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Light machine gun


The RPK light machine gun was adopted alongside AKM assault rifle

Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1964
Caliber 7.62 x 39 mm
Weight (unloaded) 4.8 kg
Weight (loaded with 40 round magazine) 5.6 kg
Weight (loaded with 75 round magazine) 6.8 kg
Length 1 040 mm
Barrel length 590 mm
Muzzle velocity 745 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 600 rpm
Practical rate of fire 70 - 150 rpm
Magazine capacity 40 or 75 rounds
Sighting range 1 000 m
Range of effective fire ~ 800 m


   Intended to compliment the AKM assault rifle with heavier automatic fire support, the RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova or Russian for Kalashnikov hand-held machine gun) is a highly successful and reliable weapon that has seen action in numerous conflicts with many countries.

   The legendary Mikhail Kalashnikov, famous for his AK series rifles, designed the RPK. He used a stock derived from the earlier RPD that it replaced.

   The RPK is a gas-operated air-cooled weapon capable of both semiautomatic and automatic fire. Its heavy chrome-lined barrel is unable to be changed, severely limiting its sustained rate of fire. The RPK fires from a closed, rotating bolt. The stamped steel receiver is similar to that used on the AKM. The RPK can even interchange many parts with the AKM. This squad automatic weapon is fitted with a built-in bipod of steel.

   The main attraction of the RPK is its incredible reliability. This allows the crew to remain unworried about jams and keeping the gun extremely clean.

   The RPK generally uses 40 round box magazines or 75 round drum magazines, although it can use the 30 round box magazines from the AK-47 and AKM assault rifles.

   The RPK’s leaf sights can be adjusted from 100 to 1 000 meters in 100-meter increments. Range of effective fire is around 800 meters.

   The RPK light machine gun has seen action is such conflicts as the Vietnam War, the War in Afghanistan, the Syrian Civil War, and the Iraq War, to name a few.

   Current operators of the RPK and its variants include but are not limited to Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mongolia, North Korea, Somalia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

   Versions of the RPK are produced in Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Iraq.




   RPKN: essentially the same as the baseline RPK, except for a left side rail to mount a night vision sight.

   RPKS: paratrooper model. Also issued to vehicle crewmen. Equipped with a folding stock.

   RPKSN: RPKS fitted with a side rail on the left side for a night vision sight.

   RPK-74: A rechambered model, produced since the 1970s. Since the Soviet Union was switching to a lighter, higher velocity caliber (5.45x39 mm), they needed weapons to fire it. Consequently, the AK-74 rifle and RPK-74 light machine gun were developed. The RPK-74 is essentially the original weapon modified to fire 5.45x39 mm rounds. It also incorporates a number of minor improvements.

   RPK-74N: RPK-74 equipped with a left side rail to mount a night vision sight.

   RPKS-74: version of the RPK-74 for paratrooper use. The main difference is the folding stock.

   RPKS-74N: RPKS-74 modified to incorporate a side rail on the left side of the weapon for a night vision sight.

   RPK-74M: the RPK-74M is a modernized and improved version of the RPK-74. It features polymer parts making the weapon lighter and better magazines.

   RPKM: export version of the RPK-74M chambered for 7.62x39 mm.

   RPK-201: export model of the RPK-74M chambered for a standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. It was developed to complement the AK-101 assault rifle.

   RPK-203: another export model of the RPK-74M, chambered for 7.62x39 mm ammunition. It was developed to complement the AK-103 assault rifle. The RPK-203 can be seen as a modern production version of the original RPK.

   Type 64: North Korean designation of the RPK.

   ASh-78 Tip-2: Albanian produced model.


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