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RPK-200 series

Light machine gun

RPK-200 series

The RPK-200 series light machine guns were developed to supplement AK-100 series assault rifles

 
 
RPK-201
Country of origin Russia
Entered service ?
Caliber 5.56x45 mm
Weight (with empty magazine) 5.2 kg
Weight (loaded) 6 kg
Length 1 065 mm
Length (with folded stock) 845 mm
Barrel length ~ 590 mm
Muzzle velocity 930 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 600 rpm
Practical rate of fire 50 - 150 rpm
Magazine capacity 45 rounds
Sighting range 1 000 m
Range of effective fire 450 - 670 m

 

   The RPK-200 series of light machine guns was aimed mainly at export customers. It complements the AK-100 series of assault rifles. So far this series included RPK-201 and RPK-203 light machine guns. These weapons are based on the proven RPK-74M light machine gun, which is currently used by the Russian military. As of 2017 it looks like these weapons received no production orders.

   These light machine guns are intended to give infantry squads a portable source of automatic firepower. The RPK-200 series weapons are intended to fire the same cartridges as the assault rifles carried by other members of the unit. Unlike the general and heavy machine guns the light machine guns are operated by a single soldier rather than a crew.

   Externally the RPK-200 series weapons are similar to their predecessor, the RPK-74M. Essentially these are re-chambered versions. The RPK-201 is chambered for standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. It was developed to complement the AK-101 assault rifle. It can be seen as a heavy-barrel version of the AK-101, fitted with bipod. The RPK-203: is chambered for 7.62x39 mm ammunition. It was developed to complement the AK-103 assault rifle. It can be seen as a modern production version of the original RPK light machine gun, that appeared in the mid 1960s and was chambered for the same 7.62x39 mm ammunition. On the other hand the Russian military uses the older RPK-74M light machine gun, chambered for 5.45x39 mm ammunition. So far the Russian military has no urgent requirement to replace its RPK-74Ms.

   These are gas-operated weapons, capable of both semi-automatic and fully-automatic fire. The RPK-200 series weapons fire from a closed, rotating bolt. Their heavy barrel is unable to be changed, severely limiting sustained rate of fire. Furniture is made of  black polymer materials. Some parts may be interchangeable with the AK-100 series assault rifles.

   This weapon its rugged, reliable, simple to operate and to maintain. This light machine gun do not jams or misfires in worst conditions possible. If it jams, stoppages are easy to fix. This weapon can be field stripped in one minute without using any tools. It has a service life of 20 000 rounds.

   Despite their advantages the RPK-200 series weapons loose to modern Western squad automatic weapons in terms of range and accuracy. Also the RPK-200 series weapons are poorly balanced.

   A combined safety and fire mode fire selector switch locks the bolt group and the trigger in the "safe" position. It also serves as a dust cover. The middle position is for automatic fire and the bottom position is for single shots.

   The RPK-201 is fed from a 45-round capacity box magazine. It is compatible with standard 30-round AK-101 assault rifle magazines. And vice versa, the AK-101 can use magazines of the RPK-201, The RPK-203 is fed from a 40-round magazine, which is compatible with that of the AK-103 assault rifle.

   These light machine guns come with a side-folding stock as standard. These weapons are fitted with bipods.

   The RPK-201 and RPK-203 come with simple iron sights. There is no Picatinny-type scope rail, which is present on most modern weapons. Instead the RPK-200 series weapons have older Soviet-style side-mounted rail for various optics and night vision sights. It is not as versatile as the Picatinny-type scope rail. Though adaptor with a Picatinny-type rail can be mounted.

   The RPK-201 has an effective range of 450 m against a torso-sized target, and 670 m against a running man. The RPK-203 is not that accurate, but packs a heavier punch, as its 7.62x39 mm ammunition is superior in terms of penetration. Its range of effective fire is only 365 m, against a torso-sized target and 550 m against a running man.

 

 
RPK-200 series

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RPK-200 series

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RPK-200 series

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Personal appeal from Andrius Genys

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