Nambu World: Showa 12.7 Kokubunji Type 14 Pistol

    This was one of the nicer pistols I got as part of an estate purchase around Easter, 2007. It is one of the best small trigger guards I have seen, though not quite as good as my 12.10. The finish is in very good shape, though there is some very light pitting on the front and back of the grip, and moderate pitting under the grips. Note the markings towards the rear of the frame. They are explained in more detail below.

    The left side shows the usual arc carved in the grip from the safety lever being rotated too far clockwise. There is a bit of light pitting on this side at the top and bottom of upper frame.

    The key markings are on the right rear part of the frame. The first mark in the upper row is the Nagoya Arsenal logo, which is a stylized version of two mythological shachi (dolphins) with their bodies curved upwards and meeting at the top, and their heads meeting at the bottom (the small circle). Nagoya Arsenal was responsible for supervision of the company that made this gun. That company was Chuo Kogyo, formed in late 1936 when the Nambu Rifle Mfg. Co. merged. The second symbol in the upper row is the kanji nan/nam. It means south, but is also the first character in Nambu. Chuo Kogyo continued to use this mark as its logo to capitalize on the reputation of the founder of the Nambu company, famed weapons designer Lt. Gen. Kijiro Nambu, who stayed on as an advisor to the company after the merger. The rest of the upper row is the serial number. The lower row starts with the kanji character sho, short for Showa, the name of Emperor Hirohito's reign. the 12.7 indicates the gun was made in the seventh month of the 12th year of his reign. The small mark below the dot in 12.7 is the kanji character to as in Tokyo. It indicates the gun passed final inspection. The reason this mark is used is that it is believed that although Nagoya Arsenal was responsible for inspecting Chuo Kogyo, the actual inspections were carried out by Tokyo Arsenal personnel. This would make sense, because the factory was in Kokubunji, a suburb west of Tokyo, rather far from Nagoya.

    The nickel-plated magazine is the correct type and in good condition, but the number does not match the gun (the number on the mag should match the last three digits of the serial number of the gun). The dot above the three indicates this was the spare magazine for the pistol with which it was issued. The small mark below that is again the kanji to as in Tokyo. These marks are on the back of the magazine near the bottom.

    All of the other numbered parts match. To be sure all the numbers match you have to take the gun completely apart. If you are considering buying one and are afraid to take it all apart or if the seller is afraid to let you, you can get a quick sense of how much of the gun matches by looking at the magazine (easily removed and replaced), and then pulling back on the cocking knob. As you can see in this photo, if you pull it back you can see the serial numbers on both the bolt and the knob. You can usually also see the number on the trigger if you look at the top of the trigger on the left side. Usually at least the last two digits of the trigger number are visible. The magazines are usually non-matching in guns made before the introduction of the magazine retention spring in December, 1939 (Showa 14.12) because it was easily to accidentally drop the magazine through inadvertent touching of the magazine release button. The next most commonly mismatched part is the cocking knob. Because it is easy to get off even if you don't know what you are doing, and is roundish and spring loaded, it often got lost during dismantling of the gun.

    Although all the numbered parts match, there is one part that is not correct. It is this striker spring guide (also called a firing pin extension) with a round shaft. This is an earlier part; by the time this gun was made it would have been equipped with a striker with a flat-sided shaft. The change was made to reduce the contact area between the shaft and the inside of the striker. The round shafts had so much contact area that the troops experienced problems with the striker freezing in place in cold weather.

There is also a small rub mark on the bottom of the barrel.

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Last updated: May 22, 2008. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.