RP-46: Belt fed conversion of the DP light machine gun

Degtyaryov’s infantry machine gun, aka. DP / DP-27 / DPM (modernized), with its large pan magazine, is one of the most distinctive weapons of WWII.

DP light machine gun. Photo © Polish Ministry of National Defense

The pan magazine proved not to be the best idea and after the war the Soviets developed the RP-46, an ingenious device that converted the gun from magazine fed to belt fed.

Because the RP-46 is a collectable item in the US, and expensive, the crew at Forgotten Weapons have embarked on a project to reverse engineer and manufacture the device for sale. In the video below they explain how the RP-46 works and how they are going about cloning it.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Vaarok

    So hopefully it’ll work on my Wiselite Arms semiautomatic DP-28?

  • Jim

    What were the problems with the RP?

    • John McClain

      The primary problem with the RP-46 is the fact it is heavy because it is very stoutly built. At about ten kilos as a DP, add two kilos with a pan magazine, firing a round a bit more powerful and with a heavier bullet than the 30-06, it is a substantial weapon equal to any other gun in it’s place. The pan only holds 47 rounds, and it weighs almost as much as the rounds themselves, so the belt feed was a natural evolution. I have not handled the belt feed adapter but from its looks, it adds at least two or three kilos, however it does then open the door for the much lighter belts. It is a quick change barrel gun, and it is very easy to do so, even hot, so it remains a competitive weapon and is fully in service today, which is why the adaptor is unavailable, it’s being used.
      The PK assumed its place, being designed with the belt feed in place, saving weight, and in using the 54r cartridge, retains the control out to 2000 meters of the RP, and has been modernized as the PKM, making it a bit lighter and easier to maintain, but other than that, the RP retains its place, and as a fixed, tripod mounted weapon, is superior to the PKM because of its mass, and the control such mass affords for long range control of territory, and its use in guiding the enemy into desired maneuvers. Aside from operating spring problems brought on by long strings of fire, the RP and DP remain reliable and performing weapons, and it is my understanding most of the semi-auto conversions retain the spring on the gas piston rod for ease of maintenance. I’d easily take one of these, pan magazines and all over any version of the M-16, and with the belt feed, over a 1919 as well, though that is primarily due to the cartridge, although the RP is lighter and easier to carry than a 1919-A4 or A6.

      • charles222

        Another positive effect of greater weight is durability; never seen an RP being used before, but the Iraqi Army unit I was attached in 2005-2006 had oodles of PKMs…and like 2 out of 12 in the company worked.

  • Lance

    If you want a belt fed Russian machine gun in 7.62x54R get a PKM?

  • Vaarok

    Semiautomatic PKs cost more than a late model used truck. My DP cost two and a half grand, and with this adaptor might still be under three.

  • John McClain

    The DP as produced ran well as long as the gunner maintained good fire discipline, and was not forced into final protective fires, firing indescriminantly, at which point the operating spring would lose tension as the piston rod heated up, and it would fail to fully run the bolt home and fire the round chambered. The DPM put the operating spring behind the bolt, with a tube to carry the spring when compressed, taking up the grip space and requiring a full hand grip to make room for this spring cover assembly. The belt feed adapter was well considered and an asset to the extent these weapons are currently being used in the Lybian uprising, and the RP-46 adapter is unavailable most likely because it is still in full use throughout Africa, and in the middle east. As a retired Marine, I consider this to be among the best weapons ever put in battle, and they were widely in use from 1928 up through today, with them the main battle machine gun in Korea, a primary organization weapon in Vietnam, and used against the Russians in Afghanistan, with reported use today, throughout the African continent. Where else can you fire 203 grain steel core and effectively control territory out to 2400 meters?

  • MichaelB

    very interested in the RP46. Any repro’s on the market yet from you guys?