The Type 99 is one of the most commonly found WWII Japanese military rifles.

The Type 99 is one of the most commonly found WWII Japanese military rifles. The initial production rifle was made only by Nagoya Arsenal and Toyo Kogyo under Kokura Arsenal supervision. Only about 38,000 of the long version 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 more than two million were made. This example is an early production 0 series Type 99 produced by Nagoya Arsenal. Nagoya was the most prolific of the manufacturers producing slightly less than 1.1 million short Type 99 rifles.

Early production Type 99s have a cupped, metal buttplate to protect the toe from chipping. Additionally, the bottom half of the stock was sawn off and reattached to alter the angle of the wood grain further strengthening the toe.

 Early production Type 99s have a cupped, metal buttplate to protect the toe from chipping. Additionally, the bottom half of the stock was sawn off and reattached to alter the angle of the wood grain further strengthening the toe.

Too often, collectors think of WWII Japanese rifles as being crude and of dubious quality. Ask a Pacific War veteran however, they’ll tell you, in no uncertain terms, Arisaka rifles were quality, battlefield weapons despite their supposedly inferior parts, oddly built stock with grains going in different directions, and seemingly out-of-place extras. 

Granted, as the war progressed, factories and equipment were destroyed, skilled personnel were disabled or killed, and supply lines cut. Japan had to take measures to simplify and speed-up rifle production. Collectors commonly refer to these weapons as “last ditch” rifles.

The Type 99 is one of the most commonly found Japanese military rifles with approximately 2.5 million made. Following their experience in China, the Japanese military developed a 7.7mm round more powerful than the 6.5mm used in the Type 38 and designed the Type 99 around the new round. When the rifle first went into production in 1939 a “short” and “long” rifle were both produced, about 3/4” and a hand guard made the difference. The long version was discontinued after a couple of years.

The safety knob is a finely knurled example typical of early Type 99s. As the war progressed this would be simplified to first a series of vertical groves, and then later, to a flat piece of metal. The straight bolt handle is typical of the Type 99.

The safety knob is a finely knurled example typical of early Type 99s. As the war progressed this would be simplified to first a series of vertical groves, and then later, to a flat piece of metal. The straight bolt handle is typical of the Type 99.

On the left side of the stock is a two-screw sling swivel.

On the left side of the stock is a two-screw sling swivel. While the two-piece stock was retained in later production, the buttplate was simplified to a flat piece of wood, and the sling swivel would eventually be reduced to a hole drilled to accommodate a length of rope.

The rifle illustrated here is an early production 0 series Type 99 produced by Nagoya Arsenal. Nagoya was the most prolific of the manufacturers producing slightly less than 1.1 million rifles.

In the world of WWII military surplus firearms, Type 99 rifles are inexpensive acquisitions Most can be purchased in the $300-$500 range depending on manufacture and quality. Last-ditch rifles, can bring substantially less or more, depending on condition. All original, early rifles will bring prices more commensurate with other military firearms of the time period.

If you are shooter, you will find that the most challenging aspect of owning Japanese rifles is finding ammunition. Prior to the U.S. ammunition shortage during the Obama Presidency, major manufacturers would produce limited runs of 6.5mm and 7.7 mm Japanese ammunition. During the shortage, however, they ceased production to meet the demands of more common calibers and haven’t restarted those lines. Steinel Ammunition is about the only manufacturer that is consistently producing what appears to be quality ammunition in a number of historic calibers, including 6.5 & 7.7 Japanese. 

Toward the front of the receiver at the top we find markings indicating the model of the rifle: Type 99 (read left to right 9, 9, Type). In addition, a gas escape hole (drain holes are located on the bottom of the receiver in front of the floor plate and right side of rifle.

Toward the front of the receiver at the top we find markings indicating the model of the rifle: Type 99 (read left to right 9, 9, Type). In addition, a gas escape hole (drain holes are located on the bottom of the receiver in front of the floor plate and right side of rifle. Visible on this example is a ground spot on the rifle. Japanese rifles were issued with a Chrysanthemum, a symbol of the Emperor. To surrender was disgraceful, so soldiers would grind the “mum” off so as not to disgrace the Emperor. 

The rear sight is graduated out to 1,500 meters. However, the addition of two wings that fold down have notches numbered 1, 2, and 3(in hundreds of nautical miles per hour).

The rear sight is graduated out to 1,500 meters. However, the addition of two wings that fold down have notches numbered 1, 2, and 3(in hundreds of nautical miles per hour). These are referred to as anti-aircraft sights and were designed to give the “lead” necessary to hit an aircraft. Many of these wings were broken off or, in the case of later models, not attached due to their lack of practicality and additional production time and expense. 

Explanation of the the "Mum."

Explanation of the the "Mum."

WWII photo of US soldiers with souvenir Type 99 rifles.

While many Japanese rifles found today entered the market through surplus gun sales, among collectors, the real prizes are the rifles brought back by U.S. military personnel as souvenirs. “Bring-back” rifles with the original military souvenir paperwork will command the highest prices today. 

Value of Type 99 Rifles

Table with Type 99 values in 2020.

Prices updated 2020.

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