Nambu World: Type 14 Holster-JMCH VI

            I have three holsters of this type. I had purchased the one in the middle of the above photo on eBay in late 2003 and then got the other two in early 2006 as part of a large purchase of a box of accessories. Let’s look at the best one first, i.e. the one on the left above. Here is a closer view of the front. This holster is in extraordinary condition. Note the nickel-plated plate on the tab of the closure strap.


Here you can see the square rings on the back.


            With the holster open you can see the tag inside the clamshell flap (see below for details). Also note that in the lower left of the clamshell flap just above the hinge is a grey mark. This is from the aluminum base of the magazine rubbing on the inside of the holster. Almost all Type 14 holsters have this indication of use.


            Here is a close-up of that tag. The 2 in a circle was probably the number of a unit such as a squad, platoon or company. Below that the four characters comprise a man’s name. Read from the top down, the surname Kawai comes first and the given name after it is Masatsugu. This was the person to whom it was issued. Unfortunately this tag seems to have been placed over the manufacturer’s markings. Something also seems to have been written in black underneath the second character from the top (note the black mark protruding from the left side of the tag beside the second character from the top).


            This small bag of cotton cleaning patches was in the holster’s ammo pouch when I got it. The Derby & Brown book does report that thin brown waxed paper bags of cotton patches 73mm square were supplied and were to be stuffed into the ammo pouch behind the ammo boxes, but I have my doubts as to whether this is such an original package. The patches are only 65mm square and the bag seems to be of brown waxed paper, but with some kind of plastic-like liner bonded to the inside of the paper that is now starting to separate from it.


Here is a close-up of the patches. Some are white and some are pink. If anyone knows more about these, I would be interested to hear from you.


Using a magnet I verified that the plate on the closure strap is steel under the nickel plating.


The stud it fits over, however, is non-magnetic brass plated with nickel. You can see some of the brass in the worn areas.


The stud for the flap on the ammo pouch is nickel-plated steel and sticks to the magnet.


            The strap rings on the back are also steel. If you look very closely in the extreme right hand corner of the photo you can see a small capital letter M. I do not know what the significance of this M is, but it may be a manufacturer’s mark applied by a private contractor who made either the holster, or perhaps just the body of it on subcontract. I tried to get a better shot of the M but my camera wouldn’t cooperate. It is down in between the strap ring and the belt loop and the camera wanted to focus on them, not the gap in between where the M is. 


The holster on the far right of the introductory photo has seen a lot of hard use, but is still all intact and retains its original strap.


Here is a closer shot of the holster. Note the faint white markings, a vertical column of four characters.


Zooming in on the characters, they can be identified as 8005 in kanji. This was probably a rack or unit number.


The strap is well worn, but all the thin leather on the springs is intact.


            Both the plate on the closure strap and the stud it fits onto are made of steel under what remains of the nickel-plating, as one can see from both a magnet test and the presence of rust.


            Here is the back of the holster. Note that although the strap rings are nickel-plated steel, the stud that holds the shoulder strap on is brass. It is not unusual for holsters and straps to have a mix of fixtures. The shoulder straps had a stud to hold on one end (right of photo) and the other end looped around the strap ring (left of photo), doubled back on the main part of the strap to provide length adjustment, and was held in place by a buckle (shown in another photo below).


The holster opens up to reveal the ammo pouch and spare striker pocket.


            The markings in the centre of the inside of the holster’s clamshell flap are barely visible. You can probably see them better if you view the photo from a bit of a distance, but they will still be very hard to make out. The top line reads from left to right and says Sho (short for Showa) 15. The most visible part is the character for ten, which looks like a plus sign. Below that is a Nagoya Arsenal symbol on the left and a Nagoya Arsenal inspection mark (the kanji na) on the right—you may be able to make out a small square, which is the bottom part of that character.


Here is a close-up of the stud that holds the shoulder strap on. Note that there is a small character in the centre of it.


            Zooming in on the back of the stud, we can see that it is the Nagoya Arsenal inspection mark, the kanji na. I cleaned off the big chinks of verdigris with a finger nail and a bamboo shish kebab stick (always use something soft), but there are still a few bits clinging to the brass here and there. Verdigris is the green waxy stuff that builds up on brass fittings that are in contact with leather. Apparently this is from a reaction between the brass and the acids used to tan the leather. My dictionary says it is poisonous, so don’t snack on the stuff. Never use cleaners on your brass fixtures as they will remove that pleasing patina of age. Some people like to leave even the verdigris, but it can build up so thick you can’t even turn the strap rings on holsters with brass rings.


This is the front of the buckle that joins the other end of the strap to the main body of the strap. It is made of nickel-plated steel.


The back of the buckle.  Note that the keeper (the little band around the strap) is still present on this specimen.


            Note the shape of the tip of the prong. It has been ground to a point. Many repro straps are distinguishable because their prong tips have been bent to a point with a squeeze from below that leaves a dent there.


            Although all parts of the holster show heavy wear, this spot on the hinge is the only place where a major amount of stitching is missing. This is always a heavy wear spot, as this corner is where the soldier’s arm would rub against the holster as he swung his arms while walking. When I got the holster someone had threaded a small piece of thin wire through some of the stitching holes to reinforce the corner.


            Now let’s look at the middle holster in the introductory photo. I bought this one on eBay. The stitching is in much worse shape than I was led to believe by the seller, with quite a bit being torn or missing altogether, but the holster does have some nice markings. The strap has a black lacquered buckle.


            This is the back. The rings for the strap are square and made of steel. The stitching on the right strap ring loop is about 60% torn. Normally the end of the strap would have been fastened with a removable stud, as shown in the description of the holster above, but this one has been sewn on. It appears to be a rather old repair, possibly even dating back to WWII.


          Here is a close up of the front of the closure. Each of the ridges in the closure houses a small spring, which made the closure a little more secure. The stud it attaches to on the holster body was originally nickel-plated steel, but the nickel plating has worn off the outside of the stud. Note that the closure tab is fastened to the clamshell with two rivets, as opposed being sewn on, as the earlier solid leather strap closures were.


This is the back of the closure, showing how it is attached to the clamshell.


          Here is the holster opened up. It has an ammo pouch for two fifteen-round boxes of ammo, as did all Type 14 holsters, and a slot for a spare firing pin to the right of the ammo pouch (Type 14s were notorious for firing pin/striker breakage, so they eventually decided to just issue a spare with each pistol).


          Below is a close-up of the markings that appear on the inside of the clamshell in the photo above. The first row of small, stamped characters is read from right to left. The character on the far right is very weakly stamped, but is identifiable from context as the sho in “Showa”. It is so poorly struck that really only the top portion of the character is visible. The next character (second from right) that look like a plus sign means “10”. The one after that means four. Combined the three indicate “Showa 14”, or 1939. The “6” indicates June, so the holster was produced in June, 1939. The round symbol second from the left is the symbol of Nagoya arsenal, a circle with a small circle in the centre bottom and a larger circle balanced on that. The intention was for this to imitate the shachi, or “dolphins” that adorn the ends of the roof of Nagoya castle, Nagoya’s most famous landmark (destroyed during the war but later rebuilt as a ferro-concrete replica housing a museum). The character on the far left is the character mei, or na, the first character in “Nagoya”. It is an inspection mark.

            The large characters painted in black handwriting are the family name and rank of the officer the holster was issued to. These characters are written from left to right, the opposite of the row on top (the Japanese are quite flexible about these things, though nowadays horizontal writing is almost always left to right). The first two characters are the family name “Nakajima” (it could also be read “Nakashima” by some families). The character “Naka” means middle, and the character “Shima/jima” means island (most Japanese family names are geographical in nature). The last two characters mean “second lieutenant”. The third one by itself means “little” and the last one means “company officer”.


          Here is a close-up of the buckle on the strap, which is painted with black lacquer. The prong is apparently a good way to tell reproductions from originals. Originals have a prong which is tapered by grinding only (in this case from the top, though it could also be from top and bottom). Reproductions apparently often have a bent and/or flattened tip. There should also be a keeper (a little leather band that goes around the strap), but it is missing from this specimen.


This shows the spot where the two pieces are sewn together. It is about 1.5 inches long.


            This shows the end of the strap which doubles back on itself around the square ring. It should be held together by a stud, but since it is missing the end was sewn back onto the body of the strap at some point. You can see the indentation where the stud was on the leather around the hole above the steel ring.



Last updated: June 22, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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