If I could have any one machine gun (but only one), it would be a PKM – in my experience thus far, this is the best universal machine gun that has been designed. Kalashnikov’s design team took the lessons of the MG42 and created a machine gun that does an excellent job of balancing the capabilities and costs of the concept.
The PKM is easily controllable despite being relatively light weight. It can fit optical sights, but has rugged and quite adequate iron sights. It uses a rugged and dependable belt design (although it might be nice to have the belt made in detachable segments). It is quick and easy to strip and clean, and it rugged and durable. It is pretty well sealed against ingress of dirt and grit. It has a sufficiently solid and dependable bipod. Designing a combat weapon is not a search for perfection in any single element, it is a search for balance among competing and mutually opposing characteristics, and the PKM is and excellent example of this.
One interesting thing to watch in the high speed footage is the sheer volume or flapping and wobbling bits – between the tangent leaf sight, the barrel, and three separate sheet metal dust covers, the gun looks like it is made of jello!
Thanks to Marstar for letting me examine and shoot their M84!