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cloudboy
July 23, 2009, 11:54 PM
My granddad found this gun on the ground in the jungle of Burma somewhere during World War II. He said he shot it a couple of times, but he heard they aren't very reliable so he stopped shooting it and brought it home and gave it to me last year. I found some websites online but I can't seem to pinpoint exactly what kind it is. I would like to have it restored if I can. Also, what size of ammunition do you think it takes? Where could I get some? I would like to shoot it at least once.

Scorch
July 24, 2009, 01:03 AM
Cool, intact chrysanthemum!

.300 Weatherby Mag
July 24, 2009, 01:15 AM
Looks like a type 38 to me.... I can't tell in the pic.. Is the rear sight like #1 or #2??

GringoGrande
July 24, 2009, 01:27 AM
The pictures are very dark and hard to see the markings. Here is a link to look the markings you have up. The back end of the bolt will let us know what type due to the style of safety is ie a Palm turn, Finger groved turn or an early mauser wing type. Sights were redone on many so that is not a sure way of telling which one it is.

It is either a type 38 or type 99

Here is a great site that allows you to look for the markings to tell the who, what, when, where and how of an Arisaka. It is best to take a pencil rubbing of all markings and have them all on one page before you start looking as it can get really tiedious going back and forth from the gun to page.

http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/japanese_markings.html

Type 38 - 6.5mm x 50 Jap (some surplus dealers has some ammo but rarely)
Type 99 - 7.7mm x 58 Jap (avail from Hornady and can also be reloaded)

Later production rifles the metallurgy was really bad, so I would not shoot them no matter how soft a reload you make or what a gun smith says. Early model had some of the strongest bolt lock ups of many of the bolt rifles of the war, so shooting the earlys can honestly be fun.

As far as a restore, the best thing to do is just wipe down with some kroil (http://www.kanolabs.com/) or use 00000 brass wool with kroil and get all the gunk and surface rust off of it. You can even take everything off and soak all the metal parts in Kroil. "](DO NOT DISASSEMBLE THE BOLT UNTIL YOU TRULY KNOW HOW TO DO SO[/B]). Use Kroil on all the metal, even the assembled pieces.

The wood, use some 000 wool and get a smooth surface and use some Birchwood Caseys stock oil. Truly nothing more is needed to restore them.

Any further work on them destroys their value (unless done by a professional historical restore gunsmith), the patina they have is worth more than the actuall rifle (what little value they are $50 to $300 depending on many factors such asCondition, the MUM on the receiver being ground off or not, what plant, what year, production quantities). If it is a type 44 or the two concentric circles as shown in the chart, DO nothing to the rifle and have an historian look at it, as some of these can be very valuable in as is conditions. There was also a folding stocked paratroop model, but these are as rare as hens teeth.

Either get the head spacing gages from Brownells or take it into a very trust worthy gunsmith to check head space. chamber wear and the bore out to make sure physically it is safe to shoot. If any of the areas are worn past a Go Gage ie a No Go fits, then do not get it fixed or restore, keep as is and DO Not Shoot it.

The main thing is though, match up the year and where it was made with the chart link (after late 1943 DO NOT FIRE IT) Prior to that if all else is OK, go ahead and shoot it til your hearts content.

If you are going to shoot it a lot, learn how to reload and either make the cases or buy them. The 6.5 ammunition is honestly hard to find in shootable condition and is best to learn how to make them and reload them. You do not need a fancy all out set up, a basic Lee or RCBS kit would do with some small extra gadgets for cutting and forming the cases from easy to get components.


6.5 mm Japanese or 6.5x50mm Japanese Arisaka. The cartridge was introduced by the Japanese military in 1897 and remained in service during World War II.

Surplus Ammo - Difficult to find.

Ballistics

Reloading Dies are made by RCBS and Lee Precision.

Reloading components can be found at Huntington's and Midway USA .

Brass - Norma Brass.


Cartridge Name 6.5x50mm Japanese Arisaka
Bullet Diameter .263
Case Neck Diameter .293
Case Shoulder Diamete .425
Case Base Diameter .455
Case Rim Diameter .471
Case Rim Thickness .045
Case Length 2.00
Overall Cartridge Length 2.98
Military Bullet Weight 139
Velocity 2500


7.7mm Japanese or 7.7x58mm Japanese Arisaka. The cartridge was adopted by the Japanese military in 1939 for the Model 99 Arisaka rifle as a replacement for the older 6.5mm cartridge, but both cartridges remained in service during World War II.
New Production Ammo can be found manufactured by Norma.

Surplus Ammo - Difficult to find.

Ballistics similar to British .303.

Reloading Dies are made by RCBS and Lee Precision.

Reloading components can be found at Huntington's and Midway USA .

Brass - Norma Brass.

Powder - IMR 4895 and IMR 3031 are good powders for this round.


Cartridge Name 7.7x58mm Japanese Arisaka
Bullet Diameter .313
Case Neck Diameter .338
Case Shoulder Diamete .429
Case Base Diameter .468
Case Rim Diameter .470
Case Rim Thickness .040
Case Length 2.09
Overall Cartridge Length 2.95
Military Bullet Weight 175
Velocity 2400

I shoot mine all the time and it is a type 38, fairly accurate. The Bolt works are weird though and take some getting used to if you are used to Mauser or similar types. The Jap rifle is a very short throw bolt on the radius (handle up and down) and in really good contion, a jap soldier could get off around 35 aimed shots a minute to include the loading into the rifle the enbloc clip.

Hope this helps, feel free to PM me if you neeed more help.

The Arisaka Gringo

JT-AR-MG42
July 24, 2009, 06:23 AM
Cloudboy,
Sure looks like a 23rd Series Type 38 long rifle in caliber 6.5 x 50 Arisaka. Reading the receiver from the top down, you have the Imperial chyrisanthemum, the Japanese character for the number 3 - three horizontal lines- 8 - the two vertical curved ones- and the Japanese character for the word 'Type'. In Japanese - SAN-PACHI-SHIKI - or 38 type.

The 100,000 rifle 23rd Series was made at the Kokura Army Arsenal, 2nd manufacturing plant, in Kokura, Japan between Feb and October of 1939.

Matching number ( to the receiver number ) parts on it would be the bolt body, safety, and the floorplate.

A different assembly number was used for the bolt release, extractor, upper and lower tang, trigger parts, and the stock ( inside the barrel channel ) and handguard. These numbers should be the same. The front band is not normally numbered in this series.

23rd series are noted as a little different with all three types of safety and buttplate being used through production.

Ditto on clean-up. I would not refinish it. Just lightly use the brass wool to stop any active rust and keep it oiled down. I would pick up some Howard's feed-'n- wax to keep the two piece stock from drying out any more.

That long barrel served two purposes. First, an excellent bayonet platform. However, the primary reason for it is the complete lack of muzzle signature when firing in the dark or low light ( jungle ) conditions. Makes it very hard to spot someone that way. The Japanese knew where they were going and had the right rifle for it.

These are strong rifles and completely safe to shoot if in sound condition. Given your lack of experience with them, I would seek out a gunsmith or competent person familiar with them to look it over before doing so.


Thanks for sharing the photos of a very collectible battlefield pick-up.

F. Guffey
July 24, 2009, 07:31 AM
http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/japanese_markings.html

Cases have been formed for the 7.7 rifle from 30/06, trimming the cases requires a lot of trimming without a trim/forming die, form first then trim with a hack saw.

I have heard about the strongest action in the world, if the rifle did not blow up I want the same cases that were used in the test, the cases must have been the strongest (in the world) also.

The 6.5 case, because of the case head diameter is more difficult to find. I would suggest starting with new cases. I had a 6.5X50-38 and a reamer 6.5/257 Roberts, this made it possible to form cases from 7X57, 8X57 or 30/06 cases.

F. GUffey

GringoGrande
July 24, 2009, 11:12 AM
I have heard about the strongest action in the world, if the rifle did not blow up I want the same cases that were used in the test, the cases must have been the strongest (in the world) also.

At the end of the war as USA soldiers were going home. They were allowed to have battlefield pick ups. The US Army used the PROOF ammunition left at the Japanese Factories and Depots on what ever legal take home rifles they could find.

1. These rifles have the Mum ground off.
2. There is a US Army Proof Mark showing they have been proof tested. Many of the proof letters are surfacing now that the HONORED WWII (My dad was in New Guinea in WWII) Vets are passing away and their items are scrutinized by their family.

The danger comes in when someone has a rifle with the Mum still on it and there is no proof mark from the US Army. This is why it is so important to check year and where it was made and I mean really check and double check. Make sure bolts match to receivers etc.

Guns and Ammo did a series of tests and proved that the last ditch rifles would in fact blow up even with standard or soft loaded ammunition. There are accounts of many Japanese being killed by their own rifle when it blew up in later battles. The japs knew this in the field and often would drop their rifle to gain an earlier model from elsewhere on the battlefield. On Iwo Jima, piles and piles of NEW Arisakas were found, never fired as the japs would rather fight hand to hand or with other weapons than the newly manufactured Arisakas. They were arrogent, but not stupid.

Interesting note: The Japanese proof rounds were made a lil differently than the service rounds in that the case was a Bi-Metal, the lower or near the head of the case was virgin brass and 3/4 on up to the neck was a tinned steel. The bullets were steel cased with a center "Slap" core. The "Slap," core was a loose piece of steel or a plug that was used to determine depth of pent when fired at the plant and or at the end of the war. They were close to double charged with powder and a very HOT primer. The US Army ran out of the origional proof rounds and made more in occupied Japan, the ones made in Occupied Japan actually have on the head stamp O.C. along with the other nomenclature. Two shots were fired, if they passed inspection after those two shots, the Mum was ground off, a letter with the rifle serial number and a box of 15 rounds were given to the returning soldier.

Thousands of Arisakas sent to the states after occupation were sold by Fladyrmans and also by Accrombie & Fitch, ALL of these rifles came with an official USA Military proof letter and all had the mums ground off. One ad from A&F sold them for $4.95 each and the ammo was 3 cents a round. The Sporter kits were sold for $8.50 for the whole kit and can still be found today NOT used or installed. They did not sell well as the USA settiments towards anything Japanese was deep rooted in hate. Even today when some of the old vets see an Arisaka, they start to tear up, not because of memories of their past service, but because they hated and still hate the Japanese so deeply for their dishonor at Pearl Harbor and also their treatment of prisoners.

The early actions, due to how the Japs did their metallurgy, the bolts, receivers and chambers were very strong, even stronger than the Mauser types they were modeled after. It was when they cheapened the metals in 1943 and due to poor heat treating made the bolts, receivers and chambers very brittle on those last ditch rifles.

It is a common practice to just NOT shoot any Arisaka Rifles if made after late 1943. Even the later bayonets often just snapped or shattered when used. Some call the later Arisakas "Last Ditch," rifles in that they were hastely machined, poorly heat treated and the later ammo was very out of spec and often you could hear the ammo wiggle in the chamber.

If it is true, that this rifle was made in 1939, it is very shootable and would be a fun piece to have and a fantastic piece of history.

Have fun with it and let us know if you need more help with it on disassembly or a SNAFU that may come up.

Regards,
Gringo

cornbush
July 24, 2009, 11:36 AM
As a shooter youve got a great gun. I have a type 99 in 7.7 that has turned out to be one of the most accurate iron sighted guns i've ever shot, 2" groups at 100 yards with reloads. If the safety bugs you it can be changed out to a side safety with a new trigger, however it will ruin any collector value.

mp25ds4
July 24, 2009, 12:49 PM
if it is 6.5 jap im seeing alot of ammo for it on gunbroker.com

GringoGrande
July 24, 2009, 02:43 PM
Yes, if it is reloads or orig stuff, truly you cannot trust it. The GB and AA sites ammo for the Jap 6.5 may be good to get the brass and reload for yourself. The orig Jap ammo is so unstabil that a year ago there was a industry warning in shotgun news, gun dealer digest and Guns & Ammo not to shoot the milsurp Jap Brass. The Turkish 6.5 Jap rounds are not too bad, nor are the Greek as long as they are not reloads. Neither the Russian or Chinese rounds can be reloaded or altered to be reloaded but is OK to shoot.

I have honestly found it just easier and more safe to just make my own brass and reload to safe limits. Making the brass is a lot of fun and not hard at all, just takes time and accuracy. Same with reloading them, lots of fun to come up with just the right mix to make them fun and accurate.

On my 7.7 I use Norma Brass as well as brass I have made from 30-06 and 7mm / 8mm. On the 6.5 I make the brass from various other ammo components.

Gringo

DrLaw
July 24, 2009, 08:19 PM
I'm going to disagree on the presence of the Chrysanthemum or no presence.

This was the symbol of the Emperor. The soldier was the 'property' of the Emperor, as was his gun. Surrender was something that was unworthy of a Japanese soldier, as witnessed by the number of suicides in the late part of the war. Surrender of your weapon meant that you were not a warrior, the bushido code. (one of the things that US soldiers were taught was to shoot the guy with the sword) The mums were ground off a lot of the guns by surviving Japanese so that the Emperor was not disgraced.

The fact that the Chrysanthemum is on your gun does not mean that it is unsafe to shoot. In fact, the type 38 was a very good gun, though it did sometimes have frills that did not lend themselves well to combat or Pacific rain forest use. One item was the sight with the fold out wings for shooting at aircraft. The other was a dust cover over the bolt (yours' does not have that). The dust cover was a noisy beast that sometimes gave away a soldiers location.

What made the gun unreliable was the ammunition. The Japanese were not prepared for jungle warfare. Japan, after all, is not all jungle. The way that they packed their ammo for instance. No waterproofing. Oops! Bad ammo makes one think you might have a bad gun. That's how rumors start.

(A good example of this is the rumor that Germans were using wooden bullets to shoot our soldiers and give them festering wounds. The truth was that somebody found German training ammunition and made a wrong assumption)

I'd say, have the gun checked over by a competent gunsmith. Look up surplusrifle.com and some other Curio and Relic Milsurp sites, and if the bore is good, have at it if you can find some ammo.

The Doc is out now. :cool:

GringoGrande
July 24, 2009, 08:49 PM
DrLaw said The fact that the Chrysanthemum is on your gun does not mean that it is unsafe to shoot.

I said The danger comes in when someone has a rifle with the Mum still on it and there is no proof mark from the US Army. This is why it is so important to check year and where it was made and I mean really check and double check. Make sure bolts match to receivers etc.

I only said the absense of the Ground off MUM and the USA Proof Mark makes the rifle suspect and should be checked out. Nothing after late 1943 should be fired.

This is NOT rumor, it is fact. The USA's own proofing of the rifles bared this out and they would NOT allow certs to be issued for rifles made past middle of Nov 1943 and would give the returning soldier a replaced rifle that was certified.

There are a great many battle field pick ups that were brought home (such as the one this op has posted) and not certified, many of them were last ditch. I would rather error on caution to anyone with a Arisaka and let them know the possible dangers with many Arisakas (NOT RUMOR) than to have someone think they can just go out and shoot any one of them and then get hurt.

My advice is check the mfg date, then check with a gunsmith on proper operation and specs. Simple, sound advice.

Gringo

James K
July 24, 2009, 09:18 PM
Hi, Gringo,

This is the first time I have heard of the US Army proof testing any Japanese rifles except those converted to .30-'06 for issue to the South Koreans.

Can you post a picture of that US Army proof mark and also the letter that was sent with those rifles supposedly brought in by importers, as I have never seen an Arisaka with any kind of import mark or country of origin mark as required of imports.

The "mums" were ground off by the Japanese (with US approval) on rifles taken from depots in Japan after the war, not by the US at the time they were proofed.

You have given us a lot of information, most of which directly contradicts previous information and personal experience. I don't necessarily doubt you, but in view of the contradictions, I think it is incumbent on you to provide some backing for your statements.

Jim

.300 Weatherby Mag
July 24, 2009, 09:26 PM
Both Hornady and Norma load ammo for the 7.7 and the 6.5....

30-30remchester
July 24, 2009, 09:56 PM
I have to disagree with the assesment that arisaka's are weak actions. The great P.O. Ackley tested them and found them among the strongest actions avalible. An article appeared in an early American Rifleman magazine that had a story of the arisaka's strenght. It seems a local gunsmith rechambered his 6.5 jap to 30-06. After a few years of use and a few deer shot with it, it was sold as he felt the recoil was too severe. Seems though he rechamber it he didnt rebore the barrel. The owner had been shootin 30-06 ammo down a 6.5 barrel. The NRA heard about it and purchased the rifle for experements. They shot it numerous times, and recovered the bullets and they had been swadged down to 6.5 caliber. Then the NRA disassembled the rifle and had it checked out by compatent gunsmith. Seems he could find no cracks, stress or stretch factures and found the action to be safe to shoot.

GringoGrande
July 25, 2009, 03:18 AM
Jim Keenan said: You have given us a lot of information, most of which directly contradicts previous information and personal experience.

Jim, you said MOST is contradicted, what else besides the proof marks and letter? In return, can you please quote the contradictions to what I have and the source?

I will look for a copy of the proofing letter and the proof mark, I know there is one posted at the WWII War Museum Soldiers and Sailors monument in Sandusky Ohio and Cleveland Ohio. I know a few people with them and I can scan one.

This is a partial of the reason for the ground Mum from The History Channel. Those that were NOT surrendered and that were battle field pick ups and IF the US Soldier did things the correct way. Each legal pick up was proof shot then proofed marked and a letter given. I will find some more info sometime this weekend.


Quoted from The History Channels "Story of the Gun" "Japans Arisaka, The Emperors Rifle"

Quote from Story of the Gun: [I]A chrysanthemum (mum) with 16 petals (the symbol of the Japanese Emperor) was usually stamped on the receiver of rifles manufactured for the Imperial Japanese Army, indicating that the rifle belonged to the Emperor. The chrysanthemum resembles this:

http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm228/ohiohikingstick/mum.gif

The chrysanthemum was at least partially ground off on rifles which were surrendered after the war by both Japanese and U.S. Occupation forces, apparently as a face-saving gesture to the Japanese as it was a dishonor to surrender the rifle to the enemy. Rifles captured in the field, however, normally have the chrysanthemum symbol intact unless it was issued with a Department of the Army release letter and stamped by U.S. Army Ord at the muzzel at which time the U.S. Army would grind the chrysanthemum off. The Type designation was stamped into the top of the receiver using the character shiki for "type" and Japanese numerals.

The proof mark looked like an egg with a US bomb in the center with a "V" on the left and a "J" on the right of the egg shape. The ones I have seen are on the left side of the muzzle on the side of the barrel. It is a small stamp, maybe 1/8" to 3/16"

I will scan the old Flaydermans catalog I have and show you the page with the Jap rifles and the accessories. There is the back ground story also on that page and has a miniatured canted copy of the letter proving to the prospective buyer they have been proofed safe as soldiers were told and rumers persisted that all Jap rifles would blow up is shot.

30-30remchester said: I have to disagree with the assesment that arisaka's are weak actions.

Gringo replies: I agree with you, the early Jap rifles Type 38, prior to late 1943 were very strong rifles, after late 1943, they were brittle, since you stated the 6.5 then those were early and well built rifles. It was the "Last Ditch," 7.7's that were weakened due to metallurgy.

The Weekend Gringo

F. Guffey
July 25, 2009, 07:48 AM
"The chrysanthemum was at least partially ground off on rifles which were surrendered after the war, apparently as a face-saving gesture. Rifles captured in the field, however, normally have the chrysanthemum symbol intact. The Type designation was stamped into the top of the receiver using the character shiki for "type" and Japanese numerals. The shiki character and the characters for the Japanese numerals are shown in the following table". from this link: http://www.radix.net/~bbrown/japanese_markings.html

And again, I want some of the 30/06 cases like the ones that were fired in the 6.5 barrel, the gun did not blow up, the cases did not blow up, the girlie 03 Springfield 'IS SAID TO HAVE BLOWN UP or 'it is said' failures have been attributed to 8X57 ammo, .015 difference. 6.5 (.264) compared to .308 is .044 thousands difference. there must be rules that do not apply to the 38 and 99 rifle that apply to all other rifles, and not even a 'sticky' bolt or stuck case. I believe some of this stuff has been repeated too many times.

F. Guffey

James K
July 25, 2009, 10:41 PM
I await evidence that the U.S. Army ever proof tested bringback rifles at any time. The few that were imported might have been proved by the importers to assuage fears about their strength, but it was NOT done by the U.S. Army or any other official U.S. government agency. (The U.S. does not have a proof law, and never has had.)

I have seen dozens of "capture papers" authorizing a soldier to bring back a captured enemy weapon. While these were common in Europe, commanders in the Pacific seem to have been less rigid and many of the soldiers and Marines from that theater who brought back Japanese weapons told me they never were given "capture papers" and no one ever asked for them.

But those papers do not mention any military proof or testing of the gun itself, only that the GI was authorized to have it.

Jim

Funeralfog
August 4, 2009, 05:55 AM
that looks like my great uncle's jap rifle he picked up from the owner, it had the chrysanthemum etched off and had a wonderfully disgusting laminated from pieces of wood stock, and ugly welded parts, it might have been a 99, but what the hell do i know about japanese rifles

some japanese etched off the seal before fighting because they knews the war was over. in this case, when my uncle shot the **** holding it

Logjam
August 4, 2009, 01:23 PM
It's a model 38 Arisaka. The 99 had the two airplane leading bars on either side of the rear sight. Also it looks like a Walnut stock....most are burch, but I think some 38's were walnut, since they were made earlier. I'd glue that stock back together. They come apart at the long seam in the butt stock.

They had chrome bores, so you can probably scrub it clean. As for being safe; well some last ditch rifles were unsafe, but they are easy to spot; rough metal work and a strange rear sight that is made of one flat piece with a sighting appeture.

I'd shoot the thing. At the end of WWII they took all the rifles and loaded them until they failed. The Arisaka was found to be the strongest. Norma used to load the ammo. I don't know if it still does however. It's a 6.5 bore.

Logjam
August 4, 2009, 01:32 PM
The "mums" were ground off by the Japanese before given to GI's who wanted them as souvenirs after the occupation of Japan. I have also read that bring backs were ground on ship on the way home, having the do with insulting the enemy or some such.

Battle pick ups are seldom, if ever ground. From the story and the intact Mum, I think this is a genuine bring back and as I said, earlier I'd shoot it, if it is an earlier gun.

I had never heard of the after 1943 date demarking unsafe guns. I have no reason to refute it however.

I have an absolutely mint model 38 that is ground and still has it's dust cover. The Japanese GI's almost always removed the dust cover because they clanked. So this gun is a post WWII souvenir. I also have the paper work. I've shot my gun and it's a great shooter. It's pretty long and heavy however, but that 6.5 Jap round was a flat shooter.

armsmaster270
August 4, 2009, 07:34 PM
I notice on the type 38 a lot of the lower halves of the stocks delaminate, mine included. anyone know what gives?