This is an extremely rare example of a Japanese Hino-Komuro Model 1904 blow forward semi-automatic pistol, also referred to simply as the "Hino" or "Hino-Handgun". It is believed there were approximately 500 or less of these pistols in total manufactured by the Komuro Gun Factory in Tokyo between 1904-1912. These pistols were designed by inventor and Imperial Army Lieutenant Kumazo Hino at only twenty years of age and financed by civilian Tomojiro Komuro. With the financial backing of Tomojiro Komuro, Kumazo Hino, who would later gain national fame as a successful aircraft designer and Japan's premier aviator, originally had intentions of being able to export these pistols to China in order to assist in arming the revolutionaries, and unfortunately the plan would fail after only a few years. They are believed to run in a continuous serial range as offered in 5 mm, 6.35 mm, 7.65 mm and 8 mm Nambu, with this desirable example being chambered in 7.65 mm auto (.32 ACP); which would have been the likely choice of chambering for a gun intended for Chinese export. Due to the overwhelming majority of these pistols being destroyed, there are few surviving examples today in any caliber. According to Harry Derby on page 23 of “Hand Cannons of Imperial Japan,” there were ten 7.65 mm examples known when his book was published in 1981. Rock Island Auction Company recently sold serial number 126 chambered in 8mm Nambu (Lot 432, Auction 86). The original Japanese patent number 7165 covering the design of these pistols was filed on December 7th, 1903 and granted March 5th, 1904 (Meiji 37). The Japanese military was so impressed with this pistol design that War Minister Masaki Erauchi personally endorsed the application for a "world" patent. It is also covered under U.S. patent number 886,211 filed September 23rd, 1904 and renewed April 28th, 1908, as well as a British patent filed on March 5th, 1907 and granted March 30th, 1908. This early semi-automatic blow forward pistol functions in a completely unique way when compared with other Japanese military pistol designs throughout history. For cocking, the barrel is able to be gripped on the exposed serrations and pulled forward under spring pressure. Once cocked, the barrel remains in the forward position, ready for a pull of the trigger. When the trigger is pulled, the barrel assembly travels rearwards under spring pressure and slams the rear face of the chamber into a fixed firing pin, and under the pressure of a detonated cartridge it moves forward again, simultaneously ejecting a spent case and chambering another round, ready for another pull of the trigger. It feeds from a spring-loaded detachable box magazine with a wooden base, very similar in design to a Luger or Nambu pistol magazine of the time although it releases using a latch mounted on the bottom of the front grip strap. Matching number "156" marked on the frame, barrel (requires disassembly for viewing), nearly all of the small parts, magazine. Includes a copy of the book "Hand Cannons of Imperial Japan" by Harry Derby, in which these Hino-Komuro pistols are described in detail on pages 22-33.
Very fine, retains 97% arsenal refurbished blue finish with a few areas of light pitting underneath the finish, and sharp edges and markings in the metal. The magazine is a professionally made modern replacement, as well as some of the small parts. Absent rear sling swivel. Grips are also very fine with some light crazing and handling marks. Mechanically fine, the grip safety requires firm pressure for functioning. This Hino-Komuro Model 1904 pistol is an ultimate rarity in arms collecting, and the missing piece to an advanced Japanese military handgun collection!
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