Type Service/Bolt-action rifle
Place of origin Empire of Japan
Used by See Users
Wars Russo-Japanese War, World War I, World War II, Chinese Civil War, Korean War, Malayan Emergency
Number built 3,400,000
Variants Carbine & Cavalry rifle
Weight 3.95 kg
Length 1,280 mm
Barrel length 800 mm
Cartridge 6.5×50mm Arisaka
Action Bolt action
Rate of fire c.30 RPM
Muzzle velocity 765 m/s (2509 ft/s)
Feed system 5 round
The Type 38 rifle Arisaka (三八式歩兵銃 Sanpachi-shiki hohējū) is a bolt-action rifle. For a time it was the standard rifle of the Japanese infantry. It was known also as the Type 38 Year Meiji Carbine in Japan. An earlier, similar weapon was the Type 30 Year Meiji Rifle, which was also used alongside it. Both of these weapons were also known as the Arisaka, after the inventor.
It used the Japanese designed 6.5×50mm Arisaka calibre cartridge. This cartridge produces little recoil when fired. However, while on par with the Norwegian and Italian 6.5mm military cartridges of the time, the 6.5×50mm was not as powerful as several others in use by other nations. The Arisaka Rifle at 1280 mm (50 inches) was the longest rifle of the war, due to the emphasis on bayonet training for the Japanese soldier of the era who stood 160 cm (5 feet, 3 inches on average). The rifle was even longer when the 400 mm (15.75 inch) Type 30 bayonet was fixed.
These two concerns (among others) led to the Japanese Army adopting the Type 99 Rifle, a shorter rifle using more powerful ammunition. Japanese authorities also wished to adopt a new long arm that needed fewer machining steps to be produced given Japan's then-existing metallurgic capacity.
The Type 38 Cavalry Carbine is a short-barreled version of the Type 38. It was used not only by cavalry, but also by engineer, quartermaster and other non-frontline troops. It was introduced into service at the same time as the Type 38. The barrel was shorter at 487 mm, giving an overall length of the rifle of 966 mm and a weight of 3.3 kg.
Another Type 38 variant was the Type 38 Cavalry Rifle which were merely Type 38 Infantry Rifles with their barrels shortened from 31 and a quarter inches to 23 and one half inches. All Cavalry Rifle receivers carry the arsenal and proof-marks of Tokyo Artillery Arsenal—the source of the original infantry rifles.
Other variants developed from the Type 38 were the Type 44 Cavalry Rifle, Type 97 Sniper Rifle. The Japanese Imperial Navy also purchased a number of Type I Rifles from Italy at the beginning of World War II. The Italian-built rifles were chambered for the same 6.5×50mm cartridge as the Type 38 rifle. The Type I Rifle were similar in appearance and length to the Type 38 rifle, but were based on the Italian Carcano action.
Post-war inspection of the Type 38 by both the U.S. military and the National Rifle Association proved that the Type 38's receiver was the strongest bolt action of any nation and capable of handling more powerful cartridges.