Early-production Arisaka Type 99 rifle reproduction review

06.19.07


Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action airsoft rifle

Arisaka Type 99 rifle “kyuukyuu-shiki syoujyuu” 7.7mm

There is more to Arisaka Type 99 than meets the eye. Now available as highly realistic airsoft reproduction that gives interesting insight into IJA Arisaka rifles.

For WWII airsoft combat use. By WWII GUNS.

Arisaka Type 99 rifle “kyuukyuu-shiki syoujyuu” bolt-action airsoft rifle


Name

Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action rifle, early model reproduction
Manufacturer Tanaka
Model Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action airsoft rifle
Ammo capacity 10
Weight 3,200g
Power 70m/s with 0.20g BB
Power system Internal gas tank (magazine housed) & HFC134a gas
Hop Up Yes
Power source HFC134a
Shooting mode Bolt-action
Construction Metal and wood
Pros Cons Verdict
+ Appearance wise perfect early-production Arisaka Type 99
+ Beatiful real wood furniture
+ All early-production real Arisaka Type 99 features have been included
+ High grade materials for airsoft gun, only metal and wood used
+ Model gun like finish
+ Lower price than KTW Arisaka Type 99

- None. Perfect!
Perfect reproduction of Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action rifle. Combines model gun realism and looks with airsoft gun technology.

Purchase Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action airsoft rifle

General Patton praised the M1 Rifle as "the greatest battle implement ever devised" so perhaps the Arisaka Type 99 could deserve the words "the strongest bolt-action ever devised" as the Type 99 is known in collector circles.


Japanese war hero 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda's war did not end until 1974. He fought for 29 years with his Arisaka Type 99 rifle.

This is not without combat evidence because the famous Japanese war hero 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda used the Arisaka Type 99 for unbelievable 29 years of continuous guerrilla warfare (Onoda was intelligence and guerrilla warfare trained IJA officer who fought in Philippines between 1945-1974 beliewing that the war had not ended). Onoda’s weapon of choice, or rather perhaps owing to the circumstances, was the Arisaka Type 99 which he eventually surrendered along with his sword. What made it last that long in the jungle environment? Probably it was not only the constant cleaning and caressing Onoda applied to his Type 99 but the design and manufacturing features which were made to Type 99s to withstand corrosive conditions of the Pacific theatre.

Background

The rather traditional looking Arisaka Type 99 was in-fact relative late-comer having been first issued in the eve of second world war, 1939. For it was indeed more advanced than its more famous counterparts such as the Mauser Kar 98k and Springfield M1903. Under its traditional exterior it hid interesting designs such as chromed bore that would keep it clean even in extremely humid conditions that were encountered in Asian battlefields.


Type 99 was used by IJA both in Philippines and in Iwo Jima

The Arisaka Type 38 6.5mm bolt-action rifle had been the primary small arm of Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) units during the campaigns in China and Manchuria in late 1930s. However it had been chambered to rather underpowered 6.5x50mm cartridge that dated back to Meiji period (1868-1912). The main benefit of 6.5mm cartridge was its limited recoil that suited small statured Japanese soldiers well and in comparison to more powerful cartridges the Japanese 6.5mm cartridge had less visible muzzle flash. For further concealment of firer special reduced charge cartridge was also manufactured for Type 96 light machine gun and Type 97 sniper rifle.


This photos shows clearly how the unique stock partition of Arisaka Type 99 has been reproduced in Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 rifle. The stock had to be carefully oiled, cleaned and maintained in tropical conditions to avoid it becaming rotten.
However IJA combat experiences in China lead to change in Japanese thinking concerning the Type 38 rifle adequacy and subsequently development of Type 99 rifle was started with first models being issued in 1939. The 6.5x50mm cartridge was seen as underpowered and therefore more powerful 7.7x58mm cartridge was adopted for the Type 99 rifle. The 7.7mm cartridge for Type 99 did indeed produce more power than the British .303 cartridge and was equal to Springfield .30-06 ammunition (7.62x63mm). (Arisaka rifle development work was led by Colonel Nariaka Arisaka, superintendent of the Tokyo Arsenal. The lead designer was Captain Kijiro Nambu, who also designed the famous Nambu automatic pistol.)

Design features

Other development features of Type 99 rifle were shortened length of 1,120mm in comparison to Type 38’s 1,280mm. Type 99 length was equal to German Mauser Kar 98k and thus made the Type 99 much more handy than the Type 38. However because of the shortened length and powerful cartridge the recoil of Type 99 became inconvenient for average Japanese soldier. Muzzle blast was also noticeably more visible than in Type 38 so some Japanese soldiers still preferred Type 38 over the Type 99. The other two distinctive new features in Type 99 were the monobipod (not included in all models) and anti-aircraft sight.


In this photo Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 bolt-section can be seen. Note the relatively high position of the bolt lever which allows quick reloading action.
Perhaps less visible but far more important feature was chromed barrel that was essential against corrosive conditions encountered in the Pacific. Considering the humid, tropical, salt water environment in which Arisakas were used coupled with corrosively primed ammunition, chrome plating the bores and sometimes the bolt faces combined with a radiused groove type rifling of the early M99s was a significant design coup. Many GIs wondered why Type 99s always had perfectly clean, unpitted bores while his M1 didn't. Besides chromed bores Arisaka Type 99 also introduced new up-to-date sights that helped aiming. Ammunition was carried in two pouches, each holding a half dozen five rounds clips for a total of sixty rounds for the average IJA soldier.

Field experience

As the chromed bore indicates the Type 99 was primarily developed for fighting in the Pacific and indeed its shorter lenght and lighter weight in comparison to Type 38 were relief for the underfed and fatiqued IJA infantry men in locations like Guadalcanal, Burma, Philippines and Iwo Jima. One of them was earlierly mentioned 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda. During his 29 years of guerrilla warfare Onoda used exclusively his trusty Arisaka Type 99 rifle of which ammunition stocks he was able to supplement with improvised 7.7mm machine gun ammunition. At the time of his surrender in 1974 Onoda turned over fully working Arisaka Type 99 rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition, several hand grenades and his officers sword.

The Arisaka Type 99 was used by IJA in Iwo Jima. The change of the rifle from Type 38 to Type 99 was carried out division by division because the ammunition supply had to be standardized in a division. At first the divisions in Manchuria changed Type 38 to Type 99. Then the divisions in Japan homeland changed. The divisions in the Pacific front were the last.

In combat it is said that skilled IJA soldier was able to aim and fire Arisaka Type 99 five times in thirty seconds while less proficient soldier could possibly dispatch two shots in same time. In Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 the relatively unique bolt-action of Type 99 does come apparent and after some adjusting period the faster reloading time, in comparison to Mauser Kar 98k and other traditional bolt-actions, is clearly evident.

In a sense high muzzle velocity of Type 99 was advantage for IJA soldiers who could still react if fired upon from distance with carbine.

Manufacture

Arisakas carry a serial number and the mark of the producing arsenal along the left receiver rail and these have been copied to the Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 as well. The last three digits of the serial number should appear on the underside of the root of the bolt handle. Matching numbers may also appear on other parts of the rifle.

Eight different arsenals produced the Type 99, with each arsenal being assigned one or more series designations for their production. Nagoya had a total of 13 such designations, while three arsenals (Howa Jyuko, Jinsen, and Mukden) had only one each. Part of the manufacturing system of Arisaka Type 99 rifle was Toyo company which is these days known better as car manufacturer Matsuda . The bayonet of Type 99 was manufactured even more famous Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. Due to war time shortage of both available manufacturing time and resources by 1942 many simplifications began to appear on Type 99 rifles. By 1943, so many simplifications had been introduced, that the rifle was re-designated the “Substitute Type 99” also known as the "Last Ditch Arisaka". By the sixth production series (Series 5), Nagoya had abandoned the monopod and dust cover (reproduction dust cover is available as optional part for Tanaka Arisaka Type 99). In the next series (Series 6) the anti-aircraft sight was gone and the knob on the bolt handle was simplified to a cylinder rather than the more elegant “oval” or “plum” shape. By their eighth production series (Series 7), all of the features of the Substitute Type 99 were present.


The imperial symbol of the Emporor in Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 rifle. Realistic production stamping and serial numbering can be also found from the receiver (not visible in this photo).
One of the distinctive features of the Tanaka Works Arisaka Type 99 rifle is, as in many of the Imperial Japanese Army weapons of the era, the chrysanthemum (mum) markings on the receiver that are thesedays rare to find from real Arisaka Type 99 rifles. The sixteen petal mum is the imperial symbol of the Japanese Emperor and because of it many of chrysanthemum markings were ground off the rifles by surrendering Japanese troops as it was considered a disgrace to hand over a rifle was considered the property of the Emperor. Naturally in collector circles Type 99 rifles with intact chrysanthemums are regarded more valuable than ones without.


Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 with wire monopod in fold-down position.
One of the more intriguing design features of the early Arisaka Type 99 rifles is a light, integral wire monopod that is attached to the rear stock band and folds down to make a forearm rest. The wire monopod was omitted from late production models but is present in this Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 airsoft rifle and in our model gun Arisaka Type 99s (excluding the paratroop version).

Anti-aircraft sight


The controversial anti-aircraft sight that was evident in early production models. It is fully foldable, including the wings, in Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 rifle.
The anti-aircraft rear sight has two wings that fold down on either side of the elevated elevation slide. Each wing features one or more aiming notches and numbers like 2 and 3 that are calibrated to correspond to the speed of an enemy aircraft in hundreds of knots. In use, the soldier estimates the speed of the plane and uses the appropriate numbered point on the wing as the rear sight to apply the correct lead for the shot. The anti-aircraft sight was present only in early production models and these sights were omitted from late production models. The Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 model and Arisaka Type 99 model guns do have fully functioning anti-aircraft sights as these models are reproductions of early production Arisaka Type 99s.

Stock

Another feature that is rather unique to the Arisaka and commonly misunderstood is the two piece butt stock that looks like a damaged, split stock. To economize on wood, the Japanese were able to use much smaller stock blanks if the lower half of the butt including the pistol grip was cut from another piece of wood. The two pieces are actually dovetailed together and glued. In Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 rifle this distinctive two piece butt stock has been replicated beatifully and as result the stock looks exactly like real Arisaka Type 99 stock of WWII era.


The wood stock furniture is exceptionally beatiful in this reproduction rifle.

Summary

The Arisaka rifles are interesting models to collect and their history indicates that they were quite possibly one of the better infantry weapons of WWII. The Tanaka Arisaka Type 99 rifle does give excellent and practical look into Imperial Japanese Army infantry weaponry, which is certainly eye-opener for the common WWII enthusiast.

Real Arisaka Type 99 rifle statistics

Barrel length: 31.4 in
Overall length: 50 in
Weight: 9.1 lbs
Action: Bolt-action
Caliber: 7.7x58mm Arisaka
Magazine capacity: 5 rds

Other variants of Arisaka Type 99 that we carry:

Arisaka Type 99 non-firing model gun
Arisaka Type 02 paratroop rifle non-firing model gun