Original 19th Century Japanese Type 18 Murata Infantry Rifle with Chrysanthemum Marking - Matching Serial 74843
Original Item: Only One Available. The Murata rifle (村田銃 Murata jyū) was was designed by Major Murata Tsuneyoshi, and was the first locally produced Japanese service rifle. It was adopted in 1880 as the Meiji Type 13 Murata single-shot rifle. The 13 referred to the adoption date, the year 13 in the Meiji period according to the Japanese calendar, and these were marked 十三 (juu-san / 13) on the receiver. This was Japan's initial breech loading Rifle completely designed and manufactured since opening its borders to the Western World in the Victorian era. 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, and these were marked 十八 (juu-hachi / 18) on the receiver instead.
In 1888 a magazine version was introduced in the reduced caliber of 8mm. Heavily used in the 1st Sino-Japanese War of 1894/1895, followed by the Boxer Rebellion, the Murata was replaced in 1898 by the first Arisaka magazine rifle. The Murata however remained in service for the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/1905.
Murata rifles are extremely rare in today's market, as once the Arisaka rifle was adopted the Murata was then designated and re-issued for training purposes at which time all the bolt heads were officially removed. Once declared as obsolete and available for sale as surplus, being unusable due to the lack of the bolt heads, most were scrapped for the steel content. This Murata however escaped that treatment, and is offered fully intact complete with the bolt extractor.
Even more rare however is the INTACT CHRYSANTHEMUM marking above the chamber, and the fully matching serial number of 74843. In imperial Japan, small arms were required to be stamped with the imperial chrysanthemum crest (菊花紋章, kikukamonshō or kikkamonshō), as they were considered the personal property of the emperor. When being taken or sold out of service, this marking was to always be removed, but this one was not, something we have not seen before on a Murata rifle.
Additionally, the barrel, receiver, sight, both parts of the bolt, trigger guard, and even many of the screws and bayonet lug have serial number 74843 on them. Only the nose cap has a different number. This appears to be a rifle that was never removed from from line service and sent to a school, and somehow made it out of Japan. As to how, our guess is as good as anyone's.
Condition of the rifle is good, especially considering the age. The stock and metal components show wear, but the proof marks on the metal components are still clear. The markings on the stock unfortunately are quite worn, as it has been refinished at least once.
Action is tight, though it does stick a bit, typical of a rifle of this age and condition. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, however it is mostly dark, indicating that this rifle was not cleaned properly of the fouling from propellant. Cleaning rod is present, something that we do not often see.
This is a great chance to own a rare service rifle, with loads of history and very rare markings!
The development of the weapon was lengthy as it involved the establishment of an adequate industrial structure to support it. 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. 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 officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. 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, followed by the Type 18 in 1885.
Year of Manufacture: 1885-1889
Caliber: 11×60mmR Murata
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 Inches
Overall Length: 51 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: Single Shot
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