Type 14 Grips: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
It seems there are a lot of fake grips out there. Repros are fine if sold as such, but some people try to sell them as real, and others do so without intending to because it can be hard to tell the real from the fake if you havenft had a fair bit of experience with both. Perhaps there are a lot of repros because everyone thinks he/she can make them in the basement. They can: Ifve made a pair myself for my 15.11 dated Type 14, but I carved gREPROh on the back of each panel to avoid them ever being passed off as anything else. However, such home-made replicas are usually easy to tell from the real thing. This section is a brief and, Ifm sure, incomplete primer that explains what Ifve learned the hard way.
Here are the original grips from my 19.1 dated Type 14. Note that there is often a small arc on the top of left grip (the one on the right in the photo) from the arc inscribed by the safety lever when it is swung past its safe position. This can be seen just above and to the right of the hole for the magazine release, at the top edge of the grip. There are often also impressions at the bottom from the grip screws. The correct number of grooves depends on the factory and year, but can be 0 (slab sides), 17, 24, 25 or, I think, even 26. Most repros seem to have 24.
This shows the inside of the original grips. They are numbered to the gun with the last four digits of the gunfs serial number (sometimes only three digits). Note the complex contouring to align with the frame and clear the magazine. Serial numbers can also be marked in with pencil rather than being stamped into the surface, or can be absent altogether.
This is a set of 25 groove grips that came from a 14.6 dated pistol and are now on my 12.3 dated Type 14. Note how they are darkened from oil and sweat and heavy usage. The grip screw impressions at the top of the inverted V in the bottom are very clear.
Here is the inside. They are not serialized, but they do have a small gNh inspection marking. This can be seen to the right and just lower than the magazine release hole on the right grip.
This close-up shows the gNh better (look on the raised ridge to the right and below the hole).
Here is the top of the left grip. Note how the area to the left (the front) of the hole for the mag release is all chewed away. The wood gets crumbly from oil and sweat and wears away in this high-contact area where there is not a lot of support. Note also that the same thing has happened to the ridge along the top that fits into a retaining groove on the frame to hold the top of the grip in place. This part is extremely thin on some pistols and so it is not surprising it looks a little rough after years of hard service. These grips have obviously been well used and are not all that pretty. However, they are undoubtedly genuine and match the overall condition of the pistol they are now on much better than a pristine pair would. Beware of grips that look gtoo goodh!
This pair of grips was sold to me sight unseen by a guy I contacted through the Gun List. He wrote that they were mint condition originals, and I paid a lot for them. I donft believe they are original, though he insisted they were a rare variant and refused to give me my money back (caveat emptor!). They are the best non-original grips I have seen. They look and feel great, although the grooves look a little uneven in width upon close inspection. The real problem, though, is the back of them...
Here is the back of them. Note that the inside panel is flat with just a strip of wood glued in for alignment purposes. This is why I think they are not original, though I would love to be proven wrong!
Here is a pair that are clearly reproductions. They look fairly good, though they are a little light in both colour and weight. Note that there are absolutely no wear marks on them. They also have a coarse, gritty feel to them because they were not sanded enough after the groove cuts were made.
The back does show the contouring that one would expect.
Here is a pair of 17 groove grips I made for my 15.11 dated Type 14, which had no grips at all when I got it. At the time all I had was pictures to go by, as I did not have a pair of originals to copy. They donft look too bad at first glance, but they are too thin, fit poorly at the top and bottom, especially on the left side, are not contoured correctly inside and have grooves that are not wide enough. Eventually I found a pair of original 17-groove grips and retired these to the spares bin.
This is the back of the ones I made. Note that I have clearly marked them as reproductions. I strongly recommend anyone who makes repro stuff do this in an unobtrusive spot to avoid creating confusion if the item ever leaves your hands.
This is a pair of molded resin repro grips. Note that they are black. They feel almost like wood, but not quite. They also make a rather different sound when knocked on a hard surface. This pair was given to me by a disgusted friend who had bought them on eBay from someone who passed them off as real. They are a bit too short for any of my Type 14s. In 2005 I was contacted by a collector who had bought a pair of these grips from Numrich Gunparts, which appears to be the source of all these resin grips. They donft claim them to be original, but once they are out there some less scrupulous or knowledgeable people do. Everyone I have spoken to has found these grips to be short, so I do not recommend you buy them.
The biggest tip-off that these are fakes is the back. Some months after my friend gave me this pair, I bought a pair of grips on eBay that were guaranteed to be original. The right panel was original, but the left was the same resin repro as my friend had given me, right down to the serial number, 7745! Here are the two left grip panels.
Here are the outer surfaces of the two left panels side by side. The one on the right didnft get as much light from the flash as the one on the left, but they are clearly molded from the same original. If you look closely you can see the same imperfections in the same places (e.g. the chip on the front edge below the hole for the magazine release.
The most definitive evidence, though, is that there are casting bubbles on the back. Most are just pin prick size, but as you can see from this close-up of the front edge of the left panel, there are some larger ones, including one that still had the flap of plastic resin material hanging from it (the big bubble to the left of the other two, near the right edge of the raised contouring in the photo). Fortunately the seller recognized his oversight in not examining the left grip more closely and immediately agreed to refund my money.
Over a year later, in January, 2005 a collector contacted me after he bought a pair of grips that turned out to be resin, and sure enough, they have the same number. Only a few days later, yet another pair surfaced on eBay, again with the same number. Beware! These grips are good enough to fool a lot of people who may honestly believe they have real wooden grips that are made of some kind of dark tropical wood, or that have been painted black or that have been darkened from exposure to oil and sweat. The collector who contacted me only discovered they were plastic when he went to strip the gpainth off!
next shot shows grips that donft even try to look like originals, but looked
gsuitableh enough to fool a non-specialist dealer, who sold me the gun telling me
they were wooden originals. Fortunately they took it back when I pointed out
the error and several other homemade parts on the gun (I would have bought it
for a parts-gun price, but not for what they had charged me). These were made
of plastic and were fitted to a 19.4 dated Type 14 recently imported from
Probably the worst grips I have ever seen were these home-made abominations that were on the first, beat-up Type 14 I bought. They were clearly made by someone who didnft even bother to try to make them look like the real thing. I could do better with a pocket knife!
Ifm sure I will see more odd things as I go along, and will add what I find to help others be better prepared than I was when I started.
Click here to go back to the Type 14 Photo Gallery: t14gallery.htm
Click here to go back to the main page: Nambu World Home Page
Last updated: October 7, 2005. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.