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

Daewoo K2: A standard ROK Army Rifle 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 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 developed its 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 the Republic of Korea Armed Forces’ standard service rifle. K-series rifles have been exported to several countries, including Iraq, Cambodia, Malawi, Nigeria, the Philippines, Senegal, Peru, and Indonesia.

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


The standard gas piston drives a bolt that holds 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. The plastic butt is hinged to fold around to the receiver’s right, 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. The last one stops the burst when the trigger is pressed for a second time. 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 and 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 the older US M1932 ammunition (which generally uses one turn in 12 inches) or from the newer NATO-standard SS109 ammunition (which generally uses one turn in seven inches).


  • XB: At least six prototype versions (XB1 to XB6) were made.
    • XB6: Selected design among the prototype.
    • XB7: Further development of the XB6.
      • XB7C: Final experimental prototype. They are also known as XK2.
  • K2: Mass-produced variant.
    • AR-100: Semi-automatic 5.56×45mm NATO version for the civilian market.
    • DR-200: Semi-automatic .223 Remington version for the civilian market.
    • DR-300: Semi-automatic 7.62×39mm version for the 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, 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 a firing range of 500 meters. It has a Colt SCW-type buttstock, flip-up sights, a horizontally modified magazine well angle, and integrated Picatinny rails 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 its 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 a hybrid of the two systems. It has a lower receiver similar to an M16, chambered in 5.56mm, and 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 that previously manufactured the M16 and CAR-15 under license, and it uses a long-stroke gas piston which the Kalashnikov directly influenced.

Daewoo K2 is the only true crossover between the two, 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 different 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 initially as a submachine gun because it was intended to replace the M3 Grease Gun; the K2 was designed 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
The 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

Country of origin:South Korea
Manufacturer:S&T Motiv Co., Ltd (former Daewoo Precision Industries Ltd.), Pusan
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
  1. Nice rifle! It looks almost like a copy of an Israeli Galil. A perfected AK in 556. Copying an iconic rifle like that, you can’t go wrong.

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