This WWII era Japanese Type 38 is a bolt-action rifle of the Arisaka design that was used by the Imperial Japanese Army. Colonel Nariakira Arisaka headed a commission in the 1890s and was in charge of developing a new rifle design to replace such rifles as the outdated Murata. The Type 38 was adopted by the Japanese in 1905.
The Type 38 rifle used a mixture of designs from both the Mauser and Mannlicher rifles but with some Japanese innovations tossed in. The result was a rock solid rifle with a caliber of 6.5mm. The rifle utilized a cock-on-closing action, which improved the rate of fire from the standard Mauser cock-on-open design. Post-war inspection of the Type 38 by both the U.S. military and the NRA has proven that the Type 38 receiver was the strongest bolt action of any nation from that era and capable of handling a more powerful cartridge.
This small caliber rifle in combination with a low powdered cartridge, produced a rifle with a small recoil that exactly suited the slight stature of the Japanese soldier. This fact was further aided by the Type 38 as being a rather long rifle. When the rifle was used with a bayonet, as it normally was in combat, it gave the Japanese soldier a considerable advantage for close in warfare, but it also made the rifle awkward to handle. The Type 38 rifle at about 4 feet, 2 inches long was the longest rifle of the war. The Japanese soldier of the era stood on average about 5 feet, 3 inches tall. When used with the Type 30 bayonet which has a blade length of 15 3/4 inches long, it made the rifle longer then the average Japanese soldier was tall.
At one point during WWI the Type 38 rifle was even purchased by the British as a training rifle. During the 1930's the Japanese gradually adopted a new service cartridge of 7.7mm, and the Type 38 was revised as the Type 99 rifle. It was the intention of the Imperial Japanese Army to replace the Type 38 with the Type 99 by the end of the war. With the outbreak of the Pacific war though, it never allowed the Japanese army to completely replace the Type 38 and so the Imperial Japanese Army used both rifles during the war. As was so often the case with many of the nations that fought in WWII, the Japanese started to implement cost saving measures into their war instruments in order to speed up production. The Type 38 was not spared this fate. Overall standards went down to the point where some of the late war produced examples were virtually lethal to the user, many of them being constructed from very low quality raw materials. By the end of the war, the Japanese arsenals were reduced to producing very simple single shot weapons firing the 8mm pistol cartridge, or even black powder weapons. There was even a proposal to use long bows and crossbows firing explosive arrows. This was a long way from the day when the Type 38 was the most widely used service rifle in the Orient.
The Type 38 rifle featured on this page was manufactured at the Kokura Arsenal between 1943 and 1945. The rifle is also not original as it left the factory. The stock has been sporterized and it has been re-chambered to accept the .257 cartridge. A number of items on this rifle has also been chrome plated. The pictures on this web page also indicate the rifle in the condition it was received.