Type I Carcano (Video)

One of the less common Japanese rifles of the WWII era is the Type I (pronounced “Type Eye”). The Japanese Imperial Army and Navy procured small arms independently of each other, and the Army received priority as the ground war in China escalated. This left the Navy short of rifles and unable to get them from domestic producers, so they turned to Italy. A contract was signed ordering tens of thousands of Type I rifles (the exact quantity is unclear – most sources say 60,000, but the serial number range would suggest more than double that number).

The rifle was based on a Carcano receiver and bolt, but otherwise configured like a Type 38 Arisaka. For a thorough still-photo comparison between the two rifles, take a look at Teri’s excellent page on the Type I at Nambu World.


  1. Nice video, I also welcome all posts about Japanese weapons, as I find them quite fascinating.

    Just two points I’d like to add, the unprotected front sight and “v” notch rear sight are not peculiarities of the Type I, early production Type 38-s had the same features. The protective ears over the front sight and the peep hole rear sight are later additions to the design.

    • They’re also not additions that were made at the same time. I’ve seen Type 38s that have the front sight ears but not the rear peep sight.

  2. Nice quick overview, Ian. This is a rifle I’ve been curious about for awhile. You say many were unissued, do you know of any instances where the rifle was used? It would be great to know what the Japanese thought of the rifle, especially in comparison to the Arisaka.

  3. I would have a question: on Type One rifle, which has allegedly a Carcano style lockup; what makes bolt to open/ close, in absence of usual bridge and cam such as found on Arisaka/ Mauser style weapons? Thanks.

    • It is a standard Carcano action. It’s a cammed surface on the back of the bolt body that forces the cocking piece and firing pin into the rearward position. Same thing as with all split-bridge type actions.

  4. Back when I collected Japanese stuff, I bought a mis-identified Type I Italian/Japanese commission rifle. The bolt is indeed a Carcano action with a split receiver bridge and the Carcano-type safety. The magazine is a modified Mauser/Arisaka type.

    The shop I found it in had it labeled as a T38! It had the original leather sling, with some kind of Kanji characters inscribed on it. I bought if for 80 dollars. The bolt is removed from the action like a Carcano, drawing back the bolt while pulling forward or backward on the trigger. That part I can’t quite remember.

  5. Excellent video, Ian — thanks! I think that may be the very Type I Carcano that I happened to purchase from you a short while back during one of your equipment sales. Great rifle, and a wonderful addition to my rather small ( but growing ) collection of vintage firearms. The fellows at my local FFL dealer were quite intrigued with it.

  6. This is defenetly not the first type Carcano. That was a copy(more or les) of the Doersh & Baumgarten needelfire, from 1868

  7. I had one of these for a while that my dad picked up for next to nothing. $50 if I recall right. It was in very good shape. My dad snagged it back at some point and sold it off (for around $250 or so, again if I remember right.) I really wish he’d have hung onto it though. At the time neither of us were especially into Japanese rifles however. It was a neat piece though and I regret seeing it move from the collection now.

  8. Author, the translated read of the rifle can very much be called “Type I” read as in the English letter “I”, but the correct pronunciation for the piece is actually the same as the letter “E” or for the purpose and considering origins of this case, like the I in Italy/Italia. The Japanese Katakana character in its original name is イ, obviously from タリア.

  9. I just bought a Carcano Type I Japanese rifle. It is in good condition with some history behind it. At first I thought it was a Type 38 or 99. But after viewing the comparisons on Nambu World, I determined it is a Type I. Mine has a serial number J8405 on the left side close to the rear site, and a number 45 stamped on the underside of the bolt handle.

    I would be interested to know what the large Japanese letters located on the strap mean. I was told it was the designation for unit assigned. Mine also came with the much shorter Nagoya bayonet attached. It also appears to have a very small unidentifable stamp under the serial number which may be a Japanese letter. No other markings noted.

  10. I have a Type I rifle but someone who had the rifle before me cut down the stock. I am now looking for a military stock to restore the rifle.Does anyone know where I can get one? Do you know if a type 38 stock would fit it.

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