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Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova)

General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG)

Soviet Union | 1961

"The Soviet-era PK General Purpose Machine Gun - introduced in 1961 - still sees considerable service worldwide."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/17/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The arrival of the PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova) machine gun in 1961 marked the first entry of a true General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) into Soviet Army service. GPMGs receive their name from their ability to fulfill a variety of much-needed battlefield roles such as fire support and enemy troop through bipod-, tripod-, vehicle- or aircraft-mounted installations. These weapons also fire full-power rifle caliber cartridges which give them excellent penetration value at range as well as increased engagement ranges when compared to assault rifles.

The PK succeeded the post-World War 2-era RP-46 machine gun (detailed elsewhere on this site) series in circulation. The newer weapon went on to see considerable combat service under a multitude of national banners - from the Vietnam War (1955-1975) to the present-day engagements making up the Syrian Civil War, the War in Donbass and the Yemeni Civil War. Over 1 million units have been produced both domestically and foreign.

The PK is chambered for the proven 7.62x54mmR rifle cartridge and fires through a Kalashnikov-style open-bolt, gas-operated system that has shown considerable reliability over many decades of use. Feeding is through a non-disintegrating link belt in 100-, 200- and 250-round counts. The gun system weights 19.85lb as a whole with the typical bipod assembly in place and showcases an overall length of 47.5 inches. The barrel measures 23.8 inches long.

Rate-of-fire reaches 650 rounds per minute and ranges are out to 1,095 yards. Maximum range is 4,155 yards. Sighting is through tangent iron sights though optics are supported (including night vision and thermal types).

In practice, the PK has been officially issued as a support weapon at the company level. Its heavy-duty design allows it to fire a much more powerful cartridge when compared to traditional service rifles and even Light Machine Guns. The barrel can be changed out to compensate for overheating which can lead to deforming or fracturing of the barrel assembly and render the weapon useless in a firefight. Its reliability and flexibility have made it a Soviet-era classic - a well-respected and received weapon.

The PKS, PKM, PKMN, PKMS, PKMSN and PKT are all offspring of the base PK design. The PKP "Pecheneg" (detailed elsewhere on this site) is a newer PK series weapon influenced by the original and features a fixed heavy barrel and forced-air cooling.

Despite its origins in the 1960s, the PK series has managed an active existence into the new millennium. Tens of thousands of copies have emerged from foreign factories as well adding to an already-impressive production total. The availability of the Soviet 7.62mm cartridge has also helped its reach beyond Soviet-Russian borders and many ex-Soviet states and supported allies rely on the product.

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The physical qualities of the Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,203 mm
47.36 in
O/A Length
605 mm
23.82 in
Barrel Length
19.84 lb
9.00 kg
Gas-Operated; Open-Bolt; Full-Automatic; Belt-Fed-Only
100- 200- or 250-round belt
Tangent Iron; Optional Optics.
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
3,285 ft
1,001.3 m | 1,095.0 yds
2,710 ft/sec
826 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Notable series variants as part of the Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova) General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) family line.
PK - Base Series Model; original production model.
PKS - Tripod-mounted variant; heavy-duty support fire.
PKM - Modernized model of 1969
PKMN - PKM with nigh sight support
PKMS - Tripod-mounted variant
PKMSN - Tripod-mounted variant with night sight support.
PKT - Vehicle-mounted machine gun variant
PKP "Pecheneg" - Modernized modle of 2001; influenced by PKM design; heavy, fixed barrel assembly with forced-air cooling.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Kalashnikov / State Factories - Soviet Union / Russia
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Albania National flag of Algeria National flag of Armenia National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Belarus National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Chad National flag of China National flag of Croatia National flag of Cuba National flag of Czechia National flag of Egypt National flag of Eritrea National flag of Estonia National flag of Finland National flag of Georgia National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Guinea National flag of Hungary National flag of India National flag of Iraq National flag of Iran National flag of Israel National flag of Kazakhstan National flag of Kyrgyzstan National flag of Latvia National flag of Lebanon National flag of Lithuania National flag of Macedonia National flag of Mongolia National flag of Mozambique National flag of Nigeria National flag of North Korea National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of Serbia National flag of South Africa National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Sudan National flag of Sweden National flag of Syria National flag of Tajikistan National flag of Turkey National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of Uganda National flag of Ukraine National flag of Uzbekistan National flag of Vietnam National flag of Yugoslavia National flag of Zambia

[ Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Chad; China; Croatia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Egypt; Eritrea; Estonia; East Germany; Fiji; Finland; Georgia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; India; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Kazakhstan; Kurdistan; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Macedonia; Mali; Malta; Moldova; Mongolia; Mozambique; Nigeria; North Korea; Panama; Poland; Romania; Russia; Sao Tome and Principe; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Serbia; Soviet Union; Sri Lanka; Sweden; Syria; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Turkey; Uganda; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Vietnam; Yugoslavia; Zambia ]
Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Kalashnikov PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova) General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) appears in the following collections:
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