Akaitama sent in this photo taken at Iron Fist 2015, an amphibious training exercise undertaken by the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and the US Marines. The JDF troops are using the standard issue Howa Type 89 rifle: with its 420mm barrel, screwed-on top rail, old-style selector switch and a Trijicon ACOG TA31RMR.

Last year, unbeknown to us until now, a new modernized model of the Type 89 was exhibited at a Japanese Defense expo last year. The rifle featured a full length rail, side rails and a new selector switch. What is really surprising is it appeared to have been made by non other than Tokyo Marui, a large airsoft manufacturer. Given Japan’s ban on military exports (recently removed) and the fact that very few people are allowed to own guns, Tokyo Marui probably has more experience in designing firearms (or at least the look and feel) than any other Japanese company.



Thanks Akaitama for sharing.

potd banner2


  • tony

    Tokyo Marui in 2007 or 2006 had a contract to supply a certain number of Type 89 airsoft rifles to JSDF for training purposes. What is displayed in the photo is probably one of them.
    Tokyo Marui does not make real guns

    • gusten

      I think they are refering to the selector switch

      some of those airsoft are made to very high standards in high material

      a simple switch could probably be pretty much the same part

      • Тэнгрийман

        Tokyo Marui has to follow ASGK and manufacture using lower temperature alloys and plastic so the parts are not the same.

        The switch only indicates the firearm only has safe and semi automatic instead of the usual 4 setting selector.

    • Anonymoose

      That ACR stock pretty much confirms it.

    • John

      >Tokyo Marui does not make real guns


  • Paladin

    Was the Army involved as well? Or was it a select group of Marines that they punished by making them wear UCP?

    Pretty sure those New Balance boots aren’t authorized anymore either…. I may be jaded though ’cause my CSM chewed me out for wearing em to the range last month.

    • IshTheBuddha

      That would be quite the punishment. But it probably is soldiers in that photo. I really can’t wait to completely switch to the new pattern.

      • Paladin

        Amen. I ETS in Feb though, so i’ll probably never see it.

    • JSmath

      Plain curiosity, are the New Balances not authorized for a real reason or is it just the usual bureaucracy machine stepping in for no good reason?

      • Paladin

        A lot of boots made it on to the un-authorized list. In a way its a good thing, protects soldiers who don’t know any better from buying lower quality stuff that won’t serve them as well. Unfortunately, the acceptance criteria was a bit broad, and some boots that are pretty high quality didn’t make the cut because they fell out of those regs.
        The bureaucracy can suck sometimes, but it is necessary in an institution as large as the US Military.

        • nadnerbus

          That’s it, love the Green Weenie. The Green Weenie loves you… =)

    • J.T.

      That photo isn’t from Iron Fist 2015. I did a reverse image search and found uncropped versions of this photo that were posted to Japanese message boards back in 2013.

      • Тэнгрийман

        It’s from Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting 2013.
        Safe to say the TA02’s are either personal or regimental purchases to even out the playing field.

  • David Matthews

    Marui still make the Type 89 AEGs (well, they make batches every so
    often as they do with everything they manufacture), they are still one of the best airsoft guns made due to the fact they were built for the Japanese Army. The stock is likely
    modified from a PTS Masada (a company Magpul used to license to make replicas of their products) and the front end is probably something from
    Laylax. Its an impressive bit of imagination and modification work. Howa
    would be the only firearms manufacturer in Japan but I don’t think they
    design anything of their own nowadays, just license manufacture.

  • hami

    It’s not unfathomable that under government contract a respected Airsoft manufacturer could produce a real firearm.

    • Cymond

      Just look at Umarex.

  • ZF

    I find it funny that there is just a random AUG in the mix. Not sure if that’s airsoft or not given that those may be airsoft rifles up above.

    • Chris22lr

      See what’s the camo of AUG shooting soldier? It’s Australian DCP AKA AUSCAM. Which makes the rifle not an AUG but F88!

      • JSmath

        F88 is a type of AUG, so there’s no point in trying to make the distinction. It IS an F88, but it is also an FAL.

        [forgot an “n”]

        • mikee

          Can’t be an FAL as that what equate to an L1A1 which was replaced by the F88 in c.1988. L1A1 is a completely different rifle.

          • JSmath

            Oops, Freudian slip where I was going to compare the different types of FAL’s, but they are at least sometimes different so I retracted the thought… mostly, apparently.

      • Gidge

        Quite an old spec F88 at that. Has a fixed scope, they’ve had something like 3 revisions since then.

    • SP mclaughlin

      Pretty sure there’s also Aussies in this Iron Fist thing.

    • Grindstone50k

      The sleeve of the arm holding it is in AUSCAM, thus Australian. Probably a joint PAC exercise.

  • iksnilol

    Must not be confidence inspiring to have the gun say “Tokyo Marui” on the side. Don’t get me wrong, their airsoft gats are awesome, but I am a bit leery of them making real guns. Probably superstition on my part.

    • Just Say’in

      No worse than “Matel”.

    • John

      I’d take them over Heckler and Koch for plastic rifles.

  • Sgt. Stedenko

    Self Defense Forces are for what?
    Godzilla and Mothra, post Fukushima.

  • Trey

    as seen in GATE the anime 🙂

    Though the Type 64 is used more.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Marines? That is quite clearly US Army camo…

    • Joe

      …clearly failing.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Yeah, I was always amused how they would train you “There is NO universal camo”….. and then a few years later… “here, wear this universal camo!”

  • gunsandrockets


    It occurs to me that the potential of such alternative sighting is not being fully explored by mating it to a slightly altered old shoulderarm.

    Once you decouple sighting from how you hold the firearm, then traditional shouldering of a longarm is unnecessary, and other alternatives are just as practical and possibly superior, such as bracing the firearm from the chest.

    • John

      Sort of. A lot of countries have adopted a camera system for their rifles, and people in the field still like to shoulder it as trained. It provides options.

  • Tokyo Marui is almost synonymous with quality in the airsoft world. Not surprising they can make good furniture for actual guns.

  • Grindstone50k

    Made by TM? It’ll be super reliable but a bit under-powered.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    well at least the other other Stoner rifle lives on… Wouldn’t mind a semi 89 though.

  • Shawn Thompson

    this is old as hell news. I have pictures of a Type 89 “MK18” type variant. shown that the JDF is developing the users of these have to provide any optics out of their own pocket, and can be used only in certain areas, once they return to Japan, the optics. lights etc have to come off

  • Frank Meigs

    Those JDF soldiers look like old guys! Sr. NCO’s?

    • Chi Wai Shum

      These were supposed to be elite solider that were send to the competition. Some former JGSDF member has pointed out that training level in so low in Japan (I have read average solider would fire less than 200 live rounds per year in the 80’s) that it is almost impossible a for a young solider to be a good shooter.

  • Shawn Thompson

    the CQB variant you guys had no idea about lol

  • Sianmink

    That tall guy all the way on the left doesn’t look very Japanese.

  • Hoppedibob

    You can clearly see that the optic on the picture is TA02 LED Acog, not a TA31.
    Just look at the battery compartment and the on/dial-switch.

  • You can see one US soldier in the photo

  • Тэнгрийман

    Photo is taken from AASAM 2014 actually.

    The Troops are still wearing the old Type 2 vest as the Type 3 didn’t enter service yet.

    It is assumed that the ACOG TA02 where bought for the competition over the standard issue MD33 RDS.

  • Chi Wai Shum

    The sighting system shown in the picture is real. It is likely they think they do not need a real gun to demo the sight in the expo where the picture is taken.

  • Yallan

    Wow, by the far the most impressive future soldier demonstration I’ve seen, everything seems to be working too. Also quite ominous music.

  • Evan

    That’s the US Army in that picture, not the Marines. We never wore those ridiculous blue cammies.