Russian Army to Replace PKM Machine Guns With PKP "Pecheneg" Automatic Rifles

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

The Russian Army will be upgrading its automatic infantry support weapons soon. The legacy 7.65x54mmR PKM belt-fed general purpose machine gun will be supplanted in the dismounted role by the PKP “Pecheneg” automatic rifle designed at the end of the 20th Century, reports

Russian Armed Forces will have Kalashnikov 7.62mm PKM machine gun replaced by modern PKP Pecheneg (Russian designation: 6P45) machineguns, according to a source in Russian defense industry.

Russian Armed Forces will have Kalashnikov 7.62mm PKM machine gun replaced by modern PKP Pecheneg (Russian designation: 6P45) machineguns, according to a source in Russian defense industry.

“Kalashnikov PKM machinegun is one of the best machineguns in the world available for both dismounted soldiers and various armoured vehicles, including main battle tanks (MBT). It uses widespread and extremely effective Soviet 7.62x54R mm cartridge and has reliable belt-feeding system. As of early 2016, PKM remains the organic machinegun of Russian Armed Forces in both bipod and tank configuration. At the same time, TSNIITochMash scientific-research institute has developed PKP Pecheneg machinegun intended to replace the ageing PKM,” the source said.

He pointed out that PKM issued to Soviet/Russian Armed Forces in huge quantities would remain the main machinegun in the year to come. “We suppose that the process of PKM by Pecheneg replacement will be finished in the early 2020 to full extent,” he pointed out.

It should be noted that Pecheneg is developed for dismounted troops only. New armoured vehicles for Russian Armed Forces are equipped with upgraded Kalashnikov 7.62mm PKTM machineguns as co-axial/secondary weapon. PKTM has a combat weight of 14.1 kg, a length of 1098 mm, a firing rate of 800 rounds per minute, a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s and an effective firing range of 1,500 m.

The Pecheneg is based on the PKM, but sports a different non-removable actively air-cooled barrel with a heavier profile. The automatic rifle also features optics mounting brackets, and a newer model, the Pecheneg-SP sports Picatinny rails for both optics and accessories, as well as a quick-detachable Western-style (Harris-type) bipod.

Automatic rifles like the Pecheneg allow lighter, more mobile system due to not relying on spare barrels for heat management like their general purpose machine gun counterparts. However, as a consequence, they cannot sustain fire for the duration that general purpose machine guns can, and therefore are more well-suited to dismounted infantry operations than static defense. The Pecheneg alleviates this issue with its heavy-profile barrel and forced-air cooling system, at the expense of greater weight of the rifle itself (although total weight carried is still reduced since spare barrels are eliminated from the load). The Pecheneg saw use with Russian special forces in Chechnya, Ossetia, Crimea, Syria and elsewhere, and received very favorable reports that doubtless led to its adoption.

Nathaniel F
Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at

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  • JCitizen JCitizen on May 24, 2016

    To tell you the truth, I've never had to change the barrel of the PKM under sustained fire - so to me, only accuracy would be the goal with this new LMG. It was fortunate they kept the Russian rimmed ammo - I've seen good performance with it.

  • Cmex Cmex on Jun 05, 2016

    There really isn't a difference here. One has a fixed barrel. One has a changeable barrel.