SHS 10: Last Ditch Arisaka Rifle

In this episode of the Second Hand Showcase, we have a late war Arisaka Type 39 Rifle. Also known as a, “Last Ditch Rifle”.

Mechanically the rifle is the same as early production examples. But it lacks a lot of finishing touches.

Caliber 7.7x58mm 

Model nomenclature: some explanation is due here. You will see these rifles commonly known as Type 99’s. That coming from from the Japanese calendar year if 2599. 

If you go by the modern calendar, this Rifle was designed in 1939. Hence the 39 model designation by some.  

To further confuse the issue, pre-internet mind you, it was not uncommon at all for someone to assume a Type 99 meant a model of 1899. So with that logic, a Type 38 or 39 was “newer” than a 99! 

Can you say, “Cluster F**k?”

I never know what to call these rifles so I always default by how the FFL has them marked. In this case a Model 39. 

“But that’s not what the Japanese called it!!!”

Consider this…soldiers during the war would call certain aircraft Betty’s or Zero’s. Those are western names. Not actual manufacturer’s designations. Why? Because most Japanese words don’t easily roll off a US Soldier’s tongue. 

This practice continues today

But formalized. When you see Soviet / Russian systems designated as MIG-21 “Fishbed”, MIG-25 “Foxbat”, SS-18 “Satan” ballistic missile or submarines: “Kilo, Akula, Typhoon”. None of those names are Russian. That’s a NATO ID code. 

So…anyway….it is what it is. Type 99. Type 39. Pick one. I only really differentiate Japanese rifles based off caliber: 6.5 or 7.7. Keeps it simple. 




If you wish to contact this FFL about this pistol, click here:






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Writer for Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Small Arms, Weapons Training.

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