Zastava M59 / 66 underfolding blade bayonet

Zastava M59 / 66 underfolding blade bayonet

The “papovka” (from PAP, poluautomatska puska, Serbian for “semi-automatic rifle”) is a Yugoslavian produced version of the Soviet SKS carbine.

If you encounter one of these, it’s likely the bayonet will be attached to an unmistakably Yugo Zastava, so you will have little difficulty identifying it. However, it’s possible you could come across the bayonet alone (perhaps removed by the importer so the rifle could be shipped to a “kinder, gentler” state, leaving the bayonet to be sold separately).

Warsaw Pact variants of the SKS generally had bayonets patterned after the original Soviet underfolding blade. The Zastava bayonet had to have different geometry, because the grenade launching “spigot” on the muzzle of the PAP is so long.

The main differences between the Zastava bayonet and the Soviet SKS bayonets are:

  1. From the back of the fuller to the point of the blade, the two are fairly similar, but the Yugo bayonet has a much longer ricasso behind the fuller.┬áThat ricasso (the rectangular, bladeless extension behind the fuller) increases the length of the bayonet (over that of the original SKS) by about 50%, but the plunging depth, or effective part of the blade–the part that one soldier can stick into another–is about the same, because the grenade launcher attachment would probably prevent the PAP bayonet from sinking in further.
  2. The front of the papovka’s spring-loaded hilt affixes to the underside of the barrel with a hook; on a Soviet SKS and Chinese Type 56 carbines, the bayonets have a muzzle ring that slips around the front of the barrel.

Incidentally, by way of comparison, the Chinese Type 56 version of the SKS initially had an under-folding blade bayonet like the original Soviet SKS, but eventually the Chinese adopted an under-folding, cruciform spike bayonet, copied from the earlier Russian M1944 Mosin Nagant side-folding bayonets. Most “civilian” SKS imports from mainland China to free American states have the spike bayonet.

The Chinese Type 56 SKS bayonet retains the Mosin’s dual-purpose chisel tip.

Where the papovkas saw action

Although the M70 (Yugo version of the Kalashnikov) was the primary arm used by all sides during the dissolution and immolation of Tito’s former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001, the Zastava M59 / 66 also saw service in that series of bitterly ethnic conflicts.

Before that, papovkas were provided to PLAN, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia, and saw service in the South African border wars from 1966 to 1990.

I don’t know how many South Africans were bayonetted by PLAN guerrillas, but PLAN often launched M60 rifle grenades at the SADF (South African Defense Force).

Ladder sight of for when launching grenades off the muzzle.

Communists in Angola, Zambia, and Namibia (the South Africans called the latter South West Africa) were assisted by Soviet commanders and thousands of Cuban troops in their battles with the SADF. They were armed, and armed their clients, primarily with Kalashnikov pattern rifles, but Simonov variants such as the PAP were also used.

During the Angolan Civil War, 1975 – 2002, the communist MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) was armed by the Soviet Union and its client states (such as Yugoslavia). MPLA Angolans used the Zastava M59 / 66 to kill UNITA (National Movement for the Total Independence of Angola) Angolans. UNITA armed primarily with equipment captured from PLAN, so we can assume that the UNITA Angolans also killed PLAN Angolans with the papovka.

This particular Zastava M59 / 66 is a LE seizure, kept in the CPD armory as an exemplar for training.