The development of the weapon was lengthy as it involved the establishment of an adequate industrial structure to support it. Before producing local weapons, the early Imperial Japan Army had been relying on various imports since the time of the Boshin War, and especially on the French Chassepot, the British Snider-Enfield and the Spencer repeating rifle. This was about 300 years after Japan developed its first guns, derived from Portuguese matchlock designs, the Tanegashima or "Nanban guns".
The combat experience of the Boshin War emphasized the need for a standardized design, and the Japanese Army was impressed with the metallic-cartridge design of the French Gras rifle. The design was invented by Major Murata Tsuneyoshi, an infantry officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. Adopted in Emperor Meiji's thirteenth year of reign, the rifle was designated as the model 13 and went into production as the 11-millimeter Type 13 single-shot, bolt-action rifle in 1880.
Superficial improvements such as components, bayonet lugs, and minor configurations led to the redesignation of the Type 13 to the Type 18 rifle in 1885. Further modifications in the same year involving both tubular and box magazines led to the Type 22 rifle, which used a tubular magazine and was reduced to caliber 8mm. The Type 22 was the first Japanese military rifle to utilize smokeless powder and entered military service in 1889.
Three models of bayonets were produced for the rifles: Type 13 and Type 18 which were used with the single-shot variants and Type 22 which were compatible with the repeater variants.