The RPK is a 7.62×39mm 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 7.62×39mm 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.

Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer Mikhail Kalashnikov
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1961
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan 1979 1989 View
Afghanistan 2001 2014 View
Cambodia (Kampuchea) 1967 1975 View
Cambodia (Kampuchea) 1977 1991 View
Cambodia (Kampuchea) 2008 2011 View
China 1979 1979 View
Iraq 2003 2011 View
Libya 2011 2011 View
Russia (USSR) 1994 1996 View
Russia (USSR) 1991 2009 View
Syria 2011 View
Vietnam 1955 1975 View
Yugoslavia (Serbia) 1991 2001 View
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) 1964 1979 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Mikhail Kalashnikov 1961 View

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 U-shaped receiver is stamped from a smooth 1.5 mm (0.06 in) sheet of steel (compared to the 1.0 mm (0.04 in) sheet metal receiver used on standard AKM rifles). Interchangeability of parts between the RPK and AKM is moderate.


  • RPKS
  • RPK-74
  • RPKS-74
  • RPK-74M
  • Vepr

Type Light machine gun
Squad automatic weapon
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1961–present
Used by Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Latvia, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Moldova Mainly Regular Army, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea: Type 64., Poland, Romania, Russia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Wars Vietnam War

Cambodian Civil War

Cambodian–Vietnamese War

Sino-Vietnamese War

Rhodesian Bush War

Soviet war in Afghanistan

Yugoslav wars

First Chechen War

Second Chechen War

Iraq War

War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

Cambodian–Thai border stand-off

2008 South Ossetia war

2011 Libyan Civil War

Syrian Civil War

War in Donbass

various others
Production history
Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov
Designed 1961
Manufacturer Vyatskie Polyany Machine-Building Plant
Produced RPK: 1961–1978
RPK-74: 1974–present
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 firing range 300–450 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)

End notes