9mm Magazines from Zastava will be available? Century was supposed to have them last summer and nothing since.

MTodd5325 wrote:
September 15, 2013

That's a Hazard4 California Tonto Mini-Messenger Bag. http://hazard4.com/products/bags/messenger-bags/tonto#

Scott wrote:
September 10, 2013

Can anyone direct me to the bag that this pistol is shown sitting on top of?

mark wrote:
July 19, 2013

its a very good gun i bought one and it shot 4 inches to the left and 4 high..i adjusted it and now it shoots as good as my smith. you guys who sry about it being off target maybe you need to hold your breath and ive had to adjust some very high dollar guns that missed the target out of the box. some are just anti russian guns. but i will say they make some of the best guns in the world. i have many american guns and they are great to cept for the flood of tarus (smith and wesson copies) with less quality. this zastava would out last and out shoot any tarus any day. and several others.

Wayne wrote:
July 03, 2013

The grips are removed by moving a lever that is accessed through the magazine well.

Ben wrote:
June 28, 2013

This is a great handgun. Does anyone know how to remove the handgrips? Thanks

ddmalsbury wrote:
June 03, 2013

I bought one of these and the sights were 7'low and 7' to the right out of the box. My gunsmith moved the rear sight about a 1/4 of an inch to the right and we shaved off about a 1/4 ' off the front sight with a grinder and now she shoots right on! Great gun and fun to shoot as well. No other issues with this weapon at all.

rob wrote:
May 25, 2013

I purchased my m70A 9mm pistol from Aim Surplus. The fit and finish is impressive for the pricepoint and looks like it has either a magnetic stainless or chrome barrel… however bringing it to the range was a HUGE disapointment! At 25 feet the pistol sights are WAY off. There is no doubt about it regarding kentucky elevation/ windage. Aiming at the top of a standard target at 25′ you were lucky to get anything to hit the paper! When you did hit the target you were aiming above the target and to the right. I don’t know who sighted these in at the factory but they must be either blind or maybe learning how to sight a pistol in for the first time. I think the pistol has a very good fit and finish but the sights are so far off that it would not be a very dependable weapon untill you had them profesionaly modified/sighted by a gunsmith. Buyer Beware!

Christopher wrote:
May 13, 2013

...Just Picked One Of These Up Because I Couldn't Pass Up On The Price ($239) ...I Would Highly Suggest One Of These...Solid Steel Frame, Good Accuracy And Great To Shoot! It Has A Super Solid Feel...Its One Of Those Guns That You'll Say In 10...Dangit, I Should Have Picked One Of Those Up For Under $300 When I Had The Chance :)

Ken wrote:
May 10, 2013

There are gun guys out there who collect vintage Russian guns because they are affordable to collect and have interesting backgrounds. Not everybody can afford the old Colts and Winchesters.

B. Gil Horman wrote:
May 10, 2013

Howdy Folks, it looks like I made a mistake in saying this pistol is blowback operated. It should read short-recoil operated, so my editor is repairing the text accordingly. Thanks for keeping me honest.

Patrick wrote:
May 10, 2013

There are quite a few collectors of the TT30 pistols out there that collect the dfferent variations of these pistols that were made by the differnt Communist Bloc countries such as Poland, Romania, etc. These pistols may look cheap but are quite strong and use excellent materials, they really were not into asthetics of looking good but were more interested in functioning and firing which they do very well.

Mike wrote:
May 10, 2013

This is not Soviet manufacture. It is Serbian. Zastava to be precise. The same people who manufacture what is regarded as the best AK47 of the 100 million or so out there. I have much experience with Zastava arms and they are among the best in the world. Not always the prettiest but rock solid dependable.

Howard wrote:
May 09, 2013

Sorry guys, they are correct that this pistol is blow back operated. Semi autos are either operated by blow back (also called recoil) or gas. Those are the 2 choices.

Brenboy wrote:
May 09, 2013

Be warned, former Soviet block manufacture is not always the best... cheap pistol is just that, cheap. I would expect great quality at that price from former Soviet plant.

bhp9 wrote:
May 09, 2013

You get what you pay for. The good points are that it is made of steel not modern junk castings, stamped sheet metal or junk plastic parts. It is crudely finished inside and out, has a heavy trigger pull, and takes a special magazine that probably will not be available in the future as import guns come and go faster than Obama can think up another gun ban law. Accuracy by the way is only just adequate.

jdmcomp wrote:
May 09, 2013

Another voice stating that this is "NOT" a blowback operation but rather a locked breech. Is this really the NRA?

jimmyjet wrote:
May 09, 2013

You keep making references to the TT30 as being "collectible". Funny, I've never met anyone that lusted for a TT30, much less wanted to "collect" one.

Bob wrote:
May 09, 2013

The article says at the same time that the pistol is a blowback, and short recoil falling barrel like the 1911. confusing and not really impressed with the uthors subject Knowledge.

Jim wrote:
May 09, 2013

It is not a clone of the TT-33, it is a 9mm clone of the Yugoslavian M-57, the 9-round version of the tokarev made by Yugoslavia (of which Serbia is a former part)

Bandito wrote:
May 09, 2013

Contrary to the article's information in the 4th paragraph, the M70A (as well as the originals) is not blowback operated.

Gambitt wrote:
May 09, 2013

Is this article correct in saying this pistol is "blow-back" operated? I have a norinco Tokarev in 9mm that uses the Browing tilting link. I can't imagine this gun being chambered in 9mm is blowback operated.

Alex wrote:
May 08, 2013

Great article, might have to put this on my "wish-list". Also, I keep seeing this HPR Hyperclean ammo performing better than the usuals, it has quickly become by go-to brand.