The 5.56mm K1A compact assault rifle (carbine) was developed during late 1970s as a replacement for the obsolete US-made M3A1 submachine guns, then in use by the military of Republic of Korea. It was officially adopted in 1981 and entered mass production in 1982.
Originally manufactured by the Daewoo Precision Industries, now SNT Motiv, this compact rifle is officially classified by the ROKA as a “submachine gun” (K1A 기관단총). While often considered as an off-shot of the K2 assault rifle, in fact the K1A carbine is a parallel and independent development, although both weapons have their roots in the US M16A1 rifle, which was manufactured under American license in South Korea. Back in 1980s and 1990s Daewoo also produced a semi-automatic only carbine for civilian sales, known as the Daewoo MAX-1 and Daewoo K1A1. Those carbines featured a slightly longer, 16-inch barrel and two-position safety lever.
The 5.56mm K1A assault rifle / carbine is a gas operated weapon. It uses Stoner-type direct impingement gas system, where the powder gases are feed through a stainless steel tube from the barrel into the hollow cavity inside the bolt carrier, as in an M16 or AR-15. However, the bolt carrier is noticeably shorter and the dual return springs with their guide rods are located above the bolt carrier, inside the upper receiver. The upper and lower receiver are made from aluminum alloy and connected by a cross-pin at the front and by a latch at the rear. Trigger system allows for single shots, 3-round bursts and unlimited automatic fire. A reciprocating charging handle is attached to the bolt carrier on its right side.
Ammunition is fed from STANAG / M16 compatible magazines, and an AR-15 style bolt hold open device is provided for faster reloads. K1A rifles are equipped with retractable stocks made from steel wire. On the earliest models the muzzle was fitted with a short conical flash hider, but it was soon replaced by a much more efficient tubular flash hider – compensator.
Special thanks to Jeremy J for photos.
Daewoo K1A assault rifle specifications: