Nambu World: Type 14 Holster-JMCH VIII

            The war stretched Japan’s meagre supply of leather, so a replacement came into use that turned out to be an improvement in many cases. The new material was rubberized canvas, formed by compressing multiple layers of canvas with latex in between them. The Types VIII, IX and X holsters all use this new material. This holster, the Type VIII, combines a leather clamshell flap and a rubberized canvas body. These “transitional” holsters, as they are known, are quite rare. The much more common Type IX and X holsters used rubberized canvas for both the body and clamshell flap. I got this holster on eBay in mid 2006.


Here is the back showing the belt loop and the black-lacquered steel D-rings for the shoulder strap.


This shot shows the holster open


            Here you can see that the closure strap has seen better days. The very thin leather over the springs is an early wear point on all the holsters with the spring-loaded closure strap. This one is actually the best of the half-dozen or so transitional holsters I considered over three years before buying one.


The plus side of getting a holster with wear to this area is that you can see exactly what is inside. Here you can see the three springs from the front.


The same part shown from the back (underneath).


            These markings are found in the usual place, in the centre of the broad flat area inside the clamshell flap. They are faint but the top row is still clearly legible. The bottom row is only recognizable if you know what the symbols are likely to be; you could not decipher them otherwise. Let’s start with the top row. The upper left character is Sho as in Showa, the name of Emperor Hirohito’s reign. The two characters to the right of that  are a ten and a six (the middle one is the ten and looks like a plus sign). Together they indicate the holster was made in the sixteenth year of the reign of Emperor Hirohito. Showa 16 translates into 1941 in the Western calendar. Most sources indicate the use of rubberized canvas began in 1942, so this must be one of the earliest holsters to use that material. The bottom row has a faint circular symbol under the “plus sign (kanji ten)” in the top row. That is a Nagoya Arsenal symbol. To the right of that is a blurry character that looks like it has a small square in the lower right part of it. That is a kanji na, used as an inspection symbol by Nagoya Arsenal.


            This is a close-up of the upper edge of the holster body to show the construction of the rubberized canvas material (the reddish-brown area at the top of the holster is the top of the ammo pouch flap and the black area at the bottom is the interior of the holster). Note that there are three layers of canvas (the lighter layers in the photo) and two layers of latex (the reddish layers). Rubberized canvas gave superior service in tropical environments because it did not rot like leather. However, in the longer term it usually becomes rock hard and the layers can separate if an attempt is made to bend them. However, from my limited sampling it seems like the earliest holsters tended to retain their flexibility a bit better (I speculate on the reason why below). In this case the body of the holster still retains some ability to expand; I once had a later Type IX that had become completely hard and was frozen in a position that did not allow a pistol to be inserted.


            This is a close-up of the ammo pouch flap. Since this flap must open and close, it is one of the parts of the holster where flexibility is most critical. On this one and my earliest Type IX, the flap remains very soft and flexible, and I think this photo shows why. Note how thick the latex layer is between the two layers of canvas. My later rubberized canvas holsters have much less flexibility in the flap and much thinner layers of latex. Of course, when these holsters were made, no one was thinking about how flexible they would be sixty-plus years later.


This photo shows just how flexible the ammo pouch flap is. On many later holsters any attempt to flex the flap results in separation of the material.


            The use of leather was continued for a variety of small bits where flexibility was important. The largest piece of leather is the hinge that joins the clamshell flap to the body of the holster.


The toe cap is also leather.


            Along the rear edge a thin strip of leather is used as a spacer. The short piece where there are two layers of leather is the outside of the loop for the cleaning rod, which fits inside the holster along the rear edge. Besides the hinge, toe cap, cleaning rod loop and this spacer, the other small leather bits are the closure strap tab and spring covers; the edging on the clamshell; the inner spacer blocks; and reinforcing patches for the closure studs for on the holster body and the ammo pouch. These items continued to be made of leather even after the changeover to “all” rubberized canvas (i.e. for both the clamshell flap and the body). In the Type X holster they also reverted to making the spare striker pocket out of leather, after using rubberized canvas in the Type IX.


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Last updated: June 27, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.