The RP46 was the final major update of the Degtyarev light machine gun, and it would be used until supplanted by the excellent PK series of guns. The RP46 was intended to improve the mobile firepower of Soviet infantry by giving them a light machine gun more capable of sustained fire. The pan magazines were replaced by a clever belt feed mechanism that attached to an existing DP’s magazine catches. It was driven by the action of the charging handle, which on a DP reciprocates with every shot.

Because the top cover hooked into the existing front and rear magazine catches, a slot was added to the rear end of the barrel shroud which was engaged by the RP46 carry handle. This way, the weight of the gun when being carried was not supported by the mag catch. The conversion was backwards-compatible with existing pan magazines – the top cover could be removed just like a magazine.

Manuals (Russian)

RP46 Manual, printed 1949
RP46 Manual, printed 1949

(1949) Russian RP-46 manual (Russian)


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    • The biggest hindrance to doing so would be the ammo. Unlike more modern LMGs, the RP46 had no way to attach an ammo container to the gun. So you’d need someone with you holding the belt. I’m not sure if the feed mechanism was strong enough to function with a long hanging belt.

  1. How impossible to find are the RP-46 belt conversions parts? I have always wanted to convert a semi auto DPM to RP-46 form.

    I think it was an excellent machine gun that continually evolved from strange beginings to the obvious ending as a belt fed LMG/GPMG. The PKM has always overshadowed this excellent design. But the old DP-28 helped to win the great patriotic war and continues to soldiered on as the DPM and RP-46 even to this day.

      • Will you still be making these top covers for those people with access to semi-automatic or NFA stamped DPM’s? Would be fascinating as a museum piece as well, as I’ve never seen one.

          • Very cool! It’s one of those oddball firearms that was fairly numerous yet has been absolutely lost to the sands of time. I look forward to seeing it

  2. There was one on the sturn boards about 6-8 months ago. The gent wouldn’t seperate it from the dp he had for sale though.

  3. The reason they are so rare is because they are still being used as a GPMG all over Africa and who knows where else….I still want a semi-auto RP-46 some day….I think that if it had been updated it would have been everybit as the PKM is today.

  4. I happen to have a 1960 copy of I believe a Russian RP-46 manual, I would be willing to lend if you need or want to make a copy. I don’t read Russian, but the pictures tell the story, although it would be nice to have an English translation. From the perspective of a two decade professional Marine, it remains as viable today as ever, I’d gladly trade any weapon I was issued during my service for one of these, or a DP, it remains the best long range medium machine gun, right up with the PKM, and is in my own opinion, superior to the 240G both in ammunition capability, and durability, as well as being just as sturdy if not more, while being lighter. It retains control out to 2000 meters, something the .308 simply can’t do. I have no doubt it remains in full service all over the world. I find it to be among the best designs ever, if not the best, and definitely superior to American weapons. It does everything a 1919 can do, plus a whole lot it can’t do, since the loss of the 30-06 capabilities.

  5. Hi, I would be interested in one of your kits when they are done. Any idea of a price?Really like your site, I ama sucker for odd parts kits.

    Thank You, Chris

  6. I am also very interested in the belt feed module. Any estimation on how long until their in production and a ballpark price for the belt feed module?

    • They posted about it already, check the site updates. I highly recommend getting on their email list.

      On the weapon itself: Indeed, the DPM/Rp46 is an impressive piece of equipment. Only handling a handful of LMG’s and MMG’s in my own life I’ve come to appreciate how robust and simple it is, even with my limited experience.

  7. If any of the above posters are interested in purchasing an RP46 belt feed conversion, contact me. The conversion is not quite a drop in onto a DP, as there is minor fitting of the cover latch that must be done as well as modification of the gas regulator to provide more power. The RP gas regulator is much more robust and ports larger than the DP.
    As an owner/shooter of a FA registered RP46, I do not find it very user friendly. Loading a belt quickly requires some skill and a lot of practice. The loaded belts tend to require a lot of focus and constant attention to prevent kinking and dragging in the dirt. Use of the belts out of a standard SG/PK can is quite clumsy unless the gun is elevated above the can. The bipod has limited traverse pivot which interferes with traverese, but the shroud is underslung on the bipod mount which helps control. The belt feed action is pretty harsh, a drawback compared to the very smooth operation of the DP drum feed.
    Fascinating gun and fun to shoot.
    The PK leaves the RP in the dust!

    Bob Naess

  8. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a wonderful job!

  9. I could only dream of having CAD drawings of this conversion, for our weaponeer members, so they could reproduce the design. As an owner of the DP28 semi, I would love to build one of these myself, but these are the only photos I have seen of it. granted, and a weapon designer and master armorer, it’s not very hard to build a close copy without ever seeing one, because there are only a few ways it can be made to work. But, the whole point is to build a reproduction of the original, so you can better understand the actual design, and it’s limitations. Thankfully the Russians use the same belt design for the Maxim, SG43 etc, and I have both weapons and most of the accessories, so there is no need to build a one of a kind belt, making it much more possible.

    A number of our weaponeer members have DP28’s, and would be interested in building reproductions. I would LOVE to build one for mine, but as a disabled veteran, funds are VERY much limited in this economy, and the cost of materials alone could prevent me from building one myself. but it would be fun to try..

    Is there any chance that you could take a lot more photos, along with a metal ruler or grid for a sense of scale of the parts. based on the current photos it’s hard to see all the details, or the thickness of the steel used. plus you cannot see the back side of the parts very well, which could have details that are needed.

    Best regards.

    Gary Graham
    and the weaponeer channel

  10. Scale it off the pictures – can be done. Needs to feed from the left – or would that deviation make it to where no one would want it?

  11. I just won an auction for a RP-46 belt feed mechanism.
    I had to sell a bunch of parts kits and tools to come up with the funds. I’ll be picking it up Monday, June 16th.

    I can and will take a lot of pictures.

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