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What was the standard Japanese rifle of World War II and how did it compare to its Allied counterparts?

Joseph Forbes,
Pittsburgh, PA

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The principal long arm of Japanese infantry was the Arisaka Type 99 7.7mm rifle. This, like the American Springfield M1903, was based on the action of the German Mauser K98k rifle. The Japanese-modified cock-on-closing action, however, was an improvement over the Mauser’s cock-on-opening design. Produced by seven Japanese arsenals, as well as one in Mukden, China, and one in Jinsen, Korea, the weapon came in long, short, foldable paratroop and sniper versions. It was the first rifle with a chrome-lined bore to aid in cleaning and had an antiaircraft sighting device.

With its strong receiver assembly, the early Arisaka Type 99s were among the best bolt-action rifles of the war, but were outclassed by semiautomatic rifles such as the M1 Garand. Also, in the war’s later stages the chrome lining and the anti-aircraft sight were abandoned and the general quality of the rifles rapidly fell off—as did the quality of the German Mausers, built by slave labor under deteriorating conditions.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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