History and DesignEdit
The PK machine gun was introduced in the 1960s and replaced the SGM and RP-46 machine guns in Soviet service. It remains in use as a front-line infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon with Russia's armed forces, and has been exported extensively.The original PK (Пулемёт Калашникова: Pulemyot Kalashnikova, or "Kalashnikov's Machinegun") was a development of Kalashnikov's automatic rifle design, firing the 7.62x54mmR Eastern Bloc standard ammunition originally from the Mosin–Nagant. It is equipped with a simple bipod and is designed as a squad-level support weapon; it is also suitable for installation and vehicle mounting. The PK machine gun can be used as a light anti-aircraft weapon when it is put on an AA mount. Most are belt-fed, using linked 25 round belts. These 25-round belts can be linked to any length necessary. Typical of Soviet machine guns, the standard model feeds from the right and ejects its spent cases via an ejection port on the left side of the weapon, contrary to the right side ejection port seen in most Western machine guns.
The PKM and other variants are in production in Russia and are currently exported to many nations. Additionally, various models are manufactured locally around the globe. Zastava Arms produces the PK under license as the M84 (along with the PKT as the M86), and it remains in use with many of the former Yugoslav successor states. The most recent modification is the Russian Pecheneg, which features a forced air cooling barrel that cannot be removed in the field for quick replacement, unusual for a modern machine gun.