Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >

The Lounge A Catch-All Area for non-gun topics that dont fit elsewhere. Keep it Family Friendly. See The Rules for Banned Topics!
Put gun topics in the gun forums.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-11-2012, 08:02 PM
PALADIN85020's Avatar
PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
US Veteran
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,306
Likes: 2,290
Liked 33,183 Times in 4,192 Posts
Default Nambu!



One of the true classic pistols used during the World War II period was, quite strangely, one of the most enigmatic. Even today, the Japanese Type 14 Nambu pistol is largely unknown in America despite having been made in large numbers and being used widely in the Pacific theatre of WWII. Perhaps it was because it was made by a people whose written language is a mystery to most English speaking people. Or perhaps it was because it used a cartridge not commonly encountered today. Many servicemen who fought in the Pacific brought them home as war trophies, but lacking proper ammo for them, never brought them to American ranges to shoot and for others to see. In spite of its being lesser known, the Nambu was a very interesting design. One of its novel features has been borrowed and incorporated into some firearms made today.

The history of the Type 14 goes back to 1902, when a young Japanese man, Kijiro Nambu, designed his first pistol. This was the Type A, Model 1902, or “Grandpa Nambu” as it is called by today’s collectors. Approximately 2,400 of this model were manufactured. It had a shape somewhat resembling the Luger, but its internals were quite different. It used a cam-operated falling-block locking mechanism and fired a bottlenecked cartridge known as the 8mm Nambu. It had a small trigger guard. The bases of the 8-round magazines were made of horn or wood. The bolt reciprocated within a tubular receiver after being unlocked from that recoiling receiver, and empty cases were ejected vertically from the top. It utilized a spring-loaded striker rather than an internal hammer. It accepted a shoulder stock that also doubled as a holster, similar to the Mauser concept. The later Type A Model 1902 Modified (“Papa Nambu”) was similar, but had a swiveling lanyard ring, a grip safety, a tangent rear sight and an aluminum magazine base. There were about 10,300 of this type made. These were issued in 1904. There was also a “Baby Nambu” which was a scaled-down version firing a small 7mm cartridge. About 6,500 of these were made.

The Type 14 was designed in 1925, and was so called because that was the 14th year of the reign of Emperor Taisho, the father of Hirohito. He began his rule in 1911. This pistol was also designed by then General Kijiro Nambu. It was an easier-to-manufacture version of the Type A. The Type 14 Nambu was accepted by the Imperial Japanese Army as the standard sidearm in 1925, and served throughout World War II. The grip safety was eliminated, and a fixed v-notch rear sight was utilized. A 4.7” barrel was used, and the pistol utilized twin recoil springs. The serrated wood grips were either mahogany or walnut. Earlier examples are more nicely finished than late war pieces. A unique leaf spring was imbedded in the front of the grip strap. This bore on the front of the magazine to prevent it from dropping free when the mag release was pressed. The thought was that this would prevent magazine loss in the field. The manual safety was on the left side of the receiver and had to be rotated 180 degrees to the rear to engage. An enlarged trigger guard was used on later production versions, beginning in 1939. The gun could then be more easily shot while wearing cold-weather gloves, a necessity in the winters of the Chinese and Manchurian theatres. A magazine safety was also added. There were some minor changes in the locking block and in the length of the firing pin, which became shorter. Late production used a checkered bolt-grasping surface, rather than grooved. The month and year of manufacture for Type 14s are easy to peg. Two numbers will be found on the right of the receiver, preceded by an ideogram and separated by a period. On the pistol illustrated the numbered stamping is “19.3”. The first number is code for the year of manufacture. Simply add 19 to 1925 (first year of the Showa era of Hirohito), and in this case, you will get 1944. The second number is the month of manufacture, and the “3” indicates March. Hence, this pistol was made in March 1944. Many civilian factories and government arsenals in Japan produced the pistol. The ideograms that designate the place of manufacture are hard to decipher, and require a detailed and lengthy chart. After consulting such a chart, I determined that the pistol illustrated was made at the Nagoya Arsenal Torimatsu factory. Type 14 manufacture continued until the end of the war in 1945, with an estimated 200,000 of all varieties being made. Unfortunately, most specific production records were lost during the war.

The Type 14 Nambu was standard issue for Japanese non-commissioned officers. Officers had to purchase their own pistols and could choose from anything available. Most chose the Nambu to ensure a readily available supply of ammunition. Each Nambu was issued with a leather or stiff rubberized fabric holster such as the one illustrated.

Nambus were not known for reliability, and firing pin breakage among the earlier Type 14s with the longer pin was common. Accordingly, there was space for a spare firing pin as well as a cleaning rod/tool in each holster made. Also, weak magazine springs could cause problems. The manual safety was awkward and required two hands to engage. The 8mm cartridge was under-powered compared to the .45 ACP, the 7.62mm Tokarev and the 9mm Luger. Still, in tests by the U.S. Army following WWII, the Nambu bested the 1911, the P.38 and the Tokarev pistols in accuracy. Its trigger is actually quite good compared to most service pistols. It points naturally, having the same grip angle as the famed Luger. There is considerable evidence that Bill Ruger borrowed the principle of a reciprocating bolt within a tubular receiver to use on his first design, the Ruger Standard .22 pistol.

While never an entirely successful pistol, the Type 14 Nambu was the best the Japanese had during World War II. Large numbers were brought back to the United States by returning GIs. It was an original design that reflected the considerable talent of General Nambu. He is often regarded as “the Japanese John Browning,” having designed other firearms used by Japan during the war. This pistol’s central feature, the bolt within a tubular receiver, lives on today in all Ruger .22 semiauto pistols. The Nambu is regarded as a definite classic, and a “must have” for any WWII firearms collection. Values in recent years have escalated dramatically as more about this unique handgun becomes known through books and articles.

(c) 2011 JLM

John
__________________
- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -

Last edited by PALADIN85020; 04-13-2012 at 01:13 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-11-2012, 08:24 PM
Armyphotog Armyphotog is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Tupelo, MS
Posts: 1,035
Likes: 5
Liked 67 Times in 43 Posts
Default

Very clean pistol for that late date. I had a very early date back when you could buy one for $50. It shot beautifully, and more like a .32 caliber. I sold it for $125 and laughed all the way to the bank. Went with a mint early hardshell holster with the shoulder strap. I think the date was something like 4.3. It was mint. Today, I try not to think about it. Times, they do change.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-11-2012, 10:50 PM
Cyrano's Avatar
Cyrano Cyrano is offline
US Veteran
Absent Comrade
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 7,595
Likes: 13,528
Liked 6,643 Times in 2,518 Posts
Default

I had one too. Bought it for $9.95 in 1957 complete with leather holster, spare firing pina nd cleaning rod. It was post 1939 as it had the large trigger. Back in the '50s we didn't know how to translate the dates. i had a box of 50 rounds made from 41 Colt cases. It was accurate and reliable (for 50 rounds) When the ammo was gone I sold it for $15 and thought I am the GUN TRADER!!
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #4  
Old 04-12-2012, 08:39 AM
Dr.-d Dr.-d is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 274
Likes: 21
Liked 12 Times in 11 Posts
Default

More Japanese pistols are found with matching magazines than for instance the Luger, because the Japanese usually didn't surrender and the pistols and mags weren't split up as much. A belief shared by many collectors.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-12-2012, 12:07 PM
palmetto99 palmetto99 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Upstate, S.C.
Posts: 1,144
Likes: 58
Liked 207 Times in 125 Posts
Default

My mother passed away a little over a year ago and I have been going through things at her house. She was a teenager during WWII and I have come across some neat family photos and post cards from the era. One of the pictures is of her oldest brother (my uncle). He was with the U.S. Army at Okinawa (I didn't know this until several years after he had passed). The picture is of him and another fellow standing in front of the house I don't recognize. I recognize my uncle, but not the other fellow. Both have on Army uniforms and my uncle is jokingly pointing a pistol at the other fellow. It's a Nambu like above and he actually has the holster on too! I have no idea whatever became of it.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-12-2012, 05:15 PM
Texas Star Texas Star is offline
US Veteran
Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 19,759
Likes: 23,080
Liked 14,822 Times in 6,937 Posts
Default

Quite a few of my boyhood friends had dads who had brought back enemy weapons from WW II. A few had Nambus. I think all were this Type 14. I did see one Baby Nambu in a pawn shop when I was a kid.

They were interesting guns, but no one seemed to have any ammo. I liked the German pistols better, anyway.

I think the Nambu more resembles the Italian Glisenti than the Luger, BTW.

One of the more startling (to me) Jap pistols was a DWM copy of the Browning M-1910 .32. I think these were sold in Jap army stores, but it may have been captured after the fall of the Dutch East Indies, which also provided many Lugers and Colt .32 autos for the enemy. Of course, they got their hands on a lot of Mauser 7.63mm's due to their Chinese adventures.

Arms captured from the British after the fall of Singapore often wound up in the hands of Indian sympathizers. They meant for these forces to invade India with the Japs, but it never happened. The troops were turncoats from the British Indian Army. I've sometimes wondered what happened to them.

I have a book on the Jap Naval flying aces. It mentions that the pilots usually just drew a pistol from the armory and stuck it in their belts, sans holster. One famous ace drew his Type 14 on a superior officer, demanding better food for the enlisted men. (Many of their pilots were petty officers.) Surprisingly, he got his wish.

The Type 14 certainly seems a better gun than the Model 94, which was also extensively used. I beleive it was not originally intended for military use, but for sale to Japanese settlers in South America. There were more of these than most here realize.

Last edited by Texas Star; 04-12-2012 at 05:30 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-12-2012, 06:29 PM
Cooter Brown Cooter Brown is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: North Georgia
Posts: 1,846
Likes: 1,142
Liked 1,539 Times in 621 Posts
Default

John, thanks for the article. I hope you don't mind my jumping in here with an old bring back of my father's.

He was in the 20th RCT of the Sixth Army, and was with them from New Guinea through the Phillippine Campaign.

He got this Nambu on Luzon, finding it in a cave, still in the Japanese version of Cosmoline.

He shot it some in the war. When he gave it to me a couple of years ago he included some ammo he got somewhere. I'm not sure where it came from and don't have a lot of interest in shooting it. I don't think it's war surplus.

The pistol is pictured here with the PAL Cutlery pocket knife he was issued and carried throughout the campaign.



The old man's still around, and he remembers the war better than he does last week...

Last edited by Cooter Brown; 04-12-2012 at 06:34 PM.
Reply With Quote
The Following 6 Users Like Post:
  #8  
Old 04-12-2012, 08:37 PM
bummer bummer is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: sw pa
Posts: 702
Likes: 120
Liked 290 Times in 127 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cooter Brown View Post
John, thanks for the article. I hope you don't mind my jumping in here with an old bring back of my father's.

He was in the 20th RCT of the Sixth Army, and was with them from New Guinea through the Phillippine Campaign.

He got this Nambu on Luzon, finding it in a cave, still in the Japanese version of Cosmoline.

He shot it some in the war. When he gave it to me a couple of years ago he included some ammo he got somewhere. I'm not sure where it came from and don't have a lot of interest in shooting it. I don't think it's war surplus.

The pistol is pictured here with the PAL Cutlery pocket knife he was issued and carried throughout the campaign.



The old man's still around, and he remembers the war better than he does last week...
I see that your father was in the 6th Infantry Division a very good division. I served in the 6th ID but during the 80's
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-12-2012, 10:28 PM
Cyrano's Avatar
Cyrano Cyrano is offline
US Veteran
Absent Comrade
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 7,595
Likes: 13,528
Liked 6,643 Times in 2,518 Posts
Default

Japanese military ammo, both rifle and pistol had NO headstamp; so it's easy to identify.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-13-2012, 12:30 PM
PALADIN85020's Avatar
PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
US Veteran
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,306
Likes: 2,290
Liked 33,183 Times in 4,192 Posts
Default Original WWII 8mm Nambu ammo

Here's a closeup picture I took to show what original Japanese WWII military 8mm Nambu ammo looks like. Note that there is no headstamp, and that the necks of the cases are dimple-indented, apparently to ensure that there would be no bullet setback as the rounds fed into the chamber. This stuff is getting pretty scarce now; I'm certainly not going to try to fire it.

John

__________________
- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #11  
Old 04-13-2012, 12:52 PM
DGT's Avatar
DGT DGT is offline
SWCA Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 7,703
Liked 2,044 Times in 583 Posts
Default

John, thanks for the great information. I bought a type 14 from a friend that needed money a couple of years ago. It never really interested me so, I just cleaned it and stuck it in the safe. Now, at least, I know something about the gun.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-13-2012, 01:40 PM
Cooter Brown Cooter Brown is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: North Georgia
Posts: 1,846
Likes: 1,142
Liked 1,539 Times in 621 Posts
Default

John,

That looks like the ammo I've got.

No headstamp and the dimples on the neck.

I had assumed all this time that they were some sort of postwar load made for bringbacks. It seems as if I read that Midway got its start loading for Nambus.

Thanks again for all the good information. I'm going to pull the old thing out and figure out the date of mfg.

The firing pin is fine on my father's gun, but I think I'll refrain from plinking with it...

Last edited by Cooter Brown; 04-13-2012 at 01:50 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-20-2014, 09:46 PM
LKGMADMAX LKGMADMAX is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 60
Likes: 57
Liked 136 Times in 13 Posts
Default

I purchased a Nambu this week, should have it tomorrow. mine is a 4.2, so it was made in February of 1929 (Showa Emperor, i.e. Hirohito for 1925 +4 = 1929). These pistols have gained in value, an earlier model can for for >1K. The later models towards the end of the war were rougher, they can go for 600.00 - 800.00 range.

Some great information on the Nambu can be found at the enclosed link.

Nambu World: Terifs Japanese Handgun Website
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-21-2014, 08:54 AM
sureshotbob sureshotbob is offline
Member
Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu! Nambu!  
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: western Connecticut
Posts: 1,563
Likes: 9,918
Liked 2,189 Times in 712 Posts
Default

John Thanks for the read I already new the information as I've got a few as I do collect Japanese firearm's and blade's

Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
Reply

Tags
1911, browning, cartridge, colt, grooved, headstamp, leather, military, postwar, ruger, serrated, tokarev, walnut, wwii

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
FOUND - Nambu 14 hobby-gunsmith WANTED to Buy 0 02-13-2016 12:38 PM
WTT WWII 8MM Nambu for S.B. GUNS - For Sale or Trade 2 06-05-2013 12:44 PM
Friend's Nambu sipowicz The Lounge 16 10-10-2012 06:48 PM
anyone load .8mm Nambu sureshotbob Reloading 5 10-26-2011 07:35 AM
Nambu Video Texas Star The Lounge 0 08-24-2009 07:54 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:05 PM.


Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.42 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)