Nambu World: Type 30 Blank-Firing Training Rifle

    The Type 30 rifle was the first of the Arisakas that replaced the Murata rifles. It saw action in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. The 30 refers to Meiji 30, which was 1897 in our system of dates. The Type 30 was replaced by the Type 38 shortly after the Russo-Japanese War (Meiji 38=1905). Between 1905 and 1921 the Japanese converted about 10,000 of these obsolete Type 30 rifles to blank-firing trainers. This involved making them into smoothbores, grinding off the old markings and stamping on a new serial number, new Tokyo Arsenal mark, and the characters for "blank-firing gun" in Japanese where the original mum and model designation were. The calibre is 6.5mm X 50SR Arisaka. A few of the blank rounds are shown below at the very bottom of this section. The stock has a period repair at the wrist that involves a metal brace on either side. Type 30s were prone to breakage in that spot. I got this gun from a dealer in Ontario in May, 2006.

    The left side. A photo of this rifle (not one like, this one of mine) is shown on page 36 of the book "The Early Arisakas" by Frank Allan et al. You can get the full reference from the introductory page on Type 30s or the one on my other Type 30 rifle.

 

    Here is a close-up of the stock repair on the right side. Because of the wear and pitting on the metal brace, as well as the likelihood that any collector repair would have paid a lot more attention to cosmetic appeal and concealment of the stock breakage, I concluded that this was most likely a period repair performed by the school or other institution where it was used. An expert I consulted agreed.

 

Here is the repair on the left side. The Japanese used huge numbers of training rifles of widely varying quality and design since military drill was a part of every male's education.

 

    These three characters located on top of the receiver say ku-ho-ju, or "blank-firing gunE These markings were applied after grinding off the chrysanthemum and original Type 30 model markings. The two holes are for venting gases in the event of a case rupture. Such holes were a safety feature common to all the Arisaka rifles (Type 99s only had one).

 

    In the conversion to trainers the original serial numbers and arsenal marks were also ground off and new numbers and marks applied. The "cloverleaf" marking is actually a stack of four cannonballs viewed from above. This was the mark of Tokyo Arsenal, later used by Kokura Arsenal as well. The serial number of this rifle is listed on pages 46-47 of the aforementioned book, "The Early Arisakas", indicating it was part of the database on which the section on these conversions was based.

 

The original sights were retained.

 

    The serial number is on both the sight frame and the adjustment piece on the right of the photo (left side of gun, but here we are looking at the underside of the sight from the front so everything is reversed).

 

The underside of the bayonet lug has the same serial number.

 

This marking is on the bottom of the stock behind the rear stock swivel. It may relate to the name of the school where it was used, but it is illegible.

 

    Here is a top view of the action. Note the hook safety in the bottom right corner. The Type 30 is sometimes called the "hook safety" rifle due to this identifying feature, which distinguishes it from other Arisakas like the Types 38, 44 and 99.

 

In this close-up the safety is in the "at rest" position, with the gun not cocked.

 

When the rifle is cocked it extends further to the rear like this.

 

    The "safe" position is forward with the hook vertical. Note that even when a gun is on "safe" you should still treat it as if it were loaded and ready to fire. Who knows when a safety might fail? Better safe than sorry.

 

 

There is a screw missing from the rear of the trigger guard. I have ordered one from Don Schlickman, who makes excellent repro parts for Japanese firearms..

 

The number on the bolt does not match the serial number on the gun. It is on the underside of the bolt handle.

 

The number on the rear face of the split screw at the rear of the bolt also does not match. In fact, as noted below all the parts of the bolt have different numbers.

 

Here is the bolt removed from the rifle.

 

    Disassembling the Type 30 bolt is considered by many to be a daunting exercise and requires a special tool to prevent damage to the firing pin. My husband made me this one from 3/8Ebrass stock (tubing could also be used). Once the bolt head assembly has been removed, the fine tip of the firing pin fits inside the hole in the tool so that the tool can engage the front ring on the firing pin and put backwards pressure on it without pressing on the fragile firing pin tip. This is necessary to get the assembly attached to the rear of the firing pin to move backwards far enough that it can be unscrewed. The firing pin and spring then come out the front of the bolt. For those brave enough to attemptdisassembly, here is a link to instructions: Link to Type 30 Bolt Disassembly Instructions (NOTE: Always make sure your gun is empty before handling it. Check both the magazine and the chamber. Keep your finger off the trigger and your gun pointed in a safe direction even when you know it is unloaded. I assume no liability for any injury, damage or death you may cause by using or misusing the instructions in the link or the explanations included here.)

 

I found the bolt disassembly a bit hard the first time, although I think it would not be so bad now that I have a basic idea of how the thing goes together. Here it is fully disassembled.

 

    The three pieces in the lower right of the above photo comprise the bolt head assembly, shown below. Besides the bolt head itself (centre of photo below), this assembly includes the extractor (left of photo below) and the ejector (right of photo below). This assembly fits on the front end of the bolt. The bolt head is numbered 403 with a katakana ni. The extractor is numbered 801 overstruck on top of ?72 (first digit illegible), with a hiragana mi. (The Japanese have two phonetic scripts (like alphabets), hiragana and katakana. Each symbol represents a syllable like mi or ka. These symbols are often used to indicate a series or as part of a serial or assembly number.)

 

    At the rear end of the bolt is the two-part bolt sleeve. The front and rear parts of this assembly fit together as shown. The front has the sear nose (right side of photo) and is numbered 417 with a katakana re. The rear is the part with the "hook" on the left side of the photo and is marked 77 with a hiragana ri.

 

    The threaded part of the split screw screws into the front half of the bolt sleeve. In this photo I am holding the two halves together with my thumb and index finger. My thumb (lower left corner) is on the split screw catch. This has to be held in while turning the screw for disassembly or re-assembly.

 

    When you open up the two parts of the split screw you can see that the inside has been hollowed out to accommodate the rear end of the firing pin, which has two rings on it that fit into the two larger hollows in the screw. The screw is marked 630 with a hiragana nu.

 

    The rear end of the firing pin has two rings, but on this one the rear end seems to have broken off long ago. The gun still functions, but now there is only one ring on the firing pin holding the bolt together rather than two. As you can see, the aging of the metal on the broken surface indicates this is an old break. The firing pin number is 956 with a hiragana mo.

 

    The overall design of the bolt is that the bolt body is hollow and everything else fits inside it. The bolt head assembly twists into the front end of the bolt body and is easily installed or removed. The firing pin fits into the spring and goes in from the front. The rear end of the firing pin goes through the bolt sleeve and has rings that fit into the split screw. The split screw screws into the bolt sleeve. So basically the rear end of the firing pin is held by the combination bolt sleeve assembly and split screw. When you pull on the hook, which is part of the rear bolt sleeve, you are compressing the spring between the front ring on the firing pin and the rear of the bolt body.

    One of Japanese firearms designer Lt. General Kijiro Nambu's greatest contributions in terms of breadth of impact was the simplification of the Type 30 bolt into the Type 38 bolt. Here are the two, with the Type 30 on top and the Type 38 below. Note that the Type 38 has only four parts. This count is a little misleading, since the Type 38 bolt body assembly consists of more than one part that one does not normally take apart (although the extractor can be removed without too much difficulty). Nevertheless, the disassembly and reassembly of the Type 38 is unquestionably vastly easier: push in on the safety knob at the back and give it a quarter turn. To re-assemble, give that same part a quarter turn in the other direction. That's it.

 

    To conclude this section, here are three 6.5mm Arisaka blanks. The "bullets" are made of paper. I think the one on the left is the closest to the original colour, which is listed in my reference books as "purple". It is a bit hard to tell from the photos in the ammo reference book by Ken Elks, but I think these are actually the later type of blanks. The Type 30 blanks used when the rifle was originally produced were pinkish.

 

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Last updated: June 26, 2008. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.