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Nambu Type 94

Semi-Automatic Service Pistol [ 1935 ]

The Nambu Type 94 semi-automatic pistol emerged from testing in 1935 and saw extensive service during the World War 2 period with production reaching 71,000 examples.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/24/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Empire of Japan fielded a variety of semi-automatic pistol types during its involvement in World War 2 (1939-1945) - the most famous of these being the Nambu Type 14 (detailed elsewhere on this site). Another such weapon to come from the mind of designer Kijiro Nambu was the forgotten Type 94 Nambu which emerged during the inter-war years in 1935 and managed to see service throughout the global conflict thereafter. Roughly 71,000 of these pistols were produced by the Nambu Rifle Manufacturing Company from 1935 until 1945.

The weapon was chambered for the proprietary 8x22mm Nambu cartridge and fed from a six-round detachable box magazine inserted into the grip handle. The cartridge had origins in 1902 and was adopted in 1904 - designed by Mr. Nambu himself. A bottlenecked, rimless cartridge design, it was intended from the outset to feed into compact hand guns like the Type 94 and saw service from World War I (1914-1918) until the Second World War. It was, more or less, comparable to John Browning's .32 ACP round that emerged from the United States in 1899.

The Type 94 began development in 1929 with the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) soldier/officer in mind. A recoil-operated, locked-breech action was selected and the frame made as compact and lightweight as possible. Weight was 765 grams and overall length became 7.4 inches (the barrel measuring just 3.78 inches long). Muzzle velocity reached 1,000 feet-per-second giving useful penetration at close-to-medium ranges and sighting was through a front-blade, rear-fixed "V" iron arrangement which aided the operator in achieving some accuracy in ranged fire.

The Type 94 went through a protracted testing, development, and trials period for it did not meet IJA standards until adopted in late-1934. When Japan invaded Manchuria during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), a shortage of useful semi-automatic pistols was notable and this pressed Japanese factories to rush weapons like the Type 94 to the frontlines. Once available in serviceable numbers, they were placed in the hands of paratroopers, aircrews, and vehicle crews who could appreciate the small footprint of the design.

Early production pistols were held to a much higher standard than later-war forms - which were hastily pushed out of production facilities due to the pressures of a failing war effort. On the whole the design was well-liked by its users though criticisms began to center on the gun's complex take-down process as well as the ability for the gun to accidentally discharge if certain mechanical conditions were met.

With Japan under the full force of the Allied bombing campaign heading into 1945, production of this pistol slowed to a crawl by the war's final months. By this time, desperate measures were instituted in manufacture of the pistol to circumvent shortages of supplies such as wood and metal. This included crude plastic grips in place of the original wooden ones, lack of inspection stamps/dates on late-war guns, and parts/components simply taken from other guns that were available.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Imperial Japan national flag graphic
Imperial Japan


Semi-Automatic Service Pistol

Nambu Rifle Manufacturing Company - Empire of Japan
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of modern Japan Imperial Japan
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Pistol / Sidearm
Compact design for close-quarters work or general self-defense.

Overall Length
187 mm
7.36 in
Barrel Length
96 mm
3.78 in
Empty Wgt
1.69 lb
0.77 kg

Front Blade with Rear Fixed V.


Recoil-Operated; Locked-Breech; Semi-Automatic

One shot per trigger pull; self-loading or auto-loading action aided by internal mechanism; trigger management (and initial cocking) typically required by the operator; subsequent shots are aided by the unlocked / moving bolt.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


8x22mm Nambu

Rounds / Feed

6-Round Detachable Box Magazine.
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
50 ft
(15 m | 17 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
1,000 ft/sec
(305 m/sec)

Type 94 Nambu - Base Series Name.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the Nambu Type 94
Image showing the profile of the Type 94 Nambu semi-automatic pistol.

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