Nambu World: Japanese Type 10 Flare Pistol with Safety

    The flare gun shown above is one of the rarest items in my collection: a Type 10 flare gun with a safety. The Type 10 was the mainstay of the Imperial Japanese Army. The designation comes from the year it was introduced, 1921, which the Japanese called Taisho 10 (the tenth year of the Taisho Emperor, Hirohito's father). It is a single-shot, single-barrel, double-action-only unit that fires a 35mm flare (the flares are extremely rare and valuable in themselves). The Type 10 was the second-most common of the Japanese flare pistols, achieving a total production of about 8,300, but only a tiny number of these were equipped with a safety, because the very heavy double-action trigger pull made this feature essentially redundant. I acquired this one in early 2010 from a U.S. collector who had seen my web site.

     From the right side this variation looks the same as the standard Type 10--really the only difference is the safety, which is on the left side. Here you can see some of the corrosion spots on the barrel. The piece is in pretty good condition, but not as good as my standard Type 10.

Here you can see the left sides of the standard Type 10 on top and the variation with the safety on the bottom.

       Here is a close-up of the markings. The "cloverleaf" symbol was used by Tokyo and then Kokura Arsenals, and represents four stacked cannon balls viewed from above. This one was made in Tokyo, before production was shifted to Kokura around serial number 1400. The three Japanese characters that start with one that looks like a plus sign are ju-nen-shiki, meaning "Type 10". Below that is the serial number, 302. This is the lowest serial number known that is equipped with a safety. The Derby & Brown book Japanese Military Cartridge Handguns 1893-1945 (JMCH), the indispensable reference on Japanese handguns, reports on page 310 that the lowest was 313, as this one came to light after its publication. According to JMCH the highest number known is 453, resulting in an estimated production of about 150 units. Of these, only five are known to have survived (JMCH reported four before this one came up). The other known survivors are 399 and 403.

These two shots show the safety in the forward, "fire" position (left photo) and in the rear, "safe" position (right photo).

When the safety is engaged, this is as far back as the hammer will go when you pull the trigger.


    On the lower inside (front) of the grip strap are the inspection markings. JMCH points out that these specific markings were used by Tokyo Arsenal only in 1928, which means that is probably when this one was made. Higher numbered examples of this variation show markings from the 1929-30 range. My other, much later, standard Type 10 has the markings used by Kokura Arsenal in the same spot.

    Here you can see that rough machining was not confined to late war guns. The upper part of the frame did not appear to get the same polishing as the lower part, so machine marks can still be seen.

    Although there is very little rust or pitting on the frame, the barrel does show some. Here is the lower part of the right side of the barrel. The white spot is probably from a chunk of rust falling off, revealing the bright metal below.

If you want to make rust visible, a flash tends to show it much more than any other kind of light. Here is the left front of the barrel.

The pivot screw shows some moderate signs of abuse. There is no need to open up a piece like this, so it is better not to try to loosen screws if they seem stuck.

The grips are in pretty good shape, just a couple of small nicks on the left side.

The general features and operation of this variation are the same as for the standard one, which is shown in more detail on its own page: Nambu World: Japanese Type 10 Flare Pistol


Last updated: March 14, 2010. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

Click here to go back to the flare gun page: Nambu World: Japanese Flare Guns

Click here to go back to the main page: Nambu World: Teri's Japanese Handgun Site