Nambu World: Showa 7,3 Chigusa Type 14 Photos

            I bought this pistol from a US collector and after months of paperwork finally received it in March, 2007. Although it has some flaws, I was still glad to get it as Chigusa pistols are very hard to find. The Chigusa factory of Nagoya Arsenal was the first maker of Type 14 pistols and ceased production in Showa 7,11 (November, 1932) after only about 7,800 guns. This gun is representative of the later production ones as described below.


            Here is the left side. This side has a proper matching Chigusa grip with 26 grooves. The right side shown above has a grip with 25 grooves that I believe was made at Kokubunji. Bet you didn’t notice!


            Here is a close-up of the markings, which differentiate this pistol from the earlier Chigusa one I have. If you compare this one to the 3,2 date Chigusa shown as the first pistol in the Type 14 gallery, you can see that this one has the kanji sho (as in Showa) preceding the date (7,3). This symbol indicates the date refers to the reign of the Showa Emperor, i.e. Hirohito. Specifically, this one was made in Showa 7,3, i.e. the third month of the seventh year of his reign, or March, 1932 in Western terms. In order to make space for the addition of this character, starting about Showa 4,12 (December, 1929) the Nagoya Arsenal symbol was moved up to where it is on all subsequent Nagoya and Nagoya-supervised production, i.e. in front of the serial number (7243). The Nagoya Arsenal logo looks like a top-heavy 8 in a circle. The “horns” formed inside the left and right sides of the larger circle are intended to represent the shachi, or mythical dolphins, that adorn the ends of the roof of Nagoya Castle, the city’s most famous landmark. You have to use your imagination: think of fish with their tails in the air and heads meeting at the bottom. The castle was destroyed in the was and has been rebuilt as a ferro-concrete reproduction. Note that only Chigusa pistols used a comma rather than a period to separate the year and month in the date, so this is an easy way to make a positive ID. The two symbols to the right of the date are inspection marks. The same marks are on the magazine (shown below).


            On the other (left) side of the gun in roughly the same spot are these two inspection marks. The one on the left is the to in Tokyo and the one on the right is the ko in Kokura. These probably indicate that the two modifications made in the great recall of 1932 were completed at different times in the two different arsenals, Tokyo and Kokura. It is also possible that they were both done at the same time and the second inspection mark was added when some other repair was done. The two modifications involved in the recall are described next.


            One of the modifications was the retrofitting of a magazine safety, which was not originally part of the design. This little part prevents the gun from being fired when the magazine is removed (never rely on mechanical safeties on any pistol; always treat your gun as loaded and ready to fire, and never point it at anything you wouldn’t want to shoot). Apparently Japanese troops did not understand that when the magazine is removed, there may still be a round in the chamber that must be removed in a separate step, so this part was deemed necessary to avoid accidental discharges. The tail in the lower left of the photo prevents the trigger from being pulled back if there is no magazine in the gun. Inserting a magazine causes it to rotate out of the way. The round hole you see below that part serves no actual purpose once the gun is finished; it is a leftover from the manufacturing process. It is drilled in order to provide access to drill the locking block spring hole, which is directly behind it in the rear of the grip frame.


            The other part of the recall was installing a shorter striker than was originally used. Originally they used an 87mm long striker, but it turned out to be too heavy. The small striker spring could not get it moving fast enough to hit the primer hard enough to ensure reliable ignition. To prevent such misfires, a shorter, lighter striker was installed. Later the Toriimatsu factory of Nagoya Arsenal took this idea a step further and introduced 65mm strikers. Here is the striker that came with this gun when I got it and below that, the striker spring guide (also called the firing pin and firing pin extension). Both these parts seem odd. The striker is an unusual length (see next photo). Also, this type of long striker spring guide is usually found on Toriimatsu guns that had that shorter 65mm striker I referred to above. I will probably end up installing a shorter guide to make it correct.


            Here is what I meant about the striker length. The top striker in the photo is a regular 73mm striker. Below that is the one from this gun, which is 77mm long.


            In order to install the shorter strikers, they had to extend the groove in which the tail of the striker moves so that the shorter striker would be able to reach the primer. The groove in question is the one in the left of the photo.


            This gun came with a proper (although non-matching) Chigusa magazine. Chigusa magazines are instantly recognizable because they have a triangular notch for the magazine latch (the little cut-out just below and to the left of the follower button in the photo). All other Type 14 mags used square notches.


The magazine’s serial number has two inspection marks below it. They are the same ones as on the right side of the pistol near the date.


            What I thought was unusual is that the mag also has the little pentagon inspection mark on the upper face of the base (look down below the 4 in the serial number).


            Here is the square inspection mark on the right rear bottom part of the grip frame. This is the same mark as on my 3,2, although that one has a couple of other marks, too.


            The left grip matches and is serialized to the gun with all four digits of the serial number. Note also that there is an inspection mark above and to the left of the 7 in this photo. See how smooth the inside surface of a Chigusa grip panel is?


            Here is the inside of both grip panels together. The right grip panel (top) does not match; in fact, it is not even a Chigusa grip. I think it is from the Kokubunji factory of Chuo Kogyo. Many grips from that maker were unserialized, like this one. Note how rough the inside surface is compared to the Chigusa grip (bottom).


Here is a close-up that shows the machining marks on the inside of the non-Chigusa grip.


            Although the left grip matches the gun, it is a little loose. Here you can see why: the very thin little positioning ridge that runs along the top of the grip and fits into a very narrow slot in the frame has completely broken off. Both the left and right grips on Type 14s have such ridges, but the one on the left grip is always much thinner and is extremely fragile. For this reason, one should always exercise extreme caution when removing the left grip.


Here is something I haven’t seen on any of my other Type 14s: the sear bar retainer pin is numbered to the gun!


            Although this gun has some flaws, most notably that non-matching right grip, I was still happy to get it as these Chigusa guns are quite scarce, and I wanted one of each of the two main variations in markings. They made about 5000 of the first type with the arsenal mark in front of the date and then about 2800 like this one with the arsenal mark in front of the serial number.


Click here to go back to the Type 14 Photo Gallery: Teri's Japanese Handgun Website: Type 14 Photo Gallery       

Click here to go back to the main page: Teri’s Japanese Handgun Website

Last updated: April 30, 2007. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.