The UKM-2000 machine gun was designed in Poland between 1998 and 2003. It was intended as a replacement for the 7.62x54R Kalashnikov PKM machine gun, used by the Polish army during Warsaw pact times and produced in country under Soviet license. In 1999 Poland joined NATO, so it had to adopt NATO-standard arms and ammunition. Since that country possesses significant small arms design and manufacturing capabilities, it was decided to produce an indigenous universal machine gun for 7.62×51 NATO ammunition and links, starting with a Kalashnikov PKM design, which is known for its simplicity, ruggedness and excellent reliability.
This new machine gun was designated UKM-2000 (Uniwersalny Karabin Maszynowy 2000, Universal Machine Gun 2000). The first prototypes were ready for testing in 2003, and deliveries to the Polish army commenced in 2007. Today it’s the standard issue GPMG for the Polish armed forces, used by infantry, airborne troops, special forces, and also on armored vehicles.
The UKM-2000 machine gun follows the basic pattern of the PKM. It has a stamped steel receiver, gas operated action (long stroke piston, located below the barrel), rotary bolt locking and manual gas regulator. However, most parts are redesigned and not interchangeable with its parent weapon. To ensure proper feeding from the NATO-standard disintegrating belts with open links, new belt feed units were designed. These were based on the German MG-42 system, and operate via a roller installed at the rear of the bolt carrier, which rides through a cam slot in the belt operating lever. The belt feed system is built into the hinged cover, installed on the top of the receiver. Since this setup requires a single step push feed as opposed to the original two step pull/push feed of the PKM, the receiver is lengthened at the front, and the barrel moved forward and shortened. Therefore the barrel lock latch is protected by its own small hinged cover, located in front of the belt feed cover.
In its standard infantry configuration, the gun is called UKM-2000P; it can be fired from its integral folding bipod or from the lightweight 6T5 tripod originally made for PKM. The version for airborne troops is called UKM-2000D and features a side-folding butt. The armored vehicle gun is designated UKM-2000C. The latter features a heavier barrel, solenoid trigger and can be had in left- or right-side feed versions.
It is worth noting that the UKM-2000P weighs almost a kilogram (2 lbs) more than the PKM, while hosting a barrel about 10 cm (4”) shorter than the original. This difference is attributed primarily to a longer receiver and larger, heavier belt feed unit.
Photos by Leszek E
|Full text name||UKM-2000 machine gun (Poland)|
|Caliber cartridge||7.62x51 NATO / .308 Winchester|
|Overall length, mm||1203|
|Barrel length, mm||547|
|Weight empty, kg||8.4|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||100, 200|
|Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min||600-700|