The Kalashnikov Concern intends to develop modifications of the latest 5.45mm RPL-20 hand-held machine-gun for 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm rounds that may evoke foreign customers’ interest in the future. Russia has potential on the global market of fire support weapons. Russia is not yet a supplier of light machine-guns and the Kalashnikov has an opportunity to enter this very competitive market with its products. The RPL-20 hand-held machine-gun will be operational in the Russian Army, the Russian Airborne Force and special operations units. The RPL-20 lightweight machine-gun designed for the 5.45x39mm round was unveiled at the Army 2020 international arms show in Russia.
The RPL-20 is a light machine gun developed by Kalashnikov Concern for the Russian Military. Though designed in response to feedback following the purchase and testing of the company’s magazine-fed RPK-16 light machine gun, the RPL-20 is an entirely new design, utilizing an open-bolt, belt-fed action in lieu of the closed-bolt, magazine fed operation typical to Kalashnikov-pattern weapons. It is anticipated to serve as a squad automatic weapon in Russian military use, supplementing the heavier-caliber PK machine guns currently used for suppressive fire while still providing a higher practical rate of fire than is possible with RPK-based weapons.
Kalashnikov Concern has stated that the RPL-20 is a new design, rather than being a derivative of the ubiquitous Kalashnikov-pattern rifle series. It is a belt-fed, open bolt, fully automatic light machine gun with a rotating bolt and a long-stroke gas piston. Aside from this, little is known about the RPL-20. The weapon is still in development, which Kalashnikov Concern predicts will take another 2–3 years. Despite the weapon’s developmental nature, Kalashnikov Concern has provided video of the weapon being handled and fired, demonstrating that they have at least completed a fully-functioning prototype.
JSC Kalashnikov Concern known until 2013 as the Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant is a Russian defense manufacturing concern and joint-stock company headquartered in the city of Izhevsk in the Republic of Udmurtia as well as the capital city of Moscow. The Kalashnikov Concern produces about 95% of all small arms in Russia and supplies to more than 27 countries around the world, making it the largest firearm manufacturer in Russia. Notable products include the Kalashnikov (AK) assault rifle series, the RPK light machine gun series, the Dragunov SVD semi-automatic sniper rifle, the SKS semi-automatic carbine, the Makarov PM pistol, the Saiga-12 shotgun, and the submachine guns Vityaz-SN and PP-19 Bizon.