Showa 20.5 Type 14 Photos


            I bought this gun from a gentleman in Texas who had inherited it from his dad. He and his mom found the gun under a bed when looking for a mouse. I sent the money for it on July 22, 2004, but I was not able to actually pick it up until October 6, 2004 due to the lengthy paperwork involved in an import/export transaction. Due to its outstanding condition and late date it was a prized addition to my collection.

            It is a Showa 20.5 (May, 1945) product of the Nagoya Arsenal Toriimatsu factory, which was the single largest producer of Type 14 pistols, and the only one still making Type 14s at war’s end. Its most distinctive feature is the use of so-called “slab” grips, i.e. grips with no horizontal grooves. These were eliminated in November, 1944 as a production expedient. The gun is all matching including the magazine.


            The left side is also very nice. Although I don’t think this gun was ever used, unfortunately the tip of the firing pin was broken off. This was often done by over-zealous officers who had been instructed to de-activate all ordnance before allowing it to be taken home as souvenirs. The rule was meant for hand grenades and the like, but it resulted in many brand new guns seized from arsenals and depots having broken firing pins. The pin is broken off well back into the thick part so it seems unlikely to have happened by accident.


            The serial number is preceded by the Nagoya Arsenal symbol on the far left and then the katakana phonetic symbol ro in a circle (it looks like a square in a circle). This mark indicates the gun is from the Second Series (a series was a run of 99,999 serial numbers). Note the somewhat uneven placement of the digits, the lack of polishing and the missing chunk of metal at the botttom of the frame ridge (below the second 7).


Here is the date, Showa 20.5. This translates to May, 1945. Regular production and reasonable quality continued until June. July and August, 1945 guns are mostly put together from leftover parts and are generally very crude. Ironically, that makes them especially sought-after by collectors. The character in the lower right is a final inspection mark. It is na, the first character in Nagoya, although a poor strike has left the lower right part of the character missing.


            Here you can see that the wood of the grip is jammed up against the trigger guard. If the gun had been disassembled without extreme care, this area would have been shaved off by the downward movement of the trigger guard.


            Although the gun’s condition is great, the quality of the external finish shows many typical signs of late war decline in attention to cosmetic matters. The rear of the grip strap, for example, has an atrociously bad pair of long gouges that were never machined smooth.


            There are also a number of dings on the left side near the “safe” kanji marking for the safety lever. It almost looks like the side of the gun was used as a hammer. You can also see here the lack of attention to polishing the surface. Note that the line scribed by the arc of the safety lever’s travel is very light, indicating it has seldom been moved.


Here’s a shot of the right rear of the barrel showing lack of polishing.


Rough machining on the bottom of the trigger guard.


            When examining late production Type 14s, it is important to keep in mind two things:

(1)   a gun can be in factory-new condition but show a lot of poor exterior workmanship, which is not the same as wear or damage; and

(2)   the exterior finish is not necessarily an indication of poor functionality. Internal tolerances were well maintained until June, 1945 even though the guns often looked rough.


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Last updated: October 28, 2004. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.