One Year With a Yugo M85 – Upgrades and Thoughts

The Yugoslavian or ‘Yugo’ PAP M85 is kind of like the lesser little brother to the M92. The M85 is the 5.56 NATO chambered version of the Yugoslavian AK-pattern rifle – where as the M92 is chambered in the traditional 7.62 cartridge.

The M85, for me, was a much better choice over the M92 for a variety of reasons. I already had tons of 5.56/.223 ammunition on hand so I did not need to purchase another caliber and 7.62 ammunition is getting higher in price and is almost as much as 5.56 these days.

The M85/M92 is imported from Yugoslavia by Century Arms and then resold to buyers in the USA. The m85 series is a ‘pistol’ configuration which comes in two varieties called the ‘NP’ and ‘PV’. The difference between the two being the type of magazines they use. The ‘NP’ version has a composite magazine well installed allowing the use of AR-15 pattern magazines where as the ‘PV’ version uses metal imported .223 magazines.

Of course – for parts commonality – I chose the M85NP with the composite magazine well and I could not be happier.

One Year With a Yugo M85

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I’ve read lots of postings online bashing the M85 – especially for its composite magazine well. Many AK ‘purists’ tout that the composite well and Ar-15 magazine combination is no as strong as the traditional metal magazines and their direct-attachment method.

I beg to differ.

The M85 is extremely fun to shoot, balances great, is very easy to use and manipulate (for an AK) and in this version from Yugo can provide a great alternative to the AR-15 in your safe.

After a year of owning the M85; here’s a run down on what I did to it to make me love it so much and almost consider picking it up instead of one of my AR-15’s if ‘SHTF’.

Make it an SBR (Short Barrel Rifle)

The first thing I did to the M85 was make it an SBR so I could attach a stock to it. After my Form 1 was approved I added a Manticore Arms triangle stock but that has since been removed in favor of an LMT buffer tube with a Magpul CTR. Let’s face it – the adjustability of a stock is paramount and when wearing plates or a chest rig it can make a world of difference in usability and comfort.

Toss The Trigger

The stock trigger is said to be a Tapco G2 – but I couldn’t confirm this as mine had no markings. It was mushy and had a very long pull with no real feedback in the form of click or ‘walls’ to try and shoot better with it. Luckily ALG (subsidy of Geissele) released the AKT in 2015 and I was able to pick one up to replace the stock PAP M85 trigger. This made a world of difference.

Update the Optics

The iron sights on all of the imported Yugo PAP rifles are pretty horrendous. The square peep sights with mostly canted front sight posts is pretty shoddy but can luckily be easily replaced. I added a picatinny 1913 rail to my dust cover and then attached a Burris Fastfire III with an ADM QD mount. The red dot is miles better than any iron sight system and gets shots on target fast – plus it’s much more fun to use!

This allows me to have a great low profile red dot optic with a quick-detach method so I can switch to irons in a pinch of the red dot goes down. This setup doesn’t co-witness, but you can buy adapters for the hand guard listed below that do.

Amazon has great prices on the Burris Fastfire III here.

Change the Brake/Flash Hider

The stock brake on that comes with the Yugo M85 is actually a ‘booster’. It’s a traditional design that comes with many AK-pattern rifles but does not do a good job of flash suppression especially with a short barrel. The M26x1.5LH threads on the Yugo are very unique but there are a few companies like CNC Warrior or Manticore Arms that make replacement flash hiders for that thread pattern.

I went with the Manticore Arms ‘Eclipse’ flash hider which mimics the Smith Vortex flash hider for the AR-15. This design is excellent at reducing your flash signature and keeps those large fireballs tame.

Make it Comfortable and Expandable

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Yugo M85NP Custom ObviouslyOperatorCom 1

The stock grip and hand guard on the Yugo are basic and dated. They offer no expansion ability and the grip is very uncomortable. Magpul and Manticore Arms make excellent replacements for these and you can take your pick. Magpul makes both a rubberized and regular version of their ‘K2’ grip which has a more much pleasant grip angle and Manticore Arms makes a ‘Renegade’ Yugo handguard that adds expansion slots to the hand guard area.

I added an IWC picatinny 1913 forward light mount to mine so I can easily add and remove a Surefire X300 if I feel like having a light on there.

Purchase a ‘Renegade’ hand guard for your Yugo M85 on Amazon here.

Update the Controls

The stock charging handle is very small and slippery. I replaced mine with a larger knurled knob and I highly recommend doing this upgrade. It allows a much more secure grip of the charging handle and provides a rough surface to grip it even when it’s wet outside.

The stock safety level is also an issue for the Yugo. Unfortunately we can’t make it ambidextrous (which I go into below) but we can add a metal ‘tab’ to allow manipulation of the safety without moving your finger from the trigger. These add on safety ‘tabs’ are made by Krebs and can be installed easily.

QD points are also all the rage right now for slings and such. I retrofitted an IWC MOE flush QD cup to fit in the corner of the hand guard for a front sling-point. Pair that with the QD cup that comes with the Magpul CTR stock and the Noveske end-plate on the receiver adapter – you’ve got a nice modern setup!

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The Bad: Ambidextrous Controls and Bolt Hold Open (BHO)

Unfortunately for the Yugo it’s not ambidextrous in nature for the controls and there is no bolt hold open on your last round. This is where the AR-15 obviously excels past the AK-pattern. You can overcome the lack of ambidextrous controls with training – but the bolt hold open is pretty annoying.

With that said I still love the M85NP and I am extremely happy with this purchase and I would recommend the M85 to anyone looking for a 5.56 chambered AK-pattern rifle. Most of the people I invite to shoot it actually like the recoil much more than an AR-15 and say that the M85 is more fun. Who knew?


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