The Japanese military had been experimenting with semiauto service rifles for some time prior to World War II (most countries were, to some extent). There was some development of a Japanese Pedersen rifle, among others. The advent of the war cut most serious development efforts, as manufacturing capacity was needed to build the weapons that were already well-proven and in general use.

However, there was an attempt to copy the US M1 Garand rifle, which resulted in the Japanese Type 4 (often called the Type 5) rifle. It was a pretty thorough copy of the M1, but with a few distinctly Japanese touches, including the Arisaka-style sling swivels, front sight, and rear leaf sight (instead of the aperture used on the Garand). Instead of en-bloc clips, the Japanese opted for a 10-round internal magazine (in 7.7×58 semi-rim caliber), fed by standard 5-round stripper clips. Parts for about 200 of these rifles were made by mid 1945, though only a fraction of those were actually assembled into working guns.

These guns do show up for sale in the US from time to time, and bring pretty high prices. For folks who want to see one without the $20k purchase price, there is an example on display at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Virginia and another at the Cody Firearms Museum in Wyoming.


  1. I always chuckle when I go on Youtube and look up the NFA Museum video on this rifle, and a good chunk of the comments are lauding this rifle as “a complete gamechanger” ignoring the fact that Japan, especially at the end had a next to no chance of winning, even if they completed all 200 rifles.

    Though it makes me wonder if the allies were forced to invaded Japan after the bombings and they had been able to somehow cobble these rifles together, what would’ve happened? Would it be the equivalent of pinching a squirting artery and only delay the inevitable?

    • Well it wasn’t the Arisaka rifles fault Japan lost in ww2. Even if they had had 100,000 type 4 rifles it wouldn’t have made much difference. A semi auto rifle would have been a tactical advantage, but they still couldn’t pull off a winning strategy. They needed tanks, artillery and aircraft to put up a struggle.

      It seems to me as regarding small arms, the Japanese would have benefitted more from a cheap mass-produced smg rather than a garand copy of inferior quality.

  2. I Saw serial number 8 at the Cody Firearms museum in Cody, WY. It looked like it was in “unissued” condition, and absolutely beautiful.

  3. I had the privilege of handling one of these during a visit to the Nation Firearms Centre, UK. Absolutely beautiful condition, definitely unissued. Exceptional build quality how late in the war it was built. No doubt whoever was working on them was focused on building quality. Fascinating and little known rifle!

  4. I had the o to purchase one 16 Years ago. The serial number is 17. The rifle is in excellent condition
    I was able to get the Bayonet three years ago.I was offered $50,000 and turned it down.Bert Kellerstadt sold for $65000 10 years ago.

  5. I own a type 99 in 7.7, it is an awesome shooter. I never knew they made a semi auto until I saw once at a small town historical society in a second floor room being neglected the other day. What a piece of history not being shown to the public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.