Japan’s New Service Rifle & Sidearm


BARFCOM user Jien who lives in Japan shared a post today about Japan’s new service rifle and side arm.

Today, on May 18th, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) officially unveiled their new rifle and pistol: Howa 5.56 and HK SFP9.
These weapons will replace their Howa Type 89 and SIG/Minebea P220, which have been in service since the 1980s.

Howa 5.56, officially designated as Type 20 5.56mm Rifle, is a modular assault rifle equipped with an M-LOK handguard and an adjustable stock.
It comes with a Japanese LPVO scope, March-F Compact 1-8x24mm Shorty.
Interestingly, this rifle also has some imported furniture and accessories, such as Magpul PMAG, BCM Gunfighter grip, B&T foregrip/bipod, and Beretta GLX160 40mm grenade launcher.
The rifle is designed mainly focusing on the defense of remote islands in Japan, and therefore it has the over-the-beach capability.

HK SFP9, also known as VP9 in the US, is officially designated as 9mm Pistol SFP9, and seems to be imported from Germany.
They selected the maritime variant (SFP9M) in order to meet the over-the-beach requirement.

The Japan Ministry of Defense is going to field these new weapons in 2020-2021, purchasing 3,283 rifles for $9.2 million and 323 pistols for $280 thousand.
The first batch is supposed to be delivered to the recently formed JGSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, which specializes in amphibious operations.

Three companies entered the rifle selection: Heckler & Koch 416A5, FN Herstal SCAR-LJ, and the Howa 5.56.
Another three entered the pistol selection: Beretta APX, Glock 17, and Heckler & Koch SFP9.


  1. Slightly over 2800 dollars per rifle. I wonder if that’s a complete system with optics, GL, and all accessories per unit. The pistols are close to 900 dollars. Nice to see they got a group discount.


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