Type 38 Arisaka Run and Gun

The Japanese Arisaka rifles are famous for being ludicrously strong, and the Type 38 was proven to be the strongest of the lot by various post WWII tests. However, does a strong action alone mean that the rifles are fantastic? Well, we take a nice example of a Type 38 to the run and gun course to see what all the fuss is about.


For those interested, I made a short video showcasing the ammunition problems:



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Transcript …

– [Voiceover] Hey guys, it’s Alex C. with TFBTV, and for today’s Run and Gun we’re going to be using an Arisaka Type 38.

The Type 38s fire 6.5 Japanese, which is a semi-rimmed cartridge, which is kind of cool actually.

By the time that the projectile leaves the barrel, it’s got a full powder burn and it has very low recoil, which is awesome.

For the the Type 97 sniper rifle, they basically just grabbed a Type 38 off the line, threw a scope on there and then gave it out to your snipers.

And that’s very unusual.

Usually sniper rifles are fitted with some extra doodads and features and what not.

But the Japanese just threw a scope on there and handed it out, which is very unusual.

So, it’s got that unique dust cover that’s, I would say the Arisaka Rifles are kind of famous for.

It’s a good idea really.

It rattles a lot and it’s very noisy.

But, I would probably trade that for the protection it offers against mud and sand and things like that.

Course they have the Imperial Chrysanthemum on there if it hasn’t been destroyed.

The sights are very simple with a notch and post.

And of course it’s got a ladder for volley fire.

And ah, I like the sight setup.

While simple, it’s brutally effective and easy to use.

But for the run and gun course we’re going to fire 25 shots at about 75 yards with four reloads.

Hopefully this one goes okay.

We’re had some bad luck with Japanese firearms in the past, but let’s hope that this one goes a little better.

Alright guys, here we go with the Type 38 Arisaka.

We’ve actually tried this before but we were using surplus Chinese ammo from the 50s I believe and it, it was all fail-to-fire stuff.

So, we got some new production Norma Ammunition and we’ll see how this one goes.

(gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) We have the worst freaking luck with Japanese guns on TFBTV.

(gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) Are you serious? (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun firing) (gun jamming) (gun firing) (gun firing) Okay, let’s go talk about this one.

Okay, so I do not feel good about that run at all.

The gun was malfunctioning like crazy, something we’ve run into with the other Arisaka, the type 99.

This one, it would feed from the right side of magazine perfectly.

But every single time, feeding from the left side, it would hangup on something.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s soft-pointed ammo and the military ammunition would have been a full-metal-jacket.

Or not, but…

You know this is really unfortunate, cause I wanted to showcase how good these rifles are.

What’s great is that the recoil is so low.

It feels like you’re shooting, like, 7.62×39 almost.

And rifles are so long and heavy.

With that said, I would really like to try this again after I get the kinks worked out.

I just don’t really know what to do.

It’s gonna be a tough one.

Maybe I have to make some ammunition or reload the ammunition i just shot with some round nose.

I don’t know, we’ll figure something out.

But, I’ll put the totals hits versus misses.

I’m not gonna be proud of this figure right here at all.

And I’ll probably put a sad face right here.

But, let’s go back to the room and finish this one up.

So unfortunately, it looks like our bad luck streak with Japanese firearms continues.

I would really, really, like to get the kinks worked out of this gun so that I can showcase, basically how it’s supposed to work.

And same goes for the Type 99.

It’s just, you know, it’s very disapointing when something like this happens.

I noticed when I was shooting too, that I was getting increasingly frustrated.

Which caused me to miss more than I normally do.

You know, of course I miss often in these deals.

But this one was an exception.

I’m not really proud of the 20 out of 25 figure.

I know I can do better.

It’s just a matter of the gun malfunctioning.

And my getting angry during the course of shooting.

So, take that as you will.

I know these rifles are better than we’ve shown you.

I’ve seen numerous versions of these guns function better than I have showed you during these run and gun videos.

But big thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping us out with the cost of ammunition.

Hope to see you guys next week.

(gun firing)

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Cymond

    I met a guy at the range who has salvaged a rusted up Arisaka. He had tightened the dust cover to prevent rattle by wrapping it around a (leather covered?) mandrel/anvil and pounding it a little tighter.

    He offered to let me shoot it, and I was quite pleased. The front sight was a tall triangle rather than a post, so it had a fine point. Recoil was mild and point of aim/impact felt very natural, intuitive.

  • mikenz

    i had a 98k Mauser that wouldn’t feed soft point ammo at all.

  • Don Ward

    This is obviously a problem with the ammo, right?

    • maodeedee

      Most likely, but a good gunsmith could probably make it feed better with different types of ammo.

  • TennTexan

    I got burned on my first Type 38… barrel wound up being shot out. I can drop a 6.5 bullet in the muzzle and it will fall in about an inch O_O

    Not to mention the first (and only) time I shot the thing, I got backed-out primers and even a couple of pierced primers. No bueno.

    Anyway, I’m on the hunt for a new Type 38 because I really want one in the collection to go with my Type 99 (which, thankfully, is a great shooter!). 6.5×50 is a fun little cartridge. Accurate with very mild recoil.

  • gunsandrockets

    I can say from personal experience that the Type 38 does not seem to display any muzzle flash at night.

  • Phil Elliott

    Picked up an Arisaka at a Pawn Shop in .243, sporterised , it also wouldn’t feed well. Took to my gunsmith and he Tig-welded the ramp and re-contoured it, it has never missed a beat since. He also advised that it was a very good custom barrel.

  • Lance

    Your the exception most Japanese troop ditched the dust cover because of the rattle it gave off. And you keep giving Soviet weapons a hard time.

    • Don Ward

      Nope. The dust covers were removed by GIs and Marines when they scrounged for souvenirs. I can’t imagine the punishment that would be meted out to the average Japanese soldier who discarded the dust cover of their rifles and thus desecrated a weapon that was given to them and which bore the symbol of their God Emperor.

      Some bad myths just have to stop.

  • Bjørn Vermo

    I can think of a couple of things. The gun is old, so there might be some wear that is not obvious to the eye. Besides, the soldiers it was issued to probably had a lot of dry training, learning the exact motions to operate the bolt the best way. I have been through that with an ex-German kar 98, and even though it was easier to operate smoothly it still took a bit of practice. Old guns have their own personality.

  • Audie Bakerson

    I’ve heard Howa M1500 is large derived from the Arisaka rifle series, but my knowledge of bolt-actions begins and ends at “it’s got a manual bolt” so I can’t say it’s accurate or not.

    Anyone know how true it is?

    • ostiariusalpha

      It’s not true, sorry. The M1500 action is based on the SAKO 85, except that it has two lugs and an ejector like the Remington 700.

      • Smithy

        Were did you get that nonsense : the Howa 1500 has been around for some 5 decades and is their very own design: in case you didn’t notice, it pre-dates your Sako 85 by some 40 plus years! Only similarity to any Sako would be their flat bottom action and two locking-lugs ‘a la Mauser’, which is in use by some 85% of todays bolt-actioned rifles! It was produced for a bunch of other overseas mfg’s under their own brand-name for the likes of S&W, Colt, CMC, Weatherby, ect…Even their extracor has been widely copied by colt and other U.S. Mfg’s! PTG is still making these in two sizes and ironically calls it the M16 extractor! This raises the question who’s copying who?

        • ostiariusalpha

          Ha ha, you’re right, I should have written SAKO L61. I got that “nonsense” from Howa, it’s not exactly a secret about where they picked up their design elements from; they had licensed to use parts of the L57/61 action for the creation of the M1500’s precursor, the Golden Bear. The Golden Bear dates from 1967, which is only 18 years before the SAKO 85, by the way, not 40 years. Howa didn’t pay for all elements of the SAKO design though, so they had to alter the rifle into the M1500 design in 1973. That’s why the claw extractor is called M16-style, since the AR-10/AR-15 predates the M1500 by more than 13 years; so at least Colt didn’t need to copy anything from Howa.

    • maodeedee

      Not true at all. Both the Arisaka type 38 and Type 99’s are copies of a Mauser 98 action but with a different safety. the Mauser 98 and Arisaka’s are both controlled feed and the Howa 1500 is push-feed.
      The only similarity is that they were both made in Japan.

  • LG

    As with so many of the “Run and Guns” now, it should be called battlefield pickup without the training. Would it not be prudent and reasonable to obtain ammo to the original specifications, weapons of proven issue condition, and original operation techniques before performing a flight by the seat of the pants?

  • maodeedee

    The worst thing about any Arisaka is the safety. It does NOT lock into position in a positive manner and is hard to manipulate.
    Otherwise it’s basically just a Mauser 98 with superior heat treatment. Siamese Mausers that were made by Japan also had excellent heat treatment and were very strong.