The Type 94 Nambu is a pistol designed by famed Japanese arms designer Kijirō Nambu. It was usually considered a last-ditch design.
After retiring from the Japanese Army, Kijirō Nambu designed this gun in 1929, where the main goal was to reduce the bulk and price of previous Nambu designs, such as the Type 14 Nambu. As the army felt that a domestically-made pistol that could accomodate the 8x22mm cartridge and could substantiate the heavier and larger Type 14 service pistol, the Type 94 was born. It was named after the year it was produced in, 2594 in the Japanese calendar, after its mythical founding in 660BC, instead of using the traditional naming method after the emperor's reign. There was a demand that increased due to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria as well. While never officially adopted by the Japanese Army, the Type 94 found its way into the hands of tank crews and paratroopers. Only about 71,000 were made.
The Type 94 is designed slightly differently than other pistols; it uses a concealed hammer and a firing pin rather than just using a hammer. However, according to authors, this mechanism is inherently weak and is prone to breakage because of a recess cut provided for the crossbolt. It had a locking system of the rising-block type which floated independently between the lugs under the barrel. The single mainspring is positioned around the barrel instead of the rear of the barrel like most of Nambu's other designs. Its grip was made of soft wood and was smaller than most pistols. The magazine is held in the grip, but its catch protruded so far until it could occasionally disengage when the pistol is placed on the left side on a hard surface. Its manual safety is located at the rear of the frame, with the kanji word for "fire".
The Type 94 is notorious for being able to accidentally fire even when the trigger is not pulled, due to its crude and poor design. The left side of the gun has an exposed sear bar, which converts the forward movement of the trigger into a lateral movement which frees the hammer. If the pistol was not handled properly, the bar could jar loose during engagement. The sear needs to be depressed about 2 millimeters before the weapon fires.
Due to this unique firing method, war stories arose of Japanese soldiers surrending and then firing the pistol, which made the Type 94 earn the nicknames "Suicide Special" and "Surrender Pistol". However, these stories are discredited due to the difficulty in the firing of the pistol like this; it is also impossible for it to be discharged in this method with the safety engaged.