The RPD Light Machine Gun: A Belt Fed in an Intermediate Cartridge

    The RPD was the culmination of Soviet light machine gun designs that began with the DP-28 of pre-World War Two days, and ending with the RPD, or Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova. It was a lightweight, belt-fed from a drum, gas operated machine gun chambered in the Soviet M43 7.62x39mm cartridge. Some call it one of the first true squad automatic weapons, being introduced at least a decade before the Minimi ever came on the scene. It was produced by the Soviet Union, Poland, Egypt, China, and North Korea under various designations. In China it has been asserted that it might have been part of a covert export line of light machine guns, being marked without Chinese markings and with the designation “M23”.

    One of the criticisms of the RPD was the fact that it didn’t have a quick-change barrel as many later light and general purpose machine guns would incorporate into their designs. This forces the user to be somewhat conservative with their rate of fire out of fear of making the machine gun too hot to operate reliably. As we found out in the episode, shooting the entire drum at the cyclic rate of fire makes even the wooden handguards too warm to touch with bare hands.

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    ««« GUNS IN THIS VIDEO »»»

    RPD Light Machine Gun

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    Miles

    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]


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