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Look Out Kim Jong-Un: South Korea’s Daewoo K2 Rifle Is A Real Killer

Look Out Kim Jong-Un: South Korea’s Daewoo K2 Rifle Is A Real Killer

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Asia

Better than the M-16.

Key point: The design and adoption of the K2 was a major milestone for South Korea.

In the late twentieth century, one of the hallmarks of a modern military was a country’s ability to design and manufacture its own rifles. South Korea, an emerging military power, took that to heart and produced the K2 assault rifle. A blend of good ideas borrowed from other rifles, the K2 has served Republic of Korea forces for 35 years and with a raft of upgrades will serve for years more to come.

After the Korean War, the Republic of Korea (ROK) armed forces were primarily supplied with surplus U.S. small arms. M1 Garands and M2 carbines armed the country’s large conscript army, though the former were ill-suited for Korean troops. The Daewoo corporation licensed the M16A1 design from Colt, but upon the license’s expiration, the Korean military would be left without a rifle to produce. Seoul decided it would design and manufacture its own rifle, to Korean specifications.

South Korean small arms engineers basically took the operating system behind Eugene Stoner’s AR-18 assault rifle and copied it. The AR-18, known as Stoner’s other assault rifle design (other than the AR-15), used a short-stroke gas piston and rotating bolt. The South Korean rifle design used a long stroke gas piston design and a gas system copied from the FN FAL battle rifle, with a three position gas regulator. At 7.2 pounds the rifle was about the same weight as other NATO 5.56-millimeter rifles.

The new rifle was a selective fire, fully automatic weapon capable of a maximum rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute. The weapon can be fired in single shot, three round burst, and fully automatic modes. The weapon had a 18.3-inch barrel length, was chambered in 5.56-millimeter, and accepted NATO standard STANAG 30 round magazines. Maximum effective range was the 400 meters, typical for 5.56-millimeter rifles with intermediate barrel lengths.

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