Daewoo K2: A crossover between the AK-47 and M16

Daewoo K2: A standard ROK Army Rifle
Daewoo K2: A standard ROK Army Rifle (Photo: XY)

The Daewoo K2 is a standard South Korean Army rifle produced by Daewoo Precision Industries. The company gained experience in manufacturing rifles by making the United States M16 under license for the Republic of South Korea Army (ROK Army). Once the initial requirements had been met, the company set about developing their own design. After a series of prototypes and limited production models, the Daewoo K2 has become the standard South Korean Army rifle.


The Daewoo K2 assault rifle was developed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by S&T Motiv. S&T Motiv Co., Ltd (formerly S&T Daewoo and previously Daewoo Precision Industries) is a South Korean firearms and auto parts manufacturer founded in 1981).

The Daewoo K2 is currently the standard service rifle of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. K-series rifles have been exported for military use in several countries, including Iraq, Cambodia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Peru, and Indonesia.

ROK Army soldier takes aim with Daewoo K2 assault rifle
ROK Army soldier takes aim with Daewoo K2 assault rifle (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


The mechanism is the usual gas piston driving a bolt carrier holding a rotating bolt. A selector lever permits firing single shots, three-round bursts of automatic fire. The receiver is made from two aluminum alloy forgings, and the plastic butt is hinged so as to fold round to the right of the receiver, making the weapon more compact for carrying inside a vehicle.

The K2 has an 18-inch barrel with an AR-style bolt reminiscent of the M16, AR-style trigger system and it uses 5.56mm AR magazines. It also disassembles like an AR. But when it comes to the gas system it consists of an AK-style long-stroke gas piston. It’s a terrific rifle. Very reliable, accurate, and easy to control the recoil. By far my favorite rifle.

ROK Army Standard Service Assault Rifle Daewoo K2
ROK Army Standard-issue Service Assault Rifle Daewoo K2 (Photo: XY)

Unique features

There are two unique features of this rifle. The three-round burst mechanism does not re-set itself when the trigger is released. When the trigger is pressed for a second time, the burst picks up from where the last one stopped. This could be a trifle offputting if you expect three rounds and only get one.

The sights are also unusual; the rear sight is a two-position flip unit, but instead of two apertures for two rangers it has one aperture for daylight shooting, and the other flip has a notch and two white spots for night firing. Range adjustment is performed by turning a cam beneath the sight mount, so lifting the entire unit; the maximum range setting is 600 meters.


The Daewoo K2 barrel is rifled with one turn of the rifling in nine inches; this allows good shooting from either the older US M1932 ammunition (which normally uses one turn in 12 inches) or from the newer NATO-standard SS109 ammunition (which normally uses one turn in seven inches).


  • XB: At least 6 versions (XB1 to XB6) of prototype were made.
    • XB6: Selected design among the prototype.
    • XB7: Further development of the XB6.
      • XB7C: Final experimental prototype. Also known as XK2.
  • K2: Mass-produced variant.
    • AR-100: Semi-automatic 5.56×45mm NATO version for civilian market.
    • DR-200: Semi-automatic .223 Remington version for civilian market.
    • DR-300: Semi-automatic 7.62×39mm version for civilian market.
  • K2C (C=”Carbine”): Carbine version of K2 rifle with Picatinny rail, M4-type buttstock, barrel reduced to 310 mm (12 in). Exports started in 2012.
    • K2C CQB: A manufacturer-proposed variant of K2C for close quarters combat operations, which was first unveiled by the name “The New K2C-1” in the ADEX 2017, and later renamed as “K2C CQB” in the DX KOREA 2018. It has a 310 mm (12 in) barrel and has a firing range up to 500 meters with an Colt SCW-type buttstock, flip up sights, a horizontally modified magazine well angle, integrated picatinny rails and ambidextrous selector switches.
  • K2C1 (C=”Exterior design changed without performance improvements”, by the South Korean Defense Specification) : New variant featuring a quad accessory rail, full-length 1913 Picatinny optics rail, an AR-15-style six position collapsing and a Magpul-based foldable stock. Comes in two barrel lengths, 305 mm (12 in) and 465 mm (18.3 in). It was officially sent into production in March 2016 with first deliveries in June 2016.

An assault rifle that’s a balance of the AK-47 and the M16

The Daewoo K2 is more comparable to an M16 or AK-47, as it’s actually a hybrid of the two systems. It has a lower receiver similar to an M16 and is chambered in 5.56mm, but uses a long-stroke gas piston like an AK.

It was available both in 5.56×45 using STANAG 4179 magazines and 7.62×39 using Kalashnikov magazines (though this variant was only ever sold as a civilian semi auto model), it uses forged aluminum receivers, as it was made by a company which previously manufactured the M16 and CAR-15 under license, and it uses a long stroke gas piston which was directly influenced by the Kalashnikov.

Daewoo K2 is the only true crossover between the two, having been influenced directly by both rifles.

Difference: Daewoo K1 vs Daewoo K2

While the Daewoo K1A SMG is commonly regarded as an SMG version of the K2, the K1 is a separate weapon altogether. The primary differences between the two weapons include development time and intent (the Daewoo K1 took less time to develop and entered service sooner than the Daewoo K2, and was developed originally as a submachine gun because it was intended to replace the M3 Grease Gun; the K2 was developed from the start as a service rifle); rifling (K1: 1-in-12 twist; K2: 1-in-7.3 twist); and gas system (the K1 uses a direct impingement gas system, while the K2 uses a long-stroke gas piston system).

In addition, parts are not interchangeable between the two weapons even though they can use the same cartridge (KM193 (.223 Remington) 5.56 caliber; the K2 can also utilize the K100 (SS109) 5.56 caliber round).

Republic of South Korea - ROK Army Force Recon and sniper team during winter training back in 2010. The spotters are using K2 with M203 attachment and the snipers are using SSG-3000
Republic of South Korea – ROK Army Force Recon and sniper team during winter training back in 2010. The spotters are using K2 with M203 attachment and the snipers are using SSG-3000 (Photo: XY)

Technical specifications: Daewoo K2

Manufacturer: S&T Motiv Co., Ltd (former Daewoo Precision Industries Ltd.), Pusan, South Korea
Designed: 1972-1983
Service: 1984-present
Type: gas-operated, selective fire
Caliber:  5.56 mm (.223)
Barrel: 18.3 in (465 mm)
Weight (empty): 7.18 lbs (3.26 kg)
Effective firing range: 100–800 m sight adjustments
Rate of fire: 750 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
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