×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks
Advertisements

HOME
INFANTRY
MODERN ARMIES
SPECIAL FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
COLD WAR
MODERN
VIETNAM WAR

Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)


Light Machine Gun (LMG) (1961)


Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

1 / 4
A propaganda view showcasing the left-side view of a Soviet RPK-74 light machine gun; note bipod attachment, solid stock and curved magazine
2 / 4
A US Army soldier in Iraq assesses the condition of a captured RPK light machine gun
3 / 4
An AK-74 assault rifle pictured above an RPK-74 light machine gun
4 / 4
Right side view of a Soviet RPK-74 light machine gun

Jump-to: Specifications

The RPK saw combat action in the Vietnam War and continues as a frontline component today.



Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 03/03/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Advertisements
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.

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.

Specifications



Service Year
1961

Origin
Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union

Classification


Light Machine Gun (LMG)


Izhmash Joint Stock Company / Kalashnikov - Soviet Union
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Albania National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Chad National flag of Cuba National flag of Egypt National flag of Ethiopia National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Hungary National flag of Iraq National flag of Iran National flag of Nicaragua National flag of Nigeria National flag of North Korea National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of Sudan National flag of Ukraine National flag of Vietnam 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; Ukraine; Vietnam
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Fire Support
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.


Overall Length
1,040 mm
40.94 in
Barrel Length
590 mm
23.23 in
Empty Wgt
10.58 lb
4.80 kg
Sights


Rear Sliding Tangent w/ Adjustable Notch; Front Post


Action


Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt

Rotating Bolt
System utilizes internal mechanism to lock the breech or rear barrel assembly prior to firing.
Gas-Operated
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


Caliber(s)*


7.62x39mm M43 / 5.45x39mm M74

Sample Visuals**


Graphical image of a 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed


40-round curved magazine / 45-round box magazine / 75-round drum
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
3,280 ft
(1,000 m | 1,093 yd)
Rate-of-Fire
600
rds/min
Muzzle Velocity
2,444 ft/sec
(745 m/sec)


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.


Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2


Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.

Advertisements





Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-