Firearms, YouTube

PKM Firing Video

Given that I was shooting infamous early cold war guns this year at Battlefield Vegas and InRange TV/Forgotten Weapons have consistently rated the PKM as one of the best machine gun designs in the world I took the opportunity to put a belt through one.

I’ll make a couple of comparisons here to the FN MAG (GPMG/M240) when discussing the PKM, as they were both designed within a few years of each other in the early to mid 1950s and were pretty much faced off against each other across the Berlin Wall. Much of Europe adopted the MAG with Russia using the PK and both designs have been exported the world over to dozens of countries, they’re also both 7.62mm calibre even though the cartridges are different.

The PK was the original gun, later replaced with the ‘modernised’ PKM that shaved a good few pounds from the weapon. It is a light machine gun that replaced 2 other MGs in Sovert service, including the SG-43 medium machine gun that the Soviets had used to replace their WW1 Maxims. As some of you out there may know the bolt, bolt carrier and long stroke gas piston in this MG are basically just an AK-47/AKM turned upside down, such that the gas piston sits below the barrel rather than on top as it does with AK rifles. This is most probably due to the fact that Kalashnikov himself headed up the design team that was behind the introduction of the PK. One key difference of course is that the PK fires from an open bolt, allowing much greater cooling of the barrel compared to a closed bolt AK.

The cartridge employed is the 7.62x54mmR, with the R denoting a rimmed case. The x54R round was used most famously in the Mosin-Nagant and adopted by the Russians all the way back in 1891, making it the longest serving rimmed cartridge still used by a military force today. These rounds are fed in to the PK from the right using a non-disintegrating belt, whereas most western MGs feed from the left using a disintegrating belt. This means that as you fire you gradually get a longer and longer belt of empty links hanging out of the right side of the PK; definitely not ideal if you need to move around with it. That said the PKM only weighs 7.5kg whereas some common variants of the FN MAG weigh over 12kg so I know which one I’d rather carry around if I had to.

The main body and top cover are made of comparatively thin stamped steel (just like the AKM) which contributes significantly to the low mass of the PKM. The MAG does also use steel stamping in it’s main body however there are more parts, they are thicker and there is an awful lot more steel riveted inside of the MAG in order to facilitate the Browning BAR style locking mechanism. The PK uses a common rotating bolt which means that there are fewer elements of architecture needed inside the body and the bolt/bolt carrier/gas piston are much smaller and lighter than the MAG’s breech block, gas piston and piston extension. The PKM bi-pod is also much simpler in design and construction by contrast to the MAG’s copy of the MG-42 bi-pod.

Being essentially a scaled up AK the PKM is of course highly reliable (and probably over-gassed), though it also unfortunately shares iron sights with the AK which means it features a pretty pathetic tiny little notch for a rear sight, barely better than the bolt action rifles of WW1. Not ideal for shooting at 1000m+, even though the cartridge is more than capable of such ranges and doubly so in belt-fed format and when mounted to a tri-pod or vehicle pintle.

That said of course being a light and handy machine gun that is extremely dependable and using perhaps the world’s best proven military cartridge you can see why these guns are so popular and have had such a long service life.

Firing The PKM

Given that I was shooting infamous early cold war guns this year at Battlefield Vegas and InRange TV/Forgotten Weapons have consistently rated the PKM as one of the best machine gun designs in the world I took the opportunity to put a belt through one.I'll make a couple of comparisons here to the FN MAG (GPMG/M240) when discussing the PKM, as they were both designed within a few years of each other in the early to mid 1950s and were pretty much faced off against each other across the Berlin Wall. Much of Europe adopted the MAG with Russia using the PK and both designs have been exported the world over to dozens of countries, they're also both 7.62mm calibre even though the cartridges are different.The PK was the original gun, later replaced with the 'modernised' PKM that shaved a good few pounds from the weapon. It is a light machine gun that replaced 2 other MGs in Sovert service, including the SG-43 medium machine gun that the Soviets had used to replace their WW1 Maxims. As some of you out there may know the bolt, bolt carrier and long stroke gas piston in this MG are basically just an AK-47/AKM turned upside down, such that the gas piston sits below the barrel rather than on top as it does with AK rifles. This is most probably due to the fact that Kalashnikov himself headed up the design team that was behind the introduction of the PK. One key difference of course is that the PK fires from an open bolt, allowing much greater cooling of the barrel compared to a closed bolt AK.The cartirdge employed is the 7.62x54mmR, with the R denoting a rimmed case. The x54R round was used most famously in the Mosin-Nagant and adopted by the Russians all the way back in 1891, making it the longest serving rimmed cartirdge still used by a military force today. These rounds are fed in to the PK from the right using a non-disintegrating belt, whereas most wetern MGs feed from the left using a disintegrating belt. This means that as you fire you gradually get a longer and longer belt of empty links hanging out of the right side of the PK; definitely not ideal if you need to move around with it. That said the PKM only weighs 7.5kg whereas some common variants of the FN MAG weigh over 12kg so I know which one I'd rather carry around if I had to.The main body and top cover are made of comparatively thin stamped steel (just like the AKM) which contributes significantly to the low mass of the PKM. The MAG does also use steel stamping in it's main body however there are more parts, they are thicker and there is an awful lot more steel riveted inside of the MAG in order to facilitate the Browning BAR style locking mechanism. The PK uses a common rotating bolt which means that there are fewer elements of architecture needed inside the body and the bolt/bolt carrier/gas piston are much smaller and lighter than the MAG's breech block, gas piston and piston extension. The PKM bi-pod is also much simpler in design and construction by contrast to the MAG's copy of the MG-42 bi-pod.Being essentially a scaled up AK the PKM is of course highly reliable (and probably over-gassed), though it also unfortunately shares iron sights with the AK which means it features a pretty pathetic tiny little notch for a rear sight, barely better than the bolt action rifles of WW1. Not ideal for shooting at 1000m+, even though the cartridge is more than capable of such ranges and doubly so in belt-fed format and when mounted to a tri-pod or vehicle pintle.That said of course being a light and handy machine gun that is extremely depednable and using perhaps the world's best proven military cartridge you can see why these guns are so popular and have had such a long service life.

Posted by The Full 9 on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

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