Valmet M60/M62 (RK 62)
While easy to dismiss the Finnish Valmet M60/M62 as an AK clone, the series certainly brought some interesting changes to the mix.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
After World War 2, the Soviet Union maintained something of a presence in Finland. While not outright occupying the nation, the communist empire was, in some ways, involved in the direction of its neighbor of which it had fought a bloody campaign against during the war. As such, many policies in Finland sought to not disrupt the post-war balance with the Soviets while the country maintained its independence and its economy remained pro-West. Regardless, the Soviet influence was seen within the Finnish military for much of its Cold War inventory was Soviet in nature including all manner of tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored cars, artillery and small arms. To that end, the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 Assault Rifle was modified locally to become the "m/60".
The m/60 was more or a less a "general" clone of the Soviet design with a few changes to suit the Finnish military. Internally, the m/60 was very close to the function of the AK family - most closely associated with the AKM (the "modernized" AK-47 of 1959). As such, the m/60 was, in effect, the Finnish attempt at their own modernized AK. To this point, the Finns had garnered some experience in using Soviet AK-47 assault rifles, known to the Finns as the "m/54" ("Rynnakkokivaari Malli 54" or "Model 54") and, with that experience in mind, design work on a modernized and localized AK began in 1958. Testing and additional development produced the "m/60" ("Rynnakkokivaari Malli 60" or "Model 60") of 1960. Production was handled by both Sako and Valmet and the weapon was rightly chambered for the Soviet 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge.
Internally, the m/60 mimicked much of the functionality and arrangement that made the AK family such a global success. However, the Finns were keen on developing the external side of the weapon to suit Finnish Army tastes and doctrine. As such, the m/60 lacked all of the wooden furniture consistent with many of the Kalashnikov models to date. The solid wooden stock of the AK - deemed a weakness in the original design - gave way to a robust tubular steel assembly. The wooden forestock was replaced by a perforated plastic hand guard. The receiver was redesigned and cleaned up for the better, the rear sight relocated to a rearmost placement. The fire selector, charging handle and ejection port all remained set along the right side of the body. Interestingly, there was no trigger guard in some production models (from Sako) which allowed the use of a heavily gloved hand when fighting in arctic-like conditions but opened the weapon up to snags. The pistol grip was well-rounded compared to the AK series and a three-pronged flash hider capped the barrel assembly. A combat knife mounting was introduced as well for close-quarters combat.
Overall, however, the m/60 retained the overall look and feel of the AK family as a whole. It fed from 30-round curved detachable box magazines, featured the identifiable magazine release/catch aft of the magazine well and kept the gas-operated/rotating bolt firing action of the original. The gas cylinder was fitted over the barrel assembly and connected via a slanted fixture which also held the forward sight. Overall length was approximately 36 inches with a 16.5 inch barrel. The cyclic rate-of-fire was 650 rounds-per-minute while muzzle velocity was rated at 2,400 feet per second.
The m/60 design eventually evolved to become the "m/62" which differed only slightly from the original m/60 - a trigger guard was reinstated while the forestock was lengthened further. It was also seen with wooden stocks but retained the general appearance of the former mark. The m/62 went on to become the standard issue assault rifle of the Finnish Army and a light machine gun version was also introduced - this sporting a heavier barrel, thicker tube stock, folding bipod, low-set gas cylinder and link belt ammunition feed. Another related m/62 development became the m/71 which featured a stamped steel receiver with a full synthetic stock among other changes. These appeared in limited numbers from 1971 to 1973 before being replaced by the newer m/76 models.