‘Light,’ my ass — the Type 73 is heavy and complicated
by MATTHEW MOSS
Physically, North Korea’s Type 73 light machine gun resembles both the British Bren and the Russian PKM. The gas-operated, 7.62-by-54R-chambered Type 73 boasts a cyclic rate of 600 to 700 rounds per minute and a quick-change barrel system.
Weighing 10.6 kilograms unloaded, the Type 73 is heavier than the Russian PKM is.
The Type 73 makes use of a dual-feed system similar that in the Czech Vz.52 light machine gun. The feed system allows the weapon to pull cartridges from both belts and also box magazines. In the photograph above, the dust cover on the belt feed is visible on the right side of the receiver.
The justification for the dual-feed system is that the 30-round magazine is light and easier to carry on patrol. Once the gunner comes into contact with the enemy, he can switch to belt feed after laying down initial suppressive fire from the magazine.
The Type 73 features a mixture of furniture materials — wooden stock and pistol grip and a plastic, folding carrying handle. Like many weapons that feed from top-mounted magazines, the weapon’s sights are offset to the left.
Based on various photographs, the gun apparently features a muzzle adapter for firing rifle grenades — and a dedicated sight for doing so. The adapters can be stored beneath the weapon’s gas tube.
The Type 73 has appeared in numerous North Korean propaganda images since its adoption in 1973. However, it seems that in the early 1980s the North Koreans developed a simpler light machine gun — the Type 82, a closer derivative of the Soviet PKM light machine gun without the dual-feed system.
The Type 73, continues to appear in North Korean military propaganda, however.
North Korea exported a number of Type 73s to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. These have begun to appear in the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Interestingly the South Korean army owns just one example of the Type 73, featured in the photo above. It’s pretty battered. Its stock is held together by electrical tape.
Originally published at www.historicalfirearms.info.