Nambu World: Japanese Type 90 Triple Barrel Flare Pistol-Second Variation

    This exotic-looking behemoth is a Type 90 triple barrel flare gun made by Kayaba Kogyo K.K. for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Yes, that's right, three, count'em, three barrels! Note the remains of a decal on the side of the barrel, and the position of the serial number and manufacturer's logo just above the trigger guard. Approximately 5,300 of these pistols were made. The designation Type 90 comes from the year they were introduced, 1930, which was the year 2590 according to the Japanese calendar then in use. Just to confuse you, the Japanese also made a double barrel flare gun that was also called a Type 90. In fact, the double barrel Type 90 was the most common of all Japanese flare guns. To reduce recoil on the triple barrel model, the upper part of the frame and the barrels move backward against a buffer spring when the gun is fired.

    Below is the left side, showing a different colour decal on the end of the left barrel (the decals were to identify the type of flare in the barrel). You can also see the position of the safety lever near the rear, just above the grip panel. There were three variations of the triple barrel. This one is the second variation, which was the most common, with some 3,400 units produced. The first variation was blued, had wooden grips, paint on the ends of the barrels instead of decals and had a break-open lever that was curved backwards. The finish on the second variation is lacquer (paint). The third variation had some blued and some lacquered parts and a different shaped break-open lever, among other changes. This particular specimen weighs 1.695kg (3 pounds, 11.8ounces). Quite a handful!

    Here is that break-open lever. Pulling it forward allows the barrels to swing downwards for loading or unloading. The shape of this lever is the easiest way to distinguish between the three variations of this model. The first variation has a vertical lever contoured to fit a finger, this second variation has a straight vertical lever and the third variation has a more horizontally positioned sickle-shaped lever. There are other differences, of course, but that is the easiest one to spot.

Here it is with the action open.

Here is the front view. I was surprised that the barrels were not joined along their length. Like other Naval flare guns, this one fires 28mm flares, unlike the Army model (the Type 10), which fired 35mm ones.

A rear view.

    This is a closer, angled shot of the rear so you can see the levers on the back better. The upper lever cocks all three barrels when twisted to the left. The lower lever selects the barrel to be fired. When the bottom is to the right, it readies the right barrel for firing. When it is in the the centre, as in this photo, it fires the centre (top) barrel. When the bottom of the lever is moved to the left, the left barrel is ready to be fired.

    Here is the serial number, 2752, on the right side of the gun just above the trigger guard. The mark to the left of that, a large circle with three little ones around the outside, is the logo of the Kayaba Kogyo company. This company still exists. It is now known as KYB and trades on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the stock ID number 7242. It makes shock absorbers, among other things.

The same position on the other side has the patent number.

The upper position of the safety lever is "fire", the lower is "safe".

Here is a top view, showing the decal on the third, top barrel. You can also see the position of the markings shown in the next couple of photos.

Here are those markings in closer view.

Really zooming in now, the ones on the left are a cherry blossom and then that Kayaba logo again (same as beside the serial number). The logo is also on several other parts, such as the cocking lever on the back.

Here are the other two marks. The one on the left is the katakana symbol to, used as a naval inspection mark. The other is an anchor, the usual marking to indicate Navy acceptance.

     I don't have a holster for this one, but I did see one on eBay once, so maybe I will be lucky some day and another will appear there, or maybe I will find one of the other variations with a holster. There was also a small aluminum plate with instructions that would be neat to find.

Last updated: July 24, 2008. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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