Russia Announces Final Testing of RPK-16

  • The Russian military is expected to have the weapons by the end of this year.
  • The PKK had a number of drawbacks.
  • One of the main advantages of the new weapon is it can easily be used instead of an assault rifle.

Russia announced the final testing of the RPK-16. The need in Russia for the new weapon  design arose due to the flaws that RPK-74 has. However, it is a very reliable series of weapons. The Kalashnikov Concern revealed a prototype of the new weapon in 2017.

JSC Kalashnikov Concern is a Russian defense manufacturing concern and joint-stock company headquartered in the city of Izhevsk in the Republic of Udmurtia as well as the capital city of Moscow. Kalashnikov Concern produces about 95% of all small arms in Russia and supplies to more than 27 countries around the world, making it the largest firearm manufacturer in Russia.

The Russian military is expected to have the weapons by the end of this year. The Soviets adopted the Kalashikov RPK machine gun in 1964. The Soviets replaced the RPD machine guns, and one of the main goals of the project was to maximize the unification of several types of weapons.

The RPK machine gun had the maximum possible unification with the AKM machine gun, which simplified production and operation. However, the PKK had a number of drawbacks. One of the main disadvantages of the design was the use of magazine power instead of cartridge belts, which negatively affected the firepower and possible density of fire.

In 1977, the Poplin project evolved. At the time, it was decided to change priorities. The main way to feed the PU and PU-1 machine guns was considered to be magazine-fed. The feed was considered an extension. In the new PU-2 machine gun, it was proposed to make belt feeding the main one. Accordingly, it was planned to redesign the layout of the weapon.

The last Poplin project was completed prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The PU-21 machine gun was an improved version of the PU-2 with corrected shortcomings. The overall layout and operating principles remain the same.

All changes were actually related to the operation of the receiver and automation, being aimed at improving reliability. Unfortunately, during Perestroika under Gorbachev in the 1980s, the designers got cheated and never were allowed to file for the patent. Interestingly, Belgium came up with a similar weapon shortly after, and filed for the patent.

The RPK-16 5.45×39mm squad automatic weapon is a further modernization of the RPK-74. It is expected to take over the role of the RPK-74 in the Russian Armed Forces.

The new Russian weapon is equipped with the additional bracket that allows the change of the modes with an index finger. The folding plastic stock was replaced with a telescopic part that allows the shooter to adjust the weapon to himself.

The machine gun has retained its continuity, and allows the use of 45-round magazines from the RPK-74. They are supplemented by a 96-round drum magazine designed specifically for the RPK-16. This ammunition is enough to conduct a barrage, experts believe.

One of the main advantages of the new weapon is it can easily be used instead of an assault rifle, because its total weight is only 9.9 lbs. Also, thanks to the function of single fire, the weapon is easily converted into a sniper rifle, if you set the optical sight. At the same time, the accuracy is close to the accuracy of a Dragunov sniper rifle at a distance of up to 500 meters.

Moreover, the main flaw was fixed, which was the inability to quickly replace the barrel. The manufacturer has provided a 410 mm long assault barrel for shooting in urban conditions, and 550 mm for combined arms operations.

Russia continues its defense arsenal modernization, and more announcements are expected.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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