Imported for a short time in the 1980s and 90s, the semi-auto rifles made by South Korea's Daewoo Precision Industries have found a sweet spot with American black rifle collectors. 

A subsidiary of Korean carmaker Daewoo International, which itself was founded in 1967 by Kim Woo-Choong, a figure seen as something of the Henry Ford of Seoul, DPI started making guns in the late 1970s. The company's first product was a 5.56 NATO carbine submitted to replace the South Korean military's M16A1 series rifles and M3 Grease Guns with something more domestic. 

Dubbed the K1 in carbine variant and K1A1 in its shortened commando-style format, the handy little rifle on the inside was something of a cross between Eugene Stoner's AR-15 and AR-18, using a direct gas impingement system with distinctive fiberglass furniture and a side-charging reciprocating bolt.

Small shipments of these guns, in a semi-auto format, were imported into the U.S. briefly by Kimber, Stoeger, and B-West -- cut off in 1989 by the White House-- as the MAX I/K1A1 and MAX II/K2 with a retractable wire buttstock or folding fiberglass stock, respectively, and a variety of 1:7.3 and 1:12 twist barrels. 

By 1984, an improved version of the gun, the K2, was available. Even more of a chimera it used an AK-ish long-stroke gas piston system with an FN FAL-type adjustment that drove a modified AR-15 bolt and used AR mags while carrying a rock-solid AR-180 style side-folding hollow plastic stock. In short, something akin to what the Israelis did with the Galil, but with a Korean twist. 

"Republic of Korea (ROK) Marines armed with 5.56mm K2 rifles set up frontal security behind a block wall during the Korean Incremental Training Program (KITP) at Camp Mu Juk, Korea. 11/20/2002" (Photo: Department of Defense)

The K2, in a semi-auto sporting variant, was imported first by B-West in the early 1990s then later by Firearms Import-Export Co. of Sacramento and Kimber as the "post-ban" DR200 in .223 Rem, while a 7.62x39mm version carried the DR300 moniker. These were outfitted with a thumbhole stock to comply with regs at the time and sold with 10-round magazines.

These typically came in with a 1:12 twist barrel until the importation of even these neutered guns was halted in 1996.

This Kimber-imported Daewoo DR200 is in the Vault and is still has its awful circa-1995 thumbhole stock
Note the 30-round mag, as these guns take standard AR-format magazines. 
It includes a Simmons Fireview 3-9x40 scope and the nicest nylon strap that $7 will buy
This B-West-imported DR200 has been much modded from its original "post-ban" form. It looks to have an ACE skeleton stock
Note the B-West markings, railed handguard, 20-round mag, and busted pistol grip. 

While Daewoo Precision Industries no longer exists, the K2 rifle is still in production in Busan with S&T Motiv and Dasan (as the DK-2C1) as it continues in primary use with the South Korean military. Further, it has been exported with some degree of success for military and LE use to minor countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 

The current select-fire Dasan-produced DK-2C1, sigh. (Photo: Dasan)

However, sporters like the MAX series and DR200/300 have long been absent from U.S. importers, making these guns extremely popular on the collectors’ market, especially those who are fans of certain pro-2A memes.

If you are interested in cool old guns like these, be sure to check out our Collector's Corner and Military Classics pages where history is just a click away.

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