Nambu World: Early Type 26 Photos

            I bought this gun in October, 2006 from a collector in Quebec along with a Showa 16.1 Type 94. Although the exterior of this Type 26 shows a lot of wear to the finish, mechanically it is excellent and the bore is great. It has a low serial number and a few interesting characteristics of the early production guns. The Type 26 is double action only and is of the break-top variety with automatic extraction. It fires a unique 9mm round that is mid-way between .38 S&W and .38 Special in length, but has a much thinner rim than either of these cartridges and is a little less powerful than .38 S&W.


Here is the left side    


The rear sight is this tiny notch, not the easiest thing in the world to aim with, though I have had acceptable accuracy from a Type 26.


As noted above, the revolver is fitted with a Smith & Wesson style latch.


Lifting the latch just in front of the hammer allows the revolver to “break open” for loading.


Here it is with the latch released so you can see the posts that the latch secures onto.


            When the action opens the extractor automatically rises to eject any empties (look at the top of the cylinder to see the extractor protruding upwards—it snaps back into position at the end of its travel).            


            The markings are one of the most interesting things about this particular specimen. The symbol at the top is the Tokyo Arsenal symbol, later also used by Kokura Arsenal. It is supposed to represent a stack of four cannonballs viewed from the top. The faint ring below that is not a marking but just the trace outline of a stud put in on the other side to retain the mechanism (see open view of mechanism below). What is interesting about the markings is that the first 10,000 or so Type 26s had the markings stamped very lightly. This one has had them re-stamped more deeply, but you can see traces of the old, light markings as well. The characters are ni-ju-roku-nen-shiki, literally “two-ten-six-year-type”, or more colloquially, Type 26. Note that the serial number uses stamps of different sizes for the zeroes and the other digits. You can see traces of the old, lightly stamped seven under the new seven as well.


            Zeroing in on the left side of the model designation you can see the faint cross-bar of the older marking on the second character (the one that looks like a plus sign). The third character also has a shadow of the older stamping of the lower left stroke and a bit of the older cross-bar at the right.         


            The clearest spot where you can see the old markings is the last character. Look at the right side.


            A minor point that I noticed as soon as I received this gun is that the sideplate hinge screw is very convex (domed). The ones on my other guns are much flatter.


            Always check this spot on the lower frame when examining a Type 26. Once the trigger guard is pulled down, you can use your thumb here to swing the sideplate out. Often people attack this area viciously with metal tools and leave serious gouges, not realizing the trigger guard has to swing down first. This one is not badly marred considering it was in service for about 50 years.


            One of the noteworthy features of the Type 26 is that the sideplate swings open to reveal the mechanism for cleaning or servicing. Just swing the trigger guard down first. The mechanism is also pretty simple. Note the irridescent heat-treated bluing on the hammer and the strut (the piece on the lower front of the hammer).   


            Here are the markings on the left grip frame. Besides the serial number there are three katakana phonetic symbols on the left. From top to bottom they are ki, mi (sideways) and ra. They are inspection marks. There are more inspection marks on the butt.


            The Type 26 used several different methods of parts serialization during its relatively long production run. The early ones like this have the full serial number on most of the parts, like the trigger shown here.           


The hammer and a couple of other parts have an assembly number instead. Note the heat-treated bluing on the hammer, remnants of the original finish.


            The cylinder assembly is the link between the two sets of numbers. Here is the serial number 5070 stamped on the cylinder underneath the extractor.


            The face of the cylinder has the assembly number 15, which can also be seen on the extractor (the numbers on the extractor are only partially visible due to the small space available). Thus, the cylinder has both the serial number of the gun (5070) and the assembly number (15) on it. Note that the face of the cylinder is recessed so that the rims of the cartridges fit flush with the cylinder. This feature has been built in to some American revolvers from time to time and the manufacturers always make a big deal out of it, though I don’t see why it would make any difference one way or the other.


All the parts match except the left grip.        


            Although it looks OK at first glance, the non-matching left grip does have a gap at the bottom.


There is also a gap at the top.


            Usually no one ever takes the right grip off to clean under it because you have to remove the mainspring to do so (well, if you are careful you can do it without that, but only of the screw is not too tight). When I took off the grip there was a lot of light surface rust underneath and unidentified crud between the metal and wood. I cleaned it up before re-installing the right grip. The right grip is just held on by two short wood screws, so it is probably best not to remove it too often or the screws holes may become oversized, preventing the screws from getting enough “bite” to retain the grip panel.          



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Last updated: November 10, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.