From Rock Island Armory

Nambu Pistol

Of all the things you own that were made in Japan, we’re betting a Nambu pistol isn’t one of them. The Nambu pistol series was developed by Lieutenant General Kijiro Nambu in 1092, who claimed the design for Japan, but it looked a lot like the Mauser C96 Japanese officials admired while touring Europe.

The Rock Island Arsenal Museum has on display two pictols, the Nambu Type 14 and the smaller Type B “Baby” Nambu. Both are semi-automatic, using the recoil of the first round to provide the energy to move the next round into position. The Nambus have a skinny barrel and one-piece frame, were loaded by magazing instead of a spring-clip option, and had an effective firing range of about 55 yards.

Baby Nambu Pistol

Baby Nambu Pistol

The Baby Nambu was smaller, firing 7mm rounds. It held 7 rounds in the magazine, as opposed to the 8 in the Type 14. The Nambu magazines slid into the bottom of the pistol and are not shown in the video. The Baby Nambu was supposed to be a sidearm for Japanese officers. Like the British officers, the Japanese were expected to purchase their own pistol but it was priced out of reach for all but the most high-ranking and thus became a status accessort. Only 6,000 were made and the Japanese army never adopted them as an official sidearm.

Such was not the case with the larger Type 14 which made it into the Japanese inventory. Based on the original Type A “Grandpa” Nambu, it was issued to NCOs in 1927 and could be purchased by officers. The Nambu Type 14 is prized by the Japanese-style production date stamped on the right side. Most Type 14’s are engraved wiht the current year of Hirohito’s reign and the name given to his reign. Ours is 17.12, adding 17 to the year 1925, with the last digits as the month of production, which would be December of 1942.



  1. LSWCHP says:

    I believe the Nambu’s have some sort of design defect that allows them to fire without the trigger being pressed. Something to do with the trigger to sear actuating bar being place on the outside of the frame.


    1. Shawn says:

      exposed sear


      1. COtt says:

        Not on the Type 14. The Type 94 had an exposed sear, which I can personally attest to. My buddy had a Type 94 that he picked up and had a few rounds and asked if I wanted to shoot it. Reluctantly, I picked it up and squeezed the trigger, nothing happened. It had a bad spring or something wrong with the internals and wouldn’t fire. But never one to pass up on an opportunity, I decided to see if it would fire when I pressed on the exposed sear and BANG! Laughed my ass off that it would fire when you pressed on the side rather then the trigger. Still missing a T14 and T94 from my massive collection of Japanese firearms (mostly T99s)


  2. Rocketguy says:

    I feel like I might have told this story before but…

    I was at a range years ago when a guy settled into the lane beside me with a Nambu. When I asked him about it, he said he had no idea what it was and had found it under the seat of a car he bought (!!!). I gave him a little info and expressed surprise that he was able to find ammo for it. He said they had ammo in the store that ran the range and showed me a box of 380. While I was explaining bottleneck 8mm and .32”-ish vs .35”-ish, he loaded and fired a couple rounds. “See – works fine.” I tossed all my stuff in my bag and got out of there.


    1. Shawn says:

      hahah holy shit I would have left too


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