In 2012, i wrote 2 threads dedicated to Japanese firearms. One covered the Type 14 Nambu; and the other, the Type 94 Nambu. Both were on pistols, but I've been wanting to do a 3rd and final thread on Imperial Japanese rifles. 2013-2014 was a busy period and I simply didn't have the time, or honestly the motivation. Now though, here it is: a thread dedicated to the Arisaka family of rifles and carbines, spanning from the late 19th century to World War II. There has been some Arisaka talk in the milsurp thread lately, so I hope this one is timely.
In case you missed them, condensed versions of the two Nambu threads will be coming soon as well.
Type 22 Murata Rifle & Carbine
(A standard Type 22 Murata, functional and complete except for the small upper handguard)
Before getting into the Arisaka series, lets first look at Japan's first smokeless powder rifle, the Type 22 Murata. It was designed by Tsuneyoshi Murata and was an improvement upon his earlier creations. The Type 13 and 18 Muratas were single shot bolt actions, firing an 11mm black powder round. They were heavily based upon the French Gras and German Mauser M71, with a bit of the Dutch Beaumont thrown in for good measure. The Type 22 combined the Type 18's bolt system, with an under barrel tubular magazine copied from the Portugese Kropatschek M1886. More importantly though, it fired Japan's first small diameter, smokeless powder cartridge; the 8x53mm which was also named after Murata. As with all cartridges of the day, except for 8mm Mauser, it had a rimmed casing.
The new repeating rifle was adopted by the Japanese military in 1889. It had a 29.5" long barrel and a tube which could hold 8 cartridges. It also had a magazine feed cut off and no manual safety. Its bolt was a two piece design, with removable head. The stock was a long single piece, with a very small upper handguard section. A sectional cleaning rod was stored in the buttstock. In 1894, a carbine version of the T22 went into production for a brief time. It had a 19.5" barrel and a 5 shot tube. Considering how young Japan's firearms industry was at the time, Murata rifles exhibited good fit and finish, and benefited from strict quality control.
The rifle and carbine were in frontline service for only about a decade, before being replaced by the more advanced Arisaka. Some second line troops continued to carry them until at least 1905 though. When manufacturing ended at the Tokyo Arsenal in 1899, over 100,000 T22s had been produced. It was Japan's primary rifle during the First Cino-Japanese War and many were still around for the Russo-Japanese War. By WWI though, all had either been retired or given to schools to be used as trainers. The 8mm Murata cartridge too quickly fell out of use.
Type 30 Arisaka Rifle & Carbine
(A Type 30 long rifle, with its unique hook safety and brass tipped cleaning rod)
The Type 30 was the first and the original Arisaka rifle. Developed in the mid 1890s by Colonel Nariaki Nariakira Arisaka at the Tokyo Arsenal, it was the standard frontline infantry long arm of the Japanese Army from its adoption in 1897 until it was officially replaced in 1905. Naturally, examples remained with secondary units for years afterwards, In fact, some were even used by hastily trained troops during the final year of WWII. That said, the only major conflict in which the T30 was Japan's main long arm was the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. By WWI, all front line troops had been re-equipped with more modern rifles. Japan rarely tossed old hardware out though, so most T30s were either put into long term storage or turned into trainers.
The T30 was a manually operated bolt action rifle, which fed from a 5 shot vertical magazine. Its bolt was similar to that of the German G.88 'Commission Rifle' and its magazine was heavily influenced by the double column Mauser pattern, but it had one improvement. The floorplate could quickly be removed for cleaning or to unload the weapon, by simply pushing a button located inside the trigger guard.
It fired the small diameter, round-nosed 6.5x50mm cartridge. This round used smokeless powder and a semi-rimmed base. It was accurate, flat shooting, and produced little smoke or felt recoil. It was a good anti-personal round. On the otherhand, it performed poorly against armor.
Other features of the T30 included standard long range adjustable latter sights, a two piece buttstock, and a long cleaning rod under the barrel. One of its most identifiable features though, was its hook type safety. To switch the rifle from safe to fire, one hooked a finger around it, pulled back, and rotated counter-clockwise.
(A complete Type 30 Carbine, an uncommon variant today in any condition)
During the late 19th century, the Tokyo Arsenal manufactured 554,000 standard long rifles, with a 31.5" barrel; and 45,000 short carbines, with a 19.4" barrel. Most were destined for Japanese use, however some were sold to neighboring Asian nations. Interestingly, during World War I some were sold to the British Navy. Others were given to Tsarist Russia.
Type 35 Arisaka Rifle
(An original Japanese Navy Type 35 rifle with the unique manual dustcover and squeeze rear sight)
After the Army adopted the T30, the Japanese Navy felt it too needed a more modern standard service rifle. In 1902, it selected the Type 35 Arisaka, which was a product improved version of the T30. Changes included a wider hook safety, a new pattern of rear sight (only found on the T35), a stronger extractor, a gas port in the bolt in case of a case rupture, and a manually operated dustcover. This forward sliding cover was used only on the T35 and Siamese contract Mauser. It covered the front part of the action when the firearm was not being used, and then had to be slid up onto the receiver by the user before firing.
The T35 was only produced from 1902 until 1904. Just over 10,000 were built before it was superceeded by a more advanced pattern of Arisaka. It was an intermediate step, a footnote really, but it was the first Arisaka on which Kijiro Nambu had some design influence.
Virtually everyone of these rifles went to the Navy. They were rotated out of frontline service by the end of WWI, however in a way the T35 had a twilight career in the closing days of WWII.
(A so-called last-ditch Type 02/45; Type 35 action, training rifle small parts, and unusually put into a leftover Type 30 stock)
In 1945, old obsolete T35 barreled actions were pulled out of long term storage and put into 1 piece trainer stocks. They were finished out with sights, barrel bands, magazines, and triggers scavenged from damaged or rejected rifles; many parts even made from cast iron and intended for use on trainers. About 1,500 such mutts were assembled during the last desperate days of the war. Most were given to the Navy, who seemed to always get the leftovers. The Japanese never really even thought to give them an official designation. Today, collectors most commonly refer to them as Type 02/45s, but I myself prefer Substitute Type 35. It is more in keeping with the Japanese naming system. Honestly, these rifles probably saw more actual combat than the original T35 did back during the early 20th century.
Type 46 and 46/66 Siamese Mauser Rifles
(A Type 46 Siamese Mauser, unconverted and still in the original 8x500mmR caliber)
An interesting side story to the Arisaka is the Type 46 Mauser manufactured by the Tokyo Arsenal for the government of Siam. It was adopted in the year 2445 according to the Buddhist calender, which was 1903 for most of the rest of the world. Originally, Siam wanted to purchase Model 98 pattern Mausers from DWM in Germany; however, it did not have adequate funding to equip its entire military with enough rifles. Likewise, it could not afored to setup a domestic factory and also pay for the licensing at the same time. So a compromise was hit upon. A license was obtained from DWM, and the Tokyo Arsenal agreed to build the new rifles under contract for Siam. Production lasted from 1903 until roughly 1908, with over 40,000 rifles delivered.
The Type 46 was primarily an M98 Mauser pattern firearm. It used a 98 style bolt, internal staggered 5 shot Mauser box magazine, and Mauser style sights. Nevertheless, it did have a few uniquely Japanese features, such as the manually sliding dustcover from the Type 35, Arisaka style receiver tangs, and a stock very similar to other Japanese rifles. One completely unique feature was the Type 45's buttstock compartment, which was designed to store a muzzle cover rather than a cleaning kit. All rifles as delivered from Japan came with a 28.3" long barrel. However, the Siamese did convert some into carbines, designating them as the Type 47.
The rifle was originally chambered for the round-nosed 8x50mmR Type 45 cartridge, which was inspired by, but not the same as the Austrian 8x50mmR used in the M1895 Steyr. In 1923, a new 8x52mmR Type 66 pattern of high velocity spitzer style bullet and loading was introduced for the Siamese Mauser, and most rifles were upgraded to fire it. These rifles had their chambers reworked and sights recalibrated. They received the new designation of Type 46/66.
In 1938, Siam changed its name to Thailand and found itself one of the few non-colonised/still independent nations in East Asia. Its military used the Type 46/66 during WWII, first against the colonial french and later against invading Japanese. The design prooved to be reliable and robust, and it gave the small nation a bit of an edge. Many rifles would remain in military service up through the 1950s, and some police departments would not turn theirs in until the 1980s.
Type 38 Arisaka Rifle & Carbine
(A standard earlier production Type 38 long rifle, with original dustcover)
The Type 30 was a well built and accurate firearm, but it was not as durable and reliable as the Japanese had hoped for. It was somewhat sensitive to dust and moisture, and could on occasion experience double feeds. This is why the T30's production run was so brief. Just a year or so after its original introduction, work had already begun on its replacement.
The team responsible for the new rifle was headed by Japan's most well known, and possibly best, firearms inventor, Kijiro Nambu. Nambu had previously worked on the T35, but his influence was much more pronounced with the new rifle. What he came up with was adopted in 1905 as the Type 38. Basically the T38 was a heavily modified T30, hence why it was still considered an 'Arisaka.' It had a one piece bolt borrowed from the M1893 Mauser and an improved trigger. It had a non-rotating extractor, which resolved the double feeding issue. To protect the action from dust and the elements, a ssheet metal dustcover was added to the receiver. It slid automatically with the bolt, making it less complicated to use than the manual cover of the T35. It was the T38 that first introduced the now familiar plum shaped ovular bolt knob, which was meant to be easier to grasp than a round one. Two small vent holes were added over the chamber area of the receiver, so gas could escape in the event of a ruptured cartridge. A leaf spring rather than a coil was used in the magazine, which gave it a longer service life. Finally, the T38 had a new style of safety. It was a large checkered knob, which the user pressed and rotated to activate. It was easier and faster to use than the old hook type. Along with the new rifle, a new high velocity pointed spitzer type version of the 6.5mm round was put into service.
(An earlier production Type 38 carbine, with side mounted sling swivels)
The new rifle was definitely a success. It was in production for over 3 decades, and was in frontline use during both WWI and WWII, as well as saw extensive use during the occupation of China. It was originally built as both a 31.5" barreled rifle and a 19.5" barreled carbine, like the T30 before it. Later though, during the 1920-1930s, some long rifles were cutdown by arsenals into so called "Cavalry rifles." Most of these T38 short rifles had a 25" barrel, though a few seem to have had a 24" one instead. Their sling swivels remained on the bottom, which is an easy way to spot one today. The final variant in the line was the Type 97 sniper's rifle, which appeared in 1937. It was a standard T38 rifle, fitted with a 2 to 4 power scope and mount. It also had a turned down bolt handle to clear the optic. No one knows exactly how many T38s were built in all, or even when manufacturing ended exactly, but 3,400,000 is a good estimate I'd say.
(A somewhat rare Type 38 short rifle, cut down from a long rifle by the Japanese in the 1930s)
The T38 really wasn't a special or unique military rifle for its day. It was no more accurate than many others, no easier to use, held 5 rounds as was common, and cost about the same to build. What it did do was to give Japan a truely modern and effective long arm. It had no serious flaws and a very strong receiver, so it remained in service for longer than any other rifle before in Japan.
The T38 was the first Japanese firearm to be widely exported to the West. In 1910, the government of Mexico contracted with the Tokyo Arsenal for a run of T38s chambered in 7x57mm Mauser. However, only a few hundred were actually delivered before a new political party gained control in Mexico. Then during WWI, Japan sold a total of 150,000 T30 and T38 rifles to the British military. Most were used as trainers, some were given to the Navy, and the rest went to the Home Guard. Similarly, about 620,000 T30 and T38s were sold to Imperial Russia during the same war. The Russians respected the 6.5mm Arisaka round, ever since facing it a decade earlier in their war with Japan.
Many of the Arisakas sent to Britan were eventually used to equip Czech soldiers towards the end of WWI. Others were used to arm White Russians fighting against the Communists in 1919. As for those sent to Imperial Russia, thousands were captured or left behind during Finland's revolution in 1917. So the young FDF found itself with Japanese rifles, and needing all the firearms it could get, kept them in active service.
Type 44 Cavalry Carbine
(A Type 44 carbine, first variant with dustcover and spike bayonet)
Introduced in 1911, the Type 44 Cavalry Carbine was a major production modification of the T38 Carbine pattern. In general terms it is the same, using a 19.5" barrel, 5 shot magazine, and straight bolt handle with sliding dustcover. However, there are many differences too. The T44 has a redesigned stock with reshaped forend and an angled front sling swivel. Its 2 piece cleaning rod was stored in its buttstock, which meant it had to have a new pattern of buttplate. It had a rotating trap door, with slotted latch on the side used to open it. Of course the biggest difference between the T44 and the original T38 Carbine was the T44's underfolding spike bayonet. The bayonet had a rather large assembly, complete with hooked cross guard, which was intended for use during bayonet fights. The spike itself locked securely into place with a spring loaded push button. The Japanese took the T44's bayonet seriously. When it was felt to be too weak, the housing was increased in size. Still feeling it wasn't quite strong enough, it was then updated by moving the two main screws further apart.
A late production Type 44 third variant with strengthened bayonet housing)
Approximately 91,000 of these carbines were produced, with the final ones delivered to the military around 1942. The T44 saw extensive use by Japanese cavalry in China, especially in areas without good roads and/or transportation. It was prized for its lightweight and compact size, and having the bayonet right there could also be handy at times. Many soldiers who weretransfered from the mainland to fight the Americans on Pacific islands, took their T44 carbines with them. The pattern prooved to be well suited for jungle warfare too.
Type I Carcano Rifle
(A typical Type I rifle manufactured in Italy for the Japanese Navy)
The supply needs of the Japanese Army were always given priority over that of the Navy, even when it came to smallarms. After years of fighting in China, Japanese industry could barely produce enough T38s to meet the Army's needs, so very few new rifles were made available to the Navy. By the middle of the 1930s, the Navy was experiencing a severe rifle shortage. With none of the Japanese arsenals able to help out, the Admiralty turned to one of its nation's allies, Italy.
Between 1937 and 1939, Italian factories supplied 60,000 so called Type I long rifles to the Japanese Navy. These rifles were an odd mix of Arisaka and Carcano. They fired the 6.5mm Arisaka round and had an internal 5 shot box magazine. They also had a two piece stock. On the otherhand, the Type I had a Carcano style bolt, complete with Carcano safety.
The Type I was used by guard units protecting Naval bases, as well as by the Special Naval Landing Force (aka Marines). Other examples spent the war stored away in lockers, on board Imperial vessels. It was a well built firearm, which when used in combat prooved itself just as accurate and reliable as any T38.
Type 99 Short Rifle
(A Type 99 long rifle produced by the Nagoya Arsenal in 1940)
The Type 99 was a major update of the Arisaka pattern. While fighting in China during the 1930s, the Imperial Army saw first hand how effective the 8x57mm Mauser round could be. While the 6.5mm Japanese round was well suited for dealing with normal soldiers, many found it lacked penetration when used against light armor or structures. The T38 itself was a dependable rifle, but by the standards of the era, it was felt to be too costly to manufacture; both in terms of raw material and labor. Thus the Nagoya Arsenal was tasked with designing a new rifle, which was both more powerful and less resource demanding to produce than the T38.
In 1939, after a relatively short but intensive development process, Nagoya presented the Type 99 to the Imperial military. The new rifle fired the 7.7x58mm round, which was essentially the same as the British .303 but with a more modern recessed rim casing. The T99 was the first rifle to be adopted by any military for general issue which featured both a chrome lined bore and chrome plated bolt face. This then very modern step was taken to allow the rifle to resist rust and corrosion better in humid Asian climates, thus extending its effective service life. The magazine floorplate was henged to the receiver, so it couldn't be lost in the field and its release redesigned so it could not be accidentally hit. The round safety and sliding dustcover were both carried over from the T38, as was the familiar two piece buttstock. The T99 had several interesting but rather pointless standard accessories too, such as a folding monopod, fold-out anti-aircraft sights, and a push button cleaning rod retainer.
Nagoya made the T99 more powerful and modern, and it also found ways to make it cheaper and faster to mass produce. The receiver forging was simplified and required fewer finishing machining steps. Instead of two smaller vent holes over the chamber, it had only one larger one. The buttplate, barrel bands, magazine floorplate, receiver tangs, and trigger guard were all switched from being made from milled parts, to ones created from stampings. Also, the barrel bands were attached with screws, rather than spring clips.
(An earlier production Type 99 short rifle, with monopod, AA sights, and dustcover)
The original plan was to build the new T99 as both a traditional long infantry rifle and as a short cavalry carbine. However, it was quickly discovered that with the new 7.7mm round, a 31" barrel did not offer signifigantly better performance, than one with an intermediate length such as 25". At the same time, many felt that 7.7mm produced too much muzzle flash and felt recoil, when fired from a short 19" carbine barrel. As a result, a short pattern rifle version of the T99 became the new standard in 1940. Only about 38,000 long rifles were ever produced, and the carbine variant never made it past the prototype stage. So the overwelming majority of T99s had a 26" barrel. Though a true sniper's rifle version of the T99 was never officially adopted, many standard short rifles were fitted with a scope and had their bolt handles turned down. The T97 remained the standard and was honestly better suited as a long range weapon, thanks to its flatter shooting 6.5mm round and longer 31.5" barrel.
From 1940, until the end of the war in 1945, a total of 9 Japanese Arsenals turned out approximately 2,600,000 T99 short rifles. In the beginning, it was planned that the new rifle would completely replace the older T38 series, but it never fully did. Japan needed all the firearms it could make during the war, so T38 manufacturing was not even haulted until 1942. The rifle itself remained in frontline service with hundreds of thousands of troops right up til the end. All that said, the T99 saw very widespread service in every theatre of the war, and extremely heavy combat.
Type 2 Paratrooper Rifle
(A standard Type 2 in reasonably good shape with the AA sights intact)
Japan was one of the few nations to put a takedown type paratrooper's rifle into general production, during WWII. Work on the Tera project began at the Nagoya Arsenal in 1940, immediately after the T99 short rifle had gone into mass production. The military desired a full power bolt action rifle which could be carried in a compact case, and which could quickly and easily be made ready for combat.
The first major prototype which was seriously considered was the Type 0, which appeared in late 1940. It was a heavily modified T99, with a 26" long barrel. It separated into 2 halves, of roughly equal length and weight. The barrel and receiver were connected together by an interrupted thread system. Additionally, the bolt handle could be unscrewed to allow the package to be quite thin. Unfortunately, it was quickly discovered that the T0 simply was not strong enough to fire thousands of rounds of 7.7mm or be continuously assembled and taken apart. It was too weak. Only a few were ever made. Just as a side note, I've seen this model referred to as the Type 100, but going by the Japanese naming system in use at the time, Type 0 is correct.
The next idea put foreth was the Type 1, which was based on the T38 carbine. In fact, it was a T38 carbine that had had its buttstock chopped off behind the trigger guard and reattached with a henge. The henge was nothing special, little more than something one might find on a door, but it did allow the carbine to be made more compact for transportation. It was quite short too, with its 19" barrel and folded stock. However, it fired the older and weaker 6.5mm round and the stock was prone to cracking and splitting. About 300 of these were constructed, with most owned by the Navy.
Neither the T0 nor the T1 made it out of the prototype stage, but then in 1942, Nagoya got things right with the Type 2. The T2 returned to the 2 piece T99 takedown pattern, but used a strong sliding wedge to connect the two halves. Also, the bolt handle was not removable, allowing it to be more durable and not easily lost. The T2 was very much like the T99. It had a 26" barrel, sliding dustcover, button released cleaning rod (slightly shortened to fit the front half), and even anti-aircraft sights. The stock behind the rear sling swivel was ever so slightly changed though.
Between 1942 and 1944, Nagoya produced thousands of the paratrooper's rifle. Modern estimations range from a total of 19,000 up to 24,000. The rifle changed little during its production runexcept that the last few thousand lacked anti-aircraft sights.
Substitute Type 99 Rifle
(A midwar production Nagoya Type 99 with some simplifications)
Though on paper, the T99 was produced right up until the final day of the war, in reality the final examples made were so different from the original design, that they were designated as Substitute Type 99 rifles. Today, the ST99 is most commonly called a 'Last Ditch Arisaka' by collectors. One might think that these rifles were produced only during the final months or year of the war; but in reality, over a million were made during a 2 year production run.
Changes and manufacturing shortcuts began to appear on new T99s as early as the Spring of 1943. Before we get into the various stages and steps, please keep one thing in mind; different alterations were implemented at different factories, at different times. Also, sometimes leftover or previously rejected parts were used, so a later rifle could leave the factory with an earlier pattern part. There is no real set, firm order or schedule, just a gradual transition from the original T99, to the Substitute 99. With that in mind, here's how things loosely progressed.
The two earliest features to be deleted from the T99 design were the monopod and anti-aircraft sights. The pod was unstable anyway, and the sights were useless, so not having them in no real way detracted from the rifle. The rear sight was still an adjustable latter, it just lacked the fold-out AA wings. Soon after, the push button retained long cleaning rod, was switched for a short rod, which simply screwed into the stock. This little rod was to be used as a weight, tighed to the end of a rope pull-through.
Next, the iconic plum shaped bolt knob was dropped in favour of a slim cylinder, because it was much faster to machine. Finally by late 1943; early 1944, rifles started to come out of the factory without dustcovers. The receivers themselves retained the grooves for a cover but time was saved by not including the piece itself. Not a big deal either, since most soldiers removed the cover as it rattled and complicated bolt removal. Fit and finish of these midwar rifles was still quite high, and the receiver was still marked Year Type 90-9, but 1944 would see more radical changes and a dramatic drop-off in quality control.
Cosmetically, the design began to really change. The barrel bands were simplified as was the safety knob. The knob went from having a fine checkered finish, to course checkering, to a pattern of simple diagonal straight lines. Finally, they stopped doing anything to it, except smoothing out the weld. The adjustable rear sight soon was replaced with a simple fixed peep, welded directly onto the barrel. The front sight lost its protective ears too. It was at this point that the bluing applied to the metal parts started to really decline. Most factories stopped chrome plating the bolt face, though they did continue to line the bore. The receiver even ceased to be stamped with the model designation.
Shortcuts with the stock were also taken. It was no longer finished with Urushi lacker, and instead was simply stained with various substances. The two piece buttstock, became a 3 piece, with the forearm being a separate part. The upper handguard was shortened to about half of its original length, exposing the forward half of the barrel. Even the rear sling swivel was simplified at some factories, going from being attached with two screws to only one. The biggest change with the stock though was the buttplate. It went from being made of steel with a cupped shape, to being made of plain straight wood. It was held to the buttstock by two or threee nails to save on metal for screws.
(A true last-ditch Substitute Type 99 from Nagoya, with all the latewar shortcuts)
By the end of 1944, the ST99 was looking pretty crude, but was still a servicable repeating bolt action rifle. The receiver and barrel might not be polished or deeply blued, but they were still properly forged and heat treated. More changes aimed at conserving steel and time would come about in the final year of the war.
For example, the weld on the back of the safety was left in the rough and no attempt was made to machine it smooth. The welds on the barrel bands and bayonet lug were also left unfinished. The cleaning rod and its channel in the forearm were both deleted altogether. The stamped magazine floorplate and trigger guard were both simplified, and the forearm lost its finger grooves. The wrist area of the buttstock was ever more hastely carved, to a point towards the end when it was nearly as rough as raw wood. Some factories simplified the receiver by omitting the dustcover grooves or even the serial number. Others adopted a very basic bolt latch and very crude barrel bands. Two even did away with both sling swivels completely. Instead, a rope was used as a sling, with one end tighed in a hole in the buttstock, and the other looped around the barrel. Not surprisingly, the bore was no longer chromelined in many of these late rifles.
(A very latewar Substitute Type 99 produced in the Summer of 1945 by Kokura)
What is surprising to some today is the fact that even these crude looking late war rifles were and often still are, safe to operate. Japan was fighting a desperate war during the final years. It needed as many firearms as its factories could produce. So every possible frill and unneccessary step was removed. How a rifle looked, didn't matter one damn bit, however a rifle that would possibly injure its user did. Critical parts such as receivers, barrels, and bolts were still kept to a high standard in terms of durability and reliability. It also helped that the Arisaka pattern action was overbuilt and very strong to begin with. Only rifles made during the final weeks and days of the war, might be considered suspect, as by that time the proof testing system had completely broken down. By that point, random parts were literally being thrown together by untrained workers, who were deeply afraid for their very lives.
For two years, the Imperial Japanese Army fought numorous engagements with the Americans using Substitute Type 99 rifles.
Type 99 Naval Special Rifle
A typical Type 99 Naval Special short rifle, with trainer adjustable sights, no cleaning rod channel, and cast iron receiver)
I almost just lumped this variant of the T99 in with the Substitute 99s, as it is another late war creation. It is just different enough though, that I decided not to do that. In 1944, Japan's Special Naval Landing Force did not have nearly enough Arisakas for its needs. With all factories already at maximum output, the Navy itself tasked its own production yards with coming up with an inexpensive and quick to build rifle.
The T99NS was made nearly entirely from cast iron, including the receiver. In fact, the only two parts made of true hardened steel were the barrel and the bolt. Everything else, including the bolt handle, safety, trigger, sights, and buttplate was cast. The rifle also lacked sling swivels and was to be used with a rope sling. To keep the thing from exploding in a soldier's face, what the designers did was to machine the barrel with an extension, which is what the bolt lugs locked into, rather than the receiver as on other Arisakas. In away, it is not unlike the system used in the AR15/M16. As a result of this locking system, the T99NS receiver was much wider around the chamber area. Most rifles were made with a 26" barrel, but some came out with a 22" carbine length. This wasn't done because the Navy wanted a short weapon. It was done to further save on precious steel. Earlier examples had adjustable sights and later ones had a fixed peep. As the war continued, the upper handguard was cut back, as had been done on the Substitute 99.
About 6,000 of these rifles were delivered to the Naval Landing forces between mid 1944 and early 1945. They were used along side the Italian made Type I and older T38s. They would be joined by other last ditch creations, such as the Type 02/45.
Though in theory the T99NS was strong enough to withstand the 7.7mm round, modern collectors nearly universally agree that these rifles should not be fired today.
Type 99 Production
Nagoya - 1939-1945 - Series 1-8 & 10-12
Kokura - 1939-1945 - Series 20-25
Toyo Kogyo - 1939-1945 - Series 30-35
Tokyo Juki Kogyo - 1940-1945 - Series 27 & 37
Izawa Jyuko - 1940-1945 - first 10,000 in Series 4 & first half of 9
Howa Jyuko - ?-1945 - second half of Series 9
Jinsen - ?-1945 - Series 40
Mukden - ?-1945 - Series 45
(Serials in a Series ran from '0' to '99999')
Notes Regarding The chrysanthemum
The chrysanthemum or just 'mum' is often mentioned and discussed when it comes to Arisakas. I will say this right-out, most real collectors like to have it, but the lack of one is not a deal breaker for them if a rifle doesn't have it. This is because there are just some rifles, such as a Series 12, you simply can't find with the mum intact. Plus, a scrubbed or defaced mum is just part of the rifle's history.
You find them either scrubbed off by a milling machine, or scratched off with a sharp object, such as a bayonet tip. The scrubbed ones were done by Japanese factories before surrendering the firearms to the Allies. The scratched off ones could have either been done by a Japanese or an American soldier in the field. While it is true that Japanese soldiers were ordered to do this before handing over their rifles; to date, no firm evidence has been uncovered that US Gis were actually ordered to do the same. That said, I am sure it was considered common courtesy to do so, and it was an informal rule. You will find more earlier rifles with their chrysanthemums intact than you will latewar ones. You will also find those rifles with theirs only partially defaced by either a single slash mark or light sanding. Don't let a missing mum keep you from buying an otherwise nice Arisaka, though feel free to use it as a negotiating point to get it at a better price.
Well, there you have an overview of the Japanese Arisaka rifle series. Now, i know other goons have these firearms too, so please share them. If someone has a question about theirs or is looking at buying one, please ask it here. Someone will try and help I am sure. I just thought we needed a resource for the Arisaka, as collecting and shooting them are becoming more and more popular these days. For me, I just find them interesting and fun World War II relics. Especially since the majority here in this country today are true 'vet bring backs' too. I remember the first time i saw that Tales of the Gun episode with various Japanese smallarms in it back in the 1990s on the History Channel (you know? back when that was actually a half-decent thing to watch!). I knew right then that one day I would have to own at least an early T99 with all the goofy gadgets and a late one with all the crudity.
As it turned out, the very first Arisaka I bought was the Type 30 long rifle you saw earlier. A local shop knew I was wanting one, so when they traded for it, they called me to ask if I wanted it for $200. I had someone drive me up there and i looked at it. I really was wanting a T99 in 7.7mm, but after a bit of considering, i bought it. I am really happy I did, as T30s in this condition are not exactly easy to find. That same day, i bought my second Arisaka. On the way home, we stopped into a pawnshop, and I asked the owner if he had any 7.7mms. He said no, but then thought and went into the back. Much to my delight, he came back with a latewar T99. He said he'd basically give it to me, if i promised I'd never ever try and shoot it. He was so afraid of it, he hadn't even logged it into his books. That rifle is the Series 25 you saw above. So on my very first day of Arisaka ownership, i was very lucky and ended up with two quite nice examples. Finally, about a year later I found my gadgety early T99 at a local gunshow. I paid $250 for it, and it too is the one you saw in this thread. Good fortune and good memories surround my 15+ year collecting of Arisakas and Nambus. Plus, when i started, I could buy them quite cheaply because not too many others were interested in Japanese stuff. Today though, that is changing and prices are starting to really climb. Most recently, i picked up my T35, which was the last major Arisaka variant I was needing to round out my collection. Plus hey, Navy marked firearms are always nifty right? I've had a lot of fun finding these guns and learning about them, so I wanted to share.