Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Japanese military weapons collector’s dream, the Type 5 semi-automatic rifle.

In July of 1932, an order was given to the Nippon Special Steel Company and the Tokyo Gas and Electric company to submit designs for Japan's semi-automatic rifle project. At that time several rifle designs were developed (or copied from other rifles) and tested by the Japanese. One was a copy based on the British Vickers Pedersen design, the other a copy of the Czech ZH-29 semi-auto rifle. 

Shortly after completing the military tests, in the mid 1930’s, Japan invaded Mainland China and development was halted.

Fast forward to around 1943 and Japan decided to resurrect the search for a successful semi-automatic rifle. Historians/collectors generally agree that at this time they just chose to copy the US M1 Garand design.

The rifle pictured is one produced at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal. As you can see it is a close copy of the U.S. M1 only chambered in the Japanese 7.7 mm cartridge. It is estimated that approximately 200 sets of parts were actually manufactured, with only 125 rifles actually assembled due to the end of the war, with very few actually returning back to the U.S.

Known examples have sold in excess of $50,000.

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