Showa 18.6 Type 14 Photos (A)

            I got this Showa 18.6 (June, 1943) Type 14 from a lead I picked up at the 2005 Easter Gun Show in Calgary. The lady who owned it had inherited it from her late husband, who was a gunsmith. There are two interesting things to show here. First, it needed a small repair and the replacement of a couple of parts (grips and magazine). Second, it has an unusual inspection mark on the grip frame.


Here is the left side.


            Here are the markings on the right side of the frame. The first symbol means Nagoya Arsenal. The second symbol, the “upsdide-down y in a circle”, is the katakana phonetic symbol i (prounounced “ee” as in week). It is the indicator of the First Series (after 99,999 they attached a phonetic symbol like this in front of the serial number each time they started in on another series of 99,999). You can also see some scuffing of the edge of the frame along the line below the serial number. This was likely done during the fitting of those plasic grips. The date 18.6 below translates to June, 1944. Due to the shallow depth of field when taking extreme close-ups like these, I can’t get both the serial number and date in shapr focus, so I have included a separate photo of the date below.


            The character in front of the date is Sho, short for Showa, the name for Emperor Hirohito’s reign.  The small character stamped to the right of the last digit in the date in the kanji na as in Nagoya, which serves as a final inspection mark. It looks a little like a rightward-leaning capital A balanced on the upper left corner of a small square, and is often weakly struck. More scuffing on the lower edge of the frame below the 18.


            The most obvious problem when I got the gun was that the original 24-groove wooden grips had been replaced with white plastic ones. The story I was told is that when the gun was imported it had ivory grips, but these were not allowed into the country due to endangered species restrictions. Since the gun had no grips, the previous owner’s husband made these. I don’t like the white plastic look, but they did fit quite well.


            The standard wooden grips are held in at the top by a thin wooden tab that fits in a slot in the frame. The right plastic grip had such a tab, but the slot in the frame on the left is usually thinner due to the need to allow space for the sear bar. Perhaps this required a tab thinner than the gentleman could make, but in any case the left grip had no tab and was held on by this pin in the upper left corner of the grip. This pin passed through the hole for the pin on which the magazine safety pivots. It is longer, of course, and was peened a bit on the left side to help hold the grip snugly. Here you can also see another problem discussed below: the trigger pivot pin (silvery circle on the far left of the photo) had been removed at some point to provide access to the parts inside the trigger group. This pin is peened in at the factory and should never be removed unless there is a need for a serious repair (highly unlikely). In the case of Toriimatsu guns, after peening the two ends of the pin, the ends were machined flush with the trigger guard so they can normally hardly be seen. I’ll discuss the problems the removal of the trigger pin caused below.


When fitting the grips, the gentleman had caused some damage to the finish by grinding and buffing the edges of the grips while they were on the gun.


Some buffing damage to the finish along the front edge of the right grip frame is visible here.


            Removing the grips showed a common problem: even on guns that look really good, one often finds pitting under the grips. Presumably this is from a combination of sweat and the porous wood holding the moisture against the metal.


            On many Kokubunji and Toriimatsu Type 14s one finds M inspection marks under the grips. Usually there is one on each grip corner, but both my 18.6 Toriimatsu guns have all four of the M marks stacked one above the other on the left rear part of the grip frame like this.


            Both also have this ri katakana symbol under the hole for the magazine latch. The ri is another inspection mark and comes from the ri in Toriimatsu.


            What is unusual, however, is this S inspection mark on the right rear part of the grip frame. It is not listed in the Derby & Brown book (see. p. 153). By that time Japanese armaments makers had also generally ceased the use of Roman (i.e. English) letters on their products due to war-inspired nationalism.


This shot shows the same S mark at the right rear corner of the frame.


            Normally all major parts would carry the last three digits of a gun’s serial number plus inspection marks of the factory where they were made. Not all makers of the Type 14 numbered some of the smaller parts like the striker and striker spring guide. However, early Toriimatsu guns did have numbers on these parts and this gun has both a matching striker and striker spring guide (also called a firing pin extension).


            My friend Jim Kemp, a US collector, pointed out an unusual feature of Toriimatsu First Series pistols: the magazine loading button (follower button) is numbered on the rear side. The magazine I got with this gun was the wrong kind (the nickeled magazine shown above in the photo with the white plastic grips), but fortunately I had a spare magazine which is from the same series, even if the number (993) doesn’t match.


As noted above, I had to replace the grips, so the number doesn’t match (Toriimatsu grips usually have the last four digits of the serial number on them).


            Remember up above I pointed out that someone had got overenthusiastic when disassembling this gun and had removed the trigger pivot pin? Well, here’s the right side, where the cosmetic damage done in removing the pin is also visible (the left side was shown above already). Normally the peened head of the pin is ground flush and its outline can barely be seen.


            Here’s another good reason not to go this far in disasembling the gun: in the process of diassembly/reassembly, the pin got damaged with some slight bends and burrs. As a result, the trigger did not pivot smoothly on it and when the trigger was pulled, it did not snap back to its original position the way it should. This meant I had to take the pin out again and smooth things out with a few passes of a small, fine file. Now it works OK, but there was no need to take the pin out and cause this damage in the first place.


            As long as the pin was out I thought I’d take a few pictures of the parts that are normally not viewable individually so that no one decides to take the pin out of their gun “just to see what’s in there”. Here’s the inside of the trigger guard. The trigger fits into that square cut-out just below the tab with the rounded top.


Here is that same spot viewed from below.


This is the right side of the trigger showing the trigger sear. The number 271 is also stamped at the top of the trigger.


Here’s the left side. The trigger and trigger sear are pinned together with a spring between them at the bottom of the trigger sear.


            Here you can see the serial number 271 on the trigger sear. The round pin at the bottom is a punch I used to hold the trigger sear out so the number could be seen while I took the photograph.


           Now you’ve seen what’s inside, so there’s no need to damage your pistol by taking the trigger guard assembly apart. If it is gummed up, just soak it in solvent and poke away at it with Q-tips and toothpicks. The same thing applies to any of the other pins that are peened into place, like the magazine base pins.


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Last updated: June 22, 2005. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.