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PKM

General purpose machine gun

PKM

The PKM machine gun saw action during countless wars and proved itself well

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1969
Caliber 7.62 x 54 mmR
Weight (unloaded) 7.5 kg
Length 1 160 mm
Barrel length 645 mm
Muzzle velocity 825 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 650 - 720 rpm
Practical rate of fire 250 rpm
Magazine capacity 100, 200, 250-round belts
Sighting range 1 500 m
Range of effective fire 800 m

 

   The PKM is the most important and numerous variant of the PK. A durable and powerful General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the PKM is widely used nearly 50 years after it entered service. Its improved variants are still produced today.

   The famous Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK rifles, designed the original PK machine gun in the 1960s, as a replacement for various other older machine guns. It entered service in 1961. In 1969, the improved PKM appeared. It was significantly lighter and was built to improved construction methods. Since then, several variants have been introduced. The abbreviation PKM stands for Pulemyot Kalashnikova Modernizirovannyi, Russian for Kalashnikov machine gun modernized.

   The key to the PKMs 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 gun can withstand incredible abuse or extreme weather and continue to function. In addition, the PKM is capable of sustained fire of the hard-hitting 7.62x54 mmR round that packs a punch out to long ranges.

   The PKM 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. In combat real rate of fire is around 250 rounds per minute.

   The PKM has standard adjustable (100 to 1 500 meters in 100 meter increments) iron sights, with which 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 PKM has an integral bipod for improved accuracy while firing from the prone position.

   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 integral bipod and a muzzle break. The result is a somewhat ugly but certainly functional weapon. From an engineering standpoint the PKM is a low-tech weapon, that is simple to produce.

   While the PKM 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.

   The PKM can be fired from a 4.5-kilogram tripod. It is 3.2 kilograms lighter than the original PKs tripod.

   In its prolific career, the PKM 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 PKM 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 PKM has provided excellent service.

 

Variants

 

   PKMN: night sight model of the PKM. It has a special sight rail for mounting a PPN-3 or NSPU night-vision sight.

   PKMS: designation of the PKM machine gun, mounted on the tripod. The PKM uses a new and lighter tripod than the original PK. It weights 4.5 kg, opposed to 7.7 kg.

   PKMSN: night sight version of the PKM, mounted on the tripod.

   PKMT: improved PKT (tank or vehicle-mounted version of the PK).

   PKMB: improved version of the PKB (PK adpated for use as a pintle-mounted machine gun on aircraft and helicopters). The main difference between the PKM and the PKMB 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 service with the Russian armed forces in 2001, but has barely begun to replace the PKM in Russian service. Improvements include much better accuracy and a more durable barrel.

   7.62 KK PKM: Finnish name for the PKM.

 

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