General purpose machine gun
A general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) is a multi-purpose weapon: it is a machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 firing a full-power rifle cartridge and which can be used in a variety of roles, from a bipod- or tripod-mounted infantry support weapon to a helicopter door gun or a vehicle-mounted support weapon. Its purpose is to provide fire support for vehicles or infantry from a variety of mounts.

In modern practice, they are air-cooled medium machine guns firing rifle cartridges such as the 7.62×51mm NATO
7.62×51mm NATO
The 7.62×51mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the 1950s as a standard for small arms among NATO countries...

, 7.62×54mmR Russian, or 7.92x57mm Mauser. They are generally operated from a stationary prone position from either a bipod
A bipod is a support device that is similar to a tripod or monopod, but with two legs. It provides significant stability along two axes of motion .-Firearms:...

 or tripod
A tripod is a portable three-legged frame, used as a platform for supporting the weight and maintaining the stability of some other object. The word comes from the Greek tripous, meaning "three feet". A tripod provides stability against downward forces, horizontal forces and moments about the...

, or otherwise mounted on a vehicle, as they are usually too powerful and heavy to be fired effectively on foot from an unsupported standing position or on the move.

Notable examples

  • American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     M1919 Browning machine gun
    M1919 Browning machine gun
    The M1919 Browning is a .30 caliber medium machine gun that was widely used during the 20th century. It was used as a light infantry, coaxial, mounted, aircraft, and anti-aircraft machine gun by the U.S. and many other countries, especially during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War...

    : originally chambered for .30-06 Springfield
    .30-06 Springfield
    The .30-06 Springfield cartridge or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and standardized, and was in use until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy, and .30 US Army...

     but has since been converted to a variety of calibers; it was used as an infantry weapon (light and support roles) and also mounted on a variety of vehicles, aircraft and naval platforms.
  • German
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     Maschinengewehr 34
    MG 34
    The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German air-cooled machine gun that was first produced and accepted into service in 1934, and first issued to units in 1935. It accepts the 8x57mm IS cartridge....

     or MG 34: air-cooled, belt-fed and had the ability to be mounted on a variety of fixtures and employed in several different roles. Notably, the MG 34 remained the standard co-axial weapon for Nazi German
    Nazi Germany
    Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

     vehicles through the Second World War
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    . The MG34 was successful enough during use in the opening stages of the Second World War that the concept of the GPMG was adopted in many other post-WWII armies.
  • German MG 42: the MG 34's immediate successor in Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

     service—and the most versatile and effective machine gun design of the Second World War.
  • German MG3, a direct descendant of the MG 42, is still in service with the German Army
    German Army
    The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

     and others.
  • Belgian
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

     FN MAG
    FN MAG
    The FN MAG is a Belgian 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale by Ernest Vervier. It has been used by more than 80 countries, and it has been made under licence in countries such as Argentina, Egypt, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the...

    , the most widely used GPMG among NATO and other western armies.
  • South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    n Vektor SS-77
    Vektor SS-77
    The Vektor SS-77 is a general-purpose machine gun designed and manufactured by Denel Land Systems—formerly Lyttleton Engineering Works —of South Africa.- History :...

  • Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    n PK/PKM
    PK machine gun
    The PK is a 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun designed in the Soviet Union and currently in production in Russia. The PK machine gun was introduced in the 1960s and replaced the SGM and RPD machine guns in Soviet service...

     family of multi-purpose machine-guns, widely exported.
  • People's Republic of China
    People's Republic of China
    China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

    , the Type 67
    Type 67 machine gun
    The Type 67 is a 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun used by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. It shares some design features with the Soviet-built PK machine gun, but is a true hybrid of a number of different machine gun models, including both Soviet and Western designs that had been in...

     and later improved models.
  • American M60
    M60 machine gun
    The M60 is a family of American general-purpose machine guns firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges from a disintegrating belt of M13 links...

    , supplemented by the M240 (FN MAG variant) in US service.
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