Nambu World: Murata Type 13 Rifle Bayonet

        The Murata Type 13 rifle, a single-shot 11mm bolt action, was the first modern Japanese-made rifle. It was adopted in Meiji 13, i.e. 1880. The bayonet for it, shown above, is extremely long and thick. The overall length is 711 mm, or 27-15/16 inches. The blade alone is 568 mm (22-3/8") long from the front of the crossguard, while the grip is 133 mm (5-3/16") long from the rear of the crossguard and seems very long even in my rather large hand. Just ahead of the crossguard the blade is some 9.14 mm (0.360") thick. In your hand it feels more like a sword than a bayonet. It is not surprising that most of the few that have survived have been cut down. This one is rare in being of the full, original length. The new Raymond LaBar book Bayonets of Japan covers the full-length Type 13 Murata bayonet on page 36 and assigns it the number LB-37. The older Larry Johnson book Japanese Bayonets covers it on pages 26-27 and refers to it as JB-4. The blade has been polished to remove what was probably a fair amount of rust, etc. on the blade, but it is in otherwise nice shape considering it is over 125 years old.  Jerry Price covers it on pages 18-21 of his book Japanese Military Bayonets and Machetes. The left side is shown below.

Here is a close-up of the right side of the grip. Note the fine checkering and the long arm of the mechanism for attaching it to the gun.

Here is the other side of the grip.

    The right side of the crossguard should have a mum on it but in this case it appears to have been removed when the bayonet was withdrawn from service. If you look closely you can kind of see the outline of a vague circular mark, slightly more noticeable around the bottom, but it is really hard to see even in the best light and from the best angle.

The rear of the pommel has the serial number, 3968, making this a very early piece (around 60,000 were made).

The ring for attaching it to the barrel has no stabilizer slot. Some later ones did have this added, and it became a standard feature on the later Type 18 bayonet.

The front side of the crossguard between the bayonet ring and the top of the blade has this kanji character hei, which is an inspection mark.

    There should also have been a couple of other marks, but between pitting and someone's overly aggressive rust removal, the only one that is visible is this partial kanji inspection mark on the top of the pommel. Only the lower portion shows, possibly due to a crooked strike, but by comparing it with the photo on page 19 of the Price book I can see that it is the kanji asa, which means shallow, although probably in this case it is just short for an inspector's name that starts with that character.

    The grip appears to have been painted black at some time, as remnants of the black paint can be seen in the checkering lines. This may suggest naval usage at some point, as the Imperial Japanese Navy liked to cover everything in black paint.

    Here is a close-up of the frog mounted on the scabbard. The LaBar book refers to this frog as LBF-2 on page 448. The book also identifies such frogs as Enfield issue and notes they were used on both Types 13 and 18 (pp. 44 & 46).

Here is the back of the frog.

I don't plan on doing this very often due to its fragility, but I took it off the scabbard so I could take this photo.

There is a small repair to the frog near the mouth of the scabbard (left of photo). The repair seems to be very old.

    Leather scabbards often shrink and it becomes difficult to withdraw the blade. Extreme care should be taken or the scabbard may separate, especially since almost all the ones I have seen seem to have been folded in the middle (probably accidentally when a soldier was going prone, since the thing is so long). Mine requires several tries to find the "sweet spot" that allows it to go in. The tip of the blade has also poked this small hole in the top of the scabbard. Even at that, it doesn't quite fit all the way in.

Here you can see the top of the scabbard with the frog removed.

And here's the back.

Of course, we also have to see it on the gun. It fits on the right side, rather than underneath the barrel (the same goes for the later Type 18). The combined rifle and bayonet are an intimidating 184.5cm (72-5/8 inches) long!

This close-up shows how the bayonet fits on the gun.


Other Links on Type 13 Bayonets:

‘º“cŽ®eŒ• Murata Bayonet



  Last updated: March 19, 2009. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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