1. Pistol looks as though designed and made with today’s mind. Pity not manufactured instead of single row model.

    • I noticed the difference between grip angle in Nambu mass-produced (both earlier and later) and experimental. I wonder: does usage of the older grip angle was caused by Japanese Ordnance or Kijiro Nambu himself concluded that it is better?

      • “Wonder Nine” was a common American slang term for the first generation of double-action 9mm pistols with double-column magazines in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

        We used to say the term, first coined by some gunwriters who were enthusiasts of the bred, really meant that when you used one, you wondered if 15 rounds of 9mm would actually get the job done.

        Except in the case of the first of the breed, the S&W M59, where you wondered if it would actually fire more than one or two rounds before jamming.

        Yes, I have owned and used S&W autos. No, I have never been particularly impressed with them.



        • Then 8mm Repetierpistole M 1907 (Roth-Krnka) might be somewhat be first “Wonder Eight” with magazine holding 10 cartridges, less than 15, but still much more than then used revolvers.

          • More commonly known as the “Roth-Steyr” from its manufacturer. It is also noteworthy in that it was the fist self-loading pistol with a “Safe Action” searage, intended for cavalry use.

            The striker was half-cocked by the bolt, and drawn back all the way and released by the trigger. There was no manual safety, as it was considered unnecessary with this type of action.

            In many ways, it was the direct ancestor of the modern Glock and similar “Safe Action” autoloaders.

            The oddest thing about it was its use by the British Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during WW1. Exactly how a pistol made in Austria (one of the Central Powers) ended up in Allied service must be one of the more convoluted stories of the Great War.



          • “The oddest thing about it was its use by the British Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) during WW1. Exactly how a pistol made in Austria (one of the Central Powers) ended up in Allied service must be one of the more convoluted stories of the Great War.”
            Even more mind boggling is from where they acquire ammunition for it?

            “In many ways, it was the direct ancestor of the modern Glock and similar “Safe Action” autoloaders.”
            And in other total opposition, see 3rd photo from top here:
            number of parts is quite low, but they have very complicated shapes, for me look likes machinist’s nightmare but maybe I’m wrong?

    • You beat me to it. I thought the same thing. Shame they didn’t produce it beyond prototype stage. A Nambu with 15rds on tap sounds good to me.

      • Agreed. Amazing design and perhaps a game-changer if they had opted to produce it. As it is, this prototype pistol looks quite demanding in manufacturing/man-hours terms and as such some industrial simplification would have been needed to propel it into mass (somehow, a relative term in interwar Japan) production.

  2. I’ve always liked the look of the Nambu pistols, and the Type 14 is a pleasant (if somewhat expensive) pistol to shoot. There seem to have been a number of high-capacity pistols in the interwar years, with only the Browning P35 HiPower being a success. The Swiss had a high-capacity version of the early M/49-P210, the Soviets had the Voevodin, and other countries had their own designs. Some reverted to single-stack versions or disappeared altogether from general issue. Other than the BHP, and to some extent the S&W M59, the high-capacity pistols don’t really appear to become popular until the late 1970s-early 1980s. I guess the reason was that, until this time, tactics relegated the handgun to secondary status where the circumstances of its use would mitigate the need for more than four or five shots (revolver substitute). With the advent of SWAT/CT and Urban CQB becoming dominant in LE and military circles, the need for “offensive firepower” in a handgun (see the HK Mark 23), where the individual may need a free hand for opening doors or carrying assorted gear while fighting in a tight space, has finally brought the “crunchentickers” as Jeff Cooper liked to call them, into prominence.

    • “Soviets had the Voevodin”
      And 15-shot version of TT automatic pistol (so-called TT model 1942), see photos here:
      in chapter titled 7,62-мм пистолет Токарева, опытный образец 1939—1942 года, 15 зарядный
      ~1000 examples were made by Plant No.74 (Izhevsk), grip-thickness increased to 42mm, different method of holding magazine, otherwise same as TT model 1933

      • I noticed the rounded slide on the Model 42. I know about the “revolver port” issue with Soviet tanks where a semi-auto pistol would have to fire through the port cutouts designed for the Nagant revolver. That’s why the Voevodin and others had to have exposed barrels (and all of the other associated problems of creating a mechanism capable of handling powerful cartriges without a full-length slide) I’ve seen a picture of a Tokarev in Ezell’s “Handguns of the World” with a long, exposed barrel as well. It seems the tapered slide of the Model 42 is an elegant way of addressing the problem.

        • “That’s why the Voevodin and others had to have exposed barrels (and all of the other associated problems of creating a mechanism capable of handling powerful cartriges without a full-length slide)”
          Soviet realized that they need smaller automatic pistol for higher-rank officer (Brigade commanders and above) as early as in 1939. They developed new cartridge: 9-мм ПП-39 similar to later 9×18 Makarov, Margolin developed automatic pistol for it – ТКБ-205 – it was tested against ПВК-1 (basically a copy of Walther automatic pistol), it was more reliable (but not enough), it was decided that it is worth of further development – it was noted for easy disassembly and small number of parts (23 from manufacture point-of-view). When Great Patriotic War broke out there were many many many more critical need that officer’s automatic pistol. Also one spring for three objectives was noted: it works as sear spring, trigger spring, magazine-holding spring

  3. It’s interesting to compare the Type A to the Finnish/Swedish Lahti automatic. Not only similar in layout and ergonomics, but similar in action as well.

    The only real problem I can see with the A is that nasty mag-release button on the frontstrap. It seems to me to just be begging to dump the magazine with a less-than-perfect address in a fast draw. Yes, I’ve always held a similar opinion about the Savage mag release in the same position. Nambu or somebody must have agreed; note the 1911-type magazine catch on the Type 14.

    Given a more reasonable mag release, and a better caliber (7.63 x 25 or 9 x 19 come to mind), I’d rate it as a decent carry gun, even today.

    I’d also rate it at about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 in the “Science-Fictiony Mean Looks” department.



  4. Several years ago a group of these super rare pistols were discovered in Japan. A problem showed up that the guns were never registered . The Government was demanding that they all be destroyed. Several Japanese museums wanted to save them as they knew how rare they are. I never heard who prevailed and what the outcome was.

  5. Bob, that was the 17 Hino Komuro pistols that were found. 7 were kept by the government and 10 were destroyed.

    Ian, you didn’t mention if you liked the angle of the grip compared to the Luger or standard Nambu. I assume that it fits in the hand well.

  6. I wonder why it wasn’t adopted? Apart from the rather large size, compared to the Type 14, it seems to be a good choice.

  7. This Nambu would do well for personal defense and target shooting, it appears, if only the striker spring didn’t weaken over time…

    Given a choice, which would you have on your person if you had to suddenly confront an “automotive smash and grab” robbery at a convenience store?

    1. Nambu Type A
    2. Roth-Steyr 1907
    3. Bolo Mauser
    4. Smith & Wesson M1917
    5. Steyr Hahn
    6. Naval Luger or P-38
    7. AMT Automag II with 6″ barrel
    8. Brno 802 combination gun
    9. Screw this! I OWN THE GUN STORE!! (get out your favorite toys)

    The activity is totally voluntary. You don’t have to respond if you don’t wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,


    • On that list, the S&W M17 or P.38 would get my vote. I’m not big on S&W autos, but I purely love their DA N-frame revolvers.

      The Walther is my most-loved DA 9mm auto. Nine rounds, about as jamproof as grease. Consistently beat out my M9 Beretta in handling JHPs.

      The Bolo Mauser is OK, but I prefer the M712/1932 Schnellfeuer. Preferably in 9 x 25 Mauser Export; 125 gr. @ 1,350 F/S = 500 FPE of muzzle stomp, equal to a “warm” .357 Magnum of today. (For the full original wallop of the .357, you need a 160-gr. @ 1,450 for 745 FPE.)

      Actually, if you handed me a S&W Model 28 Highway Patrolman 6″ .357 with the 160 grainers in it, I’d figure the eventualities were covered.



    • I would go for the Bolo Mauser or the Automag, having handled both they are comfortable fits for my hand and will do the job well

    • “9. Screw this! I OWN THE GUN STORE!! (get out your favorite toys)”
      It is hard choice, but for me it should might be stored without safety about which you must remember to disengage before use and also have well-shaped grip (point-&-shot).

      “8. Brno 802 combination gun”
      If long gun can be used then get Remington Model 11

      • Or if you can decide between multiple barrels or repeater why don’t have both:
        For me it looks rather like technical curiosity than useful gun, which inevitably will be heavy (2 barrels) and with limited choice of cartridge (double EXPRESS rifle can chamber any cartridge, overall length is virtually unlimited, in bolt-action repeating rifle with box magazine it is limited by magazine internal length).
        I know that EXPRESS rifle were well-praised for its ability to fire 2nd shot FAST, but if it was objective why don’t add single-shot barrel to repeating action?
        It probably would made some sense if it would fire different cartridge from both barrel, but apparently all use same for both.

  8. Interesting side note on the Type A;

    In the second and third editions of Pistols of the World by Ian Hogg and John weeks, the entries on “Japan State” pistols and (in 3rd ed.) “Nambu” pistols make no mention of the Type A whatever.

    Instead, they refer to the “Papa Nambu” (properly the Taisho Fourth Year, or “Taisho 04” design) as the “Type A”, which is in fact the original design designation; Nambu Shiki Jido Kenju “Ko” (“Nambu automatic pistol Type ‘A'”).

    Apparently, Hogg & Weeks were either unaware of the Type A Experimental, or assumed it was the prototype for the “Papa Nambu”, as Ian noted others have done.

    Ezell, in Handguns Of The World, correctly identifies all of the above. I suspect the use of “Type A” by the designer to initially identify the Taisho 04, and then the use of “Type A” to identify the 16-shot experimental pistol by the Japanese military, may have caused the confusion.

    To err is human; to really screw things up you need a bureaucracy.



  9. The aesthetics are certainly superficially premeniceint of the later Lathti L35, including the width.

    I suspect that the square bolt stop pin, supported at both ends might be a bit more durable and much easier to replace than the little post in a Lahti.

    The double stack two feed position mag is very interesting. I wonder how “right” Nambu and his assistants managed to get it?

    Perhaps the bottlenecked 8mmx22mm round helped with reliable feeding?

    I think it interesting that Sevre’s hi power mag, as the guys here pointed out, gets used with variation in capacity and the location of the mag release cut out in Beretta and S&W pistols, and simillarly the schmieser MP28 mag keeps on re-appearing to this day, underlining the difficulty in de-bugging a new mag design.

    Lahti used a very stiff mag spring to ensure that the top round rose into position within the very short time period that it took the light bolt to cycle.

    Nambu’s bolt appears as if it might be heavier than Lahti’s, even if there are lightening cuts on its upper surface. The nambu locking peace also looks like it causes much less friction than Lahti’s big yoke

    so I’m guessing that there was probably a slower cycle and a longer time interval available for the Nambu’s top round to get into position for feeding, compared to the Lahti.

    a silly question, with such a big pistol, and such a weedy round, was a locked breech even necessary?

    – even if the lockup was in the style of a Glisenti.

    • Let’s see. Japanese steel is pretty dang expensive, even to Japanese manufacturers of the time (poor quality iron ore needs crap loads of refinement). Do things wrong and the entire assembly blows itself to bits. Taking the poor quality of the original material into account, one needs to think about preventing the possibility that a regular discharge would turn the pistol into a grenade. If this pistol had been made a blow-back with no way to slow down the bolt just as the conservation of total momentum kicks in, perhaps the bolt stops would fail and therefore the bolt would smash into the user’s skull, killing the user just after the trigger had been pulled.

      • Ive seen a Finnish Lahti L35 that had blown the bolt out of the back.

        admittedly the prat who wrecked it had probably been firing surplus SMG ammo, and the L35 had been developed to function reliably in the Finnish winter, with loads similar or slightly hotter potency than Glisenti loadings.

        Even if the bolt had hit him in the face, it would have still missed his brains by about 90cm.

        Short of a full browning slide that only dis assembles off the front of the pistol, or a solid standing breech,

        just about every other style of auto pistol risks having the bolt or the back of the slide come off backwards.

        Russel Catron supposedly had a colt woodsman style short slide pistol firing reasonably hot rounds that he claimed he’d tested to iirc 20,000 rounds without problems – however Catron appears to have been a particularly malignant example of narcissistic personality disorder, so that claim is probably best taken with a big dose of salt.

        Of the possible ways to arrange a recoil stop for a Nambu, Lahti, Feederle/Mauser c96 style pistol,
        The type A looks very good.

        that bolt recoil pin is supported at both ends, so the load is spread, compared to the Lahti, where the stop is only fixed at one end (it’s actually part of the grip frame and is not replaceable), and the lahti fires a much hotter cartridge.

        The Type A is still a 1920s design – better designs were already available from Browning, and better designs again would emerge in the 1930s
        But, within its limitations, it looks good. I’d happily fire one.

  10. I’ll up my criticism of Catron
    either a very malignant narcissistic personality- or possibly even psychopathic

    both tend to be convinced of their own shining brilliance, and to react with rage to any challenge to that perfection.

    I don’t know what to make of Lahti – difficult, insecure, binge drinking…

    • Binge drinking was and sadly still is very common among Finnish male population, which is one reason why Finland has higher rate of street violence and other violent crime than most other European countries. In any case, I don’t think Aimo Lahti had any kind of personality disorder, which would fulfill modern psychiatric criteria, even if he certainly wasn’t the easiest of person to work with.

      As for the Lahti pistol; he didn’t have much experience on designing pistols and so the Lahti pistol was somewhat anachronistic, even though it worked well enough within the parameters it was designed for, and it was very accurate and easy to disassemble. The heavy weight was not considered a major issue by the Finnish military, because the pistol was still the only weapon infantry officers were issued with in 1930s doctrine. Unlike in many other European countries, the Finnish Army was not concerned with providing a handy and light defensive sidearm for the higher ranking officials, but instead wanted to give platoon leaders and company commanders a pistol that would work well in actual combat. In retrospect that was not really necessary, since those officers ended up carrying submachine guns and the pistol became very much a secondary weapon.

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