RIA: Japanese 7.65mm Hamada Pistol

The Hamada was one of very few Japanese military weapons made by a private commercial firm. Designed and introduced in 1940, the basic Type Hamada pistol was a blowback .32ACP handgun similar in style to the Browning model 1910. About 5000 of them were manufactured during WWII, although most of these were sent to China. All the known examples in Western collections are form a fairly narrow serial number range (~2200-3000), which probably represent a single batch rerouted to the Pacific islands, where they were occasionally captured by US troops.

In 1943, Hamada was asked to develop a pistol in 8mm Nambu to simplify ammunition logistics, and this would become the Type 2 Hamada.


  1. What a lovely little pistol.

    There seems to be a lot of metal left at the rear end of the receiver / grip assembly, compared to a browning.

    The Walther style of disassembly clearly is not compatible with the striker remaining captive, as it does with the browning style of lugged barrel blowback pistols where the slide runs straight off the front of the pistol after the barrel is rotated and disconnected from the frame.

    Or at least, keeping the striker captive in the Hamada frame would require far more metal to be cut out of the back of the slide.

    Apart from the striker and striker spring coming loose, the remainder of the pistol looks to be very well designed and made.

    It would be nice to think of some surviving as treasured sleepers in China and Japan.

    In pre war days, was Hamada, what we would consider a high end maker? Japan has never struck me as a place where gunmakers would cater for an ordinary clientèle, in the manner that the Birmingham gun trade used to, and American and Italian manufacturers still do.

    • There still might be some stashed away in old houses. I’ve seen police posters in the subway station asking if you find any old firearms in elderly relatives homes to turn them in to the police for destruction. They had photos of some of the pistols turned in ,a artillery Luger( makes me feel sick) a real nice early war type 94 ( would have loved to have that for my collection) and a top break S&W type revolver.

  2. Interesting pistol seeming a combination of FN 1910 and Ortgies 1919. With absent of grip safety, trigger/sear/disconnector lockwork looks closely following FN 1900/1906/1910/1922, whereas barrel mounting and take down process seeming as borrowed from Ortgies. However, parts and lay out of take down process seems unique. The front section of slide seems guided over the frame by the fixed barrel and the rear portion by the frame rails and a doll head cross sectioned upright lug fitting inside the striker tunnel. Slide rails and counter fitting grooves inside the slide having clear passages for slide upward rise, but the striker channel having only a square shaped opening for to pass solely of the upright doll head lug when the slide retracted to certain distance if the dismount key behind the doll head is drawn downward as lessening the whole backward thickness of combination to fit into the square shaped pass of the striker channel for the slide rear portion to be risen upward and driven forward for the take down process. At left of the frame close to the chamber, there it seeming an upright inwardly springing arm to prevent the slide dismounting when the magazine is inside. Well designed handgun with a simple looking outside, but intriqued the inside.

  3. Worst thing at this well designed pistol should be the lock of dismount slide at underside the rear of frame seeming as very eager and ready to pinch the users hand.

  4. Cocked striker seems to get some additional compression before releasing like curent Glock-ish striker firers which would be counted as an extra safety.

    • Not all guns are as extreme as the Roth Steyr and Glock,

      But like those almost double action pistols and like the example of the Hamada in this post. Every gun needs to cam the hammer or striker back a little as the trigger is pulled, just to be safe.

      The reason for this, is so if the trigger is partly pulled, then released, the hammer or striker (main) spring will act to cam the sear into full engagement again.

      The closer you get to the trigger pull not moving the hammer back at all, the less ability the mainspring has to cam the sear back into full engagement.

      With some of the open bolt guns, it can be quite disconcerting to see the whole bolt being cammed back slightly as the trigger is squeezed. I’m guessing that guns like the Becker and Oerlikon anti tank cannons which fired from an open bolt, must have had atrocious trigger pulls

      • Thanks for your valuable input. Though this particular example seems following Browning’s trigger connections closely, the layout of parts, the angle of contact surfaces looks somewhat being exaggarated in safety feature closing to Dreyse 1907’s some models having the same configuration. However, the improved 8mm version which Ian has had in Full.30 video, seems carrying another much different sear connection than this model and resembling to VZ21, Beretta M1919 or Walther Model 9 or Baby Browning of much later production.

      • Thanks for your valuable input. Though this particular example seems following Browning’s trigger connections closely, the layout of parts, the angle of contact surfaces looks somewhat being exaggarated in safety feature closing to Dreyse 1907’s some models having the same configuration. However, the improved 8mm version which Ian has had in Full.30 video, seems carrying another much different sear connection than this model and resembling to VZ21, Beretta M1919 or Walther Model 9 or Baby Browning of much later production.

        PS.This comment is dublicated. Please delete the one waiting for moderation.

  5. I would guess that these pistols were sent to somewhere like the Phillipines for Japanese Military Police which primarily had occupational duties not related to combat, except maybe for prison duties, and obtained by GI’s in one region. The .32 ACP would suggest no front line use.

    Just guessin.

    • More probably they were intended for issue to officers in the Army or Army Air Force.

      Most IJA officers above Captain bought their own sidearms, a common one being the FN M1910 or the DWM copy of same, both in .32 ACP.

      A domestically-produced analog would make sense as a replacement due to wartime conditions.

      The 7mm “Baby Nambu” was also used, again mainly a private purchase item, but production of it apparently ended at Tokyo Gas & Electric sometime in early 1942. Being a locked-breech, recoil-operated type, it may have been decided that it was just too expensive a proposition to waste time and production space on when the full-grown 8mm Taisho 14 pistol, also made at TGE, was needed as badly as it was.

      According to Ezell in <emHandguns of the World (p. 626), the second model Hamada in 8 x 21mm Nambu was officially adopted as a “substitute standard” pistol in 1943. But only about 500 were made at Nagoya Arsenal from then until the end of the war.

      Most second model Hamadas have a semicircular “scallop” in the top of the slid, at the back just above the slide-retraction serrations. Since it is a straight-blowback, this has been considered by some writers to have been a mistake, as most examples show clear indications (powder scoring, etc.) of the slide opening too quickly, meaning a bit more slide mass might have been helpful.

      I suspect the reason for the scallops may be that with that extra mass, the slide wasn’t opening far enough to cleanly eject and/or feed the next round. So reducing slide mass may have been the way they tried to increase slide velocity and force, as opposed to weakening the recoil spring, which would of course reduced feeding force in counter-recoil to battery.

      High-powered blowback design is a tricky business. The Hamada Type II being a likely case in point.



      • “I suspect the reason for the scallops may be that with that extra mass, the slide wasn’t opening far enough to cleanly eject and/or feed the next round”
        Or maybe this was due to Army requirement, which specified maximal weight?

      • Yes, sounds very plausible. Like Ian says in the newer video about the Type 2 pistol designed by Hamada, the 8mm Nambu cartridge was not quite as weak as some people think. The post-1929 increased military loading apparently launched a 100 grain (6.5 grams) bullet at 1095 fps from the 4.61″ barrel of the Type 14 pistol. That is 267 ft·lbf. Muzzle velocity from the 3.78″ barrel of the Type 94 was up to 1000 fps, although some sources claim only 950 fps (201-223 ft·lbf). In any case, that is very similar to 9mm Ultra (or Makarov) and noticeably hotter than contemporary .380 ACP loads.

        • It’s also in the range of a typical .38 Special 158-grain roundnose lead “police” load at 850 F/S of that era, which averages 255 FPE, and a bit ahead of the 0.380in British service revolver round aka .38 S&W, which with either the 145 gr. at 730 F/S U.S. commercial load or the British 200 gr. at 630 F/S checks in at around 175 FPE, either way.

          In short, the 8 x 21mm was more than adequate for its purpose, being powerful enough that two or three center hits would kill most men quite thoroughly dead.



          • And also similar to the French 7.65x20mm Long(ue), another cartridge often accused of being too weak. However, it is true that both the 8mm Nambu and 7.65mm Long were too weak to be effective submachine gun cartridges.

          • “another cartridge often accused of being too weak”
            So far I know, almost any popular handgun cartridge was at one or another time called “too weak”, everything depending on comparison, so calling some cartridge just “powerful” (rather than “more powerful than cartridge x” or “less powerful than cartridge y”) is ambiguous.

          • EW;

            I don’t know about the 8 x 21 in the Type 100 SMG, but the 7.65 Long in the MAS-38 was standard with the French police until the early 1960s, when it was replaced by the MAT-49 in 9 x 19mm.

            The police liked the MAS-38 because it was compact, easy-handling, accurate, reliable, and coming out of the SMG’s 8.75in barrel, the 85-grain bullet left at 1,150 F/S with 250 FPE.

            This was about as powerful as a .38 Special, and was considered adequate for in-town use without risking overpenetration. Generally, in police work it’s considered polite to only shoot the perp, not drill a hole clear through him and hit somebody in the next block sitting down to dinner.

            Also, while hitting like a .38 Special revolver, the 38 did so at 600 R/M RoF. So the target would be getting hit with the equivalent of a cylinderful of .38 Specials with each trigger pull. Which would just about guarantee that he would take no further interest in the proceedings.

            The MAS 38 fell into the “just enough but not too much” category. The modern-day FN 5.7 x 28 round in the P-90 could be considered an analog of it. That is, if the cartridge actually delivered .38 Special ME, which as far as I know it doesn’t quite get to.

            In urban policier’ terms;

            MAS-38; Good concept, decent execution.

            P-90; Good concept, execution needs some improvement.




        • “8mm Nambu cartridge”
          Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия states:
          CARTRIDGE: 8-mm cartridge for pistol “14” and pistol “94”
          WEIGHT OF WHOLE CARTRIDGE (g): 11,0
          MUZZLE VELOCITY (m/s): 320* or 260**
          POWDER CHARGE (g): 0,27
          POWDER: round, piroxylin
          BULLET MASS (g): 6,0
          BULLET: core made of lead with 1-1.5% of antimony
          * – fired from “14”, ** – fired from “94”

          • Other sources I have seen give bullet mass as 6.5 grams (100 grains). Muzzle velocity difference is suspiciously high, considering the barrel length difference was only 21 mm, i.e. less than an inch. Typically 280-290 m/s is given for the Type 94, which makes much more sense to me. It is possible that a different loading was used for the Type 94 in that source. Apparently 1920s loads were weaker and produced about 25 m/s (82 fps) less muzzle velocity.

    • While by 1930s the .32 ACP by 1930s was on its way out as a military cartridge, it was still used widely in Europe during WW2 out of necessity, and I doubt the Japanese considered it too weak for front line service, either. 9 shots of .32 ACP was enough for the self defense use envisaged for officers’ sidearms.

      Personally I would rather take the Hamada than the Type 94 (even a early one), and not just because of the safety issues with the latter. The Type 94 is also a good example what the Japanese Army thought about pistols and their likely use in combat; they apparently had no problems with the fact that it had 25% less capacity than the Type 14.

  6. A.B.Zhuk call this automatic pistol Yato, but give very scarce information: caliber 7,65 and describe it only with 2 words: pocket model.
    Question for 1940s Japanese language users: what Yato mean?

    • According to Ezell (p.626 again) the officer in charge of developing the Hamada Type I and Type II pistols was a Major Yato. So his name may have become attached to them much as Colonel Nambu Kijiro’s became attached to the pistols which bear his name.

      Colonel (later General) Nambu only actually designed the original Type 4 (1915) 8 x 21mm and the “Baby” 7mm; the later Taisho 14, while still called a “Nambu”, was actually a redesign of the Type 4 by a “commission” at Kokura Arsenal in 1925.

      Nambu is reported to have had some connection to the project, but ultimately the result was both more complicated and less reliable than his original, leading to the suspicion that he didn’t have the final word on the results.



      • “but ultimately the result was both more complicated and less reliable than his original”
        This sometimes happen to weapon designed by commission in which everyone has own view what should (or shouldn’t) be where. See German A7V tank.

  7. Unlike most Japanese pistols, this one at least looks somewhat conventional (as in not awkward in appearance). Still they can’t seem to get the architecture of grip right. They all look like the tsuka (handle) of a samurai sword, the ergonomics of a handgun and a sword being utterly different animals.

    • Well, here’s a good question: How big is the typical Japanese soldier of the era? A typical western-made semi-auto would be a bit too big to hold… And besides, do you think the army CARES how the pistol grip looks if it’s only used for executions or for personal defense at close quarters? The Type 94 Nambu pistol’s grip does NOT have any resemblance to a sword hilt whatsoever, if it makes you feel any better.

        • That’s not the point. Generally it’s best not to think about the ergonomic failure if the gun in question is about to shoot you in the back of your head. Ugliness won’t matter at that point! The issue is whether the gun can kill me in the intended range, not if it’s ugly.

          • Well I suppose so… Mind you, perhaps it would take your mind off it. Nit picking about the ergonomics of the enemies design, beforehand. You could tut, and shake your head simultaneously while your at it much to the consternation of your executioner.

    • I really don’t see how the grip of the Hamada is highly similar to the grip of a traditional Samurai sword. In case of the Type 14 there is some similarity, but the grip of this pistol seems more rectangular with wide and flat grip panels, indeed quite similar to the Browning/FN M1910. The grip of a Samurai sword is much more rounded in corners, although it is rarely almost completely round unlike in some European sword types.

  8. Awesome! On the date stamp, the kanji is the abbreviation for the reign title, so the inscription reads “Sho[wa] 18.”

  9. When reassembling this pistol, a small diameter punch would be a handy tool for depressing the striker guide rod past the sear notch in the underside of the slide. If you depress the guiderod and hold the slide and the punch with the same hand, it is then possible to successfully mount the slide; the punch should be half the diameter of the end of the guide rod end, to allow some room for the sear to engage the striker’s guide rod flange. Once the guide rod is captured you simply gently remove the punch while applying slight downward (toward the frame) pressure on the top of the slide until the punch is withdrawn and the slide drops into place. That makes the reassembly a two handed operation that is possible for one person to perform. It takes some practice to do this but it is something that can be mastered in a few attempts. Once you get the hang of it, it is not that difficult to do.

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