Nambu World: Showa 13.8 Type 14 Photos

††††††††††† I bought this pistol after seeing an ad in the Canadian Access to Firearms, a classified ad publication that is sort of a smaller Canadian version of Shotgun News. It is very rare to see an ad for a Japanese pistol there: I have only seen three advertised in over three years, and I bought two of them (I was too late on the other one). Although I discovered the pistol had some problems when I received it, the price was quite low so I kept it anyway. Externally it looks pretty decent. Note the position of the serial number and other markings. They will be explained below.


††††††††††† There is a slight chip in the left grip near the magazine release button. This is a common area for wear, cracks and chips since the wood is thin and the user has to push in this area to get the magazine out. If you compare it to the photo above, you will also notice that this grip is a little lighter in colour. More on that later.


††††††††††† The markings in front of the serial number are the Nagoya Arsenal symbol and the logo of Chuo Kogyo, the company that made the pistol. The logo is a stylized version of the kanji character Nan (or Nam), meaning south. It was adopted because it was the first character in the name of Lt. Gen. Kijiro Nambu, who designed this pistol and many other Japanese weapons as well.


††††††††††† The first character is Sho as in Showa, the name of the reign of Emperor Hirohito. The number 13.8 means the pistol was made in the eighth month (August) of the thirteenth year of the reign of Emperor Hirohito. To translate this Showa year into our Western system, just add 1925. In this case, 1925+13=1938, so the gun was made in August, 1938. The little symbol down below the decimal point in the date is the character To as in Tokyo. It is a final inspection mark.


††††††††††† The original magazineís serial number would have matched the last three digits of the pistolís serial number, but this one is non-matching. The inspection mark at the bottom of the photo (the kanji jo) indicates this is either a Type IV or Type V magazine (the Derby & Brown book distinguishes eight types of T14 mags). The dot above the number indicates this was the spare magazine for the pistol with which it was originally issued.


The Type IV magazine has eight machined grooves, while the Type V has nine cast grooves. Since this one has nine, it is a Type V.


††††††††††† Hereís another look at those grips. The left grip is strikingly lighter than the right one, which suggests it was replaced at some point. Neither grip panel is serialized, which is not uncommon for this period and this maker.


Hereís a close-up of that little chip by the magazine release button.


††††††††††† Another sign that the left grip was replaced is that when I tried to slide the trigger guard down to disassemble the pistol, the grip interfered. You can see the rub mark where the trigger guard rubbed on the grip panel. This suggests the grip was probably replaced either just before it was captured/surrendered or, more likely, by a post-war owner. If the grip had been replaced earlier, this spot would have been worn down by now and would not have interfered with disassembly.


†††††††††† As soon as I got the gun apart I could see that the magazine safety was not matching. This is obvious from two things, even before seeing the serial number on the part. The original part would have been bright metal, not blued. If you look at the left part just below the safety crossbar you can see a mark that looks like two parallel lines. That is an inspection mark used by the Toriimatsu factory of Nagoya Arsenal, a later maker of Type 14s that did blue the magazine safeties. I was rather surprised as this part almost always matches because it is not removed (and therefore subjected to the possibility of loss or damage) as often as many other parts.


This shot shows that inspection mark (the katakana ri) more clearly. Here the part is shown right side up but the mark is upside down.


The serial number on the side definitely does not match.


††††††††††† It is also apparent that some previous owner got frustrated trying to get the gun apart and hammered on it with some kind of tool. Here are the marks at the bottom of the trigger guard. This area had been hammered so badly there was a jagged little piece of metal sticking out that made it almost impossible to lower the trigger guard. I took a small file and removed that little piece so the gun comes apart properly now, though it is still a bit stiff.


††††††††††† The same idiot probably made these marks on the front part of the trigger guard. I donít know why someone would do something like this when there are takedown instructions in many books that are commonly available in public libraries. A lot of Japanese pistols have suffered some form of mutilation because people didnít know how to get them apart and so resorted to the hammer.


††††††††††† The issues pointed out above are mostly cosmetic points that are probably only noticed by picky people like me. However, the pistol has one other serious problem that I could not figure out how to show in a photo. There is a slight bulge in the barrel, probably from someone firing a squib load that lodged a bullet in the barrel, and then firing another round that hit the first bullet while it was lodged in the barrel. This bulge is not really visible from the outside, though it can be felt if you run your fingertip along the top of the barrel, and it can be seen fairly clearly if you look down the bore.


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Last updated: September 29, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.