Today I have a really cool bit of news. Over the weekend I was going through some of my father’s things and found a beautiful leather holster. I hadn’t seen it before and was naturally curious about the contents. I wouldn’t call my dad a gun nut, and he hadn’t hunted in my lifetime, but I know when he was younger he spent summers in the woods building forts and stalking deer, so it wasn’t a complete surprise that he might have a few firearms. What I didn’t expect to find is a WWII pistol in pretty good shape.
The picture above is of a 1944 Nambu Pistol. These were used extensively by Japanese forces from 1925 to 1945. I can’t claim to be an expert on WWII-era guns, so I took a few photos and asked our product specialists if they could tell me a bit more about it.
First, the various markings on the gun tell an interesting tale. On the left hand side are some Japanese characters. They let you know this is a Type 14 model pistol. On the other side some numbers are stamped that let you know the month and year the gun was manufactured. I didn’t know this about Japanese guns, but the dates are from the last emperor change, so in the picture below when you can see ’19.3′ it means the gun was manufactured 19 years from the last emperor change, which was in 1925. Add 19 to 1925 and you get 1944, the year the gun was made. The ’3′ is the month, so this particular gun was manufactured in March of 1944. Pretty cool.
Another cool thing with the gun is that I have the original holster. It’s actually in really good shape. It’s all leather with a leather strap, and though you can tell it’s not brand new, the markings on the inside of the pouch are still clearly visible. I’ve done a bit of research online for Nambu Type 14 Pistols and their holsters, and most of them are so worn you can’t read them, but as you can see mine is really easy to read. Fortunately, someone in the office can read Japanese, and he says those two symbols are for a town or neighborhood near Tokyo. It’s either West Kasai or West Katsushika. This is most likely where it was manufactured, but it might also be where the soldier who owned this gun is from. Inside the pouch are some old cotton clothes that appear to be the original cleaning clothes. There’s no gun oil or cleaning solution, so I’m going to look into a mild cleaner so that I don’t risk ruining the pistol.
I also have the capture papers for the pistol, which show my Great Uncle Bernard officially received these guns on November 28, 1945. I never met my Uncle Bernard, but it appears he was a Corporal in the war and either fought or was stationed in the Pacific. I know he never had kids and was close to my dad, but I’d never heard the story of this gun.
My dad passed away 4 weeks ago Friday, and I’ve been going through his things a lot since then to help my mom. My dad loved to tell stories and I swear I’d heard every single one of his about a million times, but friends of his came to the wake and told me all sorts of stories that I’d never heard before. It’s strange to think I might be able to learn a lot more about him now that he’s gone. I think a good place to start is with a bit of family history. I’m going to find out everything I can about my Great Uncle Bernard and how this Nambu pistol came into his position and how it came to be passed down to my dad. Stay tuned to GearExpert and follow along in my journey!