21 November 2010


My latest acquisition is a Japanese 6.5mm carbine from before the first World War.

It is an Arisaka type 30 hook safety, of which there were an estimated 500,000 rifles and 40,000 carbines made between 1897 and 1902.

The main difference between a rifle and a carbine is the length. Carbines were first issued to cavalry where the shorter barrels were of better use from horseback than the longer, and thus more unwieldy, rifles would have been. Later on, after the cavalry went from horses to mechanical conveyances, the shorter rifles were issued to engineering and non-combat troops that were not primarily designated as infantry. All carbines are rifles, but not all rifles are carbines.

The type 30 had a rather complicated bolt, and it's tight tolerances made it somewhat intolerant to dirt and dust. For these reasons they had a relatively short service life. The Japanese started replacing their type 30 rifles and carbines with type 38's starting about 1905 or so, rendering the type 30's surplus after less than 10 years in Imperial service.

It is interesting to note that although all Japanese rifles from the Type 30 to the Type 99 are called Arisakas, only the Type 30 was designed by Colonel Nariaki Arisaka. All subsequent types were designed by Lieutenant General Kijiro Nambu using COL Arisaka's design as a starting point. LGEN Nambu's first task was to simplify the Type 30's bolt, which he did admirably. The Type 30's bolt has ten pieces while the Type 38's has four.

A large number of type 30 rifles and carbines found their way into British and Russian hands in WW1, around 1914 or so. Britain issued them to training, Navy and Flying Corps units while the Russians issued them to mainly non-frontline troops, including the ones stationed in Finland. Most of the British weapons were also transferred to the Russians around 1916. The Finns used the rifles to good effect during their bid for independence, but not so many of the carbines. All told, at least six countries used the Type 30 at one time or another.

This one would have over 100 years of stories to tell, as evidenced by it's non-numbers matching bolt and obvious weathering of both metal and wood parts. The man I bought it from got it from his father, but he didn't say where or when his father had gotten it and I didn't think to ask at the time. I'll have to do so next time I see him.

I would like to know it's history. It still appears to be in good shape, but with cartridges at $40 per box of 20 it won't see much use while I have it. It's an interesting piece and I will certainly put a few rounds through it just to see how it does.

But first it will get a visit to the gunsmith so that it can be thoroughly checked out.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mr Bingley I have been able to track down ammo at a more reasonable price. Here are a couple of more links if anyone is looking for the 6.5x50 Japanese ammunition.


Mr. Bingley said...

it's a little cheaper here

Larry said...

Yes! Thanks Mr Bingley, that page is now bookmarked!
It's at the gunsmiths now to see if I have a functioning firearm or an interesting wall hanging. If it's functional I'll be ordering some ammo.
Thanks for the link, and as always, thanks for dropping by!

Mr. Bingley said...

Glad that worked!

You need to post a youtube vid of you firing off a few rounds...

Larry said...

Maybe I'll do that if the gunsmith says it's safe to shoot.

LC Aggie Sith said...

That's a beauty, Larry :)

Larry said...

Thanks Aggie, I'll have to post some full size pics when it gets back from the gunsmiths. Hopefully he gives her a clean bill of health.
Thanks for dropping by!

cmblake6 said...

What kind of ballistics are we talking? Suitable round for hunting deer/pig? Is it anything resembling combat capable? I realize the Japanese must have thought so, but comparatively how effective? Or is it just something to poke paper? And, while we're at it, how well does it do that?

Larry said...

Chuck Hawks says, depending on bullet weight, it is a decent 200-250 yard deer cartridge.
As to accuracy, that is yet to be determined and is dependent on the gunsmith's verdict. If she gets a clean bill of health I'll put a few rounds through her and see what her accuracy is at 200 yards. Either way I'll post the results.
Thanks for dropping by!