Country of origin
7.62 x 54 mmR
1 173 mm
Cyclic rate of fire
650 - 720 rpm
Practical rate of fire
100, 200, 250 round belts
1 500 m
Range of effective fire
The PK is
one of the classic Russian machine guns. A durable and powerful
General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the PK is widely used. Its
updated versions are produced today, more than 50 years after it
The famous Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK series
rifles, designed the PK machine gun in the early 60s, as a
replacement for various other older machine guns. It entered service
in 1961. Since then, several variants have been introduced, with a
total of over one million PKs built. The abbreviation PK stands for
Pulemyot Kalashnikova, Russian for Kalashnikov machine gun.
The key to the PK’s success is its extreme reliability, due
in part to the usage of proven Kalashnikov parts from the AK series
rifles, as well as having a small number of moving parts. This
machine gun can withstand incredible abuse or extreme weather and
continue to function. In addition, the PK is capable of sustained
fire of the hard-hitting 7.62x54 mmR round that packs a punch out to
The PK is a gas-operated, air cooled, belt fed machine gun
that fires from an open bolt. Its chrome-lined barrel can be quickly
detached by means of the carrying handle. It uses non-disintegrating
metal belts of 100 or 200 rounds. It can also use a 250 round box.
It can only fire in fully automatic mode, with a maximum rate of
fire of 720 rounds per minute. Although in real combat rate of fire
is 250 rounds per minute or lower.
The PK has standard adjustable (100 to 1 500 meters in 100
meter increments) iron sights. It is accurate out to 800 meters
against area targets and 500 meters against specific targets. It can
be adapted to carry an optical or night sight. The PK has an
internal bipod for improved accuracy while firing from the prone
The wooden stock is skeletonized to reduce weight, while the
body of the weapon is made of stamped and riveted steel. The
carrying handle/barrel detacher is found to the left of the
receiver. At the forefront of the weapon is the internal bipod and a
long muzzle break. The result is a functional weapon, though some
people might call it ugly.
While the PK fires a powerful cartridge and is reliable, it
has some deficiencies. The
round it fires (7.62x54 mmR), while powerful, is not the same round
used by the rifles of the other members of a typical squad. So,
although it is and will continue to be for some time an excellent
vehicle or tripod machine gun, it can never appropriately fill the
role of a squad automatic weapon.
There was developed a special tripod for the PK
machine gun. It weights 7.7 kg.
In its prolific career, the PK and its variants have served
in East Germany, Yugoslavia, Sweden, and Lithuania. It continues to
serve in Zambia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Ukraine, Turkey, Uganda,
Syria, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Cuba, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq,
Tajikistan, Malta, Mali, Macedonia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan,
Russia, Sudan, Panama, South Africa, Mongolia, Sao Tome and
Principe, Poland, Romania, Panama, Moldova, North Korea, Nigeria,
Mozambique, India, and many other countries.
Some of the wars that the PK has fought in include the
Vietnam War, the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, the
Gulf War, the Chechen Wars, the American War in Afghanistan, the
Iraq War, and the Syrian Civil War. In all these conflicts, the PK
has provided excellent service.
PKS: is a
designation of the PK, mounted on the tripod.
modernized version. Entered service in 1969. It is probably the most
important and widely distributed version, even more so than the
basic PK itself. It has a lighter barrel and uses improved
construction methods. Weighing 1.5 kilograms less than the PK and
somewhat shorter, it is just as effective. It has a number of its
own variants. The PKM was adopted alongside with a new tripod, which
weights significantly less - just 4.5 kg.
PKT: electronically-operated model for usage in tanks and
other vehicles. It lacks the stock and has a heavier and longer
barrel. The barrel was deliberately lengthened in order to achieve
ballistics of the previous SGMT machine gun, that the PKT replaced.
It allowed to retain the same optics. Muzzle velocity of the PKT
increased to 865 m/s and maximum rate of fire - to 800 rounds per
minute. Sighting range increased from 1 500 to 2 000 m.
PKB: variant for use as a pintle-mounted machine gun on
aircraft and helicopters. The main difference is the swivel in the
middle of the weapon; in addition, some PKBs have spade-style grips
instead of traditional pistol grips and stocks.
PKP ‘Pecheneg’: new GPMG designed to replace the PKM. It
entered Russian service in 2001, but has barely begun to replace the
PKM. Improvements include much better accuracy and a more durable
KT-7.62: Ukrainian-produced model of the PKT.
Kulspruta m/95: Swedish name for the PKT.
M84: Yugoslavian-produced version of the PK.
M86: Yugoslavian-produced model of the PKT.
Mokhtar: Sudanese-produced variant.
Type 80: Chinese-produced version of the PK.
Type 86: Chinese-produced version of the PKT.
MG Series: Bulgarian licensed-produced variants.
Cugir Mitraliera md. 66: Romanian copy.
Article by The Tiger
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