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Historical firearms, the Japanese Type 94 and its flaws

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by PercyShelley, Mar 2, 2007.

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  1. PercyShelley

    PercyShelley Member

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    I read a lot about how bad the Japanese pistols of WWII were, but I never hear any specifics. What was it that made the nambu and its ilk so awful?
     
  2. D-Man

    D-Man Member

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    I was waiting for some car work to be done, and one of those WWII magazines had a story dedicated to the Nambu and how bad it was.

    If I remember correctly, it was a very dangerous weapon to carry as the safeties it had (or lack of them) could cause it to go off unexpectedly. Because of this, many didn't carry one in the chamber.

    There may have also been discussion over the round it was chambered in, and how it was not a good one.

    The above is from memory - hope I didn't mess things up too much.
     
  3. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Nambu pistols weren't bad guns, the fault of these guns was the fact they were chambered for very underpowered cartridges.
    The 8mm Nambu wasn't very much different ballistically than a .32acp, actually it was actually less powerful than a good European .32acp load.
    The 7mm "Baby" Numbu cartridge was even worse.

    As a whole, Nambu pistols, even late war versions were fairly well made, well finished, reliable, and safe pistols.

    Now the Type 94 was a different story.
    Chambered in the same 8mm Nambu cartridge, it featured a very irregular grip shape coupled with high slide mass that made the gun unwieldy.
    It also featured an exposed trigger bar that could be depressed by pressure that would cause the sear to release and the pistol would fire, no finger on trigger needed.
    I think this pistol design was a fast and dirty way to get more pistols to troops who were demanding them, mainly to use for the right of traditional suicide before defeat or surrender over use as a serious combat weapon and at the time the Type 94 became prevelant amonst the Japanese soldiers it was very apparent to them that the war wasn't going to have a positive outcome for feudal Japan.
     
  4. legion3

    legion3 Member

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    The type 94 was introduced in 1934, it was "a remarkably poorly-conceived design, often more dangerous to the firer than the target. Part of the trigger sear protrudes from the left of the frame when the weapon is cocked, making accidental discharge almost inevitable if the weapon is jolted or roughly handled. It is also possible to fire the weapon before the breech is properly closed, risking ruptured cartridge cases and injury to the firer. Nevertheless, tens of thousands were issued to unfortunate officers during the Second World War." - from the book Military Small Arms by Graham Smith.

    In 1934 even for the Japanese there was no excuse for producing a weapon like this...

    The Type 14 Nambu entered service in 1925 and was by far the better pistol but as others have said it is a weak cartridge...the weakest of any major power...even the Italians...of WW2...
     
  5. piranha45

    piranha45 Member

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  6. default

    default Member

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    Ouch! The French get pounded on at every turn, but somehow the staggering military ineptitude of Fascist Italy usually gets a pass.

    As for the Type 94 and its exposed trigger bar, one can only wonder how such an extreme and grotesque design flaw (pretty much unparalled, to the best of my knowledge) ever got off the drafting table.
     
  7. otomik

    otomik Member

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    The Beretta M1934 isn't bad, it's just a different kind of WWII sidearm compared to a BHP, 1911, P38, etc. It's more along the lines of a Makarov in concept. I also think the weakest pistol is a pretty close race.

    Beretta M1934 .380 ACP
    Nambu Type 14 8mm Nambu (a bottlenecked .32acp)
    Mle 1935 7.65m Longue (a bottlenecked .32acp)
    Enfield Revolver .38 (176gr. at 570fps)
    Koishikawa Type 26 Revolver 9mm rimmed (a slow 9mm with horrible trigger like the enfield)
    Nagant 1895 Revolver .30 Nagant, like the Koishikawa and Enfield this was an outdated design the moment it was adopted (not revolver bashing, these were exceptional)
     
  8. legion3

    legion3 Member

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    Agreed... I should have said one of the weakest...
    I was thinkng of the the Beretta M1934 which I think were mostly in the 9mm Glisenti round at the time of the war, the Model M1935 was the 380 version, which would be more powerful than the Nambu...

    I also read somewhere that the Type 94 was an attempt to create for Japanese officers a more "western looking gun"

    Ummm.....:confused: They needed to keep trying
     
  9. otomik

    otomik Member

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    The Beretta M1934 was chambered in .380ACP, it had a 7 round magazine and was a compact pistol about the size of a PPK or Makarov. The M1935 was the .32ACP version more commonly sold to civilians. The 9mm Glisenti cartridge had gone out of favor by WWII, it was just a quick fix when they initially tried to chamber the Glisenti pistol in 9mm Para (though it is a good idea for a cartridge and similar rounds like 9mm Police/Ultra would appear later).

    A lot of people tried to copy the Luger look if not the design (Lahti, Glisenti, Nambu). Japanese firearms weren't all failures though, I've heard that the Arisaka was about the strongest action of any of the rifles of WWII, ended up influencing the Remington 700.
     
  10. legion3

    legion3 Member

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    OK your right on caliber, the I stick with my first statement...the weakest of any major power...even the italians ;)

    I would have thought the Mauser 98 the top rifle-bolt action

    at least Japanese Officers got a Samurai sword -modern equivalent...
    The only force to still go into battle with a sword as issue by WWII :cool:
     
  11. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    It is, and the Arisaka was based on it. The bolt design is a bit different from the handle on back, as there is no safety tang and the rear of the firing pin is enclosed. Due to this, Arisaka's cannot be decocked; only dry fired. That, and they are cock-on-close.

    I'm not sure how it was decided, but it seems common knowledge among mil-surp enthusiasts that the Arisaka is one of (if not the) strongest military bolt action rifles made.

    All I know is that I enjoy shooting my type 99's and 38's.

    As for the Nambu pistols, they are still on my need list. Underpowered and fugly, but a necessary part of the collection.

    One must remember that the US was about the only WWI and WWII combatant that saw the handgun as a viable combat weapon.

    The principle use of the Nambu was suicide or execution. Same for the Nagant revolver.
     
  12. otomik

    otomik Member

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    yeah but there's still the tokarev pistol, chinese nationalist .45acp mauser machine pistols, BHP, P38.

    Certainly the Germans also saw the handgun as a viable combat weapon, it is less certain if the russians and chinese saw them that way. It might just be that the russians (fellow international pariahs, Luftwaffe's secret airbase in USSR etc) and chinese (Whampoa Military Academy and similar alliances) were influenced by germany.

    I heard it was an old magazine article from the 50's or 60's where they demolition tested a bunch of cheap war surplus rifles and the Arisaka was the last to "pop" from the high chamber pressure test cartridges. Japanese metalurgy isn't fantastic, maybe they overcompensated with their design (kind of like Ruger P-series pistols).
     
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I think the business about the Arisaka being the strongest of the bolt actions is mostly myth. It comes from that famous report of the man managing to shoot .30'06 through it without it going off. Whether or not it actually happened that way, nobody knows. And that's not exactly a scientific test. Certainly the last ditch Arisakas with the cast iron parts are not very strong. And the design, while strong, is on the light side. I would suspect it's on par with a Mannlicher-Schoenauer or Mannlicher-Carcano for strength, but inferior to a '98 Mauser or Mosin-Nagant. The mass of steel just isn't the same.
     
  14. otomik

    otomik Member

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    really? my first impressions of a type 38 was what a huge gun it is especially for such a weak cartridge

    the .30 in a 6.5mm sounds like a myth, but Kim says it's well documented, might go source hunting later.
    http://www.theothersideofkim.com/index.php/ggps/4970/

    but if we assume that maybe it was a 7.7mm arisaka rather than a 6.5mm arisaka
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/7-7mmArisaka.htm
     
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I found it considerably lighter in the hand than a Mauser or Mosin. But my point is nobody knows. I don't know of any authoritative test of the action, and the rounds it was chambered for are hardly powerful enough to test it. The '98 action, OTOH, has been subjected to pressures of some of the most potent hunting cartridges. One third hand account of someone supposedly forcing a .30'06 into an Arisaka and firing it without blowing up is not a reliable source.
     
  16. 106rr

    106rr Member

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    You may wish to check the writings of P.O. Ackley the legendary gunsmith and wildcatter. He did a considerable amount of real research into the Arisaka. He is probably the most knowledgeable source in print. It was a strong action.
     
  17. otomik

    otomik Member

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    I found this article which describes the arisaka tests in more detail
    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_5_50/ai_114283920/pg_1

    Indeed the Arisaka, particularly the Type 99 seem to be very good bolt guns introduced at a time when other nations were switching to battle rifles (semi-auto fire might have seemed impractical due to their supply problems).
     
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