M17 is new modular assault rifle (AR) from Zastava Arms

The new M17 assault rifle by Zastava Arms (Photo: Serbian MoD)

Serbia’s Zastava Arms has developed a new gas-operated modular assault rifle (AR), that has been designated as the M17, that the company said is currently at Technology Readiness Level 6. The new rifle is apparently a step up in the Zastava Arms production as it will be chambered in two calibers including 6.5×38.7 mm Grendel.

Zoran M Susic, marketing and research manager at the company, said, “the base for the modular M17 modular AR is the Zastava M05 in the caliber 7.62×39 mm, the system of the Kalashnikov, which is the standard caliber of the Serbian Army and many other countries”. This uses a standard curved plastic magazine that holds 30 rounds of ammunition.

Susic added, however, that the barrel can be “replaced in less than 60 seconds by a new barrel which fires 6.5×38.7 mm rounds using at present a 20-round magazine, but that this is expected to be replaced by a 30-round magazine in the future”.

M17 AR Zastava Arms
Zastava Arms’ modular assault rifle shown chambered for 6.5 mm rounds with a 20-round magazine. (Photo: Zastava Arms)

On top of the weapon is a standard Picatinny rail. There is a selector on both sides of the rifle for single shot, fully automatic, or safe modes.

The cover under the forward part of the weapon can be removed to show another Picatinny rail that could mount a single-shot grenade launcher, light, or other peripheral. The weapon has a telescopic butt that can be folded alongside to reduce its length.

The 6.5×38.7 mm round, developed by Serbia’s Prvi Partizan, leverages work on the company’s 6.5×39 mm Grendel cartridge, but it has been optimized to be fired from automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

The 6.5×38.7 mm round is claimed to have better aerodynamic characteristics leading to a slower loss of velocity, flatter trajectory, and more kinetic energy when it hits the target. The round has a range of 800 m, the Serbian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

It’s expected that rifle will enter into the service in Serbian Army on the next Infantry weapons upgrade “1.500+”. It will be the first and only assault rifle in Serbian Army chambered in caliber 6.5 mm Grendel.