Nambu World: Murata Type 13 versus Type 18 Rifles (Comparison)

    The Type 13 Murata rifle was Japan's first domestically designed and produced modern military rifle, approved in 1880. Just five years later, it was replaced by the Type 18. Both are bolt action, single shot rifles that fired the unique 11mm X 60 Murata black powder cartridge. Although they look rather alike at first glance, there are actually many differences. The above photo shows how similar they are in overall profile. The photos and text below will elaborate on the differences that become apparent under closer examination. The differences in stock colour reflect only the differences in condition of the rifles (the Type 18 is in better shape and closer to the original stock colour).

    Let's start at the muzzle end and work back. Here you can see that the stock cap, barrel band/bayonet lug and sight are set back further from the muzzle on the Type 13 (top). The distance between the front of the stock cap and the end of the barrel is 74mm (2-15/16") on the T13 and only 56mm (2-3/16") on the T18.  The distance between the front of the barrel band on which the bayonet lug is mounted and the tip of the barrel is 116mm (4-9/16") on the T13 and only 89mm (3-9/16") on the T18. From the front of the front sight to the tip of the barrel is 34mm (1-5/16") on the T13 and only 20mm (13/16") on the T18. The bayonet lug had to be set back further because the grip of the Type 13 bayonet is much longer than the grip on the Type 18 bayonet. I don't know why they also set the front sight and stock cap back further on the Type 13. The Type 13 should have a cleaning rod, but it is missing from this specimen, so that is not really a difference.

    This shot of the middle shows that the distance between the front of the rear sight base and the rear of the rear barrel band is noticeably longer (125mm=4-15/16") on the Type 13 (top) than on the Type 18 (108mm=4-5/16"). I don't see any obvious explanation for this difference.

If you look carefully at the comb (the part of the stock just behind the part you grip) you can see that the rise is much more gradual on the Type 13 (top); the Type 18's (bottom) rise is more abrupt.

    This shot of the right side of the actions of the two rifles shows a major mechanical difference. Note the screw just forward of the bolt handle on the Type 13 and the small metal part it attaches to the bolt (top; "forward"=to the right of the photo). This is the bolt stop. The Type 18 has a totally different arrangement for the retaining the bolt, as we will see in the more detailed photos below. Note that the shapes of the trigger guards and triggers are also subtly different.

    In this shot of the left side of the action you can see two consequences of the difference in bolt retention methods. The left side of the receiver of the Type 13 (top) has a section that has been lowered to allow for the rearward travel of the bolt stop. Since the Type 18 (bootm) does not have this part, it has a level profile along the top. On the other hand, the Type 18 (bottom) has two screws and a small figure-8 shaped plate just above the trigger. The upper screw acts as the bolt stop and must be removed to take out the bolt. The lower screw seems to be there just to retain the 8-shaped plate.

    From the top you can see more differences. The front top part of the receiver is rounded on the Type 13 (top) but flat on the Type 18 (bottom). You can also see how the left side of the receiver on the Type 13 has been relieved along its top edge to accommodate the movement of the bolt stop, and the right side of its receiver behind the bolt has also been taken back, presumably for symmetry. Note also that the upper tang on the Type 18 extends much further back. There is almost no upper tang on the Type 13.

    On the other hand, as this photo shows, the lower tang on the Type 13 (top) extends much further back, and also much further forward of the trigger guard. Note the placement and number of the screws. The rear part of the lower tang on the Type 18 is held in by a screw from the top.

    Here are the bolts of the two rifles in the rearward position. The Type 13 bolt (left) is clearly retained by the bolt stop (the part held on by the screw at the left of the left photo). The retaining screw of the Type 18 (right) is internal and therefore you cannot see anything visibly retaining the bolt.

Here's a close-up of the bolt stop on the Type 13 (left photo) in the rearward position where it makes contact with the receiver. The front of the Type 18 bolt in a similar position shows it lacks this part.

    Here is a top view of the bolts of the two guns (Type 13 on top, Type 18 on the bottom). This is the state in which the bolts are when they are taken from their respective guns. The bolt handles would be upward and what is shown here as the "top" view would actually be the left side if they were still installed in the guns.

    Here is the "bottom", which would be the right side if they were still in the guns. Note the notch behind the bolt handle of the Type 18 (lower part of photo, "behind"=to the left in the photo). This is the groove into which the bolt retention screw fits.

    The Type 13 bolt (top) has a notch in the front right side (far left of photo) into which the bolt stop fits. Note also the difference in the shape of the cocking piece. Those big screws in the end of the bolt handle reflect a feature that is common to the two rifle designs. In both guns the firing pin is powered by a V-shaped leaf spring instead of the coil springs we are now used to. I have read that this feature was adopted from the Dutch Beaumont design.

    Now let's examine the bolts close-up, starting at the front. Here I have zoomed in on that notch for the Type 13 bolt stop (left photo) and the corresponding, notch-less area of the Type 18 bolt. Note that the holes in the two bolts also have a different shape.

    This internal part inside the bolt is squared off on the Type 13 (left photo) but rounded on the Type 18 (right photo). The tic-tac-toe-like mark on the Type 13 is an inspection mark. It is the kanji character i (pronounced ee), which on its own means "well" (the kind you draw water from). It was probably part of the inspector's name.

As noted above, the top of the cocking piece on the Type 13 (left photo) has been machined down to accommodate the rearward travel of the bolt stop.

Note the different shapes of the bottoms of the rear parts of the bolts (Type 13 in left photo, Type 18 in right photo).

As you can see, although the guns look superficially alike, there are actually a lot of differences. And those are just the ones I noticed!

    Last updated: February 28, 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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