View Full Version : Japanese Type 26 revolver

October 8, 2001, 06:39 PM
I'm looking for any and all info regarding this old pre-WWII relic.

History, disassembly, serial number breakdown by manufacturing year, relative worth based on condition, and overall usage and realibility would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time and efforts.

have tape, and looking for an old klunker...

James K
October 8, 2001, 09:19 PM
Hi, foxfire,

Disassembly is the easy part, as the gun is sort of a break top version of the Rast-Gasser. Many have been mutilated by attempts at disassembly because the owner did not know how to do it.

Simply put your thumb on the checkered space at the rear of the trigger guard, press forward and down to unlock the guard, then swing it down. Insert the thumbnail in the notch above the front of the trigger guard and swing the sideplate outward on its hinge in the top of the grip. From there, all internal parts are accessible and can be removed, though I don't recommend removing the right grip or the extractor cam. The cylinder removes simply by lifting the latch and pulling the cylinder while rotating it to the left (counterclockwise as seen from the rear).

The Type 26 refers to the adoption date, the 26th year of the Meiji reign (1893), but actually the gun was adopted in 1894. I don't know why the difference, except that the final design was done in 1893.

The 9mm rimmed cartridge is strictly Japanese, though many owners have shot .38 S&W by trimming the rim from the front and running the round into a .38 Special die. The revolver is adequately sturdy for a break top, but original Japanese ammo in tests showed a muzzle velocity of only about 500 feet per second.

The early guns were a beautiful black charcoal blue, equal to anything Colt ever made. Later guns are rust blued, and also very nicely done. Some were later rebuilt with mixed parts, with or without refinishing.

Some late ones have wooden grips grooved horizontally, sort of like the German P.38 plastic grips. These may just be replacements. Total production was about 60,000 guns. Assembly numbers and also code numbers were used in addition to the serial number and will match on an original gun.

While records are sketchy, original production probably ceased in 1928, although guns were built from parts, rebuilt, refinished and reissued into WWII, by which time it was substitute standard.

There are two holster types, both uncommon, a leather holster and a canvas holster. Some French Mle. 1892 Lebel leather holsters have been sold as Type 26 holsters, at a much higher price than the more common Lebel holster. (One fellow was a bit unhappy when I told him the French name written in his rather salty "Type 26" holster was not due to its capture by a Frenchman.)

Collectors break the guns down by periods based on serial number and finish type, but I don't know of any breakdown by production date.

While I have two Type 26 revolvers, most of the above was taken from The Hand Cannons of Imperial Japan, by Harry Derby, a book I very much recommend if you can find it.



October 9, 2001, 04:52 AM
Thanks for the info!
You covered everything that I needed to know.

Tho I don't own one, there's a chance that I may be giving one a new home in the next few days.
It has a decent bore w/ a tight action and lock-up.
The guy is even offering a box of ammo with it (Japanese 9mm).
I wouldn't plan on shooting it (much) - but it's nice to know that the correct ammo is still available for it.

I've heard of Derby's book and I'll keep an eye out for a copy, tho I'm sure it's long out of print.

Thanks again.

have tape, always looking and adding when I can...

Harley Nolden
October 9, 2001, 06:38 AM
I have sent, by separate email, you a brief history and disassem w/photos on the Jap 26.


James K
October 9, 2001, 09:45 AM
Hi, foxfire,

I don't recommend shooting that original 9mm. Last I knew it was going for about $20 per round.


October 9, 2001, 06:31 PM
Thanks Harley!
I got the attachments, downloaded them and printed out copies.
They turned out fine.

Jim: $20 a round? :eek:
Guess I won't be taking it to the range much, if I do decide to get that sucker. 8 rounds would be worth more than what he's asking for!

Are any modern re-loads compatible?

Thanks again.

have tape, but can't afford the ammo...

James K
October 10, 2001, 10:06 AM
As I said, making ammo is fairly easy, but Old Western Scrounger has it (new made) at $53 for a box of 50.
Try www.ows-ammo.com.

BTW, it seems that original ammo is about twice the $20 I said, according to a friend.


October 10, 2001, 05:54 PM
Thanks for the link, Jim.
A dollar a round, plus shipping is a bit better.

Now I'm kinda of curious as to what ammo he is selling along with the revolver.

have tape, and need to investigate some more....