This WWII era Japanese Type 99 rifle is a bolt-action rifle of the Arisaka design that was used by the Imperial Japanese Army. Colonel Nariakira Arisaka headed a commission in the 1890s and was in charge of developing a new rifle design to replace such rifles as the outdated Murata. Like the Nambu Type 14 pistol, during the reign of emperor Hirohito, rifles were designated by the last one or two digits of their year of adoption according to the Japanese calendar. Thus, the Type 99 rifle was adopted in the Japanese calendar year of 2599 which translates to 1939 in the Western calendar.
The rifle utilized a cock-on-closing action, which improved the rate of fire from the standard Mauser cock-on-open design. The Type 99 also featured a quick release bolt and antiaircraft sights, as well as a rotating bolt(dust) cover and monopod. The Type 99 rifle is considered to be a very solid weapon and having one of the strongest receiver assemblies of any military rifle of its time. The Type 99 rifle would have been outfitted with the the Type 30 bayonet.
The Type 99 rifle is based on the earlier Type 38 Japanese rifle but is chambered in 7.7mm rather then the weaker 6.5mm caliber of the the Type 38. The Type 99 rifle was manufactured at nine different arsenals. Most of these arsenals were located in Japan, but two were located outside of Japan. They include Mukden in China and Jinsen in Korea.
It was the intention of the Imperial Japanese Army to replace the Type 38 with the Type 99 by the end of the war. With the outbreak of the Pacific war though, it never allowed the Japanese army to completely replace the Type 38 and so the Imperial Japanese Army used both rifles during the war. As was so often the case with many of the nations that fought in WWII, the Japanese started to implement cost saving measures into their war instruments in order to speed up production. The Type 99 was not spared this fate and by the end of the war, even the metal buttplates were being made from wood.
The photograph on the right is of the top of the receiver. The white highlighted Japanese symbols on the receiver indicate that this is a Type 99 rifle, or as translated would read 99 type. We can also see in this picture that the Japanese chrysanthemum also referred to as mum for short, has been removed. The chrysanthemum with its 16 petals was the symbol of the Japanese Emperor.
The chrysanthemum was either fully or partially ground off, or in some way defaced on rifles that were surrendered after the war. No one knows for sure why this was done. Did the Japanese love their Emperor so much that even the thought of a symbol of the emperor in other hands was not to be tolerated? Did General MacArthur order it to be done to help suppress the nationalistic pride? Either way, at the end of the war when the Japanese surrendered their weapons to the Allies, they destroyed this marking. Some rifles have been found with the defacing marks not even touching the chrysanthemum and it is thought that the person doing the defacing could not bring them self to destroy a mark of the emperor.
There is a also a lot of speculation out there as to the rifles found with an intact chrysanthemum, are these battlefield captured weapons, was the rifle missed during the removal of the chrysanthemum process, did a U.S. soldier sneak the weapon home? The list goes on and no one really knows for sure and the circumstances for each rifle will be different.. If you ever have the opportunity to purchase a war relic and the seller is claiming that it is a "vet bring back" or has a fantastic story to go along with the inflated price of the item, always try to remember to base what you think the item is worth just on the item and not the story.
The Type 99 featured on this page was made at the Nagoya arsenal and is a late 5th series rifle. In 1933 the serial numbering system was replaced by a system in which rifles were numbered in blocks, or series, of 100,000 at a time. Once they reached 100,000, a new symbol was added to the front of the serial number and it was started again from 0 and went to 99,999. Being that this is a 5th series rifle and Nagoya went to series 12 during the years of 1939 to 1945, a rough guess would place the age of this rifle some where around 1942.