Showa 11.1 Type 14 Photos


            I got this 11.1 dated Kokubunji factory pistol in August, 2004. A friend saw it for sale at a gun show in Edmonton along with 18.6 and 19.11 Toriimatsu Type 14s, a holster, RCBS dies and some brass and bullets for an attractive price. I bought the whole lot. One interesting thing about this particular gun is that it has British proof marks, as shown below. The numbers match except for the magazine. At least the magazine is the right type for this gun, i.e. nickel-plated with no magazine retention spring cut-out. Note that it is the early small trigger guard type.


            The right side looks better than the left. As you can see here, the left side has streaks of fairly deep corrosion, whereas the right side just has a smattering of very light pitting in a few spots. I have never done any experiments to confirm this, but collectors I know refer to this as “blood corrosion”, allegedly occurring quite quickly in limited areas from exposure to blood, e.g. if the original user fell with the pistol across his chest. Although the exterior is a bit rough, the barrel is excellent: shiny and with no pitting, just a little light wear. Note from the corrosion pattern that the pitting seems to have happened while the safety lever was in the safe position. Was the previous owner a casualty of the awkwardness of operating the safety, which requires two hands? The person I bought it from found this one a good shooter.


            The markings in the top row identify the pistol as a product of designer Kijiro Nambu’s own firm, the Nambu Rifle Mfg. Co., which later merged and became known as Chuo Kogyo. The first symbol in the upper left is the symbol of Nagoya Arsenal, which supervised production. The second symbol just to the left of the serial number is a stylized version of the character Nan or Nam, the first character in Nambu’s name. These pistols were made in the Kokubunji factory and are therefore known by collectors as either Kokubunji Type 14s or “Nagoya Nambus”.  The second row shows the date as Showa 11.1, i.e. January, 1936. Just below the dot in the date is an inspection marking, the character jo.


                        An intriguing aspect of this pistol is that it has British proof marks. On the left side of the frame and barrel, just in front of the “fire” marking for the safety lever, are proof marks: a crown above the letters “BNP”, which I think stands for “British Nitro Proof”. One book I consulted said this mark was used by Birmingham proof house. I have been told all guns offered for commercial sale in the UK had to be proofed this way. I was hoping I would be able to trace something of the gun’s history by contacting the proof house. Two theories occurred to me. First, the gun might have been brought home as a war trophy by a British soldier, possibly from Burma. Second, it might have been imported for commercial sale to the collector’s market at a later date. However, this seems less likely since the gun’s condition is not that great. I would have thought anyone importing a gun for the collector market would have been able to find a better one. The crowned BNP mark was reportedly introduced in 1954, which would have been a little late for someone returning from the war, but perhaps it may have been submitted for proof only when it was to be offered for sale by the person who brought it back. On August 21, 2004 I submitted a research request to the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House to see if I could find out who submitted it for proofing and when. I was informed that all they could well me was that it was proved between 1954 and 1972, and at that time they kept no records.


                        There are more details about the proof process on the underside of the barrel. The marks are hard to read because they were applied over some fairly serious pitting, but they say:

8 M/M .812”

5 GRs N.C. [crossed swords symbol with a B to the right]

102 “ BULLET

            I think the .812” is a typo and should be .312”. This would be somewhat undersize for an 8mm Nambu bullet, though. I checked and it would also be too short for the case length. The second line means “five grains nitrocellulose powder” and the third, “102 grain bullet. It doesn’t specify what type of powder, but five grains is a lot of any kind of pistol powder I am aware of. DON’T USE THAT LOAD. Most loading data I have seen recommend around 3.5 grains depending on the powder used, but you should always check reliable data for the specific powder you are using and work up from a minimum load to an optimal load gradually. Proving involves using a heavier than normal load to make sure the gun has a reserve of strength. Using proof-level loads could cause serious problems that could be fatal for both gun and user. If you are dumb enough to do that, well, there will always be more fools being born to replace you, but they aren’t making any more Nambus, so blow up some other less historic kind of gun!


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Last updated: September 1, 2004. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.