WDS 2022: The Small Arms of South Korea

Vladimir Onokoy
by Vladimir Onokoy
WDS 2022: The Small Arms of South Korea

At the World Defense Show exhibition that was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in March of this year, there were a lot of companies that you would expect to see in the Middle Eastern defense expo. Usually, it is companies from Eastern Europe, UAE, USA, Africa, but in this case, one of the best small arms displays at the entire exhibition was showcased by a company from South Korea called SNT Motiv.

South Korean Guns @ TFB:

We don’t hear about South Korean firearms very often, but, in fact, the country has an impressive product line of pistols, rifles, and machine guns. And unlike a lot of European countries, South Korea not only retained its domestic firearms production capacity in recent years but also developed a new weapon to replace its signature K2 service rifles.

Several years ago, TFB published an article about the upgrade of the Korean K2 rifles. For a long time, K2 was marketed as a “rifle that combines the benefits of AK and AR platform”. It combines the long-stroke gas piston action used by an AK with an AR-like bolt. The most recent versions of K2, compact K2C, and full-size K2C1 were both presented in the battle-worn finish, which, frankly, attracted attention and gave them more character.

K2C1 (above) and K2C rifle (below)

In 2020, the Korean Army announced that in the near future it will add a new assault rifle to the arsenal. This exhibition is perhaps one of the first chances for the international audience to see it.

Essentially, STC-16 is an AR-15/M16 variant with a short-stroke gas piston and all the features you would expect from a modern AR: adjustable stock, M-LOK handguard, etc. Mass production of this rifle is scheduled to start in 2024 when the field testing with the Korean military will be completed.

Another new firearm showcased at the Korean booth was the STSM-21 submachine gun. Chambered for 9x19mm, it is an AR-based SMG with delayed blowback action.

While a transition to the AR-based platform is pretty boring from a weapon design perspective, it is clear that South Korea has a significant firearms manufacturing capacity and certain R&D capabilities.

Vladimir Onokoy
Vladimir Onokoy

Vladimir Onokoy is a small arms subject matter expert and firearms instructor. Over the years he worked in 20 different countries as a security contractor, armorer, firearms industry sales representative, product manager, and consultant. His articles were published in the Recoil magazine, Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defence Journal, and Silah Report. He also contributed chapters to books from the "Vickers Guide: Kalashnikov" series. Email: machaksilver at gmail dot com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vladimir-Onokoy-articles-and-videos-about-guns-and-other-unpopular-stuff-107273143980300/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vladonokoy/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/machaksilver

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2 of 36 comments
  • Drakon590 Drakon590 on Apr 12, 2022

    Interasting stuff

  • Docduracoat Docduracoat on Apr 12, 2022

    While their military arms do look like fun, South Korea has very strict gun laws.
    Even If you have a permit to have a hunting rifle, it has to be stored at the local police station.

    Every male has to do mandatory military service. So they’ve all at least been familiarized with and handled an assault rifle. But if the north invades, they will find an unarmed civilian population.