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Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)

Soviet Union (1961)
Picture of Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG)
Picture of Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG) Picture of Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG)
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The RPK saw combat action in the Vietnam War and continues as a frontline component today.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG).  Entry last updated on 10/19/2017; Authored by JR Potts, AUS 173d AB; Content Âİwww.MilitaryFactory.com

The RPK ("Ruchnoi Pulemyot Kalashnikova") entered service in 1961 as a powerful firearm, developed from the PK series of weapons. Externally, the weapon is essentially similar in appearance to the AK-47 assault rifle. This similarity is due to both systems being developed by the prolific and highly successful designer Kalashnikov, the hero of the Soviet Union. The success of the AK-47 led to the Soviet military asking for a similar design to replace the light machine gun that was in service at the time - the Degtyarev RPD. So Kalashnikov lengthened the AK with a heaver barrel and fitted a bipod to support sustained automatic fire. Kalashnikov also stole the RPD stock design, which was popular with the troops, and changed the rear sight to allow for windage adjustments. The 30-round AK magazines were interchangeable, however, larger magazines of 40 rounds and a 75-round drum were needed to satisfy the full automatic requirement. The gun was eventually ordered for the Red Army in 1961 but did not enter service until 1964. Each infantry squad was issued one RPK along with the 75-round drum magazine. Airborne units were issued the RPKS featuring the folding stock.

The RPK was produced to operate with ease and to be nearly jam free. A major bonus was the commonality of parts with the AK service rifle series. The RPK utilizes a simple gas operated system firing from a closed bolt. Pulling the trigger begins the firing action - a round is fired and gas is produced when the powder burns and enters a small gas port pushing small pistons. The bolt is pushed back and the gas pressure is released allowing the bolt to be pushed forward by a spring. For night actions the NSP-2 infrared sight can be attached.


Picture of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG)
Picture of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG)


As with all weapons the RPK has her drawbacks. The closed bolt firing action and the barrel are not a quick change in the field. If the operator has good fire discipline few problems occur, however in combat situations discipline can go out the window. Optimal sustained fire is around 80 rounds per minute - if overused, chambered rounds could "cook off" and barrel damage could ensue. The size and weight of the box magazine is limited the amount of ammunition carried by the weapons crew - very different from the amount of belt ammunition carried around the necks of US soldiers in Viet Nam for the M60 general purpose machine gun.

The RPK is still in service, seeing first combat action in the Vietnam War while it is being used by terrorists today in Afghanistan and around the world with many thousands having been produced.
Supported Mission Types:
Frontline Issuance
Special Forces
Close Quarters Battle
Sniper
Designated Marksman/Sharpshooter
Suppressed/Silenced
Area Effect/Suppression
Indirect Fire
Airspace Denial
Anti-Material
Attachment Weapon
Aircraft-Mounted
Vehicle-Mounted
Antique/Collectors
Prototype/Development
National Flag Graphic
Origin: Soviet Union
Year: 1961
Type: Light Machine Gun (LMG)
Manufacturer(s): Izhmash Joint Stock Company - Soviet Union
Global Operators:
Afghanistan; Albania; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Chad; Comoros; Cuba; Djibouti; East Germany; Egypt; Ethiopia; Iraq; Iran; Hungary; Mali; Nicaragua; Nigeria; North Korea; Poland; Romania; Russia; Sudan; Vietnam
Structural - Internal Design, Dimensions, and Weights:

Operation
ACTION


System
Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt


Operation
CALIBER(S)


(Model / Chambering Dependent)
7.62x39mm M43 / 5.45x39mm M74


Operation
FEED


(Model / Chambering Dependent)
40-round curved magazine / 45-round box magazine / 75-round drum


Length
OVERALL


Millimeters
1,040 mm


Inches
40.94 in


Length
BARREL


Millimeters
590 mm


Inches
23.23 in


Structural
WEIGHT


Pounds (Unloaded)
10.58 lb


Kilograms (Unloaded)
4.80 kg


Ranged
Sights


Arrangement
Rear Sliding Tangent w/ Adjustable Notch; Front Post

Operating Performance (Typical):
Performance
MUZZLE
VELOCITY



Feet-per-Second
2,444 ft/sec


Meters-per-Second
745 m/sec


Performance
Rate-of-Fire


Rounds-per-Minute
600 rpm


Performance
RANGE


Feet
3,280 ft


Meters
1,000 m


Yards
1,093 yd

Variants: Series Model Variants
• RPKS – Equipped with folding stock for air assault.
• RPK-74 – Fitted with heaver barrel, revised front sight and folding bipod; and increased structural integrity.
• RPKN – Side rail on the left side to mount NSP-3, NSPU or NSPUM night vision sight.
• RPKSN – Side rail on the left side to mount NSP-3, NSPU or NSPUM night vision sight.
• RPK-74N – Side rail on the left side to mount NSP-3, NSPU or NSPUM night vision sight.
• RPKS-74N – Side rail on the left side to mount NSP-3, NSPU or NSPUM night vision sight.
• RPK-74M – Fitted with polymer foregrip, pistol grip and folding stock; improved rail for mounting optics.
• RPK-201 - Chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO round.
• RPKM – Chambered for the 7.62x39mm round.