The Soviet Army – RPK-74 Light Machine Gun

The following extract comes from US Army Field Manual 100-2-3 – The Soviet Army; Troops Organisation and Equipment published in June 1991. The publication was approved for public release with unlimited distribution (ie may be freely used). The entry provided covered the RPK-74 and RPKS-74 light machine gun.

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Just as the RPK is the squad machine gun version of the AKM, the RPK-74 is a machine gun version of the AKM-74, firing the same ammunition. The RPKS-74 is a folding-stock version of the weapon. Instead of the prominent muzzle brake used on the AK-74, the machine gun has a short flash supressor. The magazine is longer than that normally used with the AK-74, but the magazines are interchangable. The RPK-74 has a bipod.


The 5.45-mm round of the RPK-74 has a considerably higher muzzle velocity than the 7.62-mm round of the RPK. However, both weapons probably have the same maximum range (2,500 meters) and effective range (800 meters). Unlike the RPK, the RPK-74 is compatible with the front firing ports of the BMP.


[No text supplied in entry]


Since its introduction in the late 1970s, the RPK-74 has become the standard squad machine gun in Soviet motorized rifle units. It is replacing both the RPK and PKM 7.62-mm weapons. Airborne squads also employ the RPKS-74.

The following data comes from Janes Infantry Weapons 1995 – 1996.
Cartridge:5.45 x 39 mmOperation:gas, selective fire
Locking:rotating boltFeed:45-, 40- or 30-round box magazine
Weight:4.6 kg emptyLength:1.06 m
Barrel:616 mmRifling:4 grooves, rh, 1 turn in 196 mm
Sights:fore, cylindrical post; rear, tangent leaf with U-notchMuzzle velocity:960 m/s
Rate of fire:cyclic, 600-650 rds/min; practical, 150 rpmEffective range:460 m


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  • Headquaters, Department of the Army. FM 100-2-3 – The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization and Equipment. Washington D.C.: Department of the Army, June 1991.
  • Nedelin, A. Kalashnikov Arms. Moscow: Military Parade, 1997.
  • Jane’s Information Group Limited (edited by Gander, T. J. and Hogg, I. V.). Jane’s Infantry Weapons: 1995-96. London: Biddles, 1995. ISBN: 0 7106 1241 9.

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