Skip to comments.Tales of the Gun - Japanese Guns of WW2 (Video)
Posted on 05/22/2013 7:12:21 AM PDT by servo1969
The classic History Channel documentary series.
This episode: Japanese Guns of WWII.
We’ve got an old Arisaka that my father in law brought back from WWII. It’s one of the late Type 99s, and the only way I would shoot it would be from a bunch of sandbags with a loooong string tied to the trigger, and hiding behind a solid wall.
my grandfather was a sailor in the Pacific during WW II - stated that when they were rounding up the left overs on Japaneses held islands and took their weapons - the rifles were poorly made and dangerous to shoot...most ended up being scraped...
American imported multitudes of cheap Japanese toys from Japan in the 1930s, and Japan used profits to import American scrap metal and build war machines
****the rifles were poorly made and dangerous to shoot...most ended up being scraped...***
I saw one of those late war Arisakas. No way I would shoot it. It looked more like a reject to be used as a non shooting training rifle.
But then I’ve seen some early war Arisakas and they were ok.
The Arisaka had the strongest bolt action of any of the rifles of WWII.
SMLE=best battle rifle.
MAUSER-best hunting rifle.
1903-best target rifle.
While shooting at the Red Castle Gun Club in Sand Springs, OK a few years back, some man and son came in, went to a prone position, and with a military Arisaka with the top handguard missing, proceeded to start knocking down the ram targets several hundred yards away. Open sights.
You hear this a lot about Type 99s and even Type 38s. It is sheer baloney and probably got started as wartime propaganda. With the exception of last-ditch Type 99s made in 1944/45 all Arisakas are strong, safe, reliable rifles. I'll admit that they are not beautiful, but they are good shooters (obviously you should not expect match rifle performance) and up until the recent unpleasantness were a great bargain, especially the ones with a defaced mum crest, which is most of the remaining stock.
Be careful refinishing them, though. The factory varnish used on Type 99s was derived from a close relative of Poison Sumac. Exposure to the sanding dust can cause severe symptoms in some people, especially if inhaled.
One of the more humorous episodes of “Tales of the Gun”. Almost ever one of them was either poorly designed, poorly made or both. The Type 99 long rifle and Type 99 light machine gun (also in .303) were the only good ones. The Type 99 short (last ditch) was a POS, the SMG was a joke, and their pistols were more dangerous to the user than the target.
My uncle,Army, 3 years in the Pacific, returned with a Nambu pistol, sword and Jap “meatball” flag. Today’s soldiers would be arrested for taking “souvenirs”
I've always found this classification interesting, as the '03 and Mauser were so closely related. Better sights on the Springfield, I suppose.
Had the Swiss not been neutral during WWII, I suspect that their K31 would hold the "best target rifle" honors. It was really designed more like a light target rifle, disguised as a service rifle.
The early Type 99 actions are stronger than some Mauser actions.
The Arisaka and the Carcano have the strongest actions ever fielded in bolt action battle rifles. Ironically, both types have an undeserved reputation for being weak and dangerous.
I agree with your rankings of bolt action rifles. IMHO, no bolt gun is quicker or has better balance and feel than an SMLE.
The 03-A3 has a much longer sight radius than the Mauser due to the provision of a receiver-mounted sight. The original 1903 is much the same as the Mauser.
I once visited a Japanese firearms museum at Tanegashima. Very interesting.
***The Arisaka and the Carcano have the strongest actions ever fielded in bolt action battle rifles.****
I have read that the reason for the bad rep is that the governments changed calibers during the war. As a result, people would often get a smaller caliber rifle, then try and force the larger caliber cartridge into the chamber, driving the bullet back into the case. When fired, the rifle would self destruct.
It is like some idiot who forced an 8MM Mauser cartridge into a 30-06 rifle, then wonders why the rifle exploded.
Yes, there some idiots that will do that. I had a working companion who blew up a muzzle loading rifle, split the stock, blackened his eyes from the recoil. He had no powder measure and just put several TABLESPOONS of powder in his rifle.
Then there was another idiot who was determined to fire a odd caliber military rifle and wanted a caliber cartridge to fit it. It did not matter if the case did not fit, HE WOULD MAKE IT FIT! I quietly took the clerk aside and told him not to sell this man anything as he was obviously a danger to himself and others.
Then another idiot who wanted to shoot a black powder revolver so he grabbed a can of smokeless rifle powder and wrong sized bullets. I stopped him before he blew himself up.
Where’s the link?
***a minority of them are highly unsafe ***
On the rifle I saw, all the tool marks were still there. The rear sight was a small piece of angle iron with a hole drilled through it and spot welded tot he top of the barrel.
I still would not fire it.
But that wasn't the really bad part. The Imperial Forces used THREE different kinds of 7.7mm rifle ammunition.
1. The 7.7x56R [rimmed] (a direct copy of the .303 British) is used in the Type 92 (1932-1945) light machine gun [ground or aircraft]. This is a licensed copy of the Model 1914 Lewis .303 machine gun with uniquely Japanese cosmetic differences.
2. The 7.7x58SR [semi-rimmed] was used by the Type 92 (1932-1945) Heavy Machine Gun A modified copy of the Model 1914 Hotchkiss machine gun, it could also use the standard 7.7x58 cartridge of the Type 97 Tank, Type 99 LMG, and Type 99 rifle. This gun used a 30-cartridge feed strip.
3. The 7.7x58 Type 97 (1937-1945) and Type 99 (1939-1945) light machine guns fired the same rimless cartridges as the Type 99 Arisaka rifle. The Type 97 gun was specially adapted for use on tanks, used a 20-round magazine, a 1.5x optical sight, barrel shroud, and had a shortened stock for inside the tank. The Type 97 could be dismounted from the tank and fired from a bipod.
The Type 99 was an infantry light machine gun, very similar to the Czech ZB-26 or British Bren guns. The Type 99 could supplement its iron sights with an optic, could mount the bayonet of the Type 99 rifle, used a 30-round magazine, and was fired from a bipod.
Japanese pistol calibers were also chaotic. The Type 26 (1893-1945) revolver, was a hammerless, top-break design that fired the unique 9x22R cartridge. The Nambu self-loading pistols were found in either the 8x22 for the Type 14 Model A (1906-1945, “Papa Nambu”) or Type 94 (1934-1945) pistols or the Type 14 Model B (1909-1929,”Baby Nambu”) in 7x20 caliber.
That nambu pistol and sword are worth some serious money.
If Tales of the Gun did an episode of Italian guns it would compete with the Japs as the most poorly equipped small arms army of WW II. Back then Japanese made = CRAP.
Italy unloaded most of the 7.5 Carcanos before they were issued to the troops. Nevertheless, in addition to the scenaro that you describe, the 6.8 round would chamber in a 7.7 rifle (with massive excess headspace). That situation could result in the action bursting on firing. The Carcano got a bad rep in the States because importers sold huge amounts of poor-quality 7.7 and 6.8 surplus ammunition. Much of it was simply dud ammo, but certain wartime manaufactureres had made substitutions in the powder formula that led to rapid deterioration in storage. By the mid-fifties those rounds were hand grenades waiting to go off in your face. It is actually a testament to he strength of the Carcano that few people were seriously injured, but the guns got a rotten reputation anyway.
The takeaway is that Carcanos are good rifles, but surplus ammo with headstamp dates from the '40s or no date should be discarded.
Just to be honest, I wouldn't shoot one, either. There is really no way to know for 100% sure if you have a "bad" gun.
Contrary to popular belief, both the Carcano and the Arisaka rifle were good quality weapons. The problem in both the Japanese and Italian armies was logistics, not quality. Among other things both nations were transitioning to a new rifle cartridge at the outbreak of the war, and in both cases the transition was never completed. Italy eventually weeded almost all the 7.5 mm Carcanos out of the supply chain, but Japan never really tried and the Type 38 and Type 99 remained in tandem service until the end.
***By the mid-fifties those rounds were hand grenades waiting to go off in your face.***
Too bad a certain commie did not use military issue junk on Nov 22, 1963. Think of how different history would be if it had blown up in his face.
I thought about that, too. I believe Oswald used US-made commercial hunting loads.
Correct about 03s & Mausers being closley related. Mauser
sued the United States Government for patent infringment. The U.S. Government paid royalties to Mauser until the first world war.
I know a couple of guys who were trying to fire a powder charge sans ball in a musket and got no action.
After trying several times the guy holding it tells the other, “put your finger over the hole and see if you sense any pressure”. BOOM! Blew the end the finger off.
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