Kalashnikov light firearms give Russia’s special forces new options


September 12, 2016 Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH
At the Army 2016 Forum the Kalashnikov Concern presented a series of new light small firearms for the Russian army, the National Guard and the FSB. In the words of Andrei Kirisenko, advisor to Kalashnikov’s general director, the new RPK-16 hand machine gun can even be used as a sniper’s weapon.

During the Army 2016 Military-Technological Forum (held on Sept. 6-11 near Moscow) the Kalashnikov Concern presented a range of new small firearms. Among them are the RPK-16 assault hand machine gun and tested models of the semiautomatic SVK sniper rifle.

The RPK-16 light hand machine gun

The new 5.45mm RPK-16 light hand machine gun is a radical modernization of the Soviet RPK-74.


According to Andrei Kirisenko, advisor to Kalashnikov’s general director, the 40-year-old weapon was effective but it had some flaws.

“With the magazine’s capacity of only 45 rounds the former model was too cumbersome and got in the way when the soldier got out of an armored personnel carrier. However, the machine gun was a reliable weapon in combat in all weather and climatic conditions. That is why we decided not to invent anything new but just rework the model according to today’s requirements,” said Kirisenko.

The RPK became a “round-the-clock” machine gun. It has Picatinny rails, thanks to which the firearm can be equipped with any type of sight: from night to thermal,

“The shooter can fire individual shots and hit a target with a 20cm diameter at a distance of 300-400 meters [according to its tactical-technical characteristics, the machine gun can strike the enemy’s live target at a distance of 800 meters],” noted Kirisenko.

The machine gun now also has a new cylinder with a capacity for 96 rounds. But the “classical” magazine from the AK-74M machine gun, which is used in the Russian army, can also be utilized with the RPK-16.

The manufacturer has also provided for the possibility of substituting the barrel if the RPK-16 was to be used as a hand machine gun (in combat mode the barrel is 1,076 milimeters long) or as an assault special forces weapon (with a shorter barrel of 836-896 milimeters). When the weapon is exhausted it is not necessary to change it entirely but only to attach a new barrel with the necessary length.

When fully equipped the weapon now weighs 4.5 kilograms (almost 10 lb).

“The RPK-16 is an innovative development. We will give it to the military, they will give us feedback and we will perfect it in accordance with their needs. The FSB special forces and National Guard administrations have also shown interest in the weapon,” added Kirisenko.

In the words of a source from Russia’s defense industry, the RPK-16 can replace the Pecheneg machine gun, which is currently in use by the Russian army.


The company also demonstrated two tested models of the Kalashnikov (SVK) semiautomatic sniper rifle that can be used with the Russian 7.62x54mm round and the 7.62x54mm round used by NATO member states:


The developers expect the SVK to replace the Dragunov (SVD) combined arms sniper rifle:


“The SVD was developed half a century ago and today it cannot be modernized. The new semiautomatic carbine is easier to use and is more compact. The fore-end does not rest on the barrel, something that increases firing precision, and the folding butt makes it more effective in combat,” explained Kirisenko.

“The SVK’s main particularity is its weight. For example, the German Heckler&Koch machine gun weighs 7.5 kilograms while our model weighs only 4.2 kilograms. But the precision and distance of the SVK’s firing is equal to its foreign counterpart,” said Kirisenko.

The control levers are located on both sides, which makes it possible to fire the weapon both with the right and the left hand, and the upper side of the barrel receiver has Picatinny rails for mounting all the existing add-ons.

The sighting distance of the new weapon is 1,000 meters. The magazine has a capacity for 10, 15 and 20 rounds.

Stauffenberg was Right!

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