Finland has a history of taking Russian-designed firearms and, frankly, making them even better. These firearms were adapted to the Finnish army’s needs and often used in conflicts with the very neighbor that provided the original design. Such was the case for the famed Finnish Mosin Nagant M39, an improved version of the Russian Mosin Nagants.
But few guns stand out for their impeccable performance, ruggedness, and collectibility quite like this Valmet M76, a variant of the Finnish RK 62 that was largely derived from the Russian AK-47.
Once again, the Finns improved upon the Russian design, resulting in what is widely considered the be one of the best AK-pattern rifles ever made. These battle-ready guns, including the magazines, easily qualify as collectible in the United States today because they are quite rare on the American market.
Fortunately, Guns.com was lucky enough to receive a Valmet in very good condition with additional magazines to go with the rifle. This Valmet is an M76FS, making it a side-folding stock variant of the original RK 62. There are a lot of unique features that distinguish this gun from its AK-47 heritage. For one thing, the model we discuss in the video is chambered in 5.56 NATO, though they were originally in 7.62x39mm. That shift is a product of the next great global conflict to emerge after World War II.
At the beginning of the Cold War, Finland realized they needed a new service rifle. In the 1950s, they were still fielding Mosin Nagants and other firearms from WWII. This started a research and development phase for the Finns, who eventually decided they would use the AK-47 as the starting point for their new rifle.
The new RK 62 incorporated several large design changes, including the stock, magazine release, a bayonet lug muzzle device, handguard, and even night sights – though the flip-up Tritium sights on this rifle have since gone dark. The rear sight is also located further to the rear than that of an AK-47, providing a much longer sight radius. Still, the rifle did maintain many elements of the AK-47, such as the large selector lever on the side of the receiver, curved magazines, rear takedown button, and the reliance on a rotating bolt and gas system.
Other minor alterations were made as well, such as the use of polymers to lighten the gun. Despite all these changes, by 1962 the RK 62 had been perfected and production for the military started in 1965. The RK 62 would prove to be an excellent design and later served as the building block for the venerable Israeli Galil. Over time, semi-automatic versions of the RK 62, like this M76FS, were sold to the civilian market.
One of the most noticeable and unique features on this rifle is the folding stock. The original RK 62 had a solid stock. At first glance, the folding stock on this rifle may seem awkward and a poor choice for the harsh Finnish cold. After all, you really don’t want to rest your face on a freezing metal stock in temperatures that can drop to -60 Fahrenheit. But the Finns had a solution for this as well, adding a polymer covering to ensure you didn’t leave part of your face stuck to the stock while waiting for a bucket of warm water. Overall, we actually found the side-folding stock to be quite positive and comfortable to use.
It’s quite rare that even we get our hands on a Valmet because they are so scarce in the U.S. and highly collectible. Yet they still make excellent general-purpose rifles that double as fantastic collector pieces.