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Murata rifle & Arisaka Nariakira

Murata rifle

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Murata rifle
Murata gun.jpg

Type 22 Murata repeating rifle
Type Bolt action service rifle
Place of origin Empire of Japan
Service history
In service 1885–1919
Used by See Users
Wars Donghak Peasant Revolution
First Sino-Japanese War
Boxer Rebellion
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Siberian Intervention
Production history
Designed 1880
Produced 1885–1905
Variants Type 13
Type 16
Type 18
Type 22
Type 22 carbine
Mass 4.09 kg (9.0 lb)
Length 1,294 mm (50.9 in)
Barrel length 840 mm (33 in)

Cartridge 11×60mmR Murata
8×53mmR Murata
Caliber 11mm
Action Bolt action
Muzzle velocity 435 m/s (1,417 f/s)
Feed system Single-shot
(Type 13, Type 16, Type 18, and civilian models)
Repeating rifle 8-round tube magazine (Type 22 rifle), 5-round tube magazine (Type 22 carbine)

The Murata rifle (村田銃Murata jū) was the first indigenously produced Japanese service rifle adopted in 1880 as the Meiji Type 13 Murata single-shot rifle.[1] The 13 referred to the adoption date, the year 13 in the Meiji period according to the Japanese calendar.


Murata Tsuneyoshi, the inventor of the Murata rifle.

The development of the weapon was lengthy as it involved the establishment of an adequate industrial structure to support it.[2] Before producing local weapons, the early Imperial Japan Army had been relying on various imports since the time of the Boshin War, and especially on the French Chassepot, the British Snider-Enfield and the Spencer repeating rifle.[2] This was about 300 years after Japan developed its first guns, derived from Portuguese matchlock designs, the Tanegashima or “Nanban guns”.

The combat experience of the Boshin War emphasized the need for a standardized design, and the Japanese Army was impressed with the metallic-cartridge design of the French Gras rifle. The design was invented by Major Murata Tsuneyoshi, an infantry major in the Imperial Japanese Army who had survived the Boshin War and subsequently travelled to Europe.[3] Adopted in Emperor Meiji‘s thirteenth year of reign, the rifle was designated as the model 13 and went into production as the 11-millimeter Type 13 single-shot, bolt-action rifle in 1880.[3] The original 11-millimeter Murata cartridge used an approximately 6-millimeter Boxer-type primer.

Superficial improvements such as components, bayonet lugs, and minor configurations led to the redesignation of the Type 13 to the Type 18 rifle in 1885. Further modifications in the same year involving both tubular and box magazines led to the Type 22 rifle, which used a tubular magazine and was reduced to caliber 8mm. The Type 22 was the first Japanese military rifle to utilize smokeless powder and entered military service in 1889.[4]

Three models of bayonets were produced for the rifles: Type 13 and Type 18 which were used with the single-shot variants and Type 22 which were compatible with the repeater variants.

Combat history[edit]

Japanese soldiers during the First Sino-Japanese War, equipped with Murata rifles.

The Type 13 and 18 Murata rifle was the standard infantry weapon of the Imperial Japanese Army during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and in the Boxer Rebellion. The Imperial Japanese Army was quick to recognize that the design of even the improved Type 22 version of the Murata rifle had many technical issues and flaws. Following the combat experience of the First Sino-Japanese War, a decision was made to replace it with the Arisaka Type 30 rifle, which had been designed in 1898, and which also used the more modern smokeless powder. The rifle performed well in any situation and terrain. However, due to insufficient production, many of the reserve infantry units sent to the front-lines during the latter stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 continued to be equipped with the Murata Type 22 rifle.[5] Type 22s likewise continued to be used into the earliest stages of the First World War, though in very small numbers. After 1918, the Murata rifle had been retired, and many veteran rifles were sold onto the civilian market as hunting guns, in which capacity they still function as of the 21st century.[citation needed]

Filipino revolutionaries were looking for a possible purchase of weapons and the Murata rifle from Japan was usually proposed.[6] This was to be acquired through arms smuggling under a supposed loan.[7] There was some indication that unnamed personalities were arrested on suspicions of trying to acquire them from Japan.[8]

Andres Bonifacio sought to acquire Murata rifles via the Japanese silviculturist Nakamura Yaroku [ja] to equip the Katipunan in order to match the firepower used by Spanish and American colonial forces in the Philippines.[9] The rifles were shipped from Japan with the approval of Kawakami Soroku on the Nunobiki Maru. However, the ship was destroyed in a typhoon off the coast of Taiwan.[10]

While never serving in combat during World War 2, many conscripts of the Japanese Volunteer Fighting Corps were equipped with these and many other antiquated firearms.


  • Type 13 (1880) preliminary model (11×60mmR). Bolt action, single-shot.
  • Type 16 (1883) carbine (11×60mmR). Derived from Type 13, structurally identical.
  • Type 18 (1885) final version (11×60mmR). Improved internal mechanisms and ergonomics.[11]
  • Type 22 (1889) smaller caliber repeater (8×53mmR). Tube magazine, capacity of eight rounds.[11]
  • Type 22 carbine (1889) carbine variant of original Type 22 (8×53mmR). Tube magazine holds five rounds.
  • Civilian models (various) usually retired Type 13s and Type 18s; were commonly converted to bolt action shotguns via removal of bayonet lugs and rifling. A cut down stock was also common, though some civilian Murata rifles retained lugs, rifling, and old stock.


Arisaka Nariakira

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Lieutenant General Arisaka Nariakira
Officer in a uniform, Japan (10797739915).jpg
Born April 5, 1852
Iwakuni, YamaguchiSuo provinceJapan
Died January 12, 1915 (aged 62)
Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Army Technical Bureau

Baron Arisaka Nariakira (有坂 成章, April 5, 1852 – January 12, 1915) was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army. The inventor of the Arisaka Rifle, he is regarded as one of the leading arms designers in Japanese history, alongside Kijiro Nambu.


Arisaka was born in IwakuniSuo province (currently part of Yamaguchi prefecture) as the 4th son of a samurai retainer of Chōshū Domain. At the age of 11, he was adopted by firearms craftsman Arisaka Nagayoshi, from whom he took his family name. After the Meiji Restoration, he enlisted in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army. In 1891, he caught the attention of General Murata Tsuneyoshi[citation needed], designer of the Murata Rifle, the standard Japanese Army rifle, and was appointed to a position in the Tokyo Arsenal.

In 1897, Arisaka completed work on the Type 30 Rifle, an improvement on the Murata Rifle, which was adopted by the Japanese Army as its standard weapon in time for the Boxer Rebellion.[1] In 1898, he also completed design work on the Type 31 75mm Mountain Gun, and his name became known in the world of artillery as well as small arms. However, his earlier designs were not well received by combat troops. The Type 30 Rifle was regarded as underpowered and lacked lethality. The Type 31 guns lacked recoil buffers and had poor accuracy.

In 1903, Arisaka was appointed head of the Army Technical Bureau. He oversaw a committee charged with improving older models, including the Type 30 Rifle. The chief designer on the project was Captain Nambu Kijirō, who would later attain fame as a weapons designer on his own. The result of this project was the famous Type 38 Rifle, otherwise known as the “Arisaka Rifle”, which was issued to front line infantry troops just in time for the end of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.[2] The ruggedness of the Type 38 rifle was praised by combat troops, although the issue of its small caliber was not addressed until much later.[3] The Type 38 Rifle, and its various modified versions, continued to be used by the Japanese military until the end of World War II.

Throughout the Russo-Japanese War, Arisaka continued to work on improvements and variations to his rifles, and at the request of Chief of the General Staff Yamagata Aritomo, he also worked on designs for large caliber siege weapons and fortress guns[citation needed]. In 1906, Arisaka was awarded with the Order of the Golden Kite (2nd Class) and promoted to lieutenant general. In 1907, he was further elevated to the kazoku peerage when he was made a baron (danshaku). In 1910, he was awarded with the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class).

Arisaka died in 1915, and his grave is at the Yanaka Cemetery in Tokyo.



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