Type 99 rifle

The Type 99 rifle Arisaka or Type 99 short rifle (九九式短小銃, Kyūkyū-shiki tan-shōjū) was a bolt-action rifle of the Arisaka design used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Type 99 rifle
Japanese Type 99 carbine.jpg
A Type 99 short rifle.
TypeBolt-action rifle
Place of originEmpire of Japan
Service history
In service1939–1945 (Japan)
Used bySee Users
WarsChinese Civil War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Indonesian National Revolution
Hukbalahap Rebellion
Soviet–Japanese Border Wars
Korean War
Malayan Emergency[citation needed]
First Indochina War
Vietnam War[citation needed]
Production history
DesignerKijiro Nambu
Nariakira Arisaka
No. built~3,500,000[1]
Mass8.36 lb (3.79 kg)
Length1,118 mm (44.0 in) or 1,258 mm (49.5 in)
Barrel length657 mm (25.9 in)

Cartridge7.7×58mm Arisaka
Caliber0.3 inches (7.6 mm)
ActionBolt action
Muzzle velocity2,477 ft/s (755 m/s)
Effective firing range656 metres (717 yd) with iron sight
1,500 metres (1,600 yd) (short) with telescopic sight
1,700 metres (1,900 yd) (long) with telescopic sight
Maximum firing range3,400 metres (3,700 yd) (7.7×58mm Arisaka)
Feed system5-round internal box magazine, stripper clip loaded


During the Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, the Japanese soon found that the 7.7mm cartridge being fired by their Type 92 heavy machine gun in China was superior to the 6.5×50mm cartridge of the Type 38 rifle. This necessitated the development of a new weapon to replace the outclassed Type 38, and finally standardize on a single rifle cartridge.[2] The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) developed the Type 99 based on the Type 38 rifle but with a caliber of 7.7mm. The Type 99 was produced at nine different arsenals. Seven arsenals were located in Japan, with the other two located at Mukden in Manchukuo and Jinsen in Korea.

The IJA had intended to completely replace the Type 38 with the Type 99 by the end of the war. However, the outbreak of the Pacific war never allowed the army to completely replace the Type 38 and so the IJA used both rifles extensively during the war. As the war progressed, more and more cost saving steps were introduced in order to speed up production. Late war rifles are often called "Last Ditch" or "Substitute Standard" due to their crudeness of finish. They are generally as crude as the 1945 dated Mauser K98k of Germany, or worse.

The Type 99 was produced in four versions, the regular issue Type 99 Short Rifle, the Type 99 Long Rifle (a limited production variant), the take-down Type 2 Paratroop Rifle, and the Type 99 Sniper Rifle. The standard rifle also came with a wire monopod and an anti-aircraft sighting device. The Type 99 was the first mass-produced infantry rifle to have a chrome lined bore to ease cleaning. All of these features were abandoned by mid-war.

Use by other countriesEdit

During the Korean War, approximately 126,500 short and 6,650 long Type 99 Rifles were re-chambered under American supervision at the Tokyo arsenal to fire the then-standard .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Apparently intended for the South Korean "gendarmerie", few rifles appear to have been issued at the end of the war in 1953. These rifles were fitted with a lengthened magazine well and had a small notch cut in the top of the receiver to accommodate the .30-06 round's 1/3 inch greater length.[3] Accuracy suffered, due to the difference in cartridges, rifling rate and characteristics, but they were nonetheless functional. Conversions to both .30-06 and 7.62 NATO as well 7.62 Russian have also been performed by civilians, often along with sporterising modifications.

After 1946, the Republic of China re-chambered large numbers of Type 99 rifles to fire the 8×57 IS cartridge.[1] Indonesian forces used a large number of Type 99 rifles in the fighting against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1949), although late Japanese production was less reliable. Sniper rifles were also used.[4] The Royal Thai Army received Japanese rifles of all types after 1945 and converted some short Type 99 rifles to fire the U.S. .30-06 cartridge during the early 1950s.[3]


In the West, Japanese equipment is commonly referred to as "Type XX", rather than "Model XX". In the case of a firearm, "Model" is a more accurate interpretation of the SHIKI (式) character, but the word "Type" has become well-established by collectors for decades.


The flip-up anti-aircraft rear sights of a Type 99 rifle. The calipers on the sides are to determine the speed of the targeted aircraft.

To gain the superior hitting power of the larger 7.7mm cartridge, several caliber 6.5mm Type 38 rifles were modified for the new round. Although the tests proved satisfactory, the army decided that the added recoil and larger chambering for the 7.7mm cartridge would require an entirely new rifle to be built for the cartridge.[2] It utilized a cock-on-closing action and an unusual safety mechanism, operated by pressing in the large knurled disk at the rear of the bolt with the palm of the hand and rotating it in a 1/8 clockwise turn, which is often misunderstood by Western shooters who are used to the Mauser's thumb lever safety. It featured a quick-release bolt and antiaircraft sights, as well as a sliding bolt cover and monopod. As a bolt-action rifle, the Type 99 was a very solid weapon, but as with all manually operated rifles used during World War II, they were in most close combat situations outclassed by semi-automatic rifles and submachine guns.

The Type 99 is one of the strongest military bolt action rifles ever made,[5] but many late-war ("last ditch") rifles used lower quality parts, and a complete lack of finish, as well as shortcuts taken to ease production. The "last ditch" rifles are usually distinguished by their crudeness: poorly finished stock, wood buttplate, very obvious tooling marks in the metal, rudimentary sights and an unfinished bolt knob and handle. Unlike its predecessors, however, a disadvantage of the Type 99 was its increased recoil due to the lighter weight combined with a heavier cartridge.

In some cases, these rifles may actually be training rifles intended for firing cartridges with a wood projectile only. The training rifles were made of mild steel and were never intended for ball ammunition. It is possible that reports of Type 99 rifles blowing up were simply the results of soldiers testing captured weapons. Unaware that they were using drill rifles, they fired ball ammunition in them with poor results and possible injuries. It is possible that this may have unjustly led to the Arisaka having a reputation (at least for the last ditch rifles) for being of poor construction.

The Type 99 can be fitted with a Type 30 bayonet. The Type 30 bayonet had a very long, slender blade, and was grooved to reduce weight. The early models featured a hooked quillion. These bayonets attached to a lug under the barrel and were further stabilized by a loop that fit around the muzzle. Unmounted, it handled like a machete.


Type 99 long rifleEdit

The initial production rifle of the Type 99. Made only by Nagoya Arsenal and Toyo Kogyo under Kokura Arsenal supervision. Only about 38,000 were produced, 8,000 at Nagoya and 30,000 at Toyo Kogyo between summer of 1940 and spring of 1941 when production was switched to the much more common new Type 99 short rifle of which millions were made. The long rifle was found to be more cumbersome than the short rifle, and provided only marginally better performance. Thus, it was sidelined in favor of the short rifle, which was much more practical, required less resources to produce, proving more than satisfactory. Like the early Type 99 short rifles, these Long rifles were made with a monopod, anti-aircraft lead arms on the rear sight and a dust cover.[6]

Type 99 short rifleEdit

In 1942, a Type 99 with a 660 mm (26 in) barrel was designed, and became the basis for the Type 99 sniper rifle. During the Korean War, the South Korean Army modified a total of 133,000 Type 99 short rifles to fire .30-06 Springfield, alongside other changes, such as a larger magazine and revised ejection port. The .30-06 Type 99s had poor accuracy, as the rifle was never intended to fire the round.[7]



Though the Arisaka rifle has never been exported to the United States in great numbers, there are thousands available—most having been brought home by Marines and soldiers returning from the Pacific theater. In many cases, the imperial chrysanthemum atop the receiver has been defaced by the surrendering Japanese in order to preserve the Emperor's honor: the mark indicated that the rifle was the Emperor's personal property. Rifles with an intact chrysanthemum often bring a premium on the collector market, sometimes almost double the price for a like model defaced rifle. Many have been rechambered to more common calibers due to the relative scarcity of factory 7.7×58mm Arisaka; it is particularly suitable for this due to its robust action.



  • Hatcher, General Julian S. (1966). Hatcher's Notebook. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Company.
  • Honeycutt Jr., Fred L. and Anthony, F. Patt. Military Rifles of Japan. Fifth edition, 2006. Julin Books, U.S.A. ISBN 0-9623208-7-0.
  • Voigt, Don The Japanese Type 99 Arisaka Rifle 2010 Edition, 2012 revision, 2012. Lodestone Publications, U.S.A. ISBN 978-0-9801826-8-2.
  1. ^ a b c Walter, John (2006). Rifles of the World (3rd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 33. ISBN 0-89689-241-7.
  2. ^ a b Honeycutt and Anthony p. 84
  3. ^ a b c d e Walter, John (2006). Rifles of the World (3rd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 34. ISBN 0-89689-241-7.
  4. ^ Bloomfield, Lincoln P.; Leiss, Amelia Catherine (30 June 1967). The Control of local conflict : a design study on arms control and limited war in the developing areas (PDF). 3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for International Studies. p. 91. hdl:2027/uiug.30112064404368.
  5. ^ Hatcher, P. 206, 210
  6. ^ Voigt, p.18-20
  7. ^ a b "Arisaka Type 99 (Rifle)". Military Factory.
  8. ^ Smith, Joseph E. (1969). Small Arms of the World (11 ed.). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Stackpole Company. p. 299.
  9. ^ https://www.thearmorylife.com/best-rifle-of-the-pacific-war/
  10. ^ Edwards, Paul M. (2006). The Korean War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-313-33248-7.
  11. ^ Scarlata, Paul (20 December 2009). "Small arms of the Philippine Constabulary: from Moro to Japanese and back again! Part 2". Shotgun News.
  12. ^ Windrow, Martin (15 Nov 1998). The French Indochina War 1946–54. Men-at-Arms 322. Osprey Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 9781855327894.

External linksEdit