Daewoo K2: The South Korean AK/AR Hybrid

South Korea experimented with a series of rifle designs in 7.62x51mm in the 1960s and early 1970s, but none of them came close to production. In 1974 a license was acquired from Colt for Daewoo Precision Industries to built the M16A1 for South Korean military use. This was good, but the license did not allow South Korea to build as many rifles as they wanted (well over a million, sufficient to arm a full mobilization of reserves in case of war). So indigenous rifle development continued in 5.56mm, taking many elements from the M16. In 1982/3 trials concluded on the final domestic design, which was adopted as the K2.

This rifle is a hybrid of AR and AK systems, with a long stroke gas piston action clearly take form the AK and a lower receiver, fire control group, and rotating multi-lug bolt clearly taken from the AR. It also features aperture sights, a robust sidefolding stock, and uses standard AR magazines. Well over a million were made, including commercial semiauto examples for export, like the one in today’s video.

29 Comments

  1. “(…)hybrid of AR and AK systems(…)”
    According to https://modernfirearms.net/en/assault-rifles/south-korea-assault-rifles/daewoo-k1-i-k2-eng/
    The trigger unit is fitted with the 4 position safety / fire selector switch, located at the left side of the receiver, above the pistol grip. The switch has positions for Safe, Single shots, 3 rounds bursts and Full auto fire. It must be noted that the 3 rounds burst counter does not reset itself if trigger is released before all 3 rounds are fired.
    Why they decided to use 4-position one, whilst neither or mentioned above sported such feature at that time?

    • That is not an accurate summation of the design history, at least from my memory.

      I will have to go do some digging, but neither Ian’s summary nor the .ru quite match what I remember about this weapon and the K1’s development.

      • OK, had a chance to go look up the information I remembered…

        Ian has it more-or-less right, which is no surprise. Modern Firearms, not so much…

        http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/the-evolution-of-k1k2-families-in-the-rok-military/

        I do not remember ever handling or seeing a K1 or K2 with a three-round burst feature on it. This may be an artifact of a failure of memory, because there are numerous places saying that they came standard with that feature, soooo… Your mileage may vary.

        It is interesting to look at the succession of XB prototypes in that second picture in that article I link to–It’s pretty obvious that the FN-FAL was the inspiration for the XB1, which is not surprising considering how much “FN” there is in the Korean weapons bloodline–Look at the K3/K15, which are virtually FN Minimis, and the K12 which is a 7.62 NATO adaptation of the K3. Extensive “borrowing” has gone on with regards to Korean small arms design… Which isn’t a bad thing, at all–Everything of theirs that I’ve used has been more than serviceable, and about the only thing they’ve really got to do is add on all the bells and whistles for modern sights and lighting. Which I believe they’re in the process of doing, as we speak.

  2. Now, make the same thing, but with sheet-metal pressed receiver. Oh yea, and get rid of that seize-prone (steel on aluminum) full diameter inner fit. Bolt carrier can run on rod or rail.

  3. Really cool take on the assault rifle concept. Well made, and easily the equal of any Colt. Runs cleaner than an M-16, too. I’d love for somebody to start importing these again, just leave the horrible little cars in Korea.

      • That’s right, I was gonna say the same. Chevy cheeps out on it.
        Besides, Hyundai are close to premium grade now. They worked on it long and hard enough.

  4. Ah, damn, this brings back memories.
    You could buy these in Canada as regular, non-restricted rifles. I had one, and loved it.
    Then the PC government of the day banned them. Even grandfathered, it would be a safe queen only, so I sold mine to a collector with the right permit.

    • PC government? Which one, Mulroney’s? Harper had no qualms with rifles ownership. He actually cancelled registration for non-restricted.

      • Kim Campbell’s, if I recall correctly. That was when a bunch of stuff was banned by name, recall it being something of a knee-jerk reaction to the Montreal university massacre.

        • Oh, yes, the fact that some nitwits try to make everyone picture-perfect by getting rid of all potential murder weapons. Just wait until someone commits a massacre with a kitchen knife.

          Back to the rifle, please. Does the K2 offer any practical advantages over derivatives of the AR-15 or derivatives of the AK in terms of performance, durability, manufacturing costs, or user-friendliness?

          • “Oh, yes, the fact that some nitwits try to make everyone picture-perfect by getting rid of all potential murder weapons. Just wait until someone commits a massacre with a kitchen knife.”+

            New Jersey bans certain types of knives so we’re already there.

            BTW FBI stats for violent deaths in 2019 (last available data). Note that the stats include suicides and self defense as well as murders

            Rifles (all types, semi-auto being a subset and AR’s a subset of that) 364

            Personal Weapons (Blows from hands and feet, strangling, etc) 600

            Edged Weapons (Knives, Axes, Swords (really, swords!) 1475

            Gotta ban those Assault Cleavers…

            I’ll shut up before Ian bans me for political discussion

          • They are not trying to make everyone picture-perfect.
            They try to make everything idiots, forcing normal people to live by the rules for criminals.

          • Quite a few countries ban at least the sales and in some cases also the ownership of “automatic” pocket knives, i.e. stilettos and folding knives with a push button opening mechanism. Some also ban so called butterfly knives.

            The absolutely funniest thing is that some countries ban throwing stars (shurikens). The lawmakers have watched too many ninja movies! Some of the countries which ban throwing stars do NOT ban conventional throwing knives, even though the latter are potentially much more dangerous.

        • K.Campbell was in PM office between June and December of 1993. Ecole Polytechnique shooting was on 6.December 1989, four years earlier. If this event influenced Cdn. gun law (which I think it did) it happened under B.Mulroney. That was single biggest disaster involving firearms in Canada and we pay for it to this day.

  5. I had a couple DR200s back in the day. Very reliable and fairly accurate but limited to 55gr. because of the 1/12 twist barrel that everything had back then. Rumors were the Moonies were selling some out the back door of one of their monasteries.

  6. I have one of the DR200’s (K2 with thumbhole stock) from the dark age of the 1994 freedom ban. It has since been converted back to a fairly close copy of the correct folding stock. It is an excellent shooting rifle, and well built. It shoots great with standard 55g NATO, but it keyholes with 62g M855. But the keyholes still stay on target, so I’m happy with it. Paired with my Daewoo DP-51 and I have both firearms carried by the ROK Army when I was stationed in Korea circa 1995-6. Back then we had M16A2 rifles, and we were very jealous of the folding stocks on the Korean soldier’s rifles.

  7. Looks very similar to the SOCIMI AR-831 – 832 – 871, that competed with the Beretta AR70/90 for Italian Army AR trials. The SOCIMI also was an AR15 with a long stroke gas piston, and an AK-style over-the-bolt recoil spring, to have a foldable stock. It also had a gas regulator.
    I wonder if there had been some influence.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Hw8rYhe1sxM/XTTA7AS0vUI/AAAAAAAAvI8/Zf9nNDi3gDwTUqQSjQL4YzwOzFK4BSYPQCLcBGAs/s1600/SOCIMI.png

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/6d/ac/ed/6daced8e8b2b122079d99a6cd2dfd26f.png

    • Sure. Maybe replace it with an UltiMak-style railed one. Optics and accessories are a challenge for the older K-2s.

      • Searched the google, but cannot find removed tube. I ask that, because I think it would be good for field strip and cleaning that tube can be accessed, like in AK. If its not, than that is not a great solution in the design.

        • I recall the gas tube as fixed, but you have the removable plug at the front, and the piston goes out the back of course. So should you feel the need to swab it out, it’s right there.

          Or you know, crank that plug 90 degrees to use the larger gas hole in the meantime.
          I think there were three: small (typically fine), medium, and damn-large. And one blank (no hole) for rifle grenades.

    • Not sure about the tube, but it’s easy enough to launch the gas block a long way. Unlike that of the FN FAL, it’s not under spring tension; if not turned to a locked position, it will just sit there until the next round.

      Regardless, being adjustable was very nice.

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