Portable Weapons

Field's Equipment

Training Weapons

Communication Tools

Optical Weapons

Hand Guns [Ken-Jyu]

Japan is not a pistol country and it does not have many original guns. The development of military semi-automatic pistols in Japan started at the end of 19th century, as with other countries, but it is obvious that the Japanese were not keen for developing handguns. There were some original ideas presented by Hino and Nambu. The ammunition used in most Japanese semi-automatic pistols is 8mm Nambu, which is not compatible with ammunition used in any other foreign made pistols.

Japanese gun control rules historically have been strict, especially for handguns. Even in the age of matchlocks a license was required, and they were made mostly of wooden plates. In the 1930 -1945 period of militarism an Army officer who needed a handgun had to get a license to possess it from a nearby police station. Gun control today in Japan is extremely strict. Many imported handguns were bought by officers with mostly Japanese-made holsters.

The M-26 9mm Revolver (1893)

It held six shots, and it was developed from French pistols designed for use with cavalry troops. This pistol had a good finish and it could be disassembled without any tool. Its 9mm cartridge was different from all other 9mm revolver ammunition. Until 1925 about 59,200 M-26 revolvers were made and 1000 were exported to France during the period their troops were in Siberia. Later the M-26 revolver was used as a side arm for machine gunners. The revolver's overall length was 230mm, its barrel length was 120cm, and its weight was 927g. The double action only mechanism of the M-26 revolver was later condemned in Japan. The revolver has a calm shell type cowhide holster similar to that used with the French M 1892 revolver.

New Finding


The Nambu Model Semi-Automatic Pistol (developed around 1902)

It was not adopted officially by the Army. It used the 8mm Nambu pistol cartridge which became the official Japanese pistol ammunition. The pistol had a seven shot magazine capacity, and it is representative of Japanese handguns which have their recoil spring mounted at the left side of receiver; a grip safety was incorporated in this model. Two types of the large Nambu military pistol exist; the Kou, or Granpa, Nambu pistol has a wood holster-stock, but the Outu, or Papa, Nambu pistol does not. A small version of this pistol, the Kogata, or Baby Nambu was made in 7mm, but this pistol is rare. About 2400 of the Kou model were made and some were exported to Siam (Thailand). At Tokyo Gas and Electric Company about 10,300 of the Outu model were made, and this model was adopted by the Naval Landing Forces as side arms. About 6500 of the Kogata model were made for private purchase by officers. At present perhaps about 1000 the Kogata model have survived.

The overall length of the Outu model was 230mm, its barrel length was 120mm, and its weights was 880g. Issued with this pistol is a clam shell type cow hide holster with a loop cartridge holder in an outside leather ammunition pocket. The overall length of the Kogata model was 112mm, its barrel length was 85mm, and its weight was 590g. The holsters used with this model are various styles, and many are styled after holsters made in Japan for foreign handguns.

The M-14 Nambu8mm Pistol (1925)

It was based on the original Nambu military pistol but it was redesigned to achieve more efficient production. Two recoil springs in the receiver, one on the right and one on the left of the barrel, replaced the one spring in the original Nambu pistol. As a military handgun the M-14 is quite accurate. In 20 years about 282,000 of this model were produced. Early production guns had a small round trigger guard and the gun's finish was very good; later production guns had an enlarged trigger guard, but gun finish was inferior to the earlier guns. The mechanism on the later production guns was, however, superior to their predecessors.

The overall length of the M-14 pistols was 230cm, its barrel length was 120cm, and its weight was 920g. A clam shell type holster with a cartridge box pouch inside the cover flap was issued with this pistol, and holsters were made of both cowhide and rubberized canvas. These guns with holsters were used by the military police ("Kenpei") as symbols of authority as well as for functional use.

The M-94 Nambu 8mm Pistol (1934)

It was developed for vehicle drivers, for aircraft pilots, and in general for officers' side arms. It is a pocket-size pistol, but it used the 8mm Nambu military pistol cartridge. This pistol is steady to hold and its mechanism is unique among Japanese pistols and among other pistols of its kind and purpose. All production of this pistol was done by a private companies, first by Nambu and later by Chuo-Kogyo; total production was about 70,000. Those pistols made in the late 1930's and after 1944 have a very different finish than early made pistols; in a private company even a skillful worker could not escape military conscription. Before 1940 nickel plated magazines were supplied with this pistol but thereafter blackened magazines were supplied.

The overall length of the M-94 pistol was 180mm, the barrel length was 95mm, and the pistol's weight was 720g. Several types of holsters were issued with this pistol, and some were made of cowhide, some were of pigskin, and others were made of canvas.