Valmet M78: Finland’s Hypothetical Squad Automatic Weapon

The M78 was Valmet’s RPK-style heavy barreled squad support weapon pattern of the Finnish AK. It was initially developed as the M74 cavalry machine gun for Finnish military service, but never adopted. Instead, that experimental design would serve as the basis for the commercial export M78 (using the open notch sights of the M71, another design not adopted for military service). Had it been adopted by the Finnish military, it would have been chambered for 7.62x39mm (like the KvKK-62 squad automatic weapon that was used). For export, the company offered that caliber as well as 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm. Because these were imported before 1986, it was legal to manufacture them into transferrable machine guns, and this example is one that was so registered.


  1. Looking at how hated the KvKK-62s are/were in the FDF, a new M78/RPK-style squad automatic rifle (a modified RK95 with a heavier barrel, a rail system, a bipod and an extended magazine for example) would be a nice addition and an option to the PKM, which is sometimes (at least in MOUT) just way too bulky.

  2. I think the hostile attitude (if it really exists) is due to the thoughtless imitation of the RPD.
    It is based on the units of Czech machine guns, which have proven themselves quite well.
    Rather, the problem is that this machine gun repeats almost all the mistakes made in the RPD.
    Starting with a belt and ending with an irreplaceable barrel.
    As a result, worries with him as with a full-fledged machine gun.
    And its effectiveness is not much superior to an automatic rifle.

  3. It may be a “fantastic concept piece”, but I strongly suspect that, even assessed as an “automatic rifle” (BAR, FALO, HK11, RPK), let alone as an LMG, it is a bad one. 500M max sight setting being only one example.

    You really need to take that out and shoot it, if only to prove me wrong.

    The Automatic Rifle/LMG/SAW/LSW thing would make a really good video. Even most enthusiasts don’t properly understand the different tactical concepts and requirements (not to mention the related logistics, training and procurement issues) for the use of the man-portable rifle-calibre primarily full-automatic weapon over the last 120 years, the related technology, and how they have all evolved.

    And it’s either interesting or worrying that, given a century in which the Automatic Rifle has largely (RPK excepted) failed in actual combat compared to the dedicated LMG or light role GPMG, that the US military now seems to have fallen back in love with the Automatic Rifle concept. Not to say that the Automatic Rifle doesn’t have a useful niche, but it’s definitely up for debate whether it should become the default squad/section base of fire weapon.

    I’d be really happy to chat through some ideas. I warn you, though, the answer for me is, inevitably, ZB26/30 or Bren gun!

    • Is this amazing?
      Machine gun designers are not born. The education of such a specialist is a long and costly process.
      On the one hand, it is based on the continuity of knowledge, since the correct approach to design and correct understand “how to do it”, is not taught in ABC.
      On the other hand, the presence of the actual subject of training is necessary. Who should not only have sufficient engineering and technical training and level of intelligence, but also (not least) be properly motivated.
      Neither one nor the other is almost gone…

      And if you put 30,000 monkeys at typewriters and make them type a page a day, for 30 years…
      You will never get a literary masterpiece.
      And only tons of spoiled paper.

      This is not really engineering.
      Because there are too many inputs that cannot be quantified.
      It’s more of an art.

    • The real reason there’s a problem with the various and sundry weapons you list is that the underlying tactical/operational thought structure is mostly specious bullshit that does not actually work.

      People keep trying to redesign the wheel, reflecting their fantasies about what goes on under fire. Nobody stops to try to actually figure it all out, and gather the data to determine the reality of it all. We keep doing the same things, and the inevitable “desire path” brought out by combat reality is the dual-caliber mix that the Soviets went to with the AK/PKM pairing, and the US wound up defaulting to with the M16/M60. Every single attempt at an intermediate “one cartridge to rule them all” has failed, and will continue to fail until we get powered body armor that allows something like the 7.62mm NATO to be controlled on full-auto in an individual weapon-scale envelope.

      The German concept of the GPMG is what we’ve all wound up defaulting on. Nobody issues an LMG in the BREN class anymore, and there’s good reason for that–Once you build that much mass into a weapon, you may just as well add a belt feed and be done with it, creating a GPMG out of it. The entire class of Automatic Rifles like the Marine M27 and the Singaporean Ultimax just don’t cut it–They’re too heavy to play in the “dance of fire” that assault rifles play in, and they can’t provide the punch or the volume you need when the MG needs to start singing. As well, they’re also a lot harder to serve with a crew, being damn near impossible to effectively manage with two people.

      One way to figure out how to do something is to just put all your options out there, and then observe what everyone does. The solution that most people wind up using? That’s the one you ought to institutionalize. With regards to squad firepower, that’s the dual-caliber solution, with an individual weapon firing a cartridge that can be controlled on full-auto, and a bigger brother to go along with it, firing a full-house major caliber from belt feed and the capability to get mounted on a tripod.

      You cannot answer fire from 800m effectively with an AR-class weapon, no matter what caliber it is. The lack of a tripod and an effective T&E mechanism means that your adjustments and corrections will not be consistent nor repeatable; it’s all down to the gunner’s shoulder and whatever support he puts under the gun. That’s the essential difference between the classes of MG–The AR has no precision mount, the LMG can be tripod-mounted, but usually isn’t, and the other classes of MG are almost always used on tripods.

      Frankly, as a machinegunner, the entire idea that you’d discuss the guns in isolation from the rest of the system, namely the tripods and crew accessories, is ludicrous. The US Army/Marine Corps persists in putting crap tripods under the guns, failing to provide things like rangefinders and binoculars, and then both services have the temerity to complain that they’re being outranged and “over-matched”, whatever-the-hell that means…

  4. I wish I had kept mine (semi-auto). I had the M78 and the M76 folder, both in 7.62×51. Then the ban happened and mags became unobtanium – even if you could find one, they were very expensive ($250+). Ditto with parts. None of which could be imported. So I traded them off (for other rifles that are just as rare in the US, and therefore just as valuable, but much easier to get parts and mags for).

  5. I forgot; I wanted to say that the mags seemed to be a variation of HK91/G3 mags without the mag lips that the HK had.

    • Valmet M78 7.62x51mm mags really were (at least intinially) modified Swedish Ak 4 / G3 magazines with Swedish crown inspection stamps.

  6. Oh and Valmet Petras receivers were made unused M78 receivers which were left to Valmet after US forbide “assault weapon” import.

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