THE ZASTAVA ZPAP 85

                        BY: NICK JACOBELLIS

One of the most famous and iconic “bad guy” firearms of all time, that has also been carried by 

numerous “good guys,” is the AK47/AKM, or simply the Kalashnikov. Even as more modern

designs become available, a number of government entities and private security companies continue to

issue and use different variations of Kalashnikovs. In some instances, AKs have been upgraded by

adding an optic, a tactical light and even a suppressor.

                      A STAR IS BORN

The AK47, also known as the Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle, was designed in the 1940s and was 

selected for its reliability when subjected to extremely adverse operating conditions. After the initial

design was further refined, the AK47 started to be issued to Soviet military personnel in 1947.

While not a totally unique design, the development of the AK47 was influenced to a certain 

extent, by various operating features of other proven military firearms. This is nothing new in the

firearms industry and is by no means meant to detract from the brilliance of the AK design.

The first time I handled and test fired a Kalashnikov was when I worked undercover along the 

Mexican Border and I purchased two AKs and 4000 rounds of Chinese 7.62×39 caliber ammunition

from an illegal arms trafficker. These AKs were reportedly from a shipment of 5000 Egyptian AKM

Maadis, that made their way into the U.S. via a west coast port of entry.

After purchasing these weapons and ammunition, my partner and I had to test fire these AKs, so 

we could certify that these firearms were sold in violation of federal law. While confirming that these

AKs were in fact fully automatic imachine guns, I made the following observations: As someone who

trained with and or carried various semi automatic and select fire military caliber rifles, carbines and

submachine guns, I immediately noticed that the sights on the AK were unique to this design and unlike

what I was used to using. Even though this was the case I never had any problem delivering accurate

shot placement with any AK variant, including when operated in the fully automatic mode of fire.

AKs are also very user friendly when it comes to their weight, balance, ergonomics and 

disassembly procedures. In fact, AK variants are one of the easiest firearms to operate and maintain and

are very “forgiving” when it comes to “needing” to be cleaned.

The ruggedness of the AK design also lends itself to being used in extreme operating 

conditions. If you doubt this to be true, consider the harsh operating conditions in the Middle East,

Afghanistan, eastern Europe, Vietnam, Central America and Africa. Even the Israeli’s saw the merits of

the AK and ended up issuing captured AKs to some of their special operations personnel. The Israeli’s

then went on to include some of the rock solid operating features of the AK, when they designed their

now famous Galil rifle.

For various reasons that all make sense, AK variants in different calibers are one of the most 

popular firearms in the U.S. As someone who has field tested a number of AK variants, including 47s,

74s, Krinkovs and SAIGAs in different calibers, I have my favorites. One of my favorite AKs is the

Zastava ZPAP 85 Pistol that is featured in this article for ARGunners. Here’s why. For starters, the

Zastava ZPAP 85 is built like a tank; a very well built tank. Even in pistol form, the ZPAP 85 is well

balanced, which makes it easy to carry, wield and fire. I also suspect that some end users will find the

Krinkov style sights, that are utilized on the ZPAP 85, to be more user friendly than standard AK sights.

While it may seem a bit awkward to shoot a firearm, that is basically a rifle minus a stock, in 

reality the ZPAP 85 is very easy to shoot with precision. This can be easily accomplished by using a

two hand hold, that involves raising the ZPAP 85 to eye level and pulling the super smooth trigger once

you acquire your target. The ZPAP 85 can also be accurately fired from the hip or the chest level.

While evaluating the ZPAP85, a variety of targets were engaged at various distances.  This 

included, engaging different size targets at distances from 20 feet out to 50 yards from a standing

unsupported position. I should also mention, that the ZPAP 85 ejected brass an impressive 20 feet away

from my firing position and at a 45 degree angle.
The design features that make the ZPAP85 ideally suited to serve as a Personal Defense

Weapon, Home Defense Weapon, survival firearm and as a recreational plinker are, its superb trigger,

the fact that it’s chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 caliber, its Krinkov sights and its weight and balance.

The compact nature of this design also makes the ZPAP 85 ideally suited to be kept accessible inside

a vehicle and transported concealed in a large backpack.

My extremely favorable opinion of the ZPAP 85 was echoed by my best friend Rick Batory.  In 

addition to growing up in Soviet controlled Poland, Rick served in a local sheriff’s department and

retired as a school district patrol sergeant. During the Global War on Terrorism, Rick conducted

foreign enemy weapons training for U.S. military personnel, that focused on the use of AK pattern

firearms. As a result of Rick’s familiarity with AKs, he was incredibly impressed with the Zastava

ZPAP 85.

As far as features and specifications are concerned, the ZPAP 85 has a chrome lined barrel, a 

stamped steel receiver, a corrosion resistant hard nickle chrome molly steel bolt carrier, a bulged

trunnion, a Krinkov style rear sight, a dual aperture front sight, a hinged top cover, a bolt hold open

notch on the safety selector, a wood forearm, an ergonomic synthetic grip and a 10 inch barrel. The

Zastava ZPAP 85 weights 6.6 pounds unloaded, is 19.3 inches in overall length and accepts different

capacity AK style (rock and lock) magazines, that are designed to reliably operate with 5.56

NATO/.223 brass cased and steel cased caliber ammunition. The ZPAP 85 also comes with one well

made 30 round polymer magazine.

                              SB TACTICAL TO THE RESCUE

As I stated in my article on the CZ Bren 2M Pistol, SB Tactical is a company that embodies the 

meaning of the famous saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Once ATF loosened its official

position on how Stabilizing Braces could be used, new products were developed that could be installed

on firearms that were designated as a pistol under federal law.

SB Tactical is a leading producer of Stabilizing Braces in the U.S. and currently manufactures a 

variety of models for every firearm designated as a “pistol.” The SB Tactical Stabilizing Brace that I

selected for the ZPAP 85 is the AKTF. The AKTF is a left side folding brace that maintains the

compact nature of the ZPAP 85 Pistol design. Even when the brace is extended, the ZPAP 85 “pistol” is

still about as compact as a .223/5.56 NATO caliber firearm can be. The SB AKTF Stabilizing Brace

was installed by removing the back plate on the ZPAP AK pistol and sliding the two flat V shaped

extensions under the loosened pistol grip. Once the pistol grip screw was tightened, the AKTF

Stabilizing Brace was firmly held in position.

                CLOSING REMARKS

Simply put, on a scale of 1 to 10 the Zastava ZPAP 85 pistol is a solid 10. Installing the SB 

Tactical AKTF side folding brace on this firearm elevated the ZPAP 85 Pistol two notches on a scale

1 to 10 and turned this ZASTAVA AK pistol into a solid 12. In fact, I was so impressed with this

firearm, I purchased the ZPAP 85 that I used in this field test.

Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date, the author has published over 210 magazine articles and ten action-packed nonfiction, historical fiction, and fiction books: Controlled Delivery Books One and Two, The Frontline Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One and Two and A Special Kind of Hero. These books have received 5 Star reviews and are available on (US), and (UK). The K9 Academy is the author’s 10th book. The author was born and raised in Flatbush section of Brooklyn N.Y. and has an BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.