Who owns Kahr Arms?

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Browsing the Kahr Arms website, I noticed an advertisement (pictured below) that claimed Kahr was 100% American owned and operated. This surprised me because it is commonly accepted that the company is owned by the Unification Church of South Korea.

Wikipedia states that the company is owned by the Saeilo Corporation, which in turn is owned by the Tongil Group, a holding company founded by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon. On the Tongil Group’s website they have published an New York Times article, written by Choe Sang-Hun, which states that the church owns Kahr Arms

The church owns the Washington Times newspaper and the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, as well as the New York-based gun manufacturer Kahr Arms.

Justin Moon, the son of Sun Myung Moon, became the CEO/President of Saeilo in 1992. Two years later the Kahr Arms division was formed to develop and produce the pistol design Justin had invented. In 2005 he became the chairman of the Tongil Group.

Back in 2001, Massad Ayoob interviewed Justin and asked him about the ownership of the company. Mr Moon said …

Ayoob: There is speculation on the Internet that your father or his church own your company Your response?

Moon: I currently am the majority shareholder of Kahr and operate my business to provide high quality firearms to the public and to make a profit.

Moon Kook-Jin (Justin Moon)

A few years later Writer Christopher S. Stewart interviewed Justin Moon at SHOT Show and published a scathing article about him and the Unification Church. Stewart claimed that the company was owned by a network of church-owned shell companies …

Zilliox traced Kahr, one of more than a dozen Moon family companies in the U.S., through an intricate chain of firms to a mothership holding company called ­ Unification Church International, which he says was formed to support and perpetuate the Unification movement. U.C.I. shares a building in Falls Church, Virginia, with its single subsidiary, One Up Enterprises, the central holding company of some of Reverend Moon’s most prominent and influential businesses. Among these are True World Group, a global seafood business run by Motoo Furuta, a church member; News World Communications, owner of U.P.I. and the Washington Times, led by Chung Hwan Kwak, another Moon follower; and Saeilo, which has offices in Japan and the United States, among other places. Saeilo lists Justin Moon as its C.E.O. and president.

I contacted Blue August, the PR agency that represents Kahr, to find out who owns the company. They contacted Frank Harris, VP Sales & Marketing of Kahr Arms. Frank said …

Kahr Arms was never owned by the Tongil Group.

It has always been owned by Justin Moon who is an American citizen. His father, Sun Myung Moon founded the Tongil Group sometime in the 1960s in Korea which may be where the confusion lies.

In a follow up email Frank said …

Here are the facts plain and simple for the guy from the Firearms Blog. You can give him this info below.

Unification Church does not own Kahr Arms – Kahr Arms is owned by Justin Moon who is an American citizen and has lived in America since he was four years old.

Personally I believe Frank Harris. The Tongil Group owns hundreds of companies all over the world so it seems absolutely plausible that Justin’s wealthy father would have give him ownership of Saeilo when he became the CEO. I think folks are always going to be suspicious and their suspicions will not be alleviated while the Tongil Group, chaired by Justin Moon, continues to publish an article claiming it owns Kahr!


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Jon

    Ok, so I believe that they aren’t owned by the Church in paper. But that doesn’t say anything about managerial control, nor if any money flows to the Church. This still can happen regardless of ownership. Perhaps Frank Harris would like to address these issues directly.

  • http://ernunnos.livejournal.com/ Jason

    Does it matter?

    They make guns. Good guns. In America.

    It’s not an easy business to be in, and Kahr has managed to make it almost 20 years. They’ve got a nice lineup, from some of the last made-in-the-USA all-steel semi-autos at the top, all the way to budget models just about anyone can afford at the bottom. And I have to say I’m impressed with the way they didn’t introduce unnecessary incompatibilities on those, and are willing to clearly point out what changes they did make to save money. No matter what you choose, you know what you’re getting. I also found it very easy to refurbish my used MK9, a former range gun, just by buying parts off the web site. Not too many gun companies make it quite that easy.

    On second thought, it does matter. Justin Moon has a wealthy father, and opportunities most people don’t. But he put them to good use, and he deserves to reap the rewards.

  • http://9x18.org BigSal

    So its owned by the son of a cult leader, not the cult leader himself…..

  • SpudGun

    If Justin Moon is an American citizen, his factories are in America and his workers are American, then guess what? It’s an American company.

    Some people might be upset that the inital finance might have come from the ‘Moonies’, but does it really matter if the money came from a religious cult or a group of bankers? I have a morally dubious view of both.

    As for Justin Moon designing and inventing the Kahr pistol, I’ll leave others to speculate over that.

  • http://www.hueysgunsight.blogspot.com huey

    All I can say is I want a CM9….moonies or no moonies…

  • Payce

    Sooooo….are they Korean or American owned?

  • Jeff

    Yeah…. I have korean friends, and they say the Unification Church really cult-like

  • drewogatory

    A cult with it’s own arms company? That is comedy gold.

  • Mike

    I personally think the Moonies are a bunch of whack jobs, but that doesn’t color my impression of Kahr guns. Being a naturalized citizen and an Asian-American, can’t disagree with the assertion that Kahr is “American Owned” either, if Justin Moon truly is the majority shareholder.

  • J.T.

    Justin Moon only ever stated that he was the majority shareholder (my guess is that he means Saeilo since Kahr is a division of that company). He may own most of it, (>50%) but not all of it. It wouldn’t be suprising if Tongil owned most of the shares that were left, giving them partial ownership. So ya, they kinda still do own Kahr. Just not all of it. Plus, I wouldn’t put it past Justin Moon to be a puppet of his father and the “church”.

  • 543

    If Justin Moon and Kahr Arms don’t have anything to do with the Tongil Group and in turn with the Unification Church. The funding of Kahr Arms remains somewhat unexplained because getting funding from banks or investors on anything gun related for this size of a company is a very challenging financial prospect unless Tongil Group was the majority sole investor in which case, in my personal opinion Kahr Arms would be shell company with a Korean-American CEO (very young for a CEO) to make it appear as an “American gun manufacturer”. Always follow the money!

  • Lance

    So Khar arms is owned by a Korean Cult member? Im confused I thought it was a American company?

  • Steven

    I don’t remember where I read about it…it might have started when I was reading about Kahr, but I think it’s when I was looking up “Moonies” and got lost in Wikipedia.

    Anyway – those people (Unification Church) are prepared for whatever apocalypse comes along. They own food companies, armament companies, secure compounds…I don’t remember what else, but pretty much anything you need to survive the zombies, they own a company that makes it.

    • heartwoman

      Wouldn’t you if you were surrounded by water and N. Korea?

  • YoungHistorian

    Why is it such a big deal IF Kahr is owned by Moonies? Isn’t this America? The land of religious freedom? One should always remember, one person’s religion can be thought of by another as a cult. Personally I view the catholic church as a massive money-making scheme who says whatever they want (I was raised catholic). When you buy a Kahr, you are buying a gun designed for CC and slimness. You are not buying a religion. Why is that so hard to understand?

  • Roy hewitt

    Even if the Unification Church is connected to businesses. Guns, fish, or roses. So what! God bless them.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

    It does not matter to me if a religion, foreigner or government owns a gun company. It does matter to me if a gun company claims to be one thing, for example American owned, but is not. That is why I wrote this article. In the case of Kahr, I am satisfied that it is American owned.

  • Lance

    Gives new meaning to a shotgun wedding. Eh Steve….

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Lance, haha

  • Cpl. Clegg

    The article seems a little closer to politics than firearms.. Just sayin. Love the blog though, thanks Steve.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Cpl., I tried to not make it about politics. I don’t care less who owns it, other than natural curiosity.

  • Samopal

    Lump me in with the, “I don’t care where it comes from if it’s quality” crowd. We do business with people from all over the political and religious spectrum and from all parts of the world. If we can furnish our children with cheap flimsy toys that were put together by an underpaid adolescent in some Communist hellhole we should be able to buy sturdy, dependable firearms from a company that may or may not be associated with a foreign religious group.

    @Steve: “It does matter to me if a gun company claims to be one thing … but is not.” I agree fully. I take it you also have a problem with Springfield Armory USA, Iver Johnson, Winchester Repeating Arms, High Standard, etc.?

  • Isaac

    The company is owned by a Korean-American. He is an American. Whether or not you care about the guy’s dad being a Korean cult leader, is another question altogether. Whether or not the Moonies own part of the company, clearly Kahr is associated with the Moonies, there’s no way around that.

  • guy

    “When you buy a Kahr, you are buying a gun designed for CC and slimness. You are not buying a religion. Why is that so hard to understand?”

    And when you buy a product manufactured by a cult you are helping to fund that cult. That’s not terribly hard to understand is it?

    Look, I own a P380. It’s the best 380ACP pocket pistol hands down.

    It would be REALLY nice to know that by buying the pistol I’m not helping fund a bunch of whack-jobs.

    I love AK-47’s as well, but if this were 1970 I wouldn’t buy them for members of the Vietcong.

    • John

      The NVA and VC suck!!!

  • guy

    “I love AK-47′s as well, but if this were 1970 I wouldn’t buy them for members of the Vietcong.”

    *buy them FROM members of the Vietcong.*

  • Royi

    I remember when Kahr was still in the startup phase.
    Over here in Europe, we were amazed. Not by their (back then) slim product-lineup. Or by their unique name (a ‘germanization’ of ‘Koryo’ wich refers to Korea, I believe). The thing that amazed us most was their uniquely ‘un-american’ way of doing business:
    – no slick marketeers or even fancy glossy leaflets.
    – no patent-infringement answered by sueing each other till kingdom come (they just bought licenses on patents).
    – innovative products and keep on being innovative rather than innovating the marketing department (instead of the old “yeah, lets just refurbish this old pistol designed by a 19th century Mormon inventor”)
    – transparency towards the customer.
    And the list goes on.
    Surely, it is in the same way uniquely american as well. The whole idea of the melting pot where new ideas add to improvement. I’d even go as far as putting Justin Moon in the same group as George Kellgren and John Moses Browning. Not simply because of their designs, but simply because the way they kept innovating, thinking outside the box.

    Now, on to the matter of the Unification Church. When we heard it was Justin Moon behind Kahr, we started to worry. I’m not sure how it is over there, but in Europe, Unification Church means trouble. Not because of their beliefs or their rituals. It is because in Europe, it is mostly a storefront for former WWII-warcriminals, their heirs, neonazi’s and all those other lesser-upstanding folks who to this day believe the Axis should’ve won the war, and whilst throwing generous Moon-money attempt to achieve the same by more democratic means.

    It was though later that I read an interview with Justin Moon where he was also asked about the rumoured links between Kahr and the UC. I can’t recall his exact words, but it put my mind at ease.
    Basically, regardless of who his father is, all of us would be proud having a father who, upon telling “I will not enter your footsteps/follow the path you laid out for me, I will be following my dreams by starting a guncompany (or whatever)”, will answer “would 100 million be suffice?” ;)

  • http://RenderRanch.com Zermoid

    Personally, if it is made in the US, employing US workers, then I really don’t care who “owns” the company.
    We need jobs in this country, I really couldn’t cere less who writes the paychecks as long as it’s Americans getting them and making a good product. I remember when Kahr was considered cheap junk, somewhat below a Jennings or QFI gun. They certainly have improved! Same for Taurus, what a difference 15 years makes in their quality.

    • Jim Young

      That has to be one of the stupidest statements I have read in a while. So by your logic lets let Al Qaeda set up an arms factory in New York, hey its jobs. And if you factor in all the new jobs that the military will create when they have to go after these nuts you have doubled your job count. Your an idiot.

  • Ash

    @YoungHistorian Religious freedom aside, the Moonies are an evil cult which brainwashes people, takes their money and their livelihoods and breaks up families. There are plenty of people who don’t want to support them.

    Given their track record of elaborate lies, Justin Moon’s claim is just damage control. Moon himself is a former CIA asset, so he knows how to play the game.

  • jamieb

    Is there doubt that the rev moons kid is the designer behind khar?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      jamieb, nobody in the industry has ever questioned it.

  • Ash

    BTW, this Forbes article from last year shows that Kook-Jin (aka Justin) Moon is deeply involved with managing his fathers empire.

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/unif/unif354.html

  • Craia SA

    doesn’t kahr arms own or co-own thompson and magnum research??
    praise the lord and pass the ammunition!

  • Craia SA

    oops….. my mistake
    in 1999 kahr arms bought auto-ordinance
    then in june, 2010, they bought magnum research.
    sorry ’bout that.

  • counsel

    Does 100% “American” owned mean all shareholders are USA citizens or that the corporate ownership is USA. BTW: American includes everything in Central, South, & North America-lets try and not be … (ignorant, prejudiced, etc..). :)

  • Fred Johnson

    counsel, there is no ignorant prejudiced thinking at all when we say American made or owned.

    American made implies and is understood by most of the world to mean made by the nation (not a continent) with America in the name. The name America happens to be in the name of the United States of America, not any other nation on the continents of North or South America.

    If we can’t say American made for fear of someone from Latin America or Canada to be offended, what else are we to label our products or label our people as a nation?

    Consider the anti-Americans and America haters around the world. I’m pretty dang sure they aren’t picking on the Brazilians or Venezuelans. when they say they dislike Americans. I know who they are talking about and so does everyone else.

    BTW, this isn’t personal. I’ve just heard this discussion for decades and American tends to describe a nationality, unlike the way we can use the words Europeans, Africans, or Asians.

  • Sandwichy

    Investment firms own almost everything now, and If you dig deep enough you can find a shady investor in any company. Wasn’t Gaston Glock involved in some DeLorean-esque drug/murder plot? It doesn’t change the way I feel about my 26. I guess a guy with some skeletons in his closet would have good reasons to make a great gun.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Sandwichy, a former business partner who stole money from Gadson hired an assassin to murder him. Drugs had nothing to do with it and Gadson had done nothing wrong.

  • Sandwichy

    That’s right, I had seen snippets on my mobile while at work and didn’t follow through. The drug reference was referring more to John DeLorean. Improper wording on my part. But what better inspiration for making a gun than being hunted by assassins!

  • http://www.whamproductions.com The Annoyed Man

    I care, and I don’t care. I own a PM9. It’s a nifty little gun. As much as I love my guns designed by JMB, it’s the PM9 that I carry daily. I have a religious persuasion of my own. For the purposes of these pages, it doesn’t matter which it is. But because of that belief, I believe that all other religious practitioners of other beliefs are spiritually deceived and living in spiritual darkness. That does not mean that I won’t do business with them. It does mean that I worry for their spiritual condition. But at the end of the day, whatever that condition is, THEY have to work it out with God, not me. Just because I might think they are spiritually deceived, that has no bearing on whether or not they are making a good product.

    Kahr Arms makes excellent pocket pistols. I’m not the least bit upset about where my dollars went (I bought it used, by the way, in a pawn shop south of Dallas). Everybody’s got to make a living, “infidels” included. [quavering voice]Can’t we all just get along?[/quavering voice]

  • http://yahoo BOB

    He is a gun-lover like us! He could have made electric tools, a great new can opener, etc.. I have three Kahrs, each one no problems right out of the box, including the original all steel K9 (still my favorite). Put one in your hand, see if you don’t get thrill up your leg!! Like it was made for YOU alone! Thanks Justin, you’re on our side guy! If the “moonies” save vulnerable people from becoming liberal hippies, they’re doing something right. If liberal Europe hates them, they’re OK with me.

    • http://yahoo BOB

      Moon. By the way folks, we’re talking South Korea here. Our ally, they got some great tough troops there (per my recent retired Marine son and many others). Good to have friends like that who shared some tough times in the past and sit every day facing next door lunatics and their Chinese buds. I’m trying to think of another “ally” we have in the world with a more real and heartfelt bond than South Korea. Comments or opinions?

      • Jim Young

        Bob sounds like you are in the can for the cult. You seem to have your head so far up their rear end you can see their teeth. Kahr is a POS company that will not stand behind their product and nothing you can say would impress me anymore than what a Jehovah’s witness who is selling eternal life for the poultry fee of your free will. LOL Keep sailing bob.

  • Jim Young

    I purchased a Kahr CW9 about 4 months ago. I like the way it fit my hand and was small enough for ccw. After getting the gun I took it to the range. I had the mag fall out every third round, it was a defective mag release. Now for the Moonies who love the gun no mater what and apologize for it like a mother for her criminal son, I am left handed and I was not hitting the mag release. I received a new part from Kahr and this seemed to take care of that problem. My next trip to the range I had the recoil spring break. Disappointed at a month old gun and going through its break in [something I don’t really agree with] period, I called Kahr. I got ahold of an English accented Customer service rep who said that Kahr never has problems and that I had to send the gun back at my cost [about 25 dollars] for them to take a look at it.

    25 bucks so they could look at it for a 4 dollar spring. Kahr does not use a capture spring its just a plane old coil spring. You can buy replacements on line for about 8 bucks. I argued that this was ridiculous to spend three times what the part that needed to be replaced cost. The CS rep was rude and would not bend. I called a third time to try to get a new CS rep and got the same old stiff Ahole, this time he asked what ammo I had used, I said Federal and RAM. He got all happy and said that my warranty was now void because I used reloaded or re-manufactured ammo. RAM is a company that loads for many ranges. When I rent a gun at Bullseye in Wichita they make you use RAM ammo in any rental guns.

    So now not only was Kahr being Aholes about a 4 dollar spring, they voided any future problems with my warranty. No I have owned and own a lot of guns, and have had problems with some of them, in the last year the plastic guide rod in my G19 cracked. I called Glock and they promptly sent out a new one even though I told them that my gun was a gen 2 from 95, [Kahr has lowered its warranty from life to 5 years and now it seems to me to nothing] I guess if you have a crap product this is what you have to do to keep from taking care of customers.

    I also had a magazine problem with my M&P smith. Smith did not even want a serial number and only wanted my address to send me a new mag. Now that is service.

    I have sold the POS Kahr and will never touch another, I bought a Glock 26 and have had nothing but good luck and I know if I do have a problem Glock will be there.

    Again for the Kool Aid Kahr drinkers, I know that Glock and Smith don’t like you to shoot reloads in their guns. Fine, but I asked both company’s if it would void the warranty and was told that if it was determined that the damage to the gun was caused by improper ammo loads then it could, but it would not void the warranty say on a mag problem just because I used reloads.

    Kahr seems to be using any excuse to just deny taking care of their POS products.

    As a final note just before I sold my Kahr I filed a complaint with the BBB and just got a note back that Kahr has refused to communicate with them. LOL What a crap hole company.

    I recommend that anyone wanting to buy this MOONIE gun buy something that the company will stand behind. Glock, Smith, Walther, Ruger to name a few. NO MOONIE GUNS FOR ME

    • Kevin

      The fact that you’re speaking of the Unification Church followers in a derogatory manner compromises your judgment. You sound like an irrational brute. It’s unfortunate that people like you possess firearms.
      Oh and btw, do you even have any knowledge concerning the Unification Church? You call it a cult, but have you even studied their principles? What are you basing this off of? Christians? That’s sad.