The Hino-Komuro was a Blow-Foreword operated, semi-automatic pistol of Japanese origin.
When Japan emerged from two centuries of near isolation in the mid-1800s, it quickly set about the modernization of its industry and military. The first modern handgun adopted was the Smith and Wesson in .44 Russian. By the 1890s Japan designed its own revolver, the T26 was eventually superseded by several semi-automatics. Around 1902 Captain Kijiro Nambu designed a semi-automatic pistol with a shoulder stock. The Hino-Komuro pistols patent was sought in December 1903, with a British submission that led up to a patent grant in 1908.
The Hino-Komuro guns were produced in very limited numbers and each one is basically a handmade example. Many parts were not interchangeable. The first pistols were built in a 5mm caliber (even though these probably were made as protoytypes rather than for commercial purposes). The magazine capcity ranged between 8-15 cartridges. There were also a few other Japanese imperial pistols, that were locally manufactured and used in small numbers, such as the Hamada and Sugiura pistols.
The Komuro guns were then made in in calibers 6.35mm (.25 acp), 7.65mm Auto (32 ACP), and in 8mm Nambu. Prodcution started in 1908 hence the designation M1908 and continued in low numbers until 1912 with no more than 1100 made. The highest S/N known is number 1172. The 8mm Nambu was found to be to powerful for the design and most were made in 7.65. Supposedly from the late 1930s, there was a conversion (mainly fr. 8mm Nambu to .32) where the barrel was shortened, the grip frame, grips and magazine too. The grips themselves were horizontally grooved similar to a Type 14 pistol and the magazine had a flat bottom. A rotary manual safety was added to the left side just behind the trigger. Safety positions were indicated by the English letters S and F (Safe-Fire).
The Hino Komuro's action needs the barrel to be pushed forward to cock the weapon and put a bullet in the barrel. This action for many, seemed like a bad construction. Nevertheless, several blow-forward guns have been designed, besides Hino-Komura there has been versions made by Mannlicher and Schwarzlose (the latter even becoming something of a commercial success). More recently (1950’s), SIG designed a blow-forward automatic rifle (which was not produced).Clearly the HK M1908 is an oddity and a rarity, even for a blow-forward design. Hino Komuro was also famous as a great inventor and an aviation pioneer. Most of the records were lost when Hino's home in Tokyo was fire bombed during WW2. There is very little information about them to obtain and only a few examples still exist.