When the M2 Browning machine gun came on the scene it had no rival, it was the toughest kid on the block, at least until the Soviet DShK showed up. Sporting a 12.7mm bullet packed into a larger casing than the .50cal it was clearly an attempt by the Soviets to 1-up America in the crew served department. While it certainly boasting a bigger bullet, mechanically it leaves something to be desired from a western perspective. It’s big, loud and sloppy functionally but it definitely works; similar to an AK-47, they are reliable but not quite in tune with the precision department. However if this were a popularity contest, to this day you could say the two weapons are in competition due to the shear number of actual guns employed in combat roles worldwide.
Weighing in at nearly 70 pounds the DShK is no light weight and packs a punch firing at a cyclic rat of 600 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 2,788 feet per second. It has been employed in a multitude of roles, from anti-aircraft to anti-material and others; the Russians wanted a universal system it seems. Using non-disintegrating links it fires several different types of ammunition to include standard, tracer, armor piercing, and explosive. It uses an open bolt system which deters a “cook-off” scenario due to cooking off rounds which is nice. To charge the weapon a spent casing (or live round if you’re feeling frisky) is inserted into a slot on the right side of the chassis and used as a makeshift charging handle.
Peshmerga and most of the Kurdish military forces have a preference to shooting a machine gun one bullet at a time unless there is a serious need of suppressive fire, it’s weird and sometimes I even find myself doing it. The following is footage of some Peshmerga practicing their machine gun skills at 600+ meters.