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 [email protected]