Daewoo DP51 | The Best Pistol from South Korea


In 2013 I had my first experience with the Daewoo DP51. Five years later and l have one to call my own, purchased online from The Mosin Crate. The DP51 is the commercial version of the K5 service pistol used by the South Korean military. An updated version, the LH9, is currently produced and sold by Lionheart Industries.

Going In Dry

The DP51 surprisingly arrived free from cosmoline and other preservatives that surplus guns are typically drenched in. Certain areas were gummed up with old lubricants and grease such as the sights, crevasses between controls, and some of the internals. The finish was worn from life within a holster, but overall is still in good condition.  After picking up the pistol from my FFL, I immediately headed to the range, and fired around 100 rounds of target ammo. Despite the lack of lubrication, every round cycled flawlessly.

The DP51 is a semi automatic, aluminum frame, DA/SA pistol chambered in 9×19. What sets the DP51 apart from other designs is its unique trigger mechanism. In addition to the standard double/single action, there is a third mode known by a few names: Triple Action, Fast Action, Double Action Plus (+). Fast Action is activated by pushing forward on the hammer, decocking the gun. Once decocked, pressing the trigger results in a reduced weight DA pull that quickly snaps to a standard SA pull. The idea being to increase safety with a longer trigger press that converts to a SA press for accurate firing. The DP51 can also be carried cocked-and-locked, or in a traditional double action mode.


Left to right, top to bottom: 13 round factory, 15 round factory, 15 round S&W 5900, 15 round Lionheart

Feed the Beast

My pistol arrived with one Smith & Wesson 5900 series 15 round magazine, which protrudes from the bottom of the frame. These magazines, along with 15 round DP51 mags, can be over-inserted which causes the action to lock up. The standard 13 round Daewoo magazines are flush-fit with the frame, and Lionheart 15 round mags have a large baseplate, allowing each to avoid the over-insertion issue.

Aside from aforementioned magazine hiccups, and one double feed with Winchester White Box, the DP51 ran reliably with multiple brands of ammunition:

  • 75x Sellier & Bellot 115gr
  • 50x Winchester Whitebox 115gr
  • 30x Freedom Munitions American Steel 115gr
  • 20x Gold Dot 124gr +P

The sights were filled with so much gunk I initially didn’t realize they were 3 Dot 

I have not done any benchrest shooting with the DP51, but so far it seems to shoot on par with other guns of the type. My accuracy with it is not up to the level of what I can achieve with my Glock, but has steadily increased as I spend more time behind the trigger. Don’t expect to win your local bullseye match with one of these, but the gun will most likely out-perform the majority of shooters.

The Devil is in the Details

The safety lever is ambidextrous, having a distinct “snick” when deactivating despite a mushy activation. This lever is hinged at the front, making usage slightly awkward when compared to something like a 1911 or CZ. The rear of the safety houses a small pin which managed to work itself loose and fell underneath the lever and frame of the pistol causing the DP51 to become stuck between “fire” and “safe”. In this state, pulling the trigger will drop the hammer and fire the gun. After firing once the trigger would become “dead” as it does when the safety is properly activated. Manually cycling action will allow the user to fire again, followed by another dead trigger.DP51

Another issue I’ve noticed is that the trigger does not always totally transition to single action after cycling, resulting in a pull that feels similar to the Fast Action in weight, but with multiple distinct stages. Generally this occurs after sending the slide forward on a fresh mag, despite having the hammer fully cocked. I haven’t figured out why this happens or how to fix it. For now it is merely a nuisance; expecting a certain trigger pull and receiving something entirely different. Something I will be keeping an eye on for future developments.

Overall, the DP51 is a solid duty grade pistol. There are tons of guns available that will probably serve you better, but Daewoo definitely put out a winner here. I won’t be abandoning my G19 or P-07 any time soon, but the DP51 makes for an effective, quirky, and unusual, sidearm.

As an Aside

The Mosin Crate was excellent to work with. Emails were returned quickly and all communication was personable. They don’t maintain a constant stock of anything, and their supply is generally small, but prices are fair, the guns are interesting, and their inventory is constantly updating.. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again.


Daniel R.

Daniel is a Range Master and NRA certified handgun and rifle instructor and range safety officer, as well as a USPSA pistol and Multi-Gun competitor. He has received training from Craig Douglas, Mike Pannone, and Scott Jedlinski among others.

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5 Responses

  1. chris harper says:

    You probably should have started with a newly manufactured lh9 from Lionheart Industries, instead of a used and abused dp51. The do have parts available to repair any worn or parts needing replaced, to get your back in shape.

  2. Allen says:

    How can I find a red dot mount (RMR) for the specs on the Daewoo DP51 dovetail. The dovetail seems very slightly larger than the GI dovetail and slightly less deep. Is there something available …I need some help

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