Caliber 7,62×39 mm
Weigth 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
The RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemet Degtyarova – Degtyarov Light MG) was one of the first weapons designed to fire a new, intermediate cartridge 7.62x39mm. It was developed circa 1944 and was a standard squad automatic weapon of Soviet army since early 1950s and until 1960s, when it was generally replaced by the RPK light mg, which, in many opinions, was not a good decision. However, some RPD still can be encountered in Rsussian army reserve stocks, and thsese MGs were also widely exported to many pro-Soviet countries and regimes around the world. It also was manufactured in other countries, such as China, where it was known as Type 56 LMG.
The RPD can be described as a further development of the earlier Degtyarov machine guns, tracing its ancestry to DP-1927 LMG. RPD is a gas operated, full auto only weapon. 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 in other Degtyarov guns, which uses two locking flaps, that are pushed out of the bolt body into recesses in the receiver walls to lock the bolt. Flaps are pushed out by the bolt carrier to lock and are withdrawn from recesses to unlock the bolt by specially shaped cams on the carrier. RPD uses belt feed. A detachable round box (drum) can be clipped under the receiver. This box can hold a 100-rounds non-desintegrating metallic belt, and loose belt also can be used. Each belt drum has its own folding carrying handle, but usually belt drums were carried in special pouches. Unlike earlier Degtyarov guns, the return spring is located inside the butt. Heavy barrel cannot be replaced quickly, but RPD still can provide a significant firepower at the ranges up to 800 meters. Rear sights are ajustable for range and drift, folding integral bipod is located under the barrel. All RPDs were issued with carrying slings and could be fired from the hip, using the sling to hang the gun on the shoulder.