Shooting a Type 99 Nambu in 7.62mm NATO

Some older footage from the vault – this was a gun I bid on, but did not win. Didn’t want to have the whole audience thinking about bidding against me…but now that it’s been sold there’s no reason not to post the video.

The conversion of the Type 99 Nambu from 7.7x58mm Japanese to 7.62mm NATO requires only a new barrel, and no permanent modification to the gun. Some people have converted M14 magazines for them because original 7.7mm magazines are very rare and expensive. The same conversion has also been made to the Type 96 Nambu, but the 99 is a larger and more robust gun better suited to it.


  1. That WAS neat. Colonel John George (Shots Fired in Anger) had a very high opinion of the Type 99. It was the heart of the Japanese “rifle” squad–the IJA actually referred to their squads as “light machine gun sections” and the entire squad’s purpose was to get the gun into position, on target, and find targets for it. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 conclusively demonstrated to the Japanese that the future was about a dozen men with a light machine gun as their smallest maneuver element.

    • Sounds like the myths of CONSTANT banzai charging doesn’t really apply, huh? From all the cheaper war movies I watched, I got the impression that Hollywood truly believed that the Japanese were stupid enough to make an infantry platoon just STAND upright in two ranks for volley fire (conveniently showing their presence in the middle of a JUNGLE by wearing cheap yellow fake khaki) and get ventilated by a single Browning M1919 without even bothering to shoot even once, or that a Japanese artillery barrage consisted of underpowered fire-crackers tossed by bamboo catapults. Heck, the amount of cheesy fake tactics employed by the actors would be enough to anger a real Japanese drill sergeant into killing off the actor platoon USING ONLY HIS SWORD.

      • The Imperial Japanese Army did enough last-ditch “Banzai Charges” that it became an identifiable and stereotypical trait of theirs. It wasn’t something that they did in every single set of circumstances, but when they were pushed hard, that was their final go-to response: Charge into the enemy guns with “Japanese Spirit”, and hope that sheer bravado and intimidation would win the day when the numbers were against them.

        When they were fighting rationally, the Japanese did a lot of smart things, and things that their opponents weren’t expecting. See the invasion of Malaysia and investiture of Singapore for examples… But, the problem was that they were fundamentally at a massive, massive logistical disadvantage, and once they shot their bolt with the first phase of the war, it was down to the kind of prosaic logistics-centric war that the US is so good at.

        In a lot of WWII battles with the IJA, US forces played the role of archetypical “soldier” in the ancient dichotomy between “warrior” and “soldier”. The IJA had a warrior ethos, inherited from a feudal nobility’s conception of how to make war; the US, on the other hand, had the kind of mentality about war that comes from a nation of small farmers and shopkeepers: “Let’s get this shit over with as quickly and easily as possible, and if that means using flamethrowers and satchel charges on fixed positions… Too bad. Don’t want none, don’t start none…”.

        Much like the Romans confronting the glory-hound and undisciplined warriors of the Celtic world, soldiers almost always are destined to trump warriors.

        I do have to acknowledge the essential insanity of seeking or expecting historical accuracy from Hollywood or any of its overseas analogs. You’re just not going to see it, because truth-telling wouldn’t sell, and while it’s easy to film a dramatic Banzai Charge(tm), it’s a lot more difficult to depict the way Japanese infiltration tactics worked in the jungle…

          • This is one of few war movies I have seen. I cannot tell how realistic it was, but in front of my imagination it stood fair chance. I thought it was well done.

            One of details which impressed me was sound of ejected casings from M1 rifle. I recall it to this day.

          • An excerpt from scene of battle depicted in the movie:

            “Both sides experienced extreme difficulties in fighting in the thick jungles and tropical environment that existed in the battle area. Many of the American troops were also involved in their first combat operations. The Japanese were mostly cut off from resupply and suffered greatly from malnourishment and lack of medical care. After some difficulty, the U.S. succeeded in taking Mount Austen, in the process reducing a strongly defended position called the Gifu, as well as the Galloping Horse and the Sea Horse. In the meantime, the Japanese decided to abandon Guadalcanal and withdrew to the west coast of the island.
            Note line: “…cut off from resupplies…” Yup, faulty logistics.

          • You laugh, but the Japanese spent a lot of time and money on training their troops for night operations, and were pretty effective at it both at sea, and in ground combat.


            Similar attacks took place on Saipan, Okinawa, and just about every other location the Japanese were defeated. More than likely, if Operations Olympic and Coronet had taken place, you’d have seen similar epic failures to comprehend reality take place.

            Kinda makes you wonder why we took so long to invent the Claymore mine, TBH…

        • What you say about ‘logistics’ being priority brings me back to what I read from you before.

          Indeed, Japanese had seemingly everything: superior armaments (minus tanks), unmatched bravery and motivation and knowledge of terrain, yet it was not enough to prevail. The U.S.Army logistics meant saturation with materiel of all kinds, available to commanders at line of contact – and it won them the war. This certainly does not downrate effort of individual soldiers and commanders. And yes, they had loses too.

          It brings me to quick recollection of “Chapter22” (not sure if movie had same title) in which character with name Milo (logistician) was doing brisk business on both sides of front as if war was kind of sideshow.

          • It was more than just the logistics of it all.

            The Japanese were extremely unrealistic in a lot of ways; they did not understand the nature of their enemy, and thought that a “threat display” like Pearl Harbor would cow US public opinion–I’m not sure that they were projecting what they thought would be their own public’s opinion on such a thing, but they were very unrealistic about the effect of such an attack.

            The Japanese military as a whole had what we might term something of a “cloud-cuckoolander” view of the world–The Japanese Navy did not ever conduct a serious anti-shipping campaign with its subs, for example. So far as the Japanese Navy was concerned, the purpose and role of the sub was scouting and sneak attacks on enemy capital ships for their main battle fleets–And, they continued with that mindset even during the time that the US was essentially destroying the entire Japanese Merchant Marine with its subs. How many US transports were lost to Japanese subs…? By comparison, damn few. And, what was highly ironic, the Japanese had the superior torpedo… Something the United States managed to royally ‘eff up at producing for themselves. The Japanese never really got anywhere with that particular advantage, pissing it away. Although, they did manage to accidentally sink the ship which delivered the atomic bomb. After the bomb was delivered already…

            The Banzai Attack philosophy was that “Japanese Spirit” would overcome all. Somehow, the point that French “Elan” didn’t work out so well for the French during WWI escaped them…

            Meanwhile, the US simply concentrated on producing more and better weapons, units, and manpower. The highly selective and intense Japanese fighter pilot training regime produced excellent pilots, but the attrition rate and overall rate of pilot graduation was a fraction of what it needed to be. Both the Japanese and the Germans treated pilots as “Knights of the Sky”, and worked them to death, creating Aces with hundreds of kills. Problem was, the US and other Allied air forces were looking at pilots as a fungible part of the program, one that they mass-produced in hotels taken over in Florida. By the middle of the war, US pilot quality was much higher than the Japanese, along with most other types of military manpower.

            The Germans and Japanese both had highly unrealistic methodologies for war; they envisioned it as a contest of wills. The US, heirs to Grant and Sherman, saw it as a contest of strategy and attrition.

            George Lucas unconsciously created the perfect metaphor for the two styles of fighting, in the first Indiana Jones movie. The scene where the flashy Arabesque swordsman comes at Indy, doing the intimidating blade-play with his scimitar? That’s the archetype of a Warrior; Indy pulling out his revolver and shooting him dead before he’s within fifty feet? That’s an excellent example of the Soldier archetype.

            In WWII, both Germany and Japan thought they’d substitute “spirit” for logistics and realistic operational/strategic planning. History shows how that worked out for both of them…

          • “Indeed, Japanese had seemingly everything: superior armaments (minus tanks)”
            Arguable, Arisaka repeating rifle might be consider as well-performing rifle, but still is only repeating rifle, unlike self-loading M1 Garand. Japanese have also less sub-machine guns (namely TYPE 100), while U.S. forces have Thompson sub-machine gun and also M1 Carbine.
            While Type 99 might be considered superior to M1918A2, it is not so obvious for heavier machine guns – while I might agree TYPE 1 heavy machine gun and M1919 are roughly equal, I can’t point either as being vastly superior (when considering proper machine gun), but Japanese one used much heavier tripod weighting 16 kg – I do not know if it provided something U.S. one did not.
            Finally, I must note that apparently Japanese adopted machine gun with aim of making supply offices live nightmare, just consider following:
            TYPE 11 LMG accepts 6,5 mm cartridge in clips in theory same as infantry rifles, but in reality it is supplied with special cartridge, according to
            issue was that the Type 11 had to use a reduced charge rifle cartridge as it would not function properly with the standard-charge rifle ammunition as it was causing reliability problems. This reduced-charge ammunition contains 2 grams of propellant instead of the 2.15 grams that is the standard charge for rifle ammunition. All reduced-charge ammunition cardboard boxes are marked with a Roman letter G inside a circle. The “G” was for the Japanese word “gensou” – or “reduced.”
            so actually they have to keep separate “rifle” cartridges and “machine guns” in clips looking same.
            Does TYPE 96 accept “rifle” or “G” cartridge?
            Anyway TYPE 99 needs yet another cartridge, caliber 7,7 mm, which add additional burden (using 6,5 mm alongside 7,7 mm).
            Finally to make sure enough places prone to making mistakes, there exist rimless 7,7 mm and semi-rimmed 7,7 mm cartridge, first one is used in Arisaka rifles and mentioned TYPE 1 (heavy) machine gun, while second one is used in TYPE 92 (heavy) machine gun and certain aviation machine gun.

          • “Germany(…)thought they’d substitute “spirit” for logistics and realistic operational/strategic planning. History shows how that worked out for both of them…”
            I am not so sure, did Germans lose any battle, due to their logistic failing?

          • If there was no Pearl Harbor, it is extremely likey US would stage some kind of Lusitania/Gulf of Tonkin incident (if you want to go far with theories, even like 11.9) style of attack on them, for a public motivation of entering the war.

          • Denny, The movie was Catch 22 and the character was Milo Minderbender. Very funny, but also very dark humor. Starred Alan Arkin.

          • It’s also important to look at how the US system fell apart in the Bataan/Corregidor campaign when its logistics were taken away – which is a very rare circumstance in American history. The doggedness of the US & Filipino infantrymen was about the only thing keeping the whole affair going an amazing 4 months. Nothing else went well.

  2. Great show! This looks like an excellent weapon which may rival Bren (British probably found that out while battling Japanese in Burma and elsewhere). Probably one of the best of the time period. Low weight and very controllable, which must have been advantage for slight built Asian soldiers. I am sure it gave U.S. Marines run for the money.

    According with this source, it was also rebuilt for 7.62x54R.

    • 99 mass is 9,8 kg (according to Strelkovove orugie (1947)) while BREN initially was heavier (10,04 kg) it mass in Mark III version, produced during World War II, was only 8,76 kg according to interestingly its ancestor namely ZB 26 weight was 8,9 kg, Vickers-Berthier (used by Indian Army during World War II) was 9,4 kg, French Chatellerault 8,9 kg and finally BAR M1918A2 8,8 kg so quite ironically U.S. counterpart was actually lighter that Japanese LMG. Second was not outrageously heavy on the other hand, I would say it was of average weight.

      • The Browning M1918 was also one of those weapons deemed a success despite the lack of updated features. If Colt’s salesmen offered improved versions of the M1918 to the Army, the top brass surely told them to screw themselves. “I don’t need your pampered poodle guns! I have REAL GUNS!” Sound familiar?

        • Meh… I think it was more of an issue of the brass that made the decisions about such things being really disconnected from the realities of the user base. There’s a significant disconnect in the US military from the bottom up–Everything is top-down driven, and if the boss didn’t see the utility in the improved BAR, it wasn’t going to happen.

          A lot of what went wrong with the BAR program was echoed in the M16A2 debacle–Both “improvements” turned a workable small arms concept into a warped distortion of the guns they were supposed to be, in service of playing games with them. The M16A2 program optimized the gun for the standard Marine Corps qualification system, which echoed the National Matches. The M1918A2 BAR got modified to be a “better support weapon”, and they ‘effed up the characteristics that made it a really good Automatic Rifle. Both things happened because the guys making the decisions were not the end users, and the end users are not accustomed to taking charge of their own destiny and providing useful input to these things.

          If you had sat a bunch of senior and experienced combat arms NCOs down, and asked them to take the old M16A1 and improve it, odds are quite good that neither the A2 or the M4 would have ever happened–Especially those goddamn overly-elaborate sights that only about two people in every unit have any idea at all how to use effectively. Even Marines will admit that they never use half that crap in combat, and just use Kentucky windage to adjust fire as necessary.

          And, then with the M1918A2, there was the minor little problem of “budget”. They did what they could to turn that thing into a true LMG, and it just wasn’t enough–Had there been more money, maybe a different solution would have come to the fore, but I kinda doubt it.

          • The Colt R75A with proper pistol grip, gas-tube mounted bi-pod, and finned barrel might have been a better approach to making the M1918 into a true light machine gun. I mean, why not pit the R75A against the M1918A2 using average soldiers and marines as the control groups of end users?

          • Thing was, the M1918 was a lousy candidate to create an LMG from, in the first place. Ever try crew drills with a bottom-fed magazine? Not workable, at all, for an LMG role. The BREN was a superior LMG; the BAR was a disaster in that role.

            I’m of the opinion that the BAR should have either been lightened up to create a true Automatic Rifle that could serve as a prototypical assault rifle, and they should have adopted the BREN or the Vickers equivalent that the Indian Army went with. Hell, even the French design would have been better than the BAR…

            Root of the problem is that the US Army Ordnance and Infantry cadre were both highly delusional about how combat was actually conducted from about 1918 on. Even today, I find myself wondering if the guys we’re paying rocket scientist wages for really know squat about real combat. Exhibit “A” would be the excremental M122/192 tripods we put under our machine guns, the basic design for which dates back to WWI. The Danes showed the way forward with the DISA tripods that the Germans turned into the Lafette 34 and 42, but did the US Army or Marine Corps ever take note of just how much better those tripods made the German machine gun crew? Nope. And, that’s just the latest example of the syndrome that the M1918A2 exemplifies.

            One shudders to think what the US Army would have been fighting WWII with, if not for John M. Browning and John Garand. Probably something discarded by the French as unworkable in WWI.

          • “M1918 was a lousy candidate to create an LMG from, in the first place. Ever try crew drills with a bottom-fed magazine? Not workable”
            While top-sticking magazine would be great improvement, U.S. improved M1918 seems to be inferior to other Europeasn derivative of M1918 namely Kg m/21 which had improvements as described by Cherndog: bi-pod installed not to barrel and pistol grip, moreover in later version (m/37) it has quick-change barrel. Polish Browning wz. 1928 also have such bi-pod and pistol grip, quick-change barrel feature was being in development, but fall of Poland (for more data see Fall Weiss) prevented its introduction. Belgian FN D: introduced yet in 1932 also have pistol grip, bi-pod not installed to barrel and quick-change barrel mechanism.
            Thus I would say that during creating M1918A2 either technical department of Deuxième Bureau or whatever that entity was called in US structure, failed to deliver data about development of M1918 derivatives in Europe or someone rejected that information as useless or declaring that employing of existing solution is IMPOSSIBLE. (Note that part of FN D description: In Belgian service, FN D machine guns were often issued with special sustained fire tripods of folding design, with traverse and elevation mechanisms. doesn’t it sounds like something which was something US Army wanted from M1918A2?)

          • is: “(…)namely Kg m/21(…)”
            should be: “(…)namely Kg m/21 (keeping magazine sticking downwards)(…)”
            [as all other mentioned M1918 mentioned derivatives]
            [as side note to side note (side^2 note?) there existed M1918 derivative with magazine at top, namely karabin maszynowy obserwatora wz.37 though it was aviation, not light machine gun, for more data see: ]

          • “what the US Army would have been fighting WWII with, if not for John M. Browning and John Garand. Probably something discarded by the French as unworkable in WWI.”
            That second part, is plausible for light machine gun (Berthier), but I guess in water-cooled machine gun area they might simply go with Vickers and in self-loading rifle either with Pedersen rifle (accepting .276 cartridge, even if only as necessary evil) or Johnson rifle or Winchester Model 30 (although this might never happen, in your timeline, in which J.M.Browning never existed – though Model 30 was developed by J.E.Browning – relative of J.M.Browning – even if J.E.Browning exist in your timeline, if J.M.Browning does not, then J.E.Browning might lack some knowledge he have in original timeline).
            Finally it is possible that U.S. Army would simply fight 2nd World War with rifle from previous war – namely M1903 Springfield, which in turn might prompt introduction of light machine gun providing greater volume of fire (maybe something like Vickers-Berthier?) which was usable during that conflict as shown by British Army (Lee-Enfield repeating rifle + BREN machine guns).
            Though if J.M.Browning never existed that lead to mind-boggling question about aviation weaponry of U.S. planes, which relied heavily on his designs.

  3. Is the slo-mo rate the same for all your videos? If it is this Type 99 seems to have a slower rate of fire than a lot of the automatic rifles you’ve filmed firing.

    • According to Strelkovove orugie (1947) Rate-of-Fire for 96 is 550 rpm and for 99 is 700…750 rpm. Description is common for both and says that there is gas regulator, allowing choice of various “hole size”, with settings: 1,2,3,4,5 – which probably mean Rate-of-Fire could be chosen this way to some degree, even if that might not be plan of designer.

  4. It was apparent that America really misunderstood how the Japanese used machine guns in infantry fights. To America, a machine gun stays at the rear and sprays everything to suppress while riflemen jump into action, storm the enemy position, and shoot the enemy IN THE FACE. For the Axis soldiers, the lack of trained troops meant they had to bunch everyone around the machine guns and support them as the primary killing power. For Japan’s case, the machine gun was also supplemented with lanyard-fired grenade launchers (like the Type 89 Grenade Discharger). You don’t bring a rifle, even a great one like the M1 Garand, into a mortar/machine-gun fight unless you want the other team to reduce you to hamburger! Oh, and the Army Ordnance guys (and perhaps some stuffy nitwits in its US Navy counterpart) assume that the Japs are stupid enough to fight rifle-to-rifle IN THE OPEN LIKE OLD-SCHOOL MUSKETEERS and belittle your story about getting attacked with a barrage of grenades in the jungle. Good luck spotting Japanese machine gun nests (let alone destroying them with rifle fire), as their “reduced” rounds refer to “reduced muzzle flash,” not “reduced killing power.” By the time you find those MG nests, at least a dozen army soldiers following Ordnance’s instructions will be reduced to ballistic sushi as Ordnance forbids the infantry from requesting artillery barrages to destroy anything short of enemy tanks, warships, or ludicrously huge fortifications. Did I get it wrong?

    • In his 1945 book “Up Front”, Army cartoonist Bill Mauldin describes a very different situation about how US soldiers dealt with impediments versus Axis soldiers. According to him, the average GI would be quick to phone his artillery support to eradicate any enemy hardpoints, whereas the Germans, “coming from a land where life is cheap” (Mauldin’s words) would first send in an infantry squad (albeit one with a hell of a machine gun). One of Mauldin’s cartoons show a British Tommy telling a couple of passing Yanks in a chewed-up Italian moonscape, “You blokes certainly leave a messy battlefield.”

      So this is about an order of magnitude: the Americans were crude about using machine guns because their first love has always been the artillery barrage, and they’re quite good at those. The proof of this is that in modern times, the airstrike has replaced artillery as the thing American GIs have a reputation for being very quick to phone in. The US took artillery control as far as it could in the age of conventional war, but when the brushfire wars took over, artillery needed a mobility upgrade.

      • Thanks for the reply. It’s just that whenever I saw stuff in the B-movies, it always looked like the Hollywood turned the usual GI into some sort of superhero who didn’t even need the artillery. Very few movies ever showed the necessity of good communications infrastructure. And there are problems with calling artillery and airstrikes. If your intended victims are hiding in towns with civilians who are clearly NOT combatants and who cannot evacuate for some odd reason or other, artillery is a no-go.

  5. What about loading the 308 with 303 bullets (311) Would that work? Usually chambers are sloppy enough for the extra 3 thou. If not a tight 303 reamer should open it up a notch.

  6. I don’t understand the conversion to 762 nato. Privy Partizan makes 7,7 Jap and if I can get that here (The Netherlands) with some difficulty, so can the new US owner of what is probably an extremely expensieve lmg. “Did I mess up?”

    • I do not know if that apply to 7,7 Japanese ammunition made by Partizan, but some ammo makers, when producing “legacy” ammunition use milder loads than original, such ammunition might not cycle properly self-loading and machine guns. Even if charge produces equal muzzle velocity, if different powder is used, it might have different characteristics (“curve”) which might again negative effect of reliability.

  7. Looking a Japanese machine guns of WWII, one gets the impression they Nambu wasn’t the greatest designer. Hopper fed LMGs look good on paper but fail hard in practice, like both the Type 11 and the Breda. The best Japanese machine guns of the war were either foreign designs like the HMGs (Hotchkiss mle.1914), type 97 aircraft guns (Vickers E), type 97 tank MG (vz. ZB 26), and or heavily influenced by foreign designs like the Type 99 which borrowed from the vz. ZB 26. As a note on logistics, the two 7.7 mm rounds were not variations of one round but actually two different rounds. 7.7 rimless was the Type 99 rifle round used in ground machine guns. The 7.7 rimmed was the British .303 used in aircraft machine guns and captured weapons.
    Getting to strategy and tactics, the IJA was very good at small unit and close combat, mediocre at maneuver warfare and abysmal at logistics. The fighting in China and Burma showed that the invasion of Malaya was a rare spark of brilliance against failures like Nomonhan and Imphal/Kohima which ended in defeat and starvation. Similar reverses occurred whenever the Chinese stood and fought and Chiang was willing to commit his “German” divisions. I think the root of the Japanese arrogance and failure is them never facing a true peer opponent prior to 1939.

    • “Type 99 which borrowed from the vz. ZB 26”
      Wait, I think we already concluded that 99 is derived from Hotchkiss Portative, than 26 or BREN? I miss something?

      Which Breda machine gun was hopper-fed?

      “best Japanese machine guns of the war were either foreign designs(…)or heavily influenced by foreign designs”
      Interestingly, in most cases – not of other Axis (Germany/Italy) designs, only few aviation machine guns were derived from German ones – namely Type 1 (Navy) being adaptation of M.G. 15 and Type 2 (Navy) adaptation of MG 131.

      “never facing a true peer opponent prior to 1939”
      Which partially explains snail-paced evolution of their light machine gun, just look at timeline, using European understanding of year:
      Type 11 – 1922
      Type 96 – 1936, no hopper fed, normal magazine, but still oiling device built in into magazine loader
      Type 99 – 1939, cartridge providing better effective range, no more oiling

      • Don’t bother, it appears to be more Japan-bashing. All of the Nambu designs were based on the Hotchkiss guns. The Type 97 tank machine gun is, however, a blatant copy of the Zb-26 that some Chinese motorized troops installed in their improvised armored cars (and it was not made by Nambu). To be fair to the issue of “no proper opposition”, European colonial-posted armies were under the impression that they could win against Japan because the other team was not European. They even dismissed the idea that bicycle troops or horribly thin-skinned tankettes could do any good in the thick jungles of Malaya… and then in the middle of the night they were literally trampled by a few Type 94’s disguised as bushes. I could be wrong…

        • The IJA is very bashable. As I said, the use of bicycle troops in Malaya was a rare exception. On the other hand the invasion of India in 1944 with a logistics plan that assumed the British would act exactly as they did in early 1942 and completely ignored the Battle of the Admin Box was epic stupidity, both individual and institutional. Also consider what happened to the Kwantung Army in 1945 when the Russians invaded. Even in 1942 the IJA was often less than competent, the first invasion of Wake Island failed and the second only succeeded because the defenders ran out of ammunition. Their only successes were against weak or disorganized opposition and when faced with well led well supplied opposition the Japanese failed.

          • “IJA is very bashable”
            According to
            The Imperial Army seeks to wage a short war to a quick and decisive conclusion. The meeting engagement conforms to this spirit and is to be sought whenever possible.
            Japanese tactical doctrine insists vigorously on the inherent superiority of the offense
            Even when the enemy strength is markedly superior, or when the Japanese commander has been placed temporarily on the defensive, he is supposed to use every effort to regain the offensive and take the initiative.
            which is much different that Soviet approach (attacking after acquiring numerical superiority in given place)

  8. I know the hopper-fed Type 11 gets bashed but I do admire the simplification of logistics which it delivered. What does your infantry need to fight? 6.5mm on 5 round stripper clips, period end of sentence.

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