In 1938 guidelines were established for the development of a 7.7mm rifle.  Experience gained in China indicated that a larger caliber than the 6.5mm was needed.  Initially, about 300 Type 38 rifles were converted to 7.7mm.  After testing these rifles, the decision was made to design a new rifle instead of just converting the Type 38 to 7.7mm.

Type 99 Long Rifle.
Long rifle & short rifle monopods. 
Long rifle & short rifle aircraft sights.
The resulting rifle was adopted as the Type 99 in 1939.  Initial production was a long rifle similar to the Type 38 but in 7.7X58 caliber.  The long rifle had a longer monopod under the stock, a different monopod hinge & the aircraft sights (designed for the soldier to lead flying aircraft) were different, having 2 sight notches both on the bottom & the top of the sight arms instead of only one on the bottom as on the later short rifles version. 

The Japanese found that little change in accuracy was apparent between long rifle and short rifle designs.  Consequently, they quickly changed to a short rifle design.  As the war continued the Type 99 went through a continuing series of modifications to make it easier to produce & conserve materials.  This ended with the so called Last Ditch rifles that are extremely crude with wooden butt plates.  The terms First Production, Mid War Production & Late War Production under the photos are used as general terms.  Changes were incorporated at different times by different manufacturers & there is a great variety of what changes can be found in any Type 99 rifle.

First production Type 99 no series rifle with aircraft sights, monopod, front sight protector ears & excellent workmanship.

Mid war production. It has an adjustable rear sight without aircraft arms, no monopod or front sight protector.

Late war production.  Fixed rear sight, welded safety knob, cylindrical bolt handle & wooden butt plate.  This version was adopted by the Japanese as the “Substitute Type 99”.


The Japanese never officially adopted a sniper rifle based on the Type 99.  They did equip the Type 99 with a telescopic sight, both 2.5 power & 4 power.  These rifles are identified only as Type 99 sniper’s rifles.


There were 2 paratroop rifle versions of the Type 99 produced.  The first was the Type 100.  It had an interrupted screw barrel thread.  Very few were produced. The second was the Type 2.  It had a sliding wedge system to lock the barrel in place.  The wedge slides in front of the lug on the rear of the barrel & is threaded into the side of the receiver.  It has a wire bail to hand tighten it.
Early Type 99 Naval Special with hand guard, front sight protector ears & adjustable rear sight.
 Late Naval Special with no hand guard, no front sight ears & fixed rear sight.
Early rifle
Late rifle.
Late carbine.
Early rifle.
Late  rifle.
Late  carbine.
The Japanese Navy manufactured a version of the Type 99 with a cast iron receiver.  This was the Naval Special Type 99 Rifle.  A 26 9/16” barreled rifle & 21 5/8” carbine were produced.  Although crude, the first rifles had upper hand guards & receiver markings.  The late war ones had no receiver markings other than a S/N & an inspection mark.   Apparently none of the guns were blued.  They were all painted, mostly black but some may have red painted parts mixed in. 

Not only the receiver but all the bands, trigger guard & magazine floor plate were cast iron.  The chamber of the barrel was enlarged & the locking recess for the bolt was machined into the barrel.  This kept the receiver from carrying any of the stresses of firing.  Even though this is sound in theory & is used on some modern rifles, these cast iron receiver rifles & carbines should not be fired!

The Japanese used a wide variety of training rifles.  Most of these were crudely made in small shops.  Stocks were generally made of one piece of wood instead of the normal dove tailed 2.  Barrels were smoothbore (no rifling) as they were designed to only fire blanks.  The majority were styled after the Type 38 long rifle.  The navy had one with a cast iron receiver that was styled after the Type 99 short rifle.  In addition, obsolete Japanese & captured enemy rifles were converted into trainers.   Schools that had access to ranges were issued serviceable Type 30 & 38 rifles that usually had the school markings on the stock or the character for school stamped on the breech ring. 

Izawa 38 Model Youth Training Gun No. 2 that used a straight walled pistol type blank cartridge to simulate firing.
A naval Type 99 trainer with a cast iron receiver.
A Type 99 long rifle trainer.  The second photo shows the fore stock & front band/bayonet lug of both the trainer & a Type 99 long rifle.  The Type 38 trainers have a rounded band similar to the Type 38 rifles.
A Japanese trainer made from a captured Chinese M1888 rifle.
One additional Japanese rifle that is fairly common is the so-called Type I, (I think for Italy).  In 1937 the 3 Axis Powers (Germany, Italy & Japan) signed an agreement for the exchange of industrial help.  Japan needed additional rifles to equip her growing military, so she placed an order with the Italian Government for 60,000 rifles.  These all used the Italian Carcano action but with all components copied from the Japanese Type 38 rifle, including the Mauser style magazine & 2 piece stock.  Production started in 1938 & was completed in 1939.  It is reported that the entire production was delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy.



Japan got a late start on adopting a rifle grenade launcher.  In the late 1930s they adopted a spigot type launcher that used the Type 91 hand grenade with a special hollow finned shaft in stead of the booster assembly used in the Type 89 Grenade Launcher (so called Knee Mortar).  In 1940 they adopted the Type 100 cup type launcher that fired the Type 99 Kiska grenade.  In 1942 2 German officers went to Japan with examples of the German cup type hollow charge grenade launcher.  After a short evaluation & some changes, the German design was adopted as the Type 2.  The photos show both the Japanese & German versions of this launcher.

I’d like to thank John Ziorbo for supplying the pictures of the Type 1 Test carbine, Type 97 & 99 sniper rifles & the Type 99 Naval Special early rifle & carbine & the Type 2 rifle grenade launcher.   Also Francis C. Allan & Harvey W. Macy (Deceased) for the information in BANZAI Special Project #8, The Type 38 Arisaka.

copyright 2004
Carbines for Collectors
Cliff Carlisle