RPK with bipod and 75-round drum magazine
|Type||Light Machine Gun|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||See Users|
Cambodian Civil War
Rhodesian Bush War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
First Chechen War
Second Chechen War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Cambodian–Thai border stand-off
2008 South Ossetia war
2011 Libyan civil war
Syrian civil war
|Manufacturer||Vyatskie Polyany Machine-Building Plant|
|Variants||RPKN, RPKS, RPKSN, RPK-74, RPK-74N, RPKS-74, RPKS-74N|
|Weight||RPK: 4.8 kg (10.6 lb)
RPKS: 5.1 kg (11 lb)
RPK-74: 4.7 kg (10 lb)
RPKS-74: 4.85 kg (10.7 lb)
|Length||RPK, RPKS: 1,040 mm (40.9 in)
RPKS: 820 mm (32.3 in) stock folded
RPK-74, RPKS-74: 1,060 mm (41.7 in)
RPKS-74: 845 mm (33.3 in) stock folded
|Barrel length||590 mm (23.2 in)|
|Cartridge||RPK, RPKS: 7.62×39mm M43
RPK-74, RPKS-74: 5.45×39mm M74
|Action||Gas operated, rotating bolt; closed bolt|
|Rate of fire||600 rounds/min (RPK), 650 rounds/min (RPK-74)|
|Muzzle velocity||RPK, RPKS: 745 m/s (2,444 ft/s)
RPK-74, RPKS-74: 960 m/s (3,149.6 ft/s)
|Effective range||100–1,000 m sight adjustments|
|Feed system||RPK, RPKS: 20, 30, or 40-round curved magazine, 75-round drum magazine
RPK-74, RPKS-74: 30 or 45-round box magazine, 100-round plastic drum magazine, belt ammunition (with side mounted belt feed device)
|Sights||Front: semi-shrouded front post, rear: sliding tangent with adjustable notch
Sight radius: 555 mm (21.9 in)
The RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova, Russian: Ручной пулемёт Калашникова or "Kalashnikov hand-held machine gun") is a 7.62x39mm light machine gun of Soviet design, developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1950s, parallel with the AKM assault rifle. It was created as part of a program designed to standardize the small arms inventory of the Red Army, where it replaced the 7.62x39mm RPD light machine gun. The RPK continues to be used by the armed forces of countries of the former Soviet Union and certain African and Asian nations. The RPK was also manufactured in Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania.
Design details 
Operating mechanism 
The RPK functions identically to the AK-47. It also uses the same 7.62x39mm ammunition. It has a similar design layout to the AKM and AK-47 series of rifles, with modifications to increase the RPK's effective range and accuracy, enhance its sustained fire capability, and strengthen the receiver.
Most notably, the RPK has a heavier and longer barrel than an AKM. This allows the RPK to fire for extended periods of time without major loss in accuracy due to the barrel heating up. The chrome-lined barrel is permanently fixed to the receiver, and cannot be replaced in the field. It is fitted with a new front sight base, gas block (lacks the bayonet lug) and an under-barrel cleaning rod guide. The barrel also features a folding bipod, mounted near the muzzle, and a front sight base with a lug that limits the bipod's rotation around the axis of barrel. The barrel's muzzle is threaded, enabling the use of muzzle devices such as flash hiders, compensators, and blank-firing adapters. When a muzzle device is not being used, the threads on the muzzle can be covered by a thread protector. The barrel is pinned to the receiver in a modified trunnion, reinforced by ribbing, and is slightly wider than the trunnion used on standard AKM type rifles. Symmetrical bulges on both sides of the front trunnion ensure proper fit inside the receiver.
The RPK's receiver cover is stamped from a smooth 1.5mm sheet of steel (compared to the 1 mm sheet metal receiver cover used on standard AKM rifles). Interchangeability of parts between the RPK and AKM is moderate.
The RPK uses a modified AKM recoil spring assembly. It consists of a rear spring guide rod from the AK, and a new forward flat guide rod and coil spring.
The RPK features a thick laminated wood foregrip, and a fixed laminated wood "club-foot" buttstock, similar to the stock used on the RPD, which is designed to allow the user to fire from the prone position more comfortably. The RPK uses a standard AKM pistol grip.
The weapon's rear sight leaf is elevation adjustable, and graduated for ranges of 100 to 1,000 meters, in 100 m increments. The rear sight leaf also features a windage adjustment knob, unique to the RPK series of rifles.
Supplied with the RPK are: spare magazines, a cleaning rod, cleaning kit (stored in a hollowed compartment in the buttstock), a sling, oil bottle and magazine pouches (a single-pocket pouch for a drum magazine or a 4-pocket pouch for box magazines).
An RPK with a side-folding wooden stock was intended primarily for the air assault infantry. The former Soviet Union issued the RPK mainly to motorised units. Changes to the design of the RPKS are limited only to the shoulder stock mounting, at the rear of the receiver. It uses a trunnion riveted to both receiver walls that has a socket and tang, allowing the stock to hinge on a pivot pin. The trunnion has a cut-out on the right side designed to engage the stock catch and lock it in place when folded. The wooden stock is mounted in a pivoting hull, which contains a catch that secures the buttstock in the extended position. The rear sling loop was moved from the left side of the stock body to the right side of the stock frame.
Introduced in 1974 together with the AK-74 assault rifle and chambered for the new 5.45x39mm high-velocity cartridge. The RPK-74 derives from the AK-74 rifle, with modifications that mirror those made to the AKM to create the RPK. The RPK-74 also uses a longer and heavier chrome-plated barrel, which has a new gas block with a gas channel at a 90° angle to the bore axis, and a ring for the cleaning rod. The RPK-74 was also equipped with a folding bipod and a different front sight tower. The muzzle is threaded for a flash suppressor or blank-firing device.
The rear stock trunnion was strengthened and the magazine well was reinforced with steel inserts.
Additionally, the RPK-74 has a modified return mechanism compared to the AK-74, which uses a new type of metal spring guide rod and recoil spring. The rear sight assembly, forward handguard and receiver dust cover were all retained from the RPK.
The RPK-74 feeds from a 45-round steel or polymer box magazine, interchangeable with magazines from the AK-74, and is designed to be charged from stripper clips. Drum magazines similar to those used on the previous RPK models were tested during the development phase of the RPK-74, but were discontinued in favor of the 45-round box magazine. However, the drum magazines were still produced in limited numbers.
Standard equipment includes: eight magazines, six stripper clips (15 rounds per clip), a speedloader guide, cleaning rod, cleaning kit, sling, oil bottle and two magazine pouches. Some variants do not come with the cleaning kit option.
It is in widespread use by member states of the former Soviet Union, as well as Bulgaria.
The RPKS-74 is the paratrooper model of the RPK-74, equipped with a wooden folding stock from the RPKS.
Night variants 
The RPK family of light machine guns is also available in a night fighting configuration. These weapons are designated RPKN, RPKSN, RPK-74N, and RPKS-74N. They have a side rail mounting on the left side of the receiver that accepts a NSP-3, NSPU, or NSPUM night vision sight.
An updated variant known as the RPK-74M was developed that includes a true black polymer, rather than the previously used plum colored stock sets. The lower hand guard, gas tube cover, pistol grip, and updated side-folding stock that has the cut out for the side rail and utilizes a small button to fold the stock. These also come standard with a side rail for mounting optics. Updated magazines were produced by Molot with horizontal ribs going up the sides of the magazines. An export variant chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO was also introduced, designated the RPK-201. Also for export is the RPKM chambered in 7.62x39mm; it uses the same polymer furniture as the RPK-74M variant. A series of semi-automatic rifles based on the RPK receiver are manufactured by the "Molot" factory in Russia, these are known as the Vepr and Vepr 2. They are offered in several chamberings, including: .223 Remington, 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm, 7.62x54mmR, .308 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield. They are intended mainly for the civilian market.
- Albania: Uses both Soviet and locally produced ASh-78 Tip-2 rifles.
- Bulgaria: Produced by Arsenal as the LMG in three different calibers, 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm and 5.56x45mm NATO. A folding stock variant is known as the LMG-F.
- Cape Verde
- Cameroon
- Central African Republic
- Egypt
- Equatorial Guinea
- Malaysia: RPK-74 variant is used by the Grup Gerak Khas (GGK) of the Malaysian Army.
- Mali – Armed and Security Forces of Mali
- Morocco
- North Korea: Type 64.
- Poland RPK and RPK-74: Limited usage by airborne forces, last one RPK-74s were withdrawn from service in 2005 with Tantals.
- Romania: Built by Fabrica de Arme Cugir SA as the Puşcă Mitralieră model 1964 ("model 1964 light machine gun") and later, a 5.45mm version based on on the PA md. 86—the Mitralieră md. 1993 ("model 1993 light machine gun").
- Russia RPK-74 RPK-74M
- Sierra Leone
See also 
- RPK-74N2 Light Machine Gun (1974). Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
- Modern Firearms' RPK Page. Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
- Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
- "Arsenal's LMG Page, 7.62 x 39 mm". Arsenal. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- "Arsenal's LMG Page, 5.56 x 45 mm". Arsenal. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- "Arsenal's LMG Page, 5.45 x 39 mm". Arsenal. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- Thompson, Leroy (December 2008). "Malaysian Special Forces". Special Weapons. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- Fabrica de Arme Cugir SA's LMG Page. Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
- Fabrica de Arme Cugir SA's LMG Md. 1993 Page. Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: RPK|
- N. Manual-Kalashnikov-1973 Soviet RPK Manual Covering Operation and Repair
- Modern Firearms—RPK
- Modern Firearms—RPK-74
- Video of operation (RPK-74) on YouTube (Japanese)