This post will be updated and populated with information as time moves forward.
In the realm of SKSs, the M59 is another uncommon variant, little more common over all than the Albanian. When production of them is compared to say the M59/66, they are alot less common. These were manufactured at the Zastava factory, also commonly seen as Zastava FRY, the FRY standing for Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which pre-dates the Yugoslavian SKS variants was Serbia and Montenegro, a name used from 1992 to 2006 to show their established federation. Due to the breakup of Yugoslavia, the history of the nation is full of border swaps and conflict. The nation formally known as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or the SFRY actually manufactured these rifles.
Even after national disruptions, conflicts and government changes, the Zastava Factory or Preduzece 44 plant, also known as the Zavod Crevena Zastava or Red Banner Works. and it's subsidiaries, is alive and well, manufacturing weapons to this day. They also have manufactured autos, and other items for a number of years. Zastava Automobiles manufactured the Yugo auto back in the 80's, and today makes the Fiat 500L. The headquarters are located in Kragujevac, Serbia.
The Model 59 was accepted in to service in 1959, going by the naming. But, production didn't start till several years later, in the mid 1960's. What is estimated to be the first production rifles, is known as the long barreled Yugoslavian SKS. These have very low serial numbers, production is estimated to be around 100 and have a barrel roughly 2 inches longer than a standard issue SKS. These are due to very low production numbers the rarest of the Yugoslav family, also possibly the rarest SKS variant. The date commonly accepted is 1961 for the production of these rifles.
For an in depth look at the rare long barreled M59, click the link below
Somewhere between 1964 and 1967, after a short lapse in production Yugoslavian restarted with 1 for a serial, the next two known prefixes in the M59 production line were built, the "B" and "C" series as they are known. The letters are the serial prefix. The "B' series has proven to be less common than the "C" based off serial tracking and those coming up for sale. The highest "B" serial number, I have seen is B1535*. Either low numbers of "B" series were produced or there were not many left to import, that accounts for the rarity. The barrel length is a normal 20 inch barrel. Numbers of M59s built seem to be around 50,000+/- a few thousand. The "C" series serial seems to go to the 52,*** range. Yugoslavians are receiver stamped with a single serial prefix which is year built and a serial number, from 1 to 7 digits.
These photos show the factory prefix and serial, also is the importer dot matrix model and the importer serial. Some rifles are also found with a purplish bluing tint. What causes it, no idea, normal wear, contaminated solution, or possibly metallurgical differences. Also there is a slight difference in the serial stamps
While this variant is typical in construction for an SKS, there are some slight differences:
1)The bayonet is not plated on the M59, it's typically a dull matte gray color, the M59/66 is plated and looks like a standard issue bayonet.
2)The bore is not chrome plated....
Contrary to misconception, Macedonia and Kosovo have large chromium deposits and Yugoslavia even exported it at one time. So, Yugoslavia had the chrome to plate the bores, back then, they choose not to. Even on Aks, they didn't plate, except M-95A. Yugoslavia did how ever have a documented known inspection program, that possibly if a bore was done, worn enough, it was replaced. In the Communist world, this was busy work for the people, it kept weapons in top shape and built national pride. It could have also been a cost cutting measure, being they exported weapons, the lack of chrome could have lowered the production costs to compete with other nations exporting arms.
This has been a debate for years, many theories exist on why they didn't chrome rifle bores. The technology existed in Yugoslavia in the 1950s. Also it's a factor for collectors, bores can range from bright to borderline sewerpipe. But, even a pitted bore can still shoot.
3) parts usually have a part number stamped or electro penciled on them, also the same parts will or could have the serial stamped or electro-penciled.It is very common to find electro-pencil serial numbers, usually indicating rebuild. On the Yugoslavian carrier, these won't be numbered on the top like other rifles, the serial is on the left side flat.
Magazine part or assembly number
Butt plate number
Top cover number, some replacements don't have the serial stamped
Handguards are even stamped with assembly numbers
4)Yugoslavia had no factory stamp, like the Tula star or Jianshe /26\, a common mark found is [BK]-[usually inside a circle on some older Mausers, but, typically it's a boxed [BK]. The mark is V*ojna Kontrola - Military Control, and it's a Cyrillic BK, in Latin it becomes VK = Military inspection. the B is V in Cyrilic letter alphabet.
Common [BK] stamps
5) Yugoslavia used two types of wood, elm and possibly a European birch was used. No teak stocks have been found, even according to Matt Shuster, owner of Ironwood Designs. Some elm can appear as teak, based on the cut, but, teak is not a native Yugoslavian wood, it is an Asian wood that is expensive and would have had to be
imported all the way to Yugoslavia. Elm is also resistant to decay when permanently wet, which means in a wet jungle environment, it would be suitable for use.
Two totally different wood types used, also note: trench art in bottom photo
6) Some stocks can be found with 1.TRZ stamped on the right side of the butt stock. Which stands for Technical overhauling institute #1, TRZ is Tehnicki Remontni Zavod. It is located in Cacak Serbia, and was functional as early as 1944 based on weapons that predate the SKS found with said stamp, and was believed to be in operation as late as 2005. They are believed to be only dealing with wood and/or stock work.
7) There is a rumored "A" prefix serial, I personally have never seen a photo or even the rifle, nor have I ever spoke with anyone who has seen the "A" prefix rifle. Whether or not this variant exists, is up for debate. I would openly welcome any physical proof, photo or proof otherwise to squash or confirm this myth.
8- Use and abuse is common, like the Sino-Banian SKS, these were used in the conflicts that tore this nation apart, like the Yugoslav War. So refurbs are a common find, due to Yugoslavia's repair and refurb program. There have been as issued M59s found, with all original parts, but again, it's not often.
Bosnian rebuild labeled as an M59
There are more or less mislabeled M59 rifles, a small number hit the market a while back. These were Bosnian rebuilt rifles from 59/66. They are easy to identify, they have the collar on the barrel to lock the bayonet, but no actual grenade launcher, it was cut off. Also, another dead give away, they still maintain the gas shut off valve. They will also be scrubbed, and the only number to be found is a new receiver serial. These were truly a complete rebuild, as I understand using new unissued barrels by TRB (Bosnia). I have heard reports these barrels are chrome lined, but I have never seen one in person to verify.
Some other small differences, the grenade launcher sight was removed, the front sight block looks to have been replaced with a later machined base. The flip up night sight was removed as well, but it looks as if the mount for the rear night sight pivot is present however. The stock seems to be a replacement also, and either a varnish or shellac type finish, the typical rubber butt pad is present.