Arisaka Type 38 6.5x50mm

 

As I mentioned on my M1 Garand page, my father was a combat Marine with the 1st Marine Division during the Second World War. He saw action at Cape Gloucester on New Britain, at Peleliu in the Palaus, and finally, on Okinawa. What little he has told me of it, I know it was some ghastly business. One thing that always made me proud of my dad (among many) was that he never seemed to carry any animosity for his former foe with him down through the years. In fact, I think that may have stemmed from battlefield respect. The Japanese soldiers, sailors, and airmen of World War Two were a fanatical breed, and one which would seemingly command either hatred or respect from their adversaries. Perhaps, more often than not, both.

This is the rifle the Imperial Japanese Army carried with them when they set out to establish their "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere", the Type 38 6.5mm rifle (三八式歩兵銃 Sanpachi-shiki hohējū).

 This example is all matching, complete with bolt cover and Imperial Chrysanthemum. Its serial number, 935,xxx indicates it was manufactured pre-1935 at the Koishikawa arsenal. It has the "S" marked barrel proof, and is a beautiful specimen except for a lot of surface rust and discoloration. I have done what I could to clean it up, and preserve it, but the overall condition seems to be representative of many of these that I have seen, and is, I suspect, either a testimony to the rough conditions the rifles faced during the war in Japanese hands, the rough condition they served in G.I. dufflebags during the war, or, most likely, the rough conditions they faced in the back of Grandpa's celler for the last 65 years. Regardless, I consider myself lucky to have this one. These rifles were neglected, and undervalued for years after the war, despite being a great adaptation of the Mauser design. They are only now begining to develop a collectable following, and I'm glad mine has the Imperial Mum still present.

This Arisaka came to me via my cousin's father, who sold it to my Dad while clearing out several items he no longer needed. From my Dad, it quickly found its way to me, where I will keep and cherish it for as many years as I am able. Someday I'd like to get a Japanese bayonet for it, but I haven't found one yet.

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