Modernized JGSDF Type 89

Last year, we posted an image of the JGSDF Howa Type 89 Rifle. In that post, we had mentioned a mythical modernized version that appeared to be an Airsoft version made by Tokyo Marui. Well these pictures do not appear to be airsoft.

Below is a photo of a typical Howa Type 89 Rifle.


You can see a modified Type 89 rifle below. It is using a Remington ACR stock and has a rail system on the handguard.



Take a look at the soldier on the left. He has what appears to be a Land Warrior like HUD system on his helmet.


In the photo posted at the top, you can see the JGSDF soldiers have what I assume to be fold out screens for their OICW like optic system.



Below are some images my friend Kris K from Korea found. However neither of us read Japanese. He said the image uploader credits these to Howa Industries. At first glance it looks like an FNH SCAR.

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Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • George

    The guy in the Ghillie seems to have a true-blue (tan) ACR…

    • Friend of Tibet

      Looks like an airsoft.
      Take a close look at the ejection port, the bolt is resting in the middle. Which is common in airsoft AEGs as the fake bolt piece only can travel that far to expose hop up unit . The real ACR’s bolt either stay completely open or closed I believe.

      • George

        All the Airsoft Masada / ACR pics I found show a simulated full closed bolt. But I don’t airsoft.

        A real rifle without a bolt in might look like that. Public demonstrations do that.

        That said, the context is odd. If that’s airsoft, then why would there be three more people with the new 89 and new sights in same frame? Airsoft modelers of the new rifle and sight ahead of its release?…?

        • Twilight sparkle

          Steve Johnson said this about that picture on TFB back in 2014 “A reader sent us this photo showing three Japan Self-Defense Force members (they are not called soldiers for political reasons) with Modernized Howa Type 89 rifles (ignore the “sniper” mannequin on the right who is holding a Bushmaster ACR airsoft gun).”

        • Friend of Tibet

          I used to own a Magpul PTS masada airsoft before I became the actual firearm owner. Indeed when you pull the charging handle on the airsoft version, the bolt won’t travel back all the way due to limited internal space. Thus the bolt hold open status of airsoft version is ejection port half open. 🙂 Google “acr aeg hopup”

      • Twilight sparkle

        I’ve seen that pic before, the general consensus was that it is indeed an air soft gun, but people also thought the guy in the suit was a dummy. I haven’t been entirely convinced of him being a dummy yet though…

    • Anonymoose

      I remember seeing a Masada airsoft when I was in Akiba years ago. They were selling them next to legit Eotechs (or at least charging legit Eotech prices for knockoffs). I wish I had taken pictures of some of the stuff in that shop.

  • LazyReader

    So you couldn’t find anyone who spoke Japanese for you

    • PK

      Speaking Japanese and reading kanji are two very different things. Non-natives are more commonly able to read katakana and hiragana than anything past exceptionally common kanji.

      • Friend of Tibet

        I am read up to 80% of the Japanese SCAR pictures. 😛

  • PXN

    So much want.

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    That optic looks heavier than the gun…

  • Friend of Tibet

    “Oh these Chinese, stealing technology agai…….wait, these are Japanese design? Let me dial my bias mode back to and say: “clearly this is not a copy, it is more likely took minor inspiration from FN SCAR.” —– hypocrite firearm opinion

    BTW on the Japanese page , at the bottom it says “small firearm (prototype)”, rest of the kanji simply points out things like “receiver” “stock”…etc

    • Nicholas C

      I am Chinese. I do not see how my observation that the drawings look like a SCAR is in anyway “hypocrite firearm opinion”

      In no way did I infer that the Chinese were stealing a design.

      • Friend of Tibet

        I am not referring to you my friend.

        I was pointing out a hypocrite phenomenon quite common on this site. People love to say “China clones another gun” when it comes Chinese firearm related articles.

        If the design drawing came from China instead of Japan, be ready to see a lot of comments on “Oh these Chinese, stealing technology again”

        • Twilight sparkle

          Actually the howa has been out for much longer and they’re both copies of the ar-18 the only difference is that howa actually payed royalties to produce a copy. The fact that it now looks like a scar is just natural progression, modernisation of the same gun tends to do that.

          • Friend of Tibet

            I don’t think “natural progression” of AR18 will turn it into a SCAR. Look at the pictures, everything is almost 100% identical to SCAR, from stock design to bolt carrier group. I mean the Taiwan’s new rifle is also based on AR18 but it looks at least somewhat different from SCAR.

            Judging from the pictures I think Japan simply plan to make a domestic version of SCAR if the design passed the local test. We will just need to see if they will pay anything to FN SCAR.

          • Avery

            I wish I could find a higher resolution image, but I think you’re right. It’s hard to read what’s what, but l know that
            “3.5kg 以下” means “less than/below 3.5kg”. It’s like a design document with requirements, but everything is focused around the SCAR, since the weight and overall length of the SCAR-L and -H are both under the 3.5/4.3kg weight and 916mm OAL that’s mentioned in these images. There’s no 7.62mm version of the Type 89 as well, so it sounds like they’re looking at replacing the Type 89 as well as the Type 64, which has never really left service, as it’s used as a DMR and in reserves.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Why should they? All they’ve done is changed the furniture and made it easier to mount optics, it’s still their own design. This is really no different than what Remington did wth the acr and what Poland is doing with the msbs, they’re all based on the ar-18 and designed to perform a similar in function, it makes sense that they’d look similar

          • Friend of Tibet

            “Why should they” Because it will be more time saving and budget saving to copy an existing successful military rifle than upgrading the old one.

            “All they’ve done is changed the furniture and made it easier to mount optics, it’s still their own design” I am sorry have you even seen TYPE89’s internal before? None of the parts can be shared with this new protoype design. The BCG is different. The trigger group is different. Even the control is changed. This is a different design compare to the TYPE 89. The only thing they share is the similar gas operating system.

            It’s like saying instead of based on AK47, the Chinese TYPE 56 assault rifle is an completely original design since it natural progression from Chinese SKS.

            It will be hard to say Howa’s prototype rifle is “it’s their own design” when every detail is the same as SCAR. Not Similiar, but Identical. CZ805, ACR, none of them have exactly same BCG design as SCAR.

          • Twilight sparkle

            You could be right that the parts aren’t interchangeable but I don’t think the drawings we have are enough to draw that inference from. The original howa bcg doesn’t look that different from the drawings to me

            Eta: check out the forgotten weapons field strip, you’ll see quite a few similarities is parts including the drop in trigger

          • Also note how different the Howa is versus the AR-18. Maybe “inspired by”, but certainly not “based on”.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I’ll concede that. It would be nice if there was more easy to find public information on these things.

          • Neither are copies of the AR-18. It’s a popular idea that just about everything is derived from the AR-18, but it’s also for the most part untrue.

            The Howa takes some influence from the AR-18, sure, but it’s very different internally.

            The SCAR mostly takes its cues from the AUG and F2000.

          • Twilight sparkle

            That’s probably true but I wasn’t trying to get too in depth with my argument. I was just trying to inform the person I was disagreeing with that howa developed this operating system long before the scar was developed to show that a simple change of furniture and materials doesn’t mean howa has copied the scar and this is still their own design.

            And I chose the ar18 because howa was pretty famous for making those and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that they used that as a bases for development of the type 89.

          • KFeltenberger

            The SCAR takes its cues from the AUG and FS2000? Really? A conventional rifle takes its cues from bullpups? The SCAR was developed from the old FNC carbine.

          • Erm, no, it was not. You can tell, because literally every element on the SCAR is completely different from the FNC, aside from the hammer group.

            Here’s the SCAR’s bolt carrier group:


            Here’s the FNC’s bolt carrier group:


            Please note that they are completely different in virtually every way aside from having rotating bolts.

            The primary influences on the SCAR are the AUG (via the F2000) and the G36, which I didn’t previously mention for some reason. The bolt and carrier body are virtually copied from the G36. The tappet gas piston is directly derived from the F2000, which got it from the AUG.

            The fire control group is pretty much derived from the FNC’s, although the FNC as it is has a pretty generic double-hook trigger group design.

          • KFeltenberger

            I remember when the SCAR was being tested that it drew from the FNC and that there were fears that the parts breakage issues of the FNC would plague the SCAR.

            Looking at the SCAR’s bolt group, I’m not sure where you’re getting that it was influenced by the AUG. So if the fire control group was derived from the FNC, then I guess the SCAR, at least in part, is…well…derived from the FNC.

          • The AUG’s influence is in the gas system. Check out the hyperlink in my last comment, it goes over the AUG->F2000->SCAR connection.

            Well, yes, the FNC and SCAR’s fire control have a pretty strong resemblance, but remember that the FNC uses a pretty generic form of fire control. And that, besides, is literally the only element that FN carried over. The rest of the rifle is an amalgam of other designs and fairly original engineering (the upper and lower architecture, for an example of the latter).

  • Avery

    “At first glance it looks like an FNH SCAR.”

    I wonder why? Could be the Type 89 and the SCAR share the same common ancestor, the AR-18.

    • Nicholas C

      While that may be true, take a closer look at the proposed design drawings. The stock, cheek rest, upper receiver design and bolt design look very much like a SCAR.

      None of those designs come from the AR18.

  • anonymouse

    That set up looks very similar to some of the new versions the French Army’s FELIN system that Safran has offered for export..

  • Andy B

    They have to chain the rifle to the table? Wow.

    • Audie Bakerson

      The picture was taken at a public event (that is, it’s going to be around a big crowd of civilians with few if any background checks). It’s a reasonable security procedure to stop someone from just running off with it.

      • Andy B

        Got it.

  • forrest1985

    I love all this “land warrior” type rubbish…whilst your staring through a giant scope or looking at an “ipad” some kid with a lee enfield and $5 pair jeans takes you out!

    • CommonSense23

      Can we end this Lee Enfield or any other old mil auto being effective.

      • Bob

        If you’re not paying attention and standing still, even a musket can get you. Western soldiers have been shot at with .303 British and they didn’t say anything about it being ineffective…

    • John

      A Lee-Enfield is chambered in .303, right? Close enough to the .308, so of course the kid would have range on you. Couple that with an “ipad” of his own, which honestly translates to a $500 scope, and yeah. He can probably kill you with ease.

      Quality equipment is awesome, but no substitute for quality training.

  • Audie Bakerson

    The muzzle break on the modernized version differs slightly. There are two circles cut out at the front instead of an oval.

    • Audie Bakerson

      Also: RIP crazy selector switch.

  • Patrick M.

    I am glad the ACR stock has lived on even though the rifle has all but failed

  • TJbrena

    I see a “7.62mm” in one of those diagrams. Are the JSDF modernizing their Type 64s as well? That’d be neat.


    It just cracks me up that the stock of all things of the ACR is its only redeeming feature.
    But hey, I don’t blame anybody; it’s a good piece of kit. The solid ACR stock is pretty good too. When I get my mitts on a SCAR, I’ll slap the KDG SAS stock as soon as I can.

    Pretty weird that Howa can manufacture the stock adapters in-house. Must’ve shined a pretty penny in front of Remington for that.

  • Chi Wai Shum

    The schematic are for a prototype for the replacement for type 89. It comes from official document that is released to civilian vendors.

  • Ominae

    FYI, Tokyo authorized the purchase of G36s and SCARs for evaluation purposes years ago to help in creating a future replacement for their Type 89s.

  • Anemonian

    If you look at the second image, it’s clear that this is meant to be a preliminary series of drawings for a multicaliber rifle of sorts – the top image seems to detail the parts that will be interchangeable (trigger mechanism, the three different types of stocks available for the weapon etc). The third image seems to indicate that they’re going to be introducing new polymer magazines as well – the ‘A1’ 5.56 and 7.62 magazines look like the legacy ones they’ve been using with the Type 89 and 64 (respectively), while the latter two are clearly fancy modernised alternatives.

    It doesn’t look like the weapons in the photos correspond to the images shown below – modernising the Type 89 is one thing, but introducing a new multicaliber rifle would be another entirely. The GSDF’s somewhat cash-strapped as it is – the question is whether this is something the SDF have been looking into procuring, or whether it’s one of many paper projects coming out of the Japanese defence industry as it looks to expand out of the country (Mitsubishi’s plastic 8×8 proposal at Eurosatory some time back being another example).

    • Anonymoose

      Dem Thermolds, tho.

  • CJS3

    Yeah, but is it more effective against Godzilla?

  • Ryfyle

    I wish they could export that little number. Will it be as reliable as a Toyota truck though?