The RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemet Degtyarova - Degtyarov Light MG) was one of the first weapons designed to fire a new, intermediate 7.62 x 39mm cartridge.  The weapon was developed circa 1944 and was the standard squad automatic weapon of the Soviet army since the early 1950’s.  During the 1960s, this weapon was gradually phased out and replaced by the RPK light machine gun. 

However, the RPD is still found in Soviet army reserve stocks and millions of these weapons were widely exported to many pro-Soviet countries and regimes in Africa, South America and Asia.  It also was manufactured in China where it was designated as the Type 56 Light Machine Gun.

The RPD can be described as a further development of the earlier Degtyarov machine guns, tracing its ancestry to the DP-1927 LMG.  The RPD is a gas operated, fully automatic only weapon.  The gas drive uses a long stroke piston and a gas regulator, located under the barrel.  It uses a simple and robust bolt locking system seen on other Degtyarov weapons and makes use of two locking flaps that are pushed out of the bolt body into recesses in the receiver walls to lock the bolt.  The flaps are pushed out by the bolt carrier to lock and are withdrawn from recesses to unlock the bolt by specially shaped cams on the carrier.  The RPD is belt fed from a detachable drum magazine that is clipped under the receiver.  The drum magazine holds 100-rounds in a non-disintegrating metallic belt although a loose belt also can be used.

Each belt drum has its own folding carrying handle although they are normally carried in specially manufactured canvas pouches.  Unlike earlier Degtyarov weapons, the return spring is located inside the butt.  The heavy barrel cannot be replaced quickly but the RPD still can provide significant firepower at ranges of up to 800 meters.  The rear sights are adjustable for range and drift while the folding integral bipod is located under the barrel.  All RPD light machine-guns were issued with a carry sling to enable the weapon to be fired from the hip while hanging the sling over the shoulder for additional support.


  • Caliber: 7,62x39 mm
  • Weight: 7,4 kg empty, on integral bipod
  • Length: 1037 mm
  • Length of barrel: 520 mm
  • Feeding belt: 100 rounds in drum-like box
  • Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
  • Muzzle velocity: 735 m/s