Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rifle of the Week – The Japanese Type 99

The Type 99 Rifle was the Japan’s standard infantry weapon during World War II. It was first developed in 1939 and developed to replace the aging Type 38 rifle - but it never completely supplanted the Type 38 in the field. One of the primary benefits of the Type 99 was that it fired a higher caliber projectile than the Type 38. The Type 38 was a 6.5mm weapon whereas the standard by the outbreak of World War II was around 0.30 caliber (American M1 Garand, British Enfield, Soviet Mosin Nagant). The Type 99 therefore used a 7.7mm bullet (the actual bullet used is a 0.311 modernly, which matches the diameter of a 303 British load).


The Type 99 was made at several arsenals with a total production run of almost 2.5 million rifles. It was produced at an array of arsenals, and the individual series and arsenal marks can be seen here:

http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/japanese_markings.html

At the beginning of the war, the Type 99 was arguably the finest bolt action rifle in action. It boasted a chrome lined barrel (unique for that time) coupled to one of the strongest bolt action mechanisms found on a military firearm (based on post war U.S. Army testing). It had some very unique features (a dust cover over the bolt mechanism, a monopod for stabilization, and a flip sight with side wings to facilitate targeting of aircraft – optimism at its finest!).



As the war progressed, many of the features of the Type 99 were simplified or deleted all together resulting in “substitute Type 99” rifles, some of which appear very crude by the end of the war.

If you’re interested in the Type 99, or Japanese weapons in General, think about joining Banzai:

http://www.gunboards.com/sites/banzai/

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