Finland fought two major wars against the Soviet Union during World War 2. In the end, the nations signed an accord which allowed Finland to exist as its own national entity though influence from the Soviet Union remained apparent - particularly in its choice of military equipment. Like most other Soviet-allied or influenced nations, Finland adopted some form of the world famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle and this became the m/60 which was evolved into a slightly improved form in the upcoming m/62. From these developments came the m/76 which more or less continued the line, still chambered for the rifle-caliber 7.62x39mm cartridge but also offered in a 5.56x45mm NATO form (for Western-aligned export customers). The model also retained the identifiable curved magazine, large selector handle and over-barrel gas cylinder. As such, the internals still relied on a gas-operated action through a rotating bolt mechanism. Outwardly, however, the m/76 did not feature any wooden furniture as in earlier Kalashnikovs and was completed in a fine Parkerized matte black finish throughout all the while incorporating lightweight polymers to the important metal components. Production was undertaken by the Finnish concern of Valmet from 1976 into 1986. Operators ultimately included the Finnish Army, Indonesia and Qatar.
The m/76 was larger use of plastics, both at the stock and forend to reduce both weight and production costs. Stamping an riveting was also used at the receiver for the same reasons. Tritium illuminated sights were made standard for accurized firing in low-light environments. Notable forms included a wooden stock variant under the M76W designation and the M76F with folding plastic stock. The M76T was given a folding tubular buttstock and the M76P made use of a fixed plastic buttstock. Typically, a length of 37.4 inches was displayed and 24 inches was reached with the stock collapsed. The weapon was fed through a 15-, 20- or 30-round curved detachable box magazine and the action allowed for a 700 rounds per minute rate-of-fire to be achieved.
The M76 was evolved into a squad-level support light machine gun in the M78 series.