Japanese Arisaka Type 99 or Short Rifle


My Christmas present to my father this year was cleaning and preserving his WWII war souvenir Arisaka Type 99 (or Short) rifle taken from the caves of Truk Lagoon (aka Chuuk Lagoon) preserved in Cosmoline grease.


Based on the earlier Type 38 rifle with licensed Mauser features and designed by Colonel Arisaka, this bolt-action battle rifle fired the 7.7mm round first used in machine guns, an improvement from the earlier 6.5×50 cartridge.


Monopod is Always Attached

The monopod seems too flimsy and the wrong height for effective use.


Cleaning Rod is Handy


Cock-on-closing was an improvement on Mauser though the same could not be said of the odd monopod, overly complex ladder sight with anti-aircraft ‘wings’ or the noisy sheet metal bolt cover.


The knurled mushroom safety was also disliked by GIs because it was different from their service rifles. But using the heel of the hand it only required 1/8 turn to fire and was positive and quiet.


I Didn’t Disassemble Or Repair Cracks

Famously strong, these rifles were hard to blow up; except for late war weapons called “Last Ditch” or “Substitute Standard” due to their crude finish; and captured mild steel drill rifles never designed to be shot being test fired by clueless allied soldiers and marines.


Converted to .30-06, 8x57mm or 7.62 NATO the rifles functioned but accuracy suffered from twist rate disparity and cartridge differences. Rifle featured early use of chrome plated bore. When I ran Hoppe’s #9 cleaner through this service rifle the 70+ year old bore shined.


The Imperial Japanese chrysanthemum stamp was often partially or fully ground off weapons after the war to avoid the sacred symbol losing face through disgraceful surrender. But you can see it here on my Dad’s war prize. And the flimsy noisy bolt cover that most sensible Japanese infantry threw away asap is still there as well.


I don’t know how many allied planes were shot down using the wings on the sight but it can’t be many. Still, the sight is solidly built and still functional.


Magazine holds five cartridges and features a push-button trap door to eject rounds in case of jams.


Unless otherwise noted, text and images were produced and copyrighted by todgermanica.com and are free for noncommercial use with attribution.

2 thoughts on “Japanese Arisaka Type 99 or Short Rifle

  1. Hi Tod,

    I am writing a small book (in Italian) about military rifles of WW1.
    To this end, I ask you the permission to use the photo of the Arisaka bolt cover. I know that the rifle shown is more or les my age (borne in ’42), but the cover is identical to older models. .
    I hasten to add that, if and when the book is published, your name will be mentioned with gratitude.

    Many thanks for the attention and best regards.

    Best of luck in your publishing efforts. Please feel free to use the jpeg image from my blog.
    However, the Arisaka type 99 rifle entered service in 1939- during WWII, not the 1914-1918 war. The IJA used the Arisaka type 38 during WWI (and it supplemented the type 99 in the later war). Thanks for the credit if you use my picture.

    • Tod,
      Thank you for the kind permission. I know that Type 99 was not used in WW1, but yours is the only available source for a part that, anyway, is identical to the Type 38 bolt cover.
      Thanks again

      Though sometimes maligned as crude or derivative, the Arisaka was a match for any of the 5-shot bolt action military service rifles of WWII.
      War souvenir and surplus rifles are nearly forgotten and seldom fired here in the USA because of the rare, unavailable 7.7mm cartridge.
      Good luck with the book.

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