Japanese Grandpa Nambu with Stock (Video)

The 1902 “Grandpa” Nambu is one of the first wave of successful military automatic pistols, developed by Kijiro Nambu and his team over the course of 5 years, from 1897 to 1902. It was the first automatic pistol to be used by the Japanese military, although it was a private-purchase sidearm for officers and not formally purchased or issued by the military. It took several design cues from the C96 Mauser, in the form of a pivoting locking block and a bottlenecked cartridge.

The Grandpa was only made from 1902 until 1906, with less than 2400 examples produced in total – many of which were sold to Thailand. In 1906 a series of improvements were made to the gun, including increasing the size of the trigger and trigger guard, a swiveling lanyard ring, a slightly larger grip, new magazine, and deletion of the shoulder stock slot that had been standard on all previous Nambu pistols. The formal Japanese designation (Type A) did not change as a result, but in American collector parlance the new model became the “Papa” Nambu.


  1. Back around 1963 I had a friend that worked in a sporting goods and he came up with a pair of Nambu pistols he wanted me to buy. One was a papa and the other was a baby. As I recall they had sequential serial numbers. At that time I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to buy them. As I recall he wanted $75.00 for the pair. I have looked back many times and wished I had purchased them, (hindsight is always 20-20). They were in very good condition. Oh well, I guess If that is the biggest mistake I made in my life…

  2. Nambu was quite the genius, his only problem being the shortage of high quality steel. If you don’t have unlimited resources your weapons development programs will emphasize getting something right the first time, which is freakishly difficult to get. However rifles take priority over officers’ side arms, as do artillery, ship building, and infrastructure in general. But never assume that the Nambu pistols can’t kill you if you happen to be within 20 feet of the business end…

  3. The disassembly and single pice forging was quite amazing. However, that had to be expensive because of losses due to the large amount of milling errors, kind of explains the low production run.

    I’m glad we’re getting more Japanese guns!

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