||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|Headquarters||Blauvelt, New York|
|Key people||Kook Jin "Justin" Moon , CEO/President of Saeilo|
Kahr Arms is an American small arms manufacturer founded by Kook Jin "Justin" Moon (son of Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon), who currently serves as CEO and President. It is owned by the Saeilo Corporation (pronounced say-low), a subsidiary of Tongil Group, a South Korean business group (chaebol) associated with the Unification Church. (“Tongil” is Korean for “unification,” the name of the Unification Church in Korean is “Tongilgyo.”) Tongil's other business lines include: Ginseng and related products, building materials, machine parts including munitions for the South Korean military, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and publishing.
Kahr Arms specializes in compact and mid-size semi-automatic pistols chambered for popular cartridges, including .380 ACP, 9 mm Luger Parabellum, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Kahr pistols feature polymer or stainless steel frames, single-stack magazines, and double-action-only striker firing actions. Company headquarters is in Blauvelt, New York and the Kahr manufacturing facility is located in Worcester, Massachusetts.
From the age of 14, Justin Moon enjoyed shooting guns. At age 18, Moon got a license to carry a handgun, co-signed by one of his older brothers, but he wasn't satisfied with the small calibers available in compact handguns. "I had been licensed to carry in New York State since I was 18 and had looked for an ultra-compact 9mm pistol," Justin later told American Handgunner. "To my chagrin, I could not find a pistol with the quality of construction and features in design which I felt were appropriate for a carry gun. Therefore, I decided to design an ultra-compact 9-mm. pistol that I could carry." By his junior year of college, he decided to design one himself.
In 1999, Kahr Arms bought Auto-Ordnance Company, not associated with the original AOC, maker of Thompson submachine guns, then owned and operated by Numrich Arms who had bought the crated assets of Auto-Ordnance started by General John T. Thompson and his investors. Now Kahr manufactures Auto-Ordnance's line of semi-automatic weapons, including a long-barreled rifle version of the famous "Tommy Gun."
Kahr offers its line of compact pistols at a time of significant liberalization of concealed weapons laws in many U.S. states. Since the 1990s, many states have passed "shall-issue" laws, as promoted by the American National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations. Such laws mandate that state authorities must issue permits to carry concealed weapons to all law-abiding applicants who met certain conditions set forth by state law, including passing a comprehensive background check.
In 1994 the U.S. government banned manufacture and importation of pistol magazines with more than a 10-round capacity. These were the so-called "high-capacity" magazines, which again became legal to manufacture and import in most states in September 2004, after the relevant federal law expired. This change in federal law rendered many staggered-magazine pistol models (commonly with magazine capacities of 15 or more rounds) less popular in the American market. They were now overly large in light of their newly mandated 10-shot limit. Kahr was at the forefront, offering relatively small, well-made pistols with magazine capacities of up to eight rounds of 9mm or .40-caliber ammunition. These single-stack magazines allow for slender, compact pistols that have proven popular with the buying public.
Since late 2003 or very early in 2004, Kahr has changed from offering a Limited Lifetime Warranty on their pistols to one of only five years' duration. In 2003 the New York Daily News reported that the Kahr K9 was popular as a back-up weapon with New York City police officers, who called it the "Moonie gun".
The Kahr action is a Browning locked-breech design featuring a striker-operated firing pin with a passive firing pin safety, making it a true hammerless action. When the trigger is pulled, the trigger bar begins to rotate a double-lobed cocking cam. This cam simultaneously begins to draw the striker to the rear, compressing the spring behind it, while depressing and deactivating the firing pin block. At the end of the trigger's travel, the lobe contacting the striker slips off the striker and releases it; the other lobe has, by this point, completely depressed the firing pin block and permitted the striker to snap forward and strike the primer. This single piece takes the place of more complicated and fragile designs employed in other pistols. It is similar in principle, though very different in execution, to the action design of Glocks. It also allows the firing pin block to be located further to the rear of the slide and therefore further from possible contamination by combustion gases and powder fouling. For this innovation, Justin Moon was awarded one of the five patents he owns on the Kahr pistol design. This system is employed on all Kahr pistols, regardless of frame material, size, or caliber.
The Kahr trigger is similar to a double-action revolver, with a short 3/8 inch trigger travel. On polymer-framed models, the slide travels on steel inserts that are permanently set into the polymer frame. There are also polymer rails, which are not structurally functional, but aid in keeping out dirt, and with aligning the slide when reassembling the slide onto the polymer frame. In steel framed versions, the rail design is traditional and very similar to that of the M1911 pistol. Kahr pistols have their feed ramps offset to the left, which allows the trigger draw bar to lie flatter against the right side of the frame. This feature helps the Kahr pistol line to achieve a slide width of .90 of an inch in 9mm and .40 S&W models, and 1.01 inches when chambered in .45ACP, narrower than many popular pistols.
The initial Kahr offering, the K9, provided a full-power 9mm Parabellum pistol that was virtually the same size, and in some dimensions, smaller, as widely accepted "Pocket Pistol" .380 ACP and .32 ACP handguns such as the Walther PP and PPK/S, as well as the Sig-Sauer P230/232, and the Beretta "80" Series.
With the introduction of the K9's brother, the P9 (and soon thereafter, the P40) they not only matched size, but offered these service calibered weapons in a format sometimes weighing several ounces less than these respected arms.
Kahr offers a line of "economy" pistols which are identical to the P series of pistols except that some luxury features are eliminated to cut costs. The polymer-frame CW economy models have fewer machining operations, pinned-in front sights rather than dovetail, traditional rifling rather than polygonal rifling, engraved rather than "rolled-on" lettering, and come with only one magazine. CW pistols generally retail for approximately 20%–30% less than the full-featured P series. The E series is a discontinued line of Kahr economy pistols with stainless frame; the E series was discontinued in 2004.
Kahr currently manufactures and distributes the following semi-automatic pistols:
- Kim, Hyung-eun (April 12, 2010). "Business engine of a global faith". Joong Ang Daily. Retrieved 2012-01-10.
- "Money, Guns, and God" by Christopher S. Stewart, Conde Nast Portfolio, October 2007.
- Kirk, Donald (May 2, 2010). "Sons rise in a Moon’s shadow". Forbes.
- Massad Ayoob, "The Rise of the House of Kahr", American Handgunner (November/December 2001) pp. 58–67. "My first experience shooting was with my older brother when I was 14. He also liked guns and took me shooting with friends and family. We would have a great time setting up and shooting targets with an assortment of firearms. Ever since that first shooting experience, I continued to pursue my interest in firearms."
- Quoted in "Rev. Moon son made gun" New York Daily News July 27, 2003.
- Massad Ayoob, "The Rise of the House of Kahr", American Handgunner (November/December 2001) pp. 58–67.
- Mintz, John (1999-03-10). "Church's Pistol Firm Exploits a Niche". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- New York Daily News staff (July 27, 2003). "Rev. Moon son made a gun". New York Daily News.
- Sam Black (22 June 2010). "Owners unload gunmaker Magnum Research to Kahr Arms". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
- "KAHR Perfect Pocket Pistols". Retrieved 2007-09-22.
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