Showa 18.7 “Off-date” Type 94 Photos

            I purchased the T-94 below on October 16, 2003, but it took until November 27 before the registration paperwork was far enough along that I was able to take possession. It is dated July, 1943, but it is a so-called “off-date” variant, because the serial number and date are out of sync. Based on the serial number, the gun should have been produced about a year earlier. The leading theory about this discrepancy is that it occurred because some pistols were shipped to another factory for assembly to keep the workers there busy, and then they were dated when they were returned a year later.    



Here is the left side.


            This is a close-up of the markings. The symbol before the numbers 18.7 is the character for “Sho”, short for Showa, the name of the era of Emperor Hirohito’s reign. To convert the number to a Western date, add 1925. Thus, 18 becomes 1925+18=1943. The number after the decimal place is the month of manufacture (7=July, the seventh month). Below the 18 is a round symbol consisting of a large circle with two circles inside it, a large one balanced on a small one. This is the Nagoya arsenal symbol, which is based on the shachi, or dolphins, which adorn the ends of the roof of Nagoya castle. The symbol beside that, just below and to the right of the dot, is the character for south. It is pronounced Nan or Nam, and is the first character in “Nambu”. Kijiro Nambu was the designer of many Japanese firearms and started the Nambu Rifle Company, which later merged and became Chuo Kogyo (“Central Industries”). The symbol “Nan” (Nam before a “b”), is the marking of that company. In the upper left is the back of the bolt. It is more square on later models. In the upper right is a light coloured oval. This is the cross bar that holds the firing pin in place.


This shot shows the serial number on the right side of the gun. Above and to the right of it you can also see a panel that is peened into place.

This covers a cut made to facilitate machining. On earlier models it was much less noticeable.



            The photo below shows a similar panel on the left side of the gun, as well as the model or type number. The three characters are

read from right to left. They mean nine, four, type, or Type 94. The designation comes from the last two digits of the date of adoption according to

the Japanese calendar, which began in 660BC with the mythical ascension to the throne of the first emperor. Western year 1934 was 2594 according

to this calendar, so the pistol became known as the Type 94.


In this close-up you see the most notorious feature of the Type 94, its exposed sear bar. It is the bar that runs from the round spot at the left

of the photo just above the model designation to the rear of the gun under the safety, which is shown here in the up or “safe” position.

When the safety is in the fire position, pressure on the round spot at the front of the sear bar can fire the gun without recourse to the trigger.

Although this is definitely not a good design feature, in practice it is not as bad as it might seem, since it takes a fair amount of pressure right on

that spot to do this. Check out the “movies” section of the site for a few photos of someone actually firing the pistol this way.


Here is a close-up of the safety. The character to the immediate left of the safety lever, which is in the horizontal position, means literally “fire”.

The other character above and to the right of this means “safe”.


Here is the gun with the bolt locked back. Like other Japanese pistols, it has no bolt hold open device,

which makes removing the magazine a challenge.


This shot aimed into the ejection port shows the vertical tab on the rear of the magazine follower that acts to hold the bolt open.


            Here is another shot looking straight down in. The little shiny vertical line inside the ejection port towards the left side is the top of the tab on the follower that holds the bolt open.


Here is the underside of the bolt. The piece of polished metal in the middle is the firing pin.


I am quite familiar with stripping the Type 14, but the Type 94 is rather more intimidating. Here it is apart. I went just a little

further than field stripping, removing the safety, hammer pivot screw and hammer spring.


The Type 94 in its natural habitat, an original leather holster with an original spare magazine and

a reproduction cleaning rod. To the left of the magazine pouch are the characters for the family name

Ishikawa. Japanese holsters were often personalized with the name of the person to whom they were issued.

There are slight remnants of this name in two other spots on the holster. For more photos of this holster and the accessories,

see the section on Type 94 accessories.


Here is the serial number on the magazine, which does not match the gun. The dot designates that it was a spare

for the gun for which it was issued. Below the serial number at the far right is the character “higashi”, which is also pronounced

as the “To” in Tokyo. At the right below the serial number is the character “sha”, the last part of “kaisha”, meaning company.

It is an inspection symbol used by Nambu and then Chuo Kogyo.


Click here to go back to the Type 94 Photo Gallery: t94gallery.htm

Click here to go back to Nambu World: Teri’s WWII Japanese Handgun home page: jhg.htm


Last updated: July 8, 2005. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.