An M1A with a beautiful tiger stripe stock. Note the selector switch cut out. While it is obvious that the appearance of any stock will affect a firearm’s value, just how much it adds is very dependent on how defined the grain pattern is in the wood.
Officially designated the ‘26 Nen Shiki Kenju' (or Pistol Pattern of the 26th Year of the Meiji Era), the Type 26 was introduced in 1893. It was the first indigenous pistol adopted by the Japanese military replacing the Smith & Wesson Model 3. From 1894 it was issued the Imperial Japanese Cavalry and NCOs as well as being privately purchased by the officer class.
As with many Japanese firearms of the period it draws heavily on western designs combining features from numerous features from Smith & Wesson, Nagant and Lebel revolvers. Its large hinge just in front of the cylinder and the barrel profile shares some resemblance to contemporary Smith & Wesson and Webley designs. Like many contemporary designs the Type 26 is a top-break revolver with the frame opening to expose the cylinder. The revolver’s trigger mechanism can be exposed for cleaning by opening a swing-out cover, a similar feature is found in the French Lebel M1892(see image #3). The pistol grip’s shape is also reminiscent of the Lebel’s and the Nagant M1895’s.
The Type 26 is noticeably lacking a hammer spare to enable single action cocking, as a result the revolver is confined to double-action only as a result it suffers from a long, heavy trigger pull. The Type 26’s cylinder holds six rounds of a rimmed 9×22mmR Japanese calibre unique only to the Type 26. This was typical of the Japanese military’s attitude towards ammunition and would be a curious characteristic of their firearms procurement process for the next 40 years.
Interestingly during the 1930s a grenade launcher attachment was developed, the Type 90 grenade launcher (see image #2) fitted to the Type 26’s barrel and was used to launch tear gas grenades fired by a blank cartridge. The Type 26 suffered from a heavy trigger and a relatively weak cartridge which was less powerful than western .38 calibre rounds. However, it was a serviceable revolver that saw action during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, the First World War, Japan’s Invasion of China and the Second World War. With 60,000 revolvers being produced between 1893 and 1930 it enjoyed a service life of over fifty years which is a testament to the more rugged construction not enjoyed by the later Nambu semi-automatic pistols which became popular.