Nambu World: Papa Nambu Photos (Tokyo Arsenal pistol 4480)

            I bought this gun from a gentleman in Michigan who inherited it from his dad and contacted me after seeing my website. I bought it in July, 2004 but wasn’t able to go pick it up at the border until Ocober 6, 2004 due to the paperwork involved (the longest delay is getting a US export permit). It came with a rubberized canvas Type 14 holster, an old sheet of paper with a typed description of the pistol, a five gulden note of Japanese invasion scrip for the Dutch East Indies now Indonesia), and a lanyard that was original but worn through in two spots. The numbers on the main parts match, but some of the smaller parts and the mag don’t.


            The gun is in reasonable shape, but has a lot of very light pitting that is more visible in the extreme close-ups below. It also has a few flaws that I will point out along the way.


            When I got the gun it had a thick coat of varnish on the grips. Here is what it looked like—the grips looked almost like plastic! I used Circa 1850 paint stripper to remove the varnish. If you undertake something like this, be sure to use a non-water-based product and test it on an inconspicuous area first.


            The markings on the right include the serial number, 4480 and a row of characters above that say nam-bu-shiki, or “Nambu Type”. The Japanese didn’t call the gun the Papa; that was a much later designation by American collectors. Here you can see the fine pitting I was referring to.


                        The left side has these two characters, riku-shiki, or “Army Type”. The Japanese generally referred to these pistols as just “Nambu Type” or, as these marks suggest, “Army Type”. This is ironic since the Army never adopted the un officially, but the Navy did.


                        Here are some of the inspection marks on the lower front of the grip strap. You can also see one in the recess for the grip safety (top).


            One thing to check whenever buying a Japanese pistol is the condition of the lanyard loop. Since the Japanese almost always used lanyards, and they were made of cotton, when they got wet from sweat or rain they held the moisture against the metal. As a result, even on guns that are otherwise pretty good the lanyard loop is often severely corroded like this one.


Here is the gun stripped into its major components.


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Last updated: June 1, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.