Country of origin
7.62 x 54 mmR
1 160 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 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
The key to the PKM’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 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
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
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 PK’s tripod.
In its prolific career, the PKM and its variants have served
in East Germany, Yugoslavia, Sweden, and Lithuania. It continues to
serve in Russia, Zambia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Ukraine, Turkey, Uganda,
Syria, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Cuba, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq,
Tajikistan, Malta, Mali, Macedonia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan,
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.
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.
sight version of the PKM, mounted on the tripod.
PKMT: improved PKT (tank or vehicle-mounted version of the
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: improved and updated version of 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. This weapon
has been exported to some countries.
7.62 KK PKM: Finnish name for the PKM.
Article by The Tiger
publish your own articles? Visit our
guidelines for more information.