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  • Writer's pictureMatt Okuhara

Samurai Snipers

Do you know about zamazutsu?

These long barreled guns were designed with defensive tactics in mind.

The firing windows in a fortification such as Matsumoto Castle are known as ‘zama’ or ‘sama’ - the gun therefore being designated a ‘zama barrel‘ or; zamazutsu.

These guns were often over 1.5m in length and have a caliber greater than modern antI-material rifles! Our guns at Matsumoto Castle for example are close to 20mn in diameter…

…forget .50cal!

The guns need a crew of two to fire. This is for a number of valid tactical reasons.

Primarily the gun was equal in height to many warriors in Japan during the feudal era. This created a problem whilst loading. However the addition of an extra crewman whilst shooting also brought benefits. It increased situational awareness; enhanced the rate of fire and provided resilience when under attack!

Strictly speaking, these are not samurai snipers.

The range, accuracy and rate of fire cannot compare to the modern definition of a sniper. But the weapon had a valuable role in feudal warfare. It could deliver harassing fire to enemy troops outside of the range of bowmen and gunners. The zamazutsu also shot at a higher velocity, making it useful against difficult targets such as troops in cover or cavalry.

At the Matsumoto Castle Gun Corps, we regularly use our zamazutsu. In fact, loading one of these guns is a big step forward for our gunners who are looking to progress their hōjutsu career!

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