TFBTV: Japan’s Type 14 Nambu (or “How Patrick Might Have Lost His Foot”)

It served the Imperial Japanese military for 40 years and drew inspiration from several sturdy European designs of the day, so how well does the Type 14 work? Well, we set out to find out!

Many thanks to Christian for the German subtitles and Osamu for the Japanese subtitles.

Transcription below …

– While I’m clearing this awesome malfunction, I want to say thank you– (gun fires) Whoa! – [Voiceover] OK. So, that happened.

But we’ll get to that later.

The gun we’re taking a look at today is the Type 14 Nambu pistol.

The pistol was designed by Kijiro Nambu in 1902 and served the Empire of Japan from 1906 to 1945.

Over 400,000 were made, and it fires eight millimeter Nambu, a rather weak cartridge with the same energy delivery as.380 ACP.

The Japanese have historically been very revered for their prowess on the field of battle.

And when they modernized, they became immensely industrious.

Japan quickly emerged as a world power after rapid industrialization, and in a short while mighty factories began to produce arms for the empire.

The Type 14 is a product of the Land of the Rising Sun.

But I won’t place as much faith in it as I do the old Honda Dream.

– Alright, so here we are at the range with the Type 14.

Let’s see how she shoots.

(gun fires) First round, we had a malfunction.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) So the first mag didn’t go so well.

Maybe subsequent magazines will.

Alright, this is magazine number two with the Type 14 Nambu.

(gun fires) That actually resulted in a double feed when I tried to…

fix the malfunction, so I’m gonna have to redo this one.

Alright, malfunction repaired.

Let’s try and get the rest of the mag done.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) I will say that when it shoots, it does shoot pretty well.

It feels OK.

My only complaint is that the back of the gun has a very sharp ridge that digs in pretty good to the web of your hand.

But other than that, if it didn’t malfunction, it’d be OK.

– So it’s my turn to give the Nambu a try.

And, well, I guess we’ll just see how it goes.

I’ve got a target set up about, I guess 15 yards out, something like that.

So let’s give it a shot.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) While I’m clearing this awesome malfunction, I want to say thank you– (gun fires) Whoa! (laughs) Holy sh–! Oh! So we’re gonna give this another shot.

If you saw before, me remove the magazine, these guns do have a magazine disconnect.

So I pulled the magazine out to clear the malfunction and when I touched the bolt handle, it fired for no good reason at all.

I do want to thank the designer of this gun for his efforts for the Allies in the war.

Because this is pretty terrible so far.

Let’s see if we can actually hit the target without shooting myself.

(gun fires) (gun fires) I’ve had more rounds come out and hit the ground than hit the target.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) If you notice the slide closed, or I guess the bolt closed whenever you pull the magazine out because the bolt hold open is on the magazine itself, making quick magazine changes kind of a figment of the designer’s imagination.

Well, at about 15 yards we have pretty good combat accuracy.

You’ll notice a couple ones up here at the top of the target and I’ll be honest, those are here because I was kind of terrified of the gun at this point.

But, you know, it’s pretty accurate for what it is.

Still, I think the Type 94 might be a better gun.

– Alright, we’re gonna try and get through a full mag with the Type 14.

(gun fires) And take two, here we go.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (sighs frustratedly) This time it just didn’t cock the…

firing pin.

(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) Ironically, still about as reliable as a Reising.

– So now it’s my chance to see if I can get it to run through a full mag.

If I can get it to insert.

(gun fires) (sighs) (gun fires) Alright, so now that I’ve cleared the malfunction, time to try again.

(gun fires) – [Man] And have another malfunction.

– Hmm.

What it’s doing is it’s trying to stovepipe.

(sighs) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) – I’m starting to think maybe there was something to Imperial Japanese soldiers using bayonets and swords rather than stuff like this.

(gun fires) (gun fires) OK.

(sighs) Alright, guys, so that’s our range day with the Type 14.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well.

And I wouldn’t recommend that this be a home defense gun anytime soon.

– No, I think a rock would be better suited for that.

– (laughs) But we put a hundred rounds through it.

A number of factors could contribute to this gun’s unreliability, including the ammo.

It could just be a bad design, however, I know other Nambu owners will say that they work fine.

So maybe there’ll be a part two on this, but until I can find some more ammo, which is very hard, it might just be a wall hanger.

– That said, we do want to remind you to practice gun safety.

The catastrophic failure we had earlier, where the gun fired without me touching the trigger, could’ve hurt somebody pretty bad if we weren’t following those rules.

– Absolutely. That’s no question, guys.

So anyway, stay safe out there.

Thanks for watching TFB TV. Hit that subscribe button.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Mother Nature’s Son

    fooling around too much. safety sallies assume we are all supposed to survive, I dont.

    • Patrick R.

      We are well aware of the dangers, thus the reason we pay so much attention to gun safety rules. Both my grandfathers managed to get out of the pacific without catching a Japaneese bullet, gladly I was able to continue the tradition.

      • Tassiebush

        Patrick, I’m very glad you experienced that unscathed! Any idea what the cause was? I’m pondering whether it was a maybe a stuck striker causing a slamfire?

        • Paladin

          I’m wondering if perhaps the striker hung up internally, and touching the bolt jostled it loose.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah good point!

          • James

            Doesn’t the type 94 have an exposed sear on the side, which if pressed, will fire the pistol? Could this be the same?

          • Patrick R.

            This has an exposed sear on the back of the pistol but it operates in a manner that prevents the gun from the same kind of issue that plagues the Type 94.

          • Patrick R.

            Maybe, I tried to pull the bolt back before I changed positions. I would think it would have let go then.

          • Paladin

            Mechanical hangups can be funny like that, they don’t always let go when you’d expect them to.

        • Patrick R.

          We have no idea, just a couple ideas. Thank for the concern, it sure was scary as hell.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah makes sense. I guess the cause would be hard to determine once it fires and everything moves. Perhaps it’s haunted 😉

          • Paladin

            The spirit of a Japanese General, out to exact revenge on the Americans?

          • Tassiebush

            It’s one heck of a way to say “Boo”!

          • kipy

            Having to fire they’re turd of a pistol is revenge enough lol

          • Zebra Dun

            The old M-40 106 RR was prone to do this if the breech did not close all the way, after attempting to fire the 106 and have a hang fire if the breech handle was touched or bumped while attempting to unload the round the 106 would go off.
            Now that my friend is an unplanned discharge that will fry your eyeballs out and make you drop turds!

    • Clearing a malfunction isn’t fooling around.

  • Sianmink

    So you basically have to treat it like an open-bolt SMG when clearing malfunctions. Right.

  • M.M.D.C.

    Proof that sometimes a gun really does just “go off.”

    Of course, someone inevitably will argue that shooting a Nambu is inherently negligent.

    • It does happen, it’s just very uncommon with modern, well-made weapons. One thing most gun safety courses leave out (I think because they don’t want to scare people) is that there are times when guns do just… Go off. Here’s Andrew Tuohy in a similar situation to Patrick’s above:

      I think that is caused by an improperly made safety lever, by the way.

      • Steve Truffer

        How the F*ck… I’m trying to wrap my head around how a semi AK trigger group could fail like that without takeup alterations. The only thing that comes to mind is a worn surplus FCG… If it was horribly impeded, the “rat tail” could get snagged on the way down to semi (Full auto AKs have the giggle position between safe & semi) and bounce the hammer out of the group.

        • M.M.D.C.

          I blame duck lips.

        • I don’t know, but pushing on the back of an AK’s disconnector can cause it to fire. I am just not sure how moving the safety from safe to fire can cause that.

          • Steve Truffer

            Thats why I said, if its an original disconnect, perhaps there is severe binding. The original disconnect has a rat tail that is held back when in the auto position. To reach semi, the safety sweeps past that.
            Again, that or someone thought it wise to shorten the trigger hook or shim the back of the trigger.

      • Tassiebush

        I have read that in some cases with some designs the primer can be gently rapped by a floating firing pin causing it to be indented until it eventually goes off. Scenario typically being an often carried gun and the same round always being chambered like a service rifle riding on bumpy roads for example. Another is grit, fluff, gunk or any other source of friction around the pin holding it forwards causing it to slamfire as the bolt goes forward.

  • There was so much flinching in the video that it was painful to watch.
    Guys you need to work on your trigger control

    • James

      While it’s bad marksmanship, I think some leniency can be shown seeing as one of them almost lost their foot to the pistol; they might be a wee bit leery of the thing.

      • Patrick R.

        Yup.

    • We were a bit nervous my friend.

      • Patrick R.

        Rightfully so I might add.

  • Giolli Joker

    I believe the best achievement of this pistol was inspiring Bill Ruger to design the Ruger Standard…

    • Patrick R.

      Agreed.

  • LCON

    Suddenly I understand Why Japanese officers Preferred there Sword to there sidearms.

  • martin törefeldt

    What you had might hav been an delaid primer. It it hqppens when an primer is hit by the striker but dosent fire immetletly. Thqts why you shold point the weapon in a safe direction and wait for at least 10 seconds before trying to clear it.
    As for the type 14 performance it might be becuse the springs are tired (its been about 70 since the second world war).
    Some new springs might cure its problems.

    Ps sorry for the bad spelling.

    • Patrick R.

      I strongly doubt that was the issue.

  • Zebra Dun

    Used as a badge of authority it did not have to actually shoot, that’s why Japanese Officers and NCO were given swords to fight their way to a pistol that worked.
    There is a story of an Officer IJA who accidentally shot himself with one of these during a banzai charge work up which demoralized the rest of the Banzai charge to the point they killed themselves on the spot using their bayonets and grenades.
    I once had a .22 lr Llama semi automatic pistol that would go full auto after the first shot, quite a scare unexpected but once you got used to it was somewhat fun.

    • floppyscience

      “I once had a .22 lr Llama semi automatic pistol that would go full auto after the first shot, quite a scare unexpected but once you got used to it was somewhat fun.”

      Don’t let the ATF hear that.

      • Zebra Dun

        It was a small auto the wife got it to carry at night when she worked at a restaurant, she swapped even with it for a guitar.
        L’il pistol would empty it’s entire magazine in one loud burst.

  • J-

    I think if you got shot by a Nambu, the cause of death would be more due to embarrassment than actual trauma.