"I have difficulty imagining anything worse than the 91/30..."
You know what, you're absolutely correct. Don't know why I brain froze on the 91/30.
They were a beast to manipulate. If the chamber got dirty or the brass got sticky, they were a nightmare.
Regarding a straight bolt handle and cock on closing -- that combination is, I feel the worst possible combination.
With the bent bolt handle you can get more than adequate leverage on the closing motion to make it go smoothly, but that's almost impossible to do with the Arisaka without either lifting your head OR rolling the gun to the side - both of which allow a better angle of attack and sufficient leverage to close the bolt.
But, both actions result in the same thing -- destroying the rifle's mount, requring the shooter to re-establish the aiming position and point all over again.
"high quality machining either"
Actually, right up through when Japan began engaging the Chinese in the early 1930s, the Arisaka was generally finished, polished, and blued to the best European standards.
It's tough to determine exactly when a particular Arisaka was made because so many of the records were destroyed in the fire bombings, but given its finish, lack of tooling marks, and general details, I'd have to say mine was made in the 1920s.
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza
Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.