We come across some cool pieces of history from time to time and when we saw this DP-28 come through the Guns.com Vault, we just knew it needed some attention. 

What IS the DP-28?

Vasily Degtyaryov was a skilled Russian firearms designer going back to the days of the Tsars when he worked alongside Vladimir Fedorov on the 1916 Avtomat early in his career at the Tula Arms Plant, now Kalashnikov. While he later produced an interesting and simple 14.5mm anti-tank gun, the PTRD, and a belt-fed 7.62x39mm light machine gun, the RPD, we are here to talk about his child of the 1920s, the DP.

A light machine gun that used a 47-round top-mounted pan magazine like the Lewis gun of World War I, Degtyaryov's Pulemyot (machine gun) was reliable and only weighed about 20 pounds, making it theoretically capable of being fielded by a single solider if needed. 

Introduced in 1926 as the DP-26, the gun saw several generational updates as the DP-27 and DP-28 – the most common LMG of the Soviet Frontovik in World War II – the improved DPM, the DT tank machine gun, and a pair of aircraft machine guns, the DA and DA-2. Firing from an open bolt, it was a simple full-auto-only gas-piston-operated gun that gained a good reputation in use. 

Russians with DP28
The Soviets first fielded the DP-28 in the late 1920s and, when compared to the five-shot bolt action Mosin-Nagant M91 series rifle, was a sought-after tool when it came to providing suppressive fire throughout World War II. (Photos: Period USSR Official Photographs issued by the Ministry of Information)

In all, it is thought that upwards of 800,000 of these guns were produced through the 1950s. 

Finns, Germans with DP28 machine guns
Besides use in the Soviet military in WWII, thousands of DP-28s were captured by Axis countries as well as the Finns and, found to be rugged and reliable light machine guns, were soon pressed into service against their former owners. (Photos: Finnish SA-Kuva Archives/German Bundesarchiv)


Yugoslavs, Red Pioneers and Viet Cong with DP28 machine guns
Although retired from front-line Soviet service by the 1960s, the DP-28 remained in use with second-line units, kept as a training tool in the CCCP's mandatory military science classes in schools, and shipped widely overseas as foreign aid. (Photos: TASS)


American troops with captured DP28 machine guns
American troops have captured DP-28s – along with other Soviet surplus weapons – on foreign battlefields in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan (Photos: National Archives)

An improved model of the DP-28, the RP-46, was produced after WWII that accepted both a linked belt and the original pan magazine while adding more ergonomic features like a pistol grip. Both the DP-28 and RP-46, however, were soon replaced in the 1950s by Degtyaryov's RPD and have since been phased out by Mikhail Kalashnikov's PK/PKM/PKT general-purpose machine gun. However, by that time Degtyaryov, who retired at the rank of major general, had shuffled off to work at the great gun bench in the sky.

All of this brings us to the SMG DP series guns. 

Semi-Auto DP

Rick Smith's Texas-based Smith Machine Group has been in the business of breathing life back into historical military guns for well over a decade, and their DP series guns have long been one of their primary staples. Their complete DPM semi-automatic rifle is built using a surplus Polish kit with a new receiver, a new chrome-lined barrel, and their own fire-control group. 

SMG also makes RP-46 builds, and the DPM can be upgraded to the heavy-barrel setup and or the belt feeder unit seen on that design. Smith also makes semi-auto FG42 replicas, but that is a different article. 

Smith Machine Group SMG DPM DP-28 semi auto rifle
The SMG DPM we have in the Guns.com Vault is in great condition. The semi-auto rifle was built off a Polish Circle 11 marked kit dated to 1953 and is chambered in 7.62x54R. Firing from a closed bolt, it still has a gas piston operating system and uses an internal hammer. 



Smith Machine Group SMG DPM DP-28 semi auto rifle
It also includes a pair of vintage 47 round magazines, a military cloth carrying bag, and a magazine satchel. The magazines rotate as the gun fires. 


Smith Machine Group SMG DPM DP-28 semi auto rifle
The bipod is bolted around the shroud and works as intended. 


Smith Machine Group SMG DPM DP-28 semi auto rifle
The DP series guns, due to their unusual pan magazine, have a low profile that plays well when shooting from a prone position. 


Smith Machine Group SMG DPM DP-28 semi auto rifle
Although heavy compared to a standard semi-auto rifle – it weighs over 20 pounds – that weight eats up recoil, especially when firing from a prone position as it was originally designed. (Photo: Seth Rogers/Guns.com)




Love cool old guns like these? Be sure to check out our carefully curated Military Classics and Collector's Corner sections where history is just a click away.

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