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Japanese ZH-29 Copy by Tokyo Gas & Electric



The Japanese military experimented with self-loading rifle designs through the 1930s, and had 4 major rifles in testing during that period. One was a new design by Kijiro Nambu, one was a Pedersen copy made by the Tokyo Army Arsenal, one was a gas operated toggle locking rifle by the Nippon Special Steel company, and the fourth was this, a ZH-29 copy made by Tokyo Gas & Electric. TG&E was a major industrial concern that made all manner of products, and they chose to copy the ZH-29 for Army rifle trials. However, it appears that while their manufacturing quality was quite good, they lacked the firearms design expertise on staff to fix the problems the rifle was found to have.

Specifically, their ZH-29 suffered from substantially inferior accuracy. It seems that no significant changes were made between the first and second major trials (1932 and 1935), and when the accuracy problems appeared unchanged in 1935, they were dropped from competition. Only a handful of these rifles were ever made, between 10 and 25.

There are a number of differences between the TG&E rifle and the original Czech ZH-29. The most significant of these is a separate non-reciprocating bolt handle on the TG&E rifle, where the Czechs fixed the handle directly to the bolt carrier body. The Japanese rifle was chambered in 6.5x50SR, of course, and used a new magazine not compatible with the Czech type. The trigger group was also redesigned somewhat, although not in a fundamental way.