Russian Army Begins Testing RPK-16 Light Machine Gun

    Russian special forces operator armed with new machine gun RPK-16 (Lazarev Tactical)

    A year ago we reported that the Russian Federation’s army had adopted the 5.45x39mm RPK-16 Light Machine Gun. Reports from Russia’s MoD’s official newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda (or Red Star), confirm that the RPK-16 has begun operational testing with Russian forces.

    An announcement from the Russian Ministry of Defense also announced that the RPK-16 had begun testing at the Moscow Higher All-Arms Command School whose personnel will “conduct of fire and tactical training sessions, servicemen are to assess the technical and accuracy characteristics, as well as the ease of use and maintenance of these weapons.”

    The RPK-16 was first demonstrated to the Russian Army during Army 2016, and in February 2018, it was announced that a procurement contract had been signed. The new 5.45x39mm is scheduled to enter serial production, alongside the new AK-12 and AK-15, later this year.

    Russian special forces operator armed with new machine gun RPK-16 (Lazarev Tactical)

    The Russian Ministry of Defense said that “If necessary, at the end of the operation, recommendations will be proposed, which will be sent to the manufacturer to refine the light machine gun.” With Krasnaya Zvezda noting that “a decision will be made on the future fate of the RPK-16” after the testing.

    Developed by Kalashnikov Concern, the RPK-16 feeds from ether 45 round magazines or 95 round drums, it can of course also feed from standard 30 round AK-74 magazines. Unlike the RPK-74M, the RPK-16 has a quick change barrel system with barrel catch on the right side of the rifle. The new light machine gun weighs in at 4.5kg making it substantially lighter than the PK GPMG, the PKP Pecheneg and the RPK light machine gun.

    The new weapon has a 700 rounds per minute rate of fire and can be fitted with a suppressor and has modern optic and accessory mounts in line with the new modernized AK-12 & AK-15s soon to enter Russian service. It also has an adjustable folding stock and a redesigned selector lever which can be operated without the user removing their hand from the pistol grip.

    Sources: 1 2 3 4

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]