8mm Nambu Bullet Questions


#1

I have a 8mm Nambu Type 14 with no headstamp, flat brass primer and what I had at first assumed to be a GM bullet, all as per Elks. However on closer examation, the bullet seems to be GM over CN as shiny spots can be seen on the nose where the GM plating has rubbed off. Anybody have any information on this loading?


#2

Firstly, the Type 14 is a pistol. I am not sure the cartridge carried that designation since it was the same round used in the much earlier “Grandpa” and “Papa” Type Nambu Pistols. Box labels do say that the round is for the Type 14 Pistol (or for the Type 94 Pistol - both labels are known and I have both in my collection), however.

Regarding GM or CN jackets, I don’t have much I can say on that except that the Japanese made the 8mm Nambu with both CN and GM bullet jackets. In fact, when you take into account all the features of these unheadstamped cartridges, which most seem to consider come in two variations, the bullet types mentioned, there are many, many variations of this round. Different size and shape bullet stab crimps, different rim thickness, different shape to the extractor groove and its bevel, etc. The 8mm Nambu cartridge was manufactured for over 40 years, so that is inevitable.

I just took a file to an 8mm Nambu round’s bullet, just out of curiosity, and found the color underneath to be yellow as in brass, much lighter in color than the surface finish. This just may be a result of the metals content of the jacket.
I took a file also to a .40 cal bullet I had on my work bench and it showed a much lighter color than the surface also, but a more copper hue than the brass-like hue of the Nambu bullet. I know little of metallurgy, but suspect that any worn bullet jacket material will show a lighter color than the original serface if the wear is near than the jacket itself.


#3

John–I understand what you are saying about the color of oxidized vs. unoxidozed metals being diffent colors, but what I see showing through the GM is bright & shiny like nickle or bright CN. It could be brass, but it doesn’t really look like it. But, I can only see small spots using a 10X glass, so it is really hard to tell. At any rate, whatever is under the GM, the point is that it is a GM coating , not solid GM jacket. According to Elks in “Japenese Ammunition 1880-1945”, the change from CN to GM was about 1942. No mention of plated GM.

This publication is also my source for the terminology for the cartridge as “Type 14”. He states the following:

"The original Army packages of these cartidges specify their use as “Year 14 Type Pistol Cartridges”, and then simply “Type 14 Pistol Cartridges”

All the drawings in his work label them as “8mm Type 14” This is all on Page 8, if you have the publication. However, this is not to say you are wrong and Elks is right. I am just explaining my source. In actual fact in my catalog of my collection I just list them as “8mm Nambu” which includes the commercial cartridges as well as the Japanese military rounds.


#4

Ron - all I know is that there is nothing on the box labels that indicates the designation Type 14 for the cartridge. I read “Type 14 Pistol Cartridges” as “Cartridges for type 14 Pistol” from the Japanese on the labels. I don’t know much Japanese by the way - that is really the way it was read to me by the ASA - Asian Studies unit we had at Oakland Army Terminal when I was a Civilian employee there, and assigned to the 380th Military Police Crime Lab as a Reservist. There is also a box labeling the ammunition as Type 94 Pistol cartridges, with no discernable difference in the Ammunition. The Grandpa " Army Type Nambu Pistol," caliber 8mm Nambu came out in 1902, with the improved version, known here as the Papa Nambu, also 8mm Nambu caliber, came out not so many years later. Both long predate the adoption of the Type 14 (14th Year of Taisho - 1925).

I could be wrong too - I did a lot of studying on the subject of Nambus years ago, but certainly am not an expert to the tune of a Harry Derby. Derby, in his wonderful book “Japanese Military Cartridge Handguns 1893-1945,” formerly called “Hand Cannons of Imperial Japan,” says that the 8mm cartridge was developed in the Tokyo Artillery Arsenal under the direction of Kijiro Nambu as part of the "Type 30 (Meiji year 30) Automatic Pistol Plan. It was called the “Caliber 8mm Nambu Automatic Pistol Cartridge.” While it was in official use since at least 1902, in January 1929 (Showa 4.1) the original cartridge was modified and officially adopted as the “Caliber 8mm Service Cartridge.” there seems to have been no “Type” designation given to this round.

Ken Elks wording, as reported here, leaves questions open about whether or not the “Type 14” in that case is referring to the pistol for which the ammunition was supplied, or the ammunition itself, for sure. I believe the former, but it will need someone more expert than I to confirm it.

Thanks for the analysis of your rounds. They do sound like they are GM over nickel. Normally I would say bare steel, but your specific use of GM and the fact I have never seen an 8mm Nambu round made in Japan having a GMCS or CNCS bullet jacket leads one to the conclusion that they may be copper-clad nickel. Can’t see any reason for doing that, but then, I didn’t make the cartridges so again, am not qualified to say. Whatever, it is darned interesting to us who like these Japanese cartridges, and I thank you again for the info.


#5

John–OK, you have convinced me that Elks use of 8mm Type 14" is incorrect. As I said, I had been cataloging them all as just 8mm Nambu anyway.

Back to the bullet, it is NOT magnetic, so must be copper plated nickel. It doe look to bright for CN, but GM and CN were the only two jacket materails I had heard of for this round, thus, my first guess.


#6

Ron - not trying to beat a dead horse but just for the record I am not sure that Ken’s statements are incorrect - they are open to interpretation, just as the Japanese box labels are - that is, does Ken and/or the labels mean “Type 14 ammunition for a pistol,” or “ammunition for a Type 14 Pistol”? He could well mean the latter which would not be an incorrect statement. I am sure, though, that Harry Derby’s book is a great source of good information on Japanese Pistols and the things that go with the pistols. He had great imput from Japan, at one time almost impossible to get (I Know, I tried years ago and got nowhere. Since meeting Hiromasa Ikeda, the former Chief of Physics Section, Scientific Crime Laboratory, Fukuoka Prefectural Police, I have learned a tremendous amount about Post-WWII Japanese rifle and pistol caliber ammunition. In fact, an article I wrote on the subject some years ago was based heavily on notes from him that he left with me on his way home from an AFTE Meeting, where he presented the information. I also had notes from Tsuneo Uchiyama, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the AFTE Conference in San Francisco a week or so ago, although he had no time, and perhaps I have not the language skills, to confer with him on anything. Still, it was a pleasure to meet him. However, I still have never gotten any first hand information, not that I need it with Elks and Derby, on pre-1946 Japanese ammo.