POTD: Pre-World War II Japanese Pedersen Style Experimental Rifle
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a Japanese copy of one of John Pedersen’s most interesting rifle designs. Since this rifle does not have a model designation I will just refer to it as the Japanese Pedersen rifle. This Japanese Pedersen rifle is a pre World War Two copy of a Pedersen semi-automatic toggle locked rifle. This exists because after John Pedersen’s rifle did not win the United States 1930s military trials (it was beaten by the M1 Garand) the man himself took his rifle on a little tour around the world showing it off to various militaries in hopes of a military contract or licensing. At some point, he made a stop in Japan where military officials took a special interest in the rifle. The end result? They copied it and rechambered it for the 6.5mm Japanese cartridge. This adventure was short-lived however and new experimental (and less complicated) rifles based on the M1 Garand rolled in just before the outbreak of war in Europe.
“This is an exceptionally rare pre-war Japanese semi-automatic rifle that was manufactured by the Koishikawa (Tokyo) Arsenal for the Japanese Army Test Trials held in 1935. There were approximately 24 of these Pedersen designed longarms manufactured in total: 12 with the longer (26.5 inch) barrel, such as this one, and 12 with the shorter carbine length (22.5 inch) barrels. This series of rifle is discussed on page 157-161, with this actual rifle pictured on page 166 in the book: “Military Rifles Of Japan” 2nd Edition by Honeycutt. At the time, the Japanese had been following the U.S. Test Trials and noted some of the various designs. In 1932, after teaming up with the Vickers Company in England to produce the “toggle-bolt” mechanism, Mr. Pedersen traveled to Japan to demonstrate his rifle in the hopes of gaining foreign sales. General Yoshida, who was in charge of manufacturing at the Tokyo Arsenal, was impressed with the Pedersen rifle design and chose to copy it.”
Lot 1646: Japanese Pedersen Rifle 6.5 mm Japanese. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/67/1646/japanese-pedersen-rifle-65-mm-japanese.