Nambu World: Type 94 Original Canvas Holster

    Most Type 94 holsters were made of leather, usually pigskin but sometimes cowhide. However, late in the war these materials became scarce and canvas was used. There are actually a couple of different types, depending on the weave of the fabric (close or loose weave) and there is a very scarce paratrooper version that has a totally different type of snap. But I am glad just to have one of these scarce holsters. It actually ended a long, confusing search for me. Early on I purchased a reproduction canvas holster that was sold as such and that I knew was a reproduction. I just wanted to know what the repros were like so I could tell them apart from an original when I found one. Then I bought a canvas holster that the seller, a well-established but not terribly well-known individual, told me was original. When it arrived, I had some doubts, but he assured me it was real. Later I discovered that although it was old, it had been faked to make it appear to be an original. Finally, years later, after investigating with several people in Japan and the USA what the key distinguishing features were, I purchased this one from an undoubted source. Below I will explain how to tell an original from a likely fake. The known repro and the faked repro are shown on separate pages. Below is the holster shown in the open position.

    When I was in Tokyo I visited the main store of Nakata Shoten, the main retailer of reproduction Japanese militaria. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet the founder, Mr. Nakata, himself. He showed me an original holster and pointed to two things: the snap and the leather reinforcement straps inside. He said that by the time they switched to canvas, brass was very scarce and so steel was normally used for the snaps. This may not be definitive, as there might have been some made with brass snaps, but it is certainly one factor to consider. Here are close-ups of the male and female part of the snap. Note that there is no manufacturer's markings inside. I have not been able to do a lot of comparisons, but the faked one I had used snaps that were not only brass, but also had the name of a well-known snap manufacturer on the inside of the female part.


    Stitching on the original holsters is normally pink. Again, this may not be definitive in itself: many repros also use pink thread. It may seem odd, but remember that the association of femininity with pink that we have today was not necessarily prevalent sixty-five years ago in Japan. Besides, everything was scarce in Japan by that time and I doubt they would have discarded anything just due to colour.

    Inside the holster are what I think is the biggest clue. The leather reinforcement strips on the inside of the holster have the rough side exposed. I have only seen a few undoubted originals but they all had the rough side exposed, while all the known repros or faked ones I have seen had the smooth side of the leather exposed on the inside. This one also has some light wear inside that is consistent with a pistol having been carried in it.

Here is the toe of the holster, which is leather.

    Another test is to see whether a gun and accessories will actually fit inside. Many repros are too small for everything to fit inside and still close, although some are big enough. Here you can see the holster open with a pistol, spare magazine and cleaning rod in place. As can be seen in the right photo, it still snaps shut easily. Incidentally, always be careful when working the snap on any Type 94 holster--if it is worn or loose the snap could pull apart or pull through the cloth or leather.

    Here is a close-up showing that the mag and cleaning rod fit into place properly. This makes for a tight fit and many cleaning rods were lost when the spare magazine was withdrawn, since the rod and mag share the same compartment.

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Last updated: August 3, 2009. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.