Soviet Goryunov SGM machine gun seized in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Ronaldo Olive
by Ronaldo Olive

As TFB readers may probably have noticed through some of my posts in the past, firearms regularly seized from criminal hands in Brazil range from DIY models of all shapes and quality standards to a very large variety of AK and AR-15 platforms, plus an also habitual assortment of FALs, HKs, and other species. Not to mention a myriad collection of semi-auto (and others, not so…) pistols, with revolvers becoming a more and more sporadic catch. But rarer items also do show up, as in the case of a machine gun that has turned up in Riberão Preto, São Paulo State.

This was brought to my attention mainly as a result of the curious headline that made me take a closer look at a recent (April 10) TV news bulletin: “Civil Police arrest a suspect with an air-combat rifle in Ribeirão Preto.” I had to see that!

When I watched the footage, from which the grabbed pics are used here, I could finally discover that the “air-combat rifle” actually was a WWII-era 7.62x54R Soviet Goryunov SGM heavy machine gun. This gas-operated weapon was the brainchild of Piotr Maximovitch Goryunov, a locksmith-turned-gunsmith who worked with Federov, Degtyarev, and other Soviet designers. In 1940 or so he began designing a heavy machine gun to replace the existing Maxim PM1910 model, the result being the SG-43 heavy machine gun (typically, on a Sokolov wheeled mounting) which entered service in 1943, the very same year in which its creator passed away. The design was subsequently further developed by his brother, M. M. Goryunov, resulting models being being the SGM (with longitudinal ribs on the barrel to assist the dissipation of heat), and the SGMT (with solenoid mounted on the backplate) and SGMB versions, for tank and vehicle mounting, respectively.

A typical SG-43 on its wheeled and shielded mounting as used in WWII.

Goryunov machine guns were widely used by the Soviet Union and its major client countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, having been also cloned in China as the Type 53 and Type 57. Czechoslovakia (vz.43) and Poland (Wz.43) also made their respective copies, while Hungary came out with a local version fitted with a bipod, pistol grip trigger mechanism, and an RPD-type buttstock, externally looking somewhat like a PK. No clues as to the origin of the seized gun were available.

The Hungarian KGK Geppuska was a local, lighter variation of the Goryunov machine gun. (Image source: Petrohai Ferenc, in
The seized SGM seen from the rear, the spade grips being evident. No iron sights were present in the gun.
Although originally chambered to 7.62x54Rmm, the gun displayed at a Civil Police station was shown with what appears to be four .30-06 or .308 Win rounds partially inserted in the non-disintegrating link belt... on the opposite side of the feeding direction! The accompanying flimsy tripod is an improvised feature, hardly firm enough to be of any practical use.
A closer view of the gun's conical flash hider and part of the finned barrel. "Look, ma, no front sight!"
This other view shows more of the finned barrel configuration and its integral changing handle.

Higher-res pics? Here:

Ronaldo Olive
Ronaldo Olive

Ronaldo is a long-time (starting in the 1960s) Brazilian writer on aviation, military, LE, and gun subjects, with articles published in local and international (UK, Switzerland, and U.S.) periodicals. His vast experience has made him a frequent guest lecturer and instructor in Brazil's armed and police forces.

More by Ronaldo Olive

Join the conversation
3 of 23 comments
  • John John on Apr 16, 2018

    Hmm. The gun probably comes from Cuba, but if Venezuela has a full arms deal relationship with Russia, they could probably supply the ammo. And future guns, most likely.

    • GarryB GarryB on Apr 17, 2018

      @John Interesting useless fact, but because it was so widely used as a tank coaxial gun to save money and time changing all the aiming scales on tanks of the time (T-54/55 etc) that were made with SGMs as the coaxial MGs the PKT they developed to replace it had a longer barrel than normal (as well as being heavier) so that they didn't have to change the aiming marks when they fitted it to tanks that had SGMs in them...

  • Andrew Dubya Andrew Dubya on Apr 16, 2018

    See guys? Prohibition and regulation work!