Nambu World: Showa 19.8 Type 94 Photos (Slab wooden grip variation)

††††††††††† I got this pistol in December, 2006. I had been looking for a slab-grip T94 ever since starting collecting, and after looking all over Canada for years, ironically I found this one belonged to a friend of my husband right here in Calgary. It wasnít for sale, but eventually I did a trade with the previous owner and filled this important hole in my collection. The shift to wooden grips mostly happened in Showa 19.7 (July, 1944), but a few earlier pistols also have them. These grips are often called ďslabĒ grips by collectors because they do not have any grooves or checkering.

 

††††††††††† Here is the left side. I was doubly happy to get this one because not only was it a major variant that I needed, itis in outstanding condition, with few if any signs of use. It is, of course, like all late-war Japanese weapons, crudely finished. The markings above the trigger on this side say kyu-yon-shiki, or Type 94 (read right to left). The long horizontal bar along this side with the dog leg at the rear is the sear bar. Because it is exposed, if the safety is off the gun can be fired by pressing on the front of this bar, without touching the trigger. Although by todayís standards this would be considered a safety hazard that would result in lawsuits, it was never a serious operational problem. However, it did give rise to persistent myths that the gun was designed this way so it could be fired by Japanese troops pretending to surrender. There are no documented cases of this ever happening. Although it is technically possible to use the gun this way, it could not have been designed this way intentionally as all Japanese troops were absolutely forbidden to surrender and hence there was no training or other consideration given as to what to do in case of capture. Officers and enlisted men alike were expected to kill themselves rather than allow themselves to be disgraced by being captured.

 

††††††††††† This shot shows the bolt locked back. Like all the Nambu pistol designs, the Type 94 lacks a bolt hold-open device, so the bolt holds open on the magazine follower when the magazine is empty. This makes reloading slow as the magazine must be pulled out against the strong pressure of the recoil spring. In order to avoid unnecessary stress on my pistols, I always pull the bolt back a little before pushing the magazine release. I then allow the magazine to drop a little bit and ease the bolt forward. The trigger pull on all Type 94s is long and scrunchy, but this one is particularly bad. The trigger was fitted very loosely so there is a lot of slack to take up before you even start to get any reaction from the gun.

 

††††††††††† The character in the top row of markings above the lanyard ring is Sho, short for Showa, the name of the reign of Emperor Hirohito. The date 19.8 translates to the eighth month of the 19th year of the reign of his reign, i.e. August, 1944. In the second row of markings the first symbol is the Nagoya Arsenal mark. It looks like a top-heavy 8 in a circle. It is actually intended to represent the shachi, or mythical dolphins, that adorn the ends of the roof of Nagoya Castle, the cityís most famous landmark (if you use your imagination, the horn-shaped bits formed to the left and right of the 8 look a bit like the tails of fish). The symbol to the right of that is the mark of Chuo Kogyo, the company that made all Type 94s. It is a stylized version of the kanji character nan, meaning south. It is the first character in the name Nambu, which is a reference to Lt. Gen. Kijiro Nambu, who designed all Japanís major semi-auto pistols and founded the company that became Chuo Kogyo in a merger in December, 1936. The factory was in Kokubunji, a suburb on the western fringe of Tokyo.

 

The serial number is above the trigger on the right side. Production of Type 94s ended in June, 1945 at around number 71000.

 

††††††††††† The exterior of the gun shows little attention was paid to polishing it beyond making sure there were no sharp edges that would cut the user. Here is the recess above the serial number.†††††††

 

††††††††††† The right side of the slide.

 

††††††††††† On the right and left of the pistol are panels that are peened in to cover cuts made in the machining process. On early models these are hard to see because the seems are polished smooth, but on these later guns the crude finishing allows them to be seen clearly.

 

††††††††††† There is also a panel at the back. Here you can see that it is not even close to flush with the frame. The lanyard loop on this pistol is also much larger than on my earlier Type 94s.

 

††††††††††† The bottom of the trigger guard shows rough machining.

 

††††††††††† Same with the back of the grip frame.

 

††††††††††† The gun is all matching, including the magazine (parts like the mag shown here are serialized with the last three digits of the gunís number). However, a couple of parts are not numbered, like the firing pin and crossbolt. The magazine has two other marks, both of which are inspection marks. One is just barely visible above the 3 in the serial number. It is the sha in kaisha (company). It looks like this mark was applied first and then the serial number stamped over top of it. The other mark is faint. Look straight below the 3. It is the To in Tokyo. Although the Chuo Kogyo factory was formally under the supervision of Nagoya Arsenal, the proximity of Kokubunji to Tokyo Arsenal meant inspectors from that facility usually carried out the actual inspections. I have not seen one, but apparently some late T94s have the usual Nagoya inspection mark (the kanji character na as in Nagoya) and/or a plainer version of the character nan (as shown above in the photo of the date).†††††††††

 

††††††††††† Here are those unserialized parts. The firing pin is on top and the crossbolt below it. Usually only the tip of the latter is visible (the little oval in the upper left of a right side photo). It fits into the U-shaped recess in the top of the firing pin (right of this photo) and is what holds the slide and bolt together.

 

††††††††††† Here is a relatively early T94 dated 14.2 (February, 1939) on top and the 19.8 on the bottom. Besides the difference in grips and the level of polishing, there are other differences like the finish on the trigger (strawed on the 14.2, blued on the 19.8). Look carefully at the front part of the frames just above the front of the trigger guard. You can see that the frame of the 19.8 is the full width of the pistol on this front part, while it has been machined in to be narrower on the 14.2. This is more obvious in the next photo, which shows the bottoms of the relevant parts of the frame.

 

††††††††††† You can see this difference more clearly when you look at the bottom of the relevant area. Here the 19.8 is on top and the 14.2 is below. Notice that the frame of the 19.8 is substantially wider in this area. This change was apparently introduced about Showa 15.4 (April, 1940). It was basically a production expedient, as it eliminated a lot of machining that contributed nothing to the actual functioning of the pistol. It is interesting that this change occurred so early, well before the war against the US began. †††††††

 

†††††††††† Most of the inspection marks on this pistol are very poorly struck. It looks like they were weak hits with the die tilted, so in most cases only part of the mark is legible. Fortunately, if you know what they are supposed to be you can usually guess what they are even if only a quarter is visible. This is the inspection mark To (as in Tokyo) to the left of the serial number. It is about ĺ visible (far left of photo).

 

††††††††††† This one is also To. It about the top half is visible, but it is tilted 90 degrees to the left (counterclockwise). This is on the right side of the frame just about the front of the trigger guard.

 

This is the mark sha as in kaisha (company). Only about the bottom 1/3 is visible. This one is on the frame behind the grips on the right side.

 

Here is another sha, with about the left 2/3 of the character visible. It is on the left side of the frame just behind the grips.

 

††††††††††† This is what a good clear sha looks like. This is on the rear of the right side of the slide. The photo shows the slide standing vertically on with what would normally be the rear on the bottom. This is to give the correct orientation of the character.

 

There is another good clear strike of the sha mark on the left side of the bolt.

 

††††††††††† These marks on the rear of the barrel are a bit of a mystery to me. They are not listed in the Derby & Brown book, so maybe they are just tool marks. It is odd that they are so regular and repeated, though. There is a sort of M mark that was used, but it is much flatter and wider than these marks.

 

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Last updated: December 14, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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