Nambu World: Showa 15.6 Kokubunji Type 14 Pistol

    I got this pistol as part of a seven-gun estate purchase. It was the best one of the lot, and the best one of this variation I have seen. It would be hard to improve on it.

    In this shot of the left side you can see it does not have the usual arc scribed in the grip by the safety lever being rotated too far clockwise.

    Here is a close-up of the key markings on the right rear part of the frame. The top line includes the logo of Nagoya Arsenal (first on the left), the logo of Chuo Kogyo, the company that produced the pistol under Nagoya Arsenal's supervision, and the serial number. The Chuo Kogyo logo is the kanji character nan/nam, short for Nambu, the family name of the designer of most Japanese weapons including the Type 14 pistol, Lt. Gen. Kijiro Nambu, who was an advisor to the company. The second row begins on the left with the kanji character sho, short for Showa, the name of Emperor Hirohito's reign. The 15.6 denotes that the gun was made in the 6th month of the 15th year of Emperor Hirohito's reign, i.e. June, 1940. The small mark below that is the kanji character to as in Tokyo. It was used as a final inspection mark (literally it means "east"). Although Chuo Kogyo was under Nagoya Arsenal's supervision, its factory was in Kokubunji, a suburb west of Tokyo. This was rather far from Nagoya, so it is thought that the actual inspections were carried out by personnel from Tokyo Arsenal, hence the use of this character as an inspection mark.

    The magazine's serial number matches that of the gun, which is not that common on a gun this early (it is pretty common on later ones that did not see service for as long). The N is an inspection mark, probably short for Nambu (see above). Not long after this, the N was dropped and replaced with a Japanese symbol under pressure from ultranationalists in the military who wanted to eliminate all signs of foreign influence.

    The magazine is from the first variety to have this notch in the lower front. The magazine retention spring (shown below) fits into this notch to retain the magazine when the magazine release is pushed. That was it does not drop out freely and potentially get lost. You have to pull it out against the pressure of the spring. This does not make for fast reloads, but it is effective in reducing magazine loss, and may be one of the reasons guns with matching magazines are much more common among those made in the years after its introduction in December, 1939 (Showa 14.12). Fast reloading was never a strong point of Japanese pistols anyway, since they lock back on the magazine follower, requiring a strong pull to get the magazine out if the gun is empty.

    Here is that spring, which is found on the lower front of the grip. It continues inside. If a gun has this spring, always examine this spring closely for cracks or other damage before buying it. You can get a reproduction spring kit to replace it if it breaks altogether, but they are an extreme hassle to replace due to the difficulty of pounding on the rivets inside the magazine well.

The trigger retains a fair bit of its straw colour from heat treating. You can also easily check the serial number of this part without disassembling the gun.

    I took this one all apart to make sure all the numbers matched. Fortunately I did not need to take this part out as its number is visible without removal. This is the magazine safety, viewed from below and in front. I recommend against removing it unless you really have to. See the little round button-like thing on the right side? That is a plunger that is under spring pressure. Getting the part in while keeping that spring compressed so the plunger doesn't shoot out and roll into the most inaccessible spot in the room (or injure your eye!) is a pain in the neck. The square shaft that sticks out (left side of photo) swings up and blocks rearward motion of the trigger when the magazine is out. When a magazine is inserted, it swings downward out of the way so the gun can be fired (NEVER COUNT ON MECHANICAL SAFETIES LIKE THIS ON ANY GUN!! WHAT IF THE PART IS MISSING OR THE SHAFT IS BENT OR BROKEN?! ALWAYS TREAT EVERY GUN AS IF IT IS LOADED AND READY TO FIRE AND KEEP IT POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION).

    Here is the tiny serial number marked on the side of the magazine release. This is another part that commonly doesn't match because it is under spring pressure. When you remove the left grip. if you are not careful it can shoot out and roll away (again, be careful of your eyes).

As was standard for Kokubunji-produced guns, the grips have the serial number marked in pencil. In many guns that means the marks are now illegible, but in this one they are surprisingly legible, if faint (723).

The striker spring guide (also called a firing pin extension) has the proper flat sides on the shaft (left of photo) and the correct N inspection mark (right of photo).

Finding a gun in this condition is a real treat.

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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.