The Degtyarev light machine gun, which appeared in the 40s of the last century, became a definite pioneer in its class of weapons. Its development was carried out directly for the intermediate class of cartridges created at that time.
For the first time, an intermediate cartridge of secular production of 7.62 x 39 mm caliber appeared in the army arsenal in 1943, becoming a prerequisite for the design of new types of small arms directly for it. In the process of work, military engineers found out that the weapon for this cartridge will be an order of magnitude higher in some characteristics than the samples that existed at that time.
At the heart of the structure of the machine gun lies a gas automatics with a long piston stroke. The Soviet machine gun Degtyarev has some of the mechanisms borrowed from other samples and a number of its own original parts, for example, the design of the receiver. At the bottom, she had a hole for withdrawing the bolt handle, which was connected to the bolt frame and was set in motion at the moment of firing. The machine gun received a simple firing mechanism that allowed firing in short bursts.
An interesting feature of the weapon turned out to be an irreplaceable barrel. Previous military developments in the field of light machine guns showed that at the time of firing in short bursts, after using the entire ammunition supply, the barrel does not overheat. In this case, the removable barrel did not add significant advantages to the weapon, but made its design more complex and increased its weight.
The unusual design of the forearm with two recesses at the top and bottom suggested two ways of practical use of the machine gun. In the first case, for application from the shoulder, the RPD was supported by the lower recess. Another way - to keep the weapon "from the hip" involved the use of a belt. In this case, the belt was responsible for redistributing the load, while the machine held on to the upper recess of the forend and thus compensated for the recoil.
The weapon, along with its ammunition, which included three ribbons of 300 rounds each, weighed 11.4 kg. When compared with other samples of the same type, the RPD machine gun for its configuration was quite light. The reasons for the decrease in the mass of the weapon were the use of light cartridges and the weight of the ammunition mechanism itself - a full box with 100 cartridges for RPD weighed almost 0.5 kg less than a full magazine of another machine gun, designed for only 47 ammunition of a different caliber. The relative lightness of the RPD, together with a full-fledged ammunition load, made it possible to increase the speed and mobility of the shooter.
The recommended distance for effective shooting was 500 meters, but the RPD sighting mechanisms were designed for a long range up to one kilometer. The effectiveness of the machine gun remained at this distance, but here problems with target detection and the further aiming process were already an obstacle.
By the beginning of the 50s, the Degtyarev light machine gun began to be produced on an industrial scale and was mainly intended for infantry units. After the material support of its own army, the Soviet Union organized export consignments of RPDs to several dozen East European, African and Asian states. Later, a more modern version appeared - the RPDM machine gun, which was distinguished by a change in some details. In general, the improved version did not receive a serious rework of the automation, as a result of which the tactical parameters of the RPDM repeated the characteristics of the basic RPD.
In the future, the applied use of RAP has become widespread in the civil sphere. A number of states, whose policies did not interfere with such actions, allowed the sale of basic and revised versions of the machine gun to civilians. So, in the United States there are several civilian versions of a machine gun with a trigger mechanism redesigned for single shots and supplemented with modern devices in the form of Picatinny rails, new sights, telescopic butts, etc.
Many states have long removed the Soviet machine gun from service, and at the same time, some of them still continue to operate it. In the USSR, the Degtyarev light machine gun had practical use until the early 60s, later it was replaced by more modern models and sent to storage.
The Topic of Article: The Degtyarev light machine gun is a weapon created for the cartridge, and not vice versa.