Video at the Range: The PKM Machine Gun
August 04, 2015
In this segment of Guns & Ammo TV airing on the Sportsman Channel, we examine another iconic creation from the mind of Mikhail Kalashnikov: The PKM.
Kalashnikov designed the weapon in the late 1950s at the request of the Soviet army, which was searching for a universal machine gun that could replace the different variants found in service with frontline troops, as well as vehicle-mounted weapons.
From the outset, the weapon came in four basic configurations. The PKM served as a general purpose light machine gun fired from an integrated bipod. The PKS was a tripod-mounted medium machine gun. Both the PKT and PKB were designed with vehicle mounts and remote-firing triggers for tank and armored personnel carrier use.
The gun used a similar design to Kalashnikov's AK, with the exception that the gas system was mounted upside-down. This allowed for easy removal of the piston and bolt carrier group as a single unit, and it also allowed for the PKM to feed from a belt instead of a magazine.
The weapon was chambered in the longer 7.62x54R cartridge, which had been in use since the latter half of the 19th century and served as the Soviet Union's primary military cartridge until the introduction of the shorter 7.62x39 used in the AK-47. Other versions used by the former Soviet Bloc were later chambered in 7.62 NATO.
Since its adoption by the Soviets in 1961, more than one million PKMs have been made, and they've seen service in nearly every major conflict since then.