Korean K2C in Iraq, on both sides

Footage from Iraq is showing the Korean company S&T Motiv’s (previously Daewoo Precision) K2C select fire carbine being used by both Iraqi special operations troops from the Golden Brigade against the Islamic State, and by the Islamic State themselves. The Golden Brigade is one of three brigades apart of an Iraqi special operations force, very akin to the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment as opposed to a JSOC or SOCOM outfit.

From a Korean news source

“A Korean K-2C rifle ended up on the black market. The 16th & 17th Div. received some brand-new K-2s in 2015,” wrote twitter account @green_lemon, which is apparently run by a military analyst focusing on Iraq and Syria.

Many military supplies imported by the Iraqi army have been looted by militants, sources said.

They added it was also not difficult to buy Korean rifles on the black market in Syria, indicating that IS has access to the assault rifles through the black markets.

Last year, the terrorist group posted a photo of a K-2 to promote their activities through social networking services. An IS member was shooting the South Korean rifle on a battlefield in northern Iraq.

The K-2C is an upgraded version of the K-2, the main assault rifle used by the South Korean Army.

The rifle was developed by the private military supplier S&T Motiv, formerly Daewoo Precision Industries, and has been exported to countries in Africa, South America, and the Middle East including Iraq since 2012.

The rifle is known to be popular among IS members for its light weight, reliability and high accuracy.

“Due to its short barrel, it seems to be popular with the IS group that engages in street battles” said Yang Wook, a fellow of the Korea Defense and Security Forum (KODEF).

Last year, the Ministry of National Defense officially acknowledged that IS had seized the K2C assault rifle, saying the terrorist group looted those exported to Iraq.

Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) failed to confirm if the rifle was the K-2C this time. “It is hard to tell if it is a K-2C by looking at the photo,” a DAPA official said.

It appears that Iraqi SF ordered at least several hundred K2Cs with accompanying Aimpoint optics, enough to arm a good number of the Golden Brigades troops to be seen all over social media. Indeed, it appeared that at least entire platoons were being armed with it. But it looks like this armament wasn’t too popular or is currently just less observable because the overwhelming majority of the brigade currently uses the issue select fire M4A1 in the fight against the Islamic State. How IS got ahold of the rifles is probably through either battlefield capture, or some outright corruption among the logistics branch. I would honestly suspect the latter because judging by the combat that we see over here through the social media filter, it doesn’t look like the two sides close with each other at near enough distances for longer periods of time for the conventual forces (Iraqis) to have to leave behind their dead and thus their weapons. However, it really doesn’t look like IS got their hands on a significant portion of them or else we’d see much more of this in their propaganda videos. So the Korean media might be blowing it out of proportion just a little.

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Apologies for the delay in time, as this article is really about eight months late when it comes to when the media really starting showing the K2Cs in combat. News was mostly confined to Korean sources and the scattered forum or two. However, because this is significantly interesting and firearms related, I thought it would be important that we write about it better late than never.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


  • J. Murphy

    How “Elite” are you really when the enemy appears to have more of your new rifles than you do?

    • Anonymoose

      More elite than the guys who were guarding the arsenal that got raided by ISIS, resulting in your unit having to use old junk and battlefield pickups.

    • its all relative

      • White Nationalist

        in Kentucky

  • James Young

    Why would a country import South Korean rifles? I mean, I’m sure they’re good enough, but SK is pretty much it for use. M4s make sense, AKs make sense, and so on. Are the SK special forces training the Iraqis on it too?

    • jono102

      Same reason the Iraqi’s and Kurds have VHS 2’s, G36’s etc, they’ll take anything they can get their hands on.
      Also just like in other regions the more compact, tactical and rare the rifle appears the higher the prestige or status of the owner regardless of how well it works or shoots.

      • iksnilol

        Wouldn’t recommend a fancy rifle. Draws attention.

        I remember a funny story about how a wounded Bosnian unit captured a special forces Serbian unit. I remember the interview because the guy who started the whole “operation” said: “He had a really nice MP5, I couldn’t let him get away.” (MP5s draw a bit of the good status in ex-Yu, it’s kinda a classy weapon).

        • jono102

          Kind of like when guys with beards gucci M-4’s playing with SAT coms start skulking around saying “We are not here” whilst sticking out like dogs balls on a mouse.

        • jcitizen

          I’d be concerned that if I carried something “special”, and got captured, that it may not go well for me, as my captors might think I’m Spec-Ops or something – I might not get treated well – if I live through it at all.

          • iksnilol

            Theres also that somebody will want to engage you cause they want the fancy rifle themselves.

    • Tritro29

      Because the batches they got were for free. Military assistance.

    • John

      Some countries use the AR-18 design because it’s simpler, easier and cheaper to produce and maintain that the AR-15 design.

      When a lot of people think about the AR-18, they think of Britain’s SA-80 and laugh. Well, South Korea went with it, and the K2 is what they came up with. As it turns out, the carbine version is a lot like the FN SCAR. Instead of employing lightweight but melty plastic in the hot desert sun, the K2 is mostly made of heavy but virtually indestructible stamped steel, just like a Kalashnikov.

      As said by others, Iraq, Kurdistan and Afghanistan are using everything that any country hands them. Heckler and Kock’s G36s, HS Produckt’s VHS-2s, Poland’s VZ .58s, South Korea’s K2s, and a whole lot of good old fashioned American-made M16s and M4A1 carbines. A whole lot. More than enough to keep both sides fighting for a while yet.

      I suspect that in the long run certain people in the South Korean arms industry will be looking at videos like these in a new light, and they’ll possibly try selling the K2C to some new customers. It looks like an M4, handles like an M4, but is built like an AK, has a folding stock and probably lasts longer under abusive conditions than an M4, and you don’t have to have the Americans in your face about following “human rights” or other pointless niceties. Yeah. There’ll be a lot of new customers in this.

      • M

        I wouldn’t say the K2 is inspired from the AR-18, if anything it’s a true AK-AR hybrid, unlike the mutant which is just a scaled up AR that takes AK mags

      • pbla4024

        Sa vz. 58 is Czechoslovak.

    • Uniform223

      When I was there South Korean troops were mainly there for base security (Major bases) and to help with humanitarian efforts.

  • datimes

    I have to get my hearing checked. I couldn’t understand a word she said.

  • roguetechie

    The K2 also just so happens to work really well, and the original k2’s had a very nice non m4 style folding stock. To be honest I don’t like the K2c’s specifically because they went from having this extremely good folding stock to the m4 style stocks.

    • jono102

      We had a Fijian Company attached to us and all their 40mm launchers were supplied by Korea on K2’s. I didn’t mind the stock on them with irons but I don’t think either will be particularly good getting a cheek weld with optics, especially quite high mounted red dots

      • roguetechie

        I’ve shot an original k2 with a couple different red dots and have no trouble getting good sight picture with a solid cheek weld. Then again, I’m about the size and shape of an Asian male. So maybe what’s good for me wouldn’t fit a bigger guy as well, but considering I fired with and without a plate carrier and it worked great both times. All I can say is that I like the standard k2’s and they work very well for me.

        • jono102

          Correction to my last, meant to say powered optics not red dots. Red dots lend themselves to varied cheek welds where as a powered optic 3.5X + not having a good cheek weld will lead to incorrect aim picture (shadows etc) or inconstant POA/POI issues.

  • LazyReader

    Maybe they’ll find some Hyundai’s instead of driving around in those Hilux’s

  • LazyReader

    Without spare parts….they’ll toss what they have inside a year.

    • kzrkp

      why would a basic infantry rifle need spare parts that quickly. the way it’s built, it’ll run for decades.

      • RaunchyDawg

        When you are firing up to 300 rounds a firefight, 2 firefights a day those rounds add up quick.

  • noob

    I wonder why the designers at Daewoo chose to not use an AR-15/M16 pattern rifle compatible rear takedown pin on the K2C.

    if they had, you could almost have had the Faxton ARAK-21 back in 1984.

    • HB

      Because they did so while making k1 carbine during 70s. K1 had to put recoil spring above bolt carrier, so the design became like that. And when they made k2 during 80s, they repeated what they’ve done to simplify R&D time and budget.

  • Tritro29

    It’s more complicated than that, claiming that betrayal of their fellow Iraqis to benefit a Sunni cause, is fleeing is an insult to the barely literate Shias that went en masse to defend their Iraq. Kurds did the exact same thing when they thought they would benefit by taking Mosul for themselves. The rest is history.

  • Marvinator

    Didn’t even know this existed, and isis already has it.

  • toms

    Owned a daewoo k2 and they are nice rifles. Also had a k300 in 762 x39 converted to post ban. They are basically like ar15s with ak type gas systems and aluminum receivers. Very reliable and simple to operate.

  • White Nationalist

    Are those all Aimpoint optics?

    • HB

      I don’t think so; there’s a Korean company who makes aimpoint-lookalikes. Not as good as the original, but cheaper.

  • plasticvicar

    IS likely gained these K2s in 2014 when they overran Mosul and destroyed units of the Golden Division based there.

  • Irfan Zain

    I can’t seriously be the only person who notices that the guy in the picture right at the top has a laser pointer mounted on top of his helmet right?

    • John Daniels

      I think that might be an IR illuminator.

      • Irfan Zain

        Yeap that would make sense. Its snag-bait though. Too bad he didn’t use the arc rails

  • Doom

    dude wtf is up with Africans and Arabs not aiming their guns? was the top video the “special forces” I like the spray and pray, and im not sure but it looked like the guy at the end had scope covers over his optics.