Nambu Pistols – Japanese Military Handguns 1900-45, John Walter

Nambu Pistols – Japanese Military Handguns 1900-45, John Walter

This book focuses on the Nambu family of pistols, starting with the pre First World War ‘Grandfather’ Nambu and going on to the 14th Year Type, the main mass produced version of the Second World War. It also covers other Japanese produced pistols of the period, in particular the Type 94, which appears to have been designed by some of the same team.

As one would expect the book covers the development of these pistols (although some of the details are frustratingly lost), the known variants, how they actually worked, their markings, production and their use in combat. Although the early examples were available before 1914, it isn’t clear if they were used by Japanese officers in the First World War, but they were used in large numbers in China and during the Second World War.

Unusually for a weapon that was in production for around four decades, and that was its countries main pistol for much of that period, the 14th Year Type appears to have been a badly flawed design. Newly produced pistols were perfectly reliable, but key components were weak, and after a bit of wear and tear they were prone to misfire – perhaps as often as once in every five shots! It was also really difficult to reload them, as an empty magazine was partly held in place by the bolt after the last bullet was fired. An eyewitness account proves that this could be fatal for the gun’s owner, leaving them struggling to reload at a critical moment. It seems odd that a weapon could remain in production for so long with these flaws, but the Nambu appears to have come a poor second to the sword in the minds of most Japanese officers, so these problems were perhaps simply not seen as important!

Although the focus is indeed on the Nambu family of pistols, we get enough details of other Japanese pistols to make this a more general examination of the Japanese hand gun. As one would expect its well illustrated, with photographs of the various types along with good cut-out diagrams showing their layout.

Development - The Rise Of The Nambu
Use - The Nambu Pistols Go To War
Impact - The Nambu In Context

Author: John Walter
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2023

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