Japanese Type 30 “Hook Safety” Arisaka at RIA

Most people are familiar with the Type 38 Arisaka, which was one of the two very distinctive Japanese rifles of World War II (along with the Type 99). The Type 38 was an outstanding rifle in large part because it was the result of several years of experience and development which began in 1897 with the Type 30 “Hook Safety” Arisaka. This first Japanese smallbore military rifle was designed by a committee (led by Col. Arisaka) from the best elements of other rifles being made at the time. It used a bolt which was significantly more complex than the elegant Type 38 bolt which would follow later.

18 Comments

  1. Just out of curiosity – I’ve seen photos of Arisakas in .30-06 that were used by the Thai military after WW2. Does anyone know if these were rechambered 7.7mms or were they rebarreled with Springfield or 1917 Enfield barrels?

  2. many Type 99s were re-chambered by running a .30-06 reamer into the old chamber. Then they were reloaded with .30-06 cases with .311 bullets. If the barrel was not set back you got a slight bulge just ahead of the rim. If the barrel was set back you had what was in effect a .311-06 or 7.7-06 wildcat with ballistics almost identical to a .30-06. I used cut-down .30-06 cases and .308 cases for years with no problems. You just did not full-length resize the cases … only neck-sized. Powder was no problem … just fill to the base of the neck with H-4831 and shoot it. Some of my cases have over 50+ full power firings on them. The best were “Norma 7.7 Jap” cases or loaded rounds. I have about 300 of these.

    • After Nambu’s modifications were done to the basic Arisaka action, the bolt’s safety factor was considered massively overkill even with reduced production quality if I’m not totally mistaken.

      • I seem to recall reading about somebody rechambering a Type 38 to .30-06 and forgetting about the fact that it’s a 6.5mm barrel. Then he fired it and the 7.62mm bullet was simply squeezed down to 6.5mm, with the ludicrously strong action coming out unharmed.

        • Talk about squeeze-bore anti-body-armor capability. Wouldn’t that squeezed bullet come out with an unusually high muzzle velocity and perhaps drill through an inch-thick steel plate?

          • The version i’ve heard was that someone had fired 7.7mm bullets through the 6.5. And there was no harm to the gun. First time I heard it was from an instructor at Colorado School of Trades way back in 1990s

  3. As I recall, one of the biggest issues with the Type 30s was that there was no camming action on bolt closure, which could sometimes make it hard to close the bolt with a fouled chamber or low quality ammunition.

    If I’m not mistaken also, some of these went to the Royal Navy, and maybe the Russians, in WWI.

    • Yep. Japan was among the Allies in WW1, but for obvious wasn’t involved in the fighting in Europe and its participation was almost entirely at sea. So they could spare their older rifles, and most European nations were so short on rifles they’d accept just about anything that went bang when you pull the trigger, even if it fired nonstandard ammo.

  4. The Thai Type 83 Short Rifle were originally New Nagoya T38 long rifles in 6,5 calibre. I have several T83 Format Training rifles ( still in 6,5, but with cut Firing Pins and Bent down Bolt handles, and Pinned Mag latches–ie “Non Firers”) as well as one Cal .30 conversion. Barrel is rebored and re-chambered, receiver ring relieved to allow clip loading, and Mag ramp modified.

    The Training rifles I got were, all Broken stocks at the wrist (Badly cracked) probably from “hoisting Guys” over the Obstacle Course; I Have repaired a couple, and repaired the FP, and made a stock clearance for the Bent down Bolt ( to allow proper Locking up) and they shoot 6,5 cal fine.( these were all “NEW” Nagoya Export rifles, Mum cancelled by ring of “o”s)

    The T83 .30 cal, however, has some chamber issues (Headspace a bit too long) and I have to make custom .30cal cases for it, otherwise they head-separate after a couple of reloads. Otherwise it shoots OK, probably a bit hard on the short Thai Soldiers, but that’s what recruit training is for, “Toughen them up”.

    Doc AV

  5. Actually this bolt is rather Gew.88 style, than Mauser. It’s a pity you didn’t actually stripped the bolt, as that would show off the largest ever bolt disassembly tool – you need a whole rifle with cleaning rod in place standing on the stock plate to disassemble the bolt! The cleaning rod has a special bushing that you rest the exposed firing pin tip into it (after you take the front part of the bolt with extractor and ejector – the hummed-over part opposite the extractor – and unscrew the rear screw). Then you place the firing pin tip into that bushing and give it a shove, so that the hook-safety part with two-part firing pin holder exits the rear end of the bolt. Then you take the two halves of the FP holder out, ease up on the bolt, releasing the tension of the FP spring, and take the FP out.
    Nightmarish? C’mon…

  6. The SA stamps were not necessarily bought from Japan directly. Many (as much as 100 000) of both 30 and 35-Shiki obsolete rifles were sold to Russia during WW1, and then by the way of Russia, they got to neighboring countries, like Poland or Finland. In fact, the Japanese rifles were official Secondary Standard in the Russian army, to the extent of Fedorov chambering his 1916 Avtomat for the Japanese round. We’ve got about a dozen ex-Tsarist 30-, 35- and 38-Shiki rifles in the Polish Army Museum collection in Warsaw, and damn fine rifles they are.

    • I can confirm that no Type 30, Type 35 or Type 38 Arisakas were bought directly from Japan by the Finnish Army. All of them were came from disarmed Russian troops in 1917 and 1918 or were supplied to the Red Guard (Socialists) by the Russian Bolsheviks during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. Nearly all were sold abroad during the interwar period (the largest batch went to Estonia) and only a few hundred saw service in WW2 with the Civil Guard home front troops. So, the SA marked Arisakas are actually quite rare today in Finland. Many of the remaining were sporterized in the 1950s.

  7. Great to see a video about the Type 30. You did leave off the Austrian use (and conversions). My 30, while not rechambered has had its rear sight replaced with a Mannlicher one.

  8. Miyata and Honjo are big names in the Japanese bicycle business. I do not know if there is any relationship to the men mentioned in this video!?

    Miyata makes quality bikes and Honjo makes high quality fenders.

  9. I’ve read that the dovetail holding the two pieces of the butt together was actually tapered. If the glue failed or you could otherwise loosen its hold, you could remove the lower part with a couple of taps of a mallet — once you’d unbolted all that ironwork, of course. There’s no joinery like Japanese joinery.

    • A bit late seeing your question, but the proper ammunition for your rifle is the 6.5x50mm SR (for semi-rimmed) Arisaka (or Japanese). If you locate new factory-made ammunition, the boxes should say “6,5mm Jap” (Norma) or “6.5 JAP (Hornady and again, Norma). Bullets are 156-grain round nose soft point (Norma) and 140-grain spitzer soft point (Hornady). Privi Partizan formerly made loaded ammunition, but presently appears to offer only empty cases for reloading.

      If you someday decide to reload the 6.5 Japanese, it pays to consider that best accuracy may be achieved by using cast lead or jacketed bullets of anywhere from .264” diameter (the “standard” bullet diameter for most 6.5mm cartridges) up to bullets of .268″ diameter (usually associated with 6.5x52mm Italian Carcano cartridges). It entirely depends upon the actual groove diameter of your specific rifle’s barrel.

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