How the DSK 12.7mm Machine Gun Functions

This 3D animation by Victor Dolzhenkov of Gun Animation shows how the Soviet-era DShK 1938 12.7mm heavy machine gun’s rotary-style belt feeding mechanism works.

The DSK is still in active use by significant number of countries and non-State actors such as ISIS and the Syrian opposition.

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.


  • guest

    Worth noting that this (DShK) is almost non-existent in actual field use unlike the DShK-m

  • Dave

    The greatest limitation for this weapon system is that the belts are only 50 rounds. Despite the slow 600rpm you still can’t maintain suppressive fire for very long with one of these guys.

  • lumberjack

    The CIA prefers providing their various groups like ISIS and FSA with Russian(Soviet) weapons because they are very robust

  • Bal256

    The old typewriter, wind and war sound effects seem a little superfluous.

  • roguetechie

    What I really get a kick out of is how the basic design scaled to different chamberings and applications was able to stay relevant in a very fast moving era of weapons tech.

    From the dshk in all it’s incarnations and different feed systems. (hell the Chinese still use one of the dshk feed schemes)

    To the DP27 DPM DT DTM & RP 46 In 7.62x54R and used in a massive array of roles and feed systems. Including an adaptation based on I believe the second dshk feed mechanism which replaced the pan magazines with a charging handle operated belt feed mechanism in the RP 46!

    The unfortunately unsuccessful ds39.

    And finally the RPD, which was if not the first, the first extremely high production intermediate caliber belt fed squad automatic weapon!


    But wait because the story picks up again at Alexander Arms and the semiautomatic 338 rifle design they commissioned recently!

    I will say that I like the g43’s more refined version of the operating system in some ways. And lol isn’t it interesting that the g43 and the AUG both have the extra hardware around the bolt unit?

  • Interesting. I did not know these fired from an open bolt. I guess I had always assumed they were closed bolt guns being as how my only experience on a heavy machine gun is with an M2.

    • guest

      If you look closely (not this picture, preferrably a video from straight left or right of the gun) you will see a big gap between the gas tube and the tube holding the piston. When firing the piston will travel trough it, effectively closing it while awaiting a gas impulse to act upon it.
      Also unlike Maxim/M2 it does not need double-cycling of the reloading handle, where this gun only needs the bolt group to be pulled back, and the the handle is free of any tension and can be pushed back into original position.

  • jcitizen

    Great video! Thanks!