Howa Type 20 assault rifle (20式小銃) was first announced officially in May of 2020 as the next infantry rifle for Japanese Ground Self-defense Forces. Its development was initiated by request from JGSDF for a new, more modern 5.56mm rifle, issued in 2014. This rifle shall eventually replace older Howa Type 89 rifle in JGSDF service. Developed by the Howa Machinery co, Type 20 assault rifle appears to be an amalgam of many modern weapons, against some of which it has been actually tested, such as FN SCAR-16, SIG 516 or HK 416, with hardly any original features. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as a typical requirements for a military weapon usually include reliability, durability, ease of maintenance, combat effectiveness etc, but “original design” normally is not on the list. However, only a protracted field use can prove if this new rifle is up to the task. According to the news, first batch of rifles ordered for JGSDF is about 3 000 guns, and total number of new rifles can be as high as 150 000, but it would take many years to procure them.
Howa Type 20 assault rifle is a gas operated, select-fire rifle. It uses short stroke gas piston and rotary bolt locking. Gas block features manual gas regulator. Upper and lower receivers appear to be made from aluminum alloy, and are interconnected with two cross-pins. Gun uses ambidextrous controls, and charging handle can be set up at either side of the rifle. Top of receiver and forend are provided with integrated Picatinny rails. Forend also features M-LOK slots at 3-, 6- and 9- o’clock positions. Ammunition is fed from M16-compatible magazines. Rifle can be fitted with any type of day or night optical sight, and also with back-up iron sights on folding bases. Shoulder stock is made from plastic, can be adjusted for length of pull and has an adjustable cheek rest. However, it cannot be folded to the side to save length. According to the press, rifle will be issued with 1-8X variable power telescope sight as a primary sighting option. It also can be fitted with optional 40mm GLX 160 underbarrel grenade launcher, made in Italy by Beretta.