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Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)


Light Machine Gun (LMG)


Soviet Union | 1961



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

Performance
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
3,280 ft
999.7 m | 1,093.3 yds
Max.Eff.Range
600
Rounds-Per-Minute
Rate-of-Fire
2,444 ft/sec
745 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Physical
The physical qualities of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,040 mm
40.94 in
O/A Length
590 mm
23.23 in
Barrel Length
10.58 lb
4.80 kg
Weight
Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt
Action
7.62x39mm M43 / 5.45x39mm M74
Caliber(s)
40-round curved magazine / 45-round box magazine / 75-round drum
Feed
Rear Sliding Tangent w/ Adjustable Notch; Front Post
Sights
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG) family line.
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.
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 03/15/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The 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.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): 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 ]
1 / 4
Image of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)
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
Image of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)
A US Army soldier in Iraq assesses the condition of a captured RPK light machine gun
3 / 4
Image of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)
An AK-74 assault rifle pictured above an RPK-74 light machine gun
4 / 4
Image of the Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)
Right side view of a Soviet RPK-74 light machine gun

Going Further...
The Izhmash RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova) Light Machine Gun (LMG) appears in the following collections:
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