In this episode we're covering the first weapon in the LMG category, the HK21.
It's a fully automatic weapon, and is available as part of a default class from level 2.
The HK21 originates from West Germany, manufactured by Heckler und Koch. It's based on the G3 battle rifle, and is ostensibly a general purpose machine gun variant of that weapon.
It was introduced two years after the G3, in 1961, intended as a complement to H&Ks earlier offering.
Similar in design and maintenance, the HK 21 had a few modifications that made it more suitable for sustained fire. A heavier barrel with quick-change capability, long range adjustable iron sights and detachable bipod comprise the key differences.
The HK21 also boasts unique versatility as far as ammunition feeding is concerned; it's capable of accepting both magazines - including standard G3 20-round and larger drum magazines - as well as belt-fed ammunition more typical for a machine gun.
Magazine capacity in-game is 30 rounds by default, or 60 rounds with the drum magazine.
The HK 21 fires the NATO standard 7.62 by 51 millimetre rifle cartridge, just like the G3 - and most other western battle rifles.
Damage dealt is high, and consistent at all ranges - unlike assault rifles or SMGs. The HK21 will be a 3-hit kill at any distance - and there's the potential for a two-hit kill if both are headshots.
Rate of fire is moderate for the LMG category - on par with the RPK, the HK21 fires faster than the M60 but slower than the Stoner 63.
Recoil is omnidirectional, with an upward bias. When fired in bursts it's very manageable.
The only real downsides to the HK21 are its handling characteristics - your movement speed will be much slower, your aim time will be slow at 350 milliseconds, and the reload isn't quick either, taking nearly 4 seconds to complete.
It's tempting to try and counter the sluggish nature of the LMGs, perhaps using Lightweight, Sleight of Hand or Marathon to improve their handling and mobility characteristics. In all honesty though, running around with the LMGs as though it were an assault rifle is not to the weapon's strength.
It's far better to embrace the slow nature of the weapon, and take an altogether more careful approach to conflicts.
There are two effective ways in which you can employ the HK21 - the first is in a purely defensive role.
When locking down an objective from a covered position you'll be glad for the larger magazine, penetration ability and consistent damage. A well-placed LMG user can defend a point against multiple enemies, and make them rethink their tactics.
Secondly, you can use the LMGs as a complement to an offensive push with your teammates - for instance, at the start of a Domination game follow behind the runners intent on taking Bravo before the enemy, and take up a defensive position behind the point while your teammates capture.
Your fire support will tilt your team's odds of securing the point before the enemy is able to - and once captured you'll be in a good position to provide a rock-solid defence.
If you find yourself moving about too much, you're probably playing the loadout incorrectly - you'll benefit most from a stationary firing position. Sprinting near enemies with such a slow weapon is as good as suicide.
Unyielding firepower is the LMG's core tenet, and with the HK21 it's very possible to provide sustained fire in the defence of flags, points or other objectives.
No damage drop-off means they work well along lengthy sightlines, and can be a strong counter to snipers at long range - you'll be able to kill them before they can escape to cover, assuming you don't let them get an aimed shot off.
The reload might seem slow at 4 seconds, but if you're in good cover you'll seldom die as a result - and after a short delay you'll have another 60 rounds to dole out upon the enemy.
If you don't play to the weapon's strength you'll struggle, though - the HK21 is as unwieldy and cumbersome as any of the LMGs, and if you're caught in the open you'll struggle to compete against an assault rifle or SMG.
You need to slow your game down, and adopt more patient tactics. Securing predictable chokepoints near objectives is where these weapons shine.
You won't be the quickest on the draw, but you'll have unparalleled stamina - and the power to annihilate entire teams.