Due to the recent release of the KWA LM4, I have read several comments about the differences between KSC’s offering and KWA’s LM4. I am suprised that people seem to be confused over the differences between KSC and KWA.
Many say that KSCs are simply KWAs with more realistic trademarks. However, ever since KWA has been negotiating “manufacturing agreements” with actual Firearm companies like Magpul, H&K, and Kriss to have their trademarks placed on KWA products, the rumors have backed away from KSCs simply having realistic trademarks. Others claim that KSC is owned by KWA, which is also not true.
Lately, people have also made claims that all that KWA has been doing has been waiting months before selling the same exact KSC products found overseas, a.k.a. the KSC M4 GBBR and the recently-released KWA LM4 PTR. However, those assumptions are very much, incorrect. KSC and KWA are two separate companies that have a more complicated history than the term “rebrand” can explain. Though, the confusion over KSC and KWA is not surprising, considering many of their products are very similar and their product line is pretty much the same. KSC tends to release the newest models before KWA and KWA comes back releasing a supposedly more improved product.
The difference between the KSC and KWA products cannot be understood or answered by simply comparing each of their products side by side. Instead, to actually understand the difference between KSC and KWA, is by knowing the history between these two companies.
Back in 2009, I wrote an article on the Airsoft-Barracks Forum, ‘Greatwatermelon’s General Manufacturer/Company Description for 2009.’ This article went in detail about the history of each company and their business relationships. Below are my description and brief history of KSC and KWA that I wrote in that article. I have added a few more details to update bits of it, to relate to present 2012.
What I wrote below is pretty long; however, reading through the background, relationship and history between these two companies gives a better understanding of why their products are similar in many cases, and different as well. Enjoy!
‘Greatwatermelon’s General Manufacturer/Company Description for 2012‘ for’ KWA & KSC
“KWA, a Taiwanese based manufacturing company, has been well-known for their gas blowback pistols and smg’s, and to this day, still make quality gas blowback pistols [and smg’s] which currently sport the new NS2 system and now the Force Velocity System. KWA was the Original Equipment Manufacturer for various airsoft companies many years ago to even decades back, with KSC being one of them.
About six to seven years ago, KWA quietly joined the AEG market with their g36c, and later followed with a m4 with the exception that the m4 and later aeg’s and GBBR’s would mainly be for the Law Enforcement market. The decision to tailor to the Law Enforcement market does affect KWA’s future line-up like the KWA LM4 (That answers ‘Why Another M4?’). Even with the LE market is a priority, KWA AEG’s , PTP line and other GBB’s are still sold plentifully in the consumer market. In the process of manufacturing airsoft training replicas for the LE market, KWA created an US-side known as KWA USA which also has a pro shop that offers warranty, repair, upgrade, and part service. In early June 2011, KWA USA changed their name to KWA Performance Industries, making the US branch, the official KWA Headquarters. This establishment in the U.S. Market made KWA an actual reputable brand name company in the U.S., setting the foundations for other countries. This move allowed KWA to quickly identify players’ concerns and gather product feedback. The information could quickly be communicated from US-side operations to the manufacturing plant overseas. What would usually take months for player feedback to hit normal overseas manufactures, could be achieved much faster. This also provides consistent technical support, customer support and repair on all of their products.
“KSC is a Japanese company that does NOT manufacture but rather focuses on Research & Design and business in the Japanese Airsoft market. (KWA in the recent years have been taking on the R&D for both KWA and KSC products.) Famous for their full trademarked gas blowbacks in the airsoft community, KSC is sometimes preferred over KWA Gas Blowbacks mainly because KSC Gas Blowbacks have actual Firearm trademarks engraved onto their pistols and rifles. However, KSC’s are strictly only for Japan where trademark legalities are not of a problem and are illegal to be sold elsewhere like in the U.S.A. In fact, KSCs are NOT considered KWA Products, even though they are manufactured by KWA. In other words, KWA does NOT recognize KSC as a KWA product, and therefore will not provide any technical or customer services for non-KWA products like KSC.
It is often rumored that KSC has its own factory and makes higher quality gas blowbacks than KWA. However, those rumors are incorrect. Why are KSC’s and KWA’s so similar to each other? KSC, which definitely has ties with KWA, actually cooperated with KWA back when they first began in the Airsoft Industry, in the development of the gas blowback pistols since the expense of research and design along with the manufacturing process was too much for either company to handle alone. So, KSC did the research and design (R&D) while KWA focused on manufacturing. In the process, KSC attained some sort of long term contract with KWA, where KWA would manufacture and NOW even provide KWA’s future line up for KSC’s Japanese Maket, as well. Today, KWA has stepped back on simply manufacturing just for KSC, since KWA now has their own R&D department, making KWA the decision maker in the actual line up that both companies will have. This seemingly long term contract explains why many KSC and KWA GBB’s look the same. In the past few years, KSC has been stepping back on the R&D and been leaving it to KWA to do. As time has gone on by, the gas blowbacks, like the KSC mp7 have been turning up internally different (less reinforced, weaker) compared to the KWA mp7, in order meet Japanese laws and requirements. In the latest example of 2012, the KWA LM4 PTR sports various updates and improvements to the internals’ design and metals, that makes it not only ATF legal but, the updates and improvements have also made the KWA LM4 PTR more reliable and robust than its KSC M4 Counterpart. How is this possible? This is possible because, the KSC M4 GBBR and KWA LM4 were both designed and manufactured by KWA.”
In summary, the difference between KWA and KSC is that KWA is a Manufacturing Company, while KSC, on the other hand, had been more of a R&D company that utilizes their contract with KWA, since KSC does NOT manufacture, to have KWA manufacture similar products for KSC’s Japanese market. However with this contract, KSC is therefore able to order and release a line up in the Japanese Market often before KWA does. KWA, given their manufacturing, R&D, and Customer Service capabilities have more freedom in developing and improving further on their design for the big markets like in the U.S. What does this mean? KWA is the larger player in the world market while KSC is much smaller company that centers around a specific country’s market. KSC is a Japanese Company whose products are meant ONLY for the Japanese Market as mandated by their laws. On the other hand, KWA has stepped beyond just being an OEM in the recent years, to become a reputable brand name company which has much presence here in the United States of America and beginning to be in other countries, as well. By doing so, they have taken the complete global business into their own hands and manufactured their product line to best represent their brand name KWA.