View Full Version : Who knows anything about Japanese rifles?

January 26, 2006, 04:44 AM
I have recently acquired what appears to be a Japanese type 38 rifle. I acquired it from a guy who said his grandfather was a sailor on the USS Missouri and picked it up in Tokyo when the Japanese surrendered. However, It also appears to be "Last Ditch". I have never been able to locate any information on Last ditch type 38s, only 99s. The bolt style is that of very early type 38s with the hooked safety. The rear sight is fixed peep and the front sight has no protective ears. It has a metal butt plate and the cleaning rod is only about 4 inches long. The Bayonet is also included and is also last ditch with a bamboo scabbard. The strange thing about this gun is that the stock appears to be of a solid piece of dark wood and is not laminated like most Arisakas. There is no serial number on the side of the receiver as with all other Arisakas that I have seen. The only marking on the side of the receiver indicates that it was made in the Kokura arsenal. The Chrysanthemum is intact. The Japanese characters directly below the "mum" I have attempted to translate. One of the characters is "Type". I believe that the others in order are: "3", "10", "5", and last one is unknown. I have not seen markings like this before and was wondering if anyone knows what it means or if they have seen it before. THanks for any help!!!

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2006, 12:22 PM
Got a picture or three?

The last ditch guns can be fairly easily identified by the tremendous amount of tool marks and generally EXTREMELY rough metal finish.

HOWEVER, what you're describing isn't a Type 38, it's a Type 30. That was Japan's first modern, small-bore rifle and were used during the Russo-Japanese war. The hook should go to the left of the bolt when it's ready to fire.

They are generally of EXTREMELY high quality, on part with the best European Mausers of the time.

If it looks something like this, you have a type 30.


The only odd thing in it all is the fixed peep... If it truly is a Type 30, it should have a typical ladder sight.

January 26, 2006, 02:18 PM
Need pics


January 26, 2006, 05:23 PM
Thanks Mike Irwin, You are correct about it being a type 30. I was able to distinguish that also by the bolt release mechanism. The characters on the pic you sent are similar but are missing one character below the Mum. This weapon does not appear to be of great quality and its receiver/stock fit is extremely poor. I came to the conclusion that it was last ditch based on the fixed rear peep sight although many last ditch rifles simply had a fixed notch sight instead. Also the wood on the upper rear part of the barrel is simply nailed to the lower part of the stock. Also, the end cap where the cleaning rod goes appears to be from a Type 38 because its very squared and all pictures I have seen of type 30s have a very rounded cap. I own a type 99 and it doesnt have a cap like that either. Perhaps this weapon was "resurrected" from a broken one which might explain the "last Ditch" sight. Although I havent seen any so far without a serial number of some kind. I will be posting pics of this rifle soon here so you can possibly help me out more. Thanks again

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2006, 10:01 PM
It sounds more and more as if it was a resurrected rifle given your additional description of the stock.

All of the Type 30s should have been withdrawn from service by WW I, and sent back for school, cadet, or other training uses.

It's very possible that a scrounged gun.

Every one of the Type 30s I've ever seen has had a one-piece stock, so I don't think that's really all that much out of the ordinary.

I've seen last-ditch Type 99s with a fixed peep, so that's another indication that something was done to it during the war.

One other thing...

The best book, by far, on Japanese rifles is by Honeycutt and Anthony, Military Rifles of Japan.

Here's a page that might give you some more insight.



I'd give my left testicle to have a really good condition Type 30.

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2006, 10:10 PM
One other think that I forgot about...

Your rifle wasn't made at the Kokura Arsenal.

Kokura didn't start using the 4 interlocking circles until around 1935. Prior to that, the Koshikawa Arsenal in Tokyo used the mark.

I found that out when I was researching my Type 38.


Just found something about that last mark...

It apparently means "year"

Take a look here...


The only thing I can figure right now is that it means Type 30, 5th year of production (1903).

January 27, 2006, 01:32 AM
I am solemnly appreciative of the help you have given me. Since you have been the only real resource that I have found that has been helpful to me, I can only take all your information as truth. There truly isnt much out there about type 30s but like I said, this gun has many indications of being a "last ditch". So, from all I have gathered, this gun was made in 1903 in Tokyo, probably seen some life in war, and was scrounged up and resurrected for use in the later years of WW2. I would have to say that the overall condition of this weapon is about 65 to 70 percent condition according to "blue book of gun values" condition charts. Of course, that publication has nothing about Type 30s so its value is unknown to me, however, I would bet money that its worth at least more than my Type 99 I just purchased. Also, for anyone who may be interested, When I got my Type 99, I was having trouble finding ammo for it. Well, look no further. The Sportsmans Guide sells new manufacture Hornady 7.7X58mm JAP ammo for about 20 bucks a box. Its 150 grain soft point and it cycles and shoots outstanding out of my type 99. Again, thank you for all of your help in this matter.

January 27, 2006, 02:18 AM
That rifle is NOT a Type 30. The receiver marking translates 35th Year Type.
As stated before the Type 30 is a finely finished firearm, this one isn't and the bolt hook (safety) is wrong.
My best guess would be that it is one of the many "training" rifles I have seen over the years. It may or may not chamber a standard 6.5 Arisaka round but it is NOT intended to fire anything stronger than a blank.


January 27, 2006, 02:40 AM
Your information is further helpful in my quest for some history of this weapon. Could you explain to me how the Hook Safety is "wrong"? Perhaps your conclusion better explains the reason that there is not a serial number on the receiver. However, there is a Proof Mark on the Barrel with a "B". Also, the rifling on this gun is in very good condition. In any case, I had no intention of shooting this weapon and mearly acquired it for collection purposes. My Type 99 suits me just fine and shoots exceptionally. Its a series 1 Nagoya Manufacture Type 99. Also, If there is anyone out there who knows where I might be able to find parts for a 1905 Ross Rifle, please let me know.

January 27, 2006, 02:41 AM
Ditto, the markings read per SWMBO: San Jyu Go Nan Shiki (35 year style or as we put it Type 35) and I think its a trainer too...

Any markings on the stock that you can photograph
I wouldnt shoot it...


January 27, 2006, 02:53 AM
There are no distinguishing marks at all on the stock, the stock simply appears to be made of walnut.

January 27, 2006, 02:59 AM
This is quite away from the original thread topic, but I also acquired some time ago, a 1905 Ross rifle. Its mostly all there but its missing enough parts to be troublesome to operate. I have no intention of shooting it, based on all the information I have read about the straight-pull bolt trouble they had with these rifles. I simply would like to restore it the best I can. I have checked Numrich/Gun Parts Corp. and had no luck there. Any other suggestions? ALSO, Has anyone here ever heard of a wonderful little product called TANNERITE?

January 27, 2006, 09:08 AM
The hook on a Type 30 is thinner and has a more pronounced "hook". It is finely finished and doesn't look "clunky" as this one does. It almost looks like a trigger laid on its side.
As for the barrel being rifled, I have seen "trainers" with everything from surplus Type 30 & Type 38 barrels to a crude seam welded smoothbore tube.
I think it all depended what they had on hand when they were making it up.
The markings are interesting, I don't know that I ever had a trainer that was marked as yours is. There's always a chance it's a prototype of some sort.
You might post your question over on the Curio & Relic Board under the Japanese Rifle section: http://p223.ezboard.com/bcurioandrelicfirearmsforum

Comment on your 1905 Ross. The 1905 was not the one that was dangerous (incorrect bolt assembly). That honor went to the M1910. The main problem with the 1905's was extraction. Most 1905's I have had over the years have had their chamber throats excessively "relieved" (Bored out) in an effort to ease the problem. They can be really hard on brass if you reload.


Mike Irwin
January 27, 2006, 11:07 AM

OK, I just found what I believe to be the complete answer.

Type 35 rifles were apparently Naval Service rifles, made only for the Navy. The safety was smaller. They were replaced by Type 38s.

From the cruffler website that I linked earlier comes this VERY interesting bit of information that suddenly makes everything come into focus... (http://www.cruffler.com/trivia-September00.html)

"Type 35 Rifle: These are rather scarce and can be identified by its small round safety. Late in WWII, Japan created "substitute standard" rifles using Type 35 barreled actions and "last ditch" parts made from inferior materials. These are referred to by collectors as the Model 02/45 rifle."

Bingo, we have the answer. A Type 35 action with obvious attributes of late-WW II desperation.

January 27, 2006, 02:34 PM
I really do appreciate all the help you guys have given me. However I just have one more question, Does anyone know or can anyone give me a ballpark answer on the value of something like this?

January 27, 2006, 03:00 PM
This would be something for the hard core cadre of japanese rifle collectors. The unground mum helps. It needs to go up on an Auction site with a reserve.

I'm betting $400 max


Mike Irwin
January 27, 2006, 03:17 PM
Well, I once saw an absolutely pristine Type 30 carbine offered for sale for $1,100, and that was 15 years ago...

James K
January 30, 2006, 01:21 AM
Well, I tend to believe what the rifle says. Mike is correct; the Type 35 (1902) was made for the Navy as an improvement over the Type 30. Like that rifle, it has a hook safety, though slightly different from that of the Type 30. Type 30 and Type 35 bolts are entirely different from Type 38 bolts and do not interchange with the later bolts.

The Type 35 rifles were all made at Tokyo Arsenal (which used the 4-cannonball sign until 1923 when Kokura took it over) and only about 35,500 were made. Unlike most Japanese rifles, the serial number is on the left rear receiver bridge, not on the left side of the receiver rail. AFAIK, the Type 35 used the same two-piece buttstock as most other Japanese rifles.

The Navy later turned in the Type 35 for the standard Type 38.

It would be difficult to tell without seeing it if that rifle was made into a trainer or was reworked as a "last ditch" rifle.

A word on Japanese Navy landing parties. The Japanese had no distinct Marine Corps as the U.S. and Britain did. The larger ships had sailors trained in land combat and equipped with light weapons up to and including light artillery. These made up landing parties as needed. They wore helmets with an anchor and most Americans called them "Jap Marines." Either because of association with the fighting qualities of U.S. Marines, or because they were in fact exceptionally brave, Navy landing parties got a fearsome reputation among Americans as some of Japan's best and bravest troops.


Mike Irwin
January 30, 2006, 10:07 AM
I think it's pretty clear that it's a last ditch rework given the qualities that are described in the first message.

The crude peep sight is also a dead giveaway.

Every training rifle I've ever seen, and I've seen and handled a bunch of them, have had the ladder sights. Static peep sights were a hallmark of a late war, desperate Japanese military.

James K
January 31, 2006, 02:54 PM
Right, Mike, that is a "last ditch" sight. I also have never seen a training rifle with anything but the ladder sight.

The original Type 35 sight is a tangent type, unlike both the earlier and later ladder sights.

BTW, the marking reads "35 Year Type" with the fourth character being "Year." "Year" was included on the Type 29, 30 and 35 rifles but later rifles were just marked "xx Type" with the "year" implied.