Ammo for 6.5 Arisaka...


April 22, 2003, 08:34 AM
A friend of mine has a Type 38 Arisaka, and we're trying to find out what is, and where to get, proper ammo for it. Granted, I can figure it's 6.5mm....but there seems to be a number of 6.5mm shells out there, and we're not sure which is the right one.


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Steven Mace
April 22, 2003, 08:49 AM
The Japanese Type 38 rifle was originally chambered in 6.5x50mm Japanese Arisaka ( caliber. I believe Norma still manufactures cases & cartridges in this caliber. Hope this helps!

Steve Mace

Navy joe
April 22, 2003, 11:33 AM
Yep, 6.5jap is the headstamp. Norma makes it, there was a TFL'er out of Texas that sold handloads made from .220 swift brass too. Is this thing in original military condition? Lots, like mine, were customized/sporterized and it is possible that someone cut the chamber to some different 6.5 caliber. Get a gunsmith to give it an overall safety check to include casting the chamber and checking the bore diameter. Try to hold your jaw up when you see the price of ammo. I have 140 rounds of Norma and 80 other pieces of brass so I'm trying not to buy anymore. Save your brass!

April 22, 2003, 12:32 PM
I have a war-trophy 38 carbine my grandfather brought back from the Pacific. I've spent quite a bit of time cleaning it up, but haven't yet fired it. It was used post-WWII in deer camp in the U.P. by friends of my grandfather, but was neglected for a long while after that. The chrysanthemum has been defaced, and cleaning rod and bolt/reciever cover are gone, but otherwise it's in pretty good shape. The bore is remakably clean.

Ammo runs $33-37 box/20 from Norma, which I've paid, but I managed to score 3 boxes for $20 ea. at a little hardware store in my wife's hometown over Christmas. They had them on clearance with a bunch of other obscure calibers, and I got the price down by agreeing to take all of them off their hands. I'd have gladly bought more at that price.

Mike Irwin
April 22, 2003, 12:42 PM
The 6.5x50 Arisaka cartridge is a WONDERFUL little cartridge.

More than powerful enough for most medium game applications at reasonable ranges, more powerful than the .30-30 at all realistic ranges, and VERY easy on the shoulder.

The Arisaka is the smallest of the 6.5 military calibers from the same era, to include the 6.5 Carcano, 6.5x55, 6.5x57, 6.5 Mannlicher Schoneaur (sp?), etc.

All of them are fine cartridges, in fact.

I've often thought I'd like to get a Remington 700 chambered in 6.5x50 to see what the cartridge is actually capable of.

April 22, 2003, 02:54 PM
i had an uncle who had a sporterized 6.5 jap (it was beautiful with all markings, but he chopped it before i got there) that he used for hunting. i have no idea where he got his ammo, but he had several ammo boxes worth.

it was extremely accurate and recoil was very light. he always claimed it was deadly on everything he used it on...i believe the last animal he took with it was a russian boar down in monterrey.

the 7.7 jap round (WWII) isn't as nice but more common. the action is actually very strong...just not very pretty, reminds me of the remington 788.

if you decide to rechamber it, i think a 6.5x51mm would be cool with easy access to ammo and brass...i think we call it the .260 remington

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
April 22, 2003, 11:51 PM
P.O. Ackley (bowing head and burning incense to the Great Master) and the A.P White Laboratories once tested the Arisaka action as the "strongest bolt action ever designed". Seems it would hold most any over-pressure blue pill they put in it.

Too bad it's so dang ugly.

This is NOT an endorsement to build a SuperThumper out of an Arisaka action, nor is it encouragement to triplex-load 6.5x50 Arisaka loads. Just an anecdote I read a long, long time ago.

My gunsmith back in the Piney Woods, who studied under Mr. Ackley at Colorado, once had a fairly nice semi-sporterized Arisaka Type 38 on his shelf that had been rechambered to 6.5/.257 Roberts. Why? No idea. Maybe someone with a large sense of adventure in search of a project and too much money on his hands. I suppose that's why it ended up in his resale rack as a trade-in.

Overall, the cartridge is everything mentioned above. Easy recoil ( see 'nonexistent'), easy on powder, good sectional density and ballistic coefficient for the 6.5 bullet, and accurate in a well-preserved specimen. By that, I don't mean one of those that was imported back in the '80's when they were selling Chinese-released captured 6.5 milsurp ammo for $75/crate and throwing in 5 Type 38's for 'free'. Those didn't even make good tent poles.


"If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world
peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until
the looting started..."

April 23, 2003, 12:08 AM
6.5/.257 Roberts should be 6.5x57 Mauser since the Roberts is simply a necked down 7x57 IIRC. Might have done some minor things like play with shoulder angle, case taper or neck length, so they wanted to call it 6.5/257? S/F...Ken M

Mike Irwin
April 23, 2003, 12:59 AM
One thing needs to be said about Arisaka actions.

Japan manufactured Arisakas for a LONG time in 6.5 mm and 7.7mm.

During the last several years of manufacture, Japan's fortunes were slowly slipping farther and farther down the toilet.

Arisakas made during the last years of the war have LITTLE of the benefits that Ackley and others speak of when talking about the Arisaka action!

Late war actions range from very crude but servicable to down-right DANGEROUS.

The BEST rule of thumb when dealing with an Arisaka is to have it checked out thoroughly by a competent gunsmith.

A VERY GOOD rule of thumb when dealing with the 7.7mm Arisakas is that they ALL should be treated with suspicion as to their strength and servicability.

April 24, 2003, 04:43 PM
i wouldn't even take the chance on a 7.7 jap action...stick with the 6.5 jap. i would even hold out for one with an intact mum on the receiver.

April 24, 2003, 06:38 PM
A VERY GOOD rule of thumb when dealing with the 7.7mm Arisakas is that they ALL should be treated with suspicion as to their strength and servicability.

Don't panic in regards to the 7.7 Arisaka's although I will agree it is always prudent to get any military bolt action rifle checked out before you shoot it there is absolutey nothing wrong with the 7.7 Arisaka's except the very late war "Last Ditch" guns that are easily identified by their crude often welded on rear sights.

My own 7.7 Arisaka is a late war gun and although it does not have the higher polish finish of the earlier 6.5 guns its internal workmanship is very, very good. The barrel is top notch and it shoots more accurately than my very crudely made 1903a3 U.S. Springfield.

In my neck of the woods and over the last 35 years of shooting we have had no problems at all with Japanese 7.7 Arisaka's. Along with the 6.5 Japanese weapons they were undoubtably one of the best military bolt action rifles ever made.

Get your Arisaka checked out first but never pass up a good example of the 7.7 Arisaka. Id rather have one of these than any of the other WWII bolt action guns save maybe a good German 98 Mauser.

April 24, 2003, 07:03 PM
The type 99 Arisaka can be an excellent weapon. I have owned several and still own two. The ones with chrome lined barrels are indestructable. To limit liability, I must say they should be checked by a competent smith. But a good rule of thumb is that if the finish (blue) is original and good then they are good and safe. Of course if the bolt sn doesnl't match that on the receiver then it could be suspect. The blue jobs on both of mine are as good as any commercial job on the market.

The only problem with either the 38 or the 99 is the safety. I had one once that if the safety was engaged and the trigger was pulled the rifle would fire when the safety was released. The safety must be fully engaged and if someone is not familiar with them time should be spent familiarizing themselves using their palm for setting the safety.

Mike Irwin
April 25, 2003, 01:30 AM
The 7.7s without chrome lined barrels can be the crap shoot weapons.

If you have one with a chromed bore, you have a reasonable expectation that it will be a servicable firearm.

No chromed bore? Then you're getting into iffy ground.

The NRA museum has some very interesting examples of what appear to be decently made Type 99s.

Until you realize that the receivers are unhardened wrought iron.

To compare a 1944 or 1945 Arisaka with a Springfield 1903A3 is a laugh riot.

April 25, 2003, 06:45 PM
To compare a 1944 or 1945 Arisaka with a Springfield 1903A3 is a laugh riot.

Yes it is, in regards to laughing at the Springfield. Considering the Jap rifle has a gas escape system that is light years more advanced than the crummy almost non-existant protection you get from the 03a3.

As a matter of fact people in my area have for years have been making 7.7 jap cartridge cases out of 30-06 cases. Not recommended because of the 06 case is smaller in diameter at the base but to date after years and years of many people doing this no one I know ever got hurt when they blew a case because of a super hot overload. The Jap action is actually that strong and well designed to protect you from escaping gases.. Don't think you would not get hurt if the same thing happened with the 03a3 Springfield.

Maybe very late guns were indeed made of substandard steel but the regular runs of 7.7 Ariskakas I have seen , owned and shot were made of steel not iron. P.O. Ackley who forgot more than you will ever know stated that the steel was slightly inferior to other bolt actions rifles but the design was so superior to most of the other bolt action military rifles that it made the gun damn near indestructable. That makes the grade in my opinion and I have never had any trouble with my 7.7 Arisaka even when using reformed cases from '06 brass. I would never even contemplate doing something like this with an '03 Springfield rifle or British Enfield if smaller in diameter and plentiful such cases existed ..

The 03a3 Springfields were made with a lot of cheesy stamped parts and all hand undersize bolts to speed up the manufactures production and fitting of the bolt to the rifle. They certainly were no works of art but it is only the Jap guns that often in the past got the scorn thrown at them and the majority of the 7.7 guns (except very late war ones) had light years better fitting and workmanship and in my humble opinion shot a might better too. And the 7.7 Jap guns did not have hurry up 2 groove barrels either.

As a matter of fact some Springfields I have seen actually had the gas esape hole drilled on the opposite side of the receiver in relation to the gas escape hole in the bolt. Now that was really a genius of an engineering feat. One wonders if the people that didi this were on drugs that came up with that idea.

You stepped right into the do, do, on this one Mike there is no Comparison when talking of the Jap 6.5's and even the large majority of the 7.7 Arisaka's. The Arisaka was the superior rifle military rifle in all respects.

Even the famed 98 German Mauser rifle was not as strong as the Arisaka's and it too deteriorated in workmanship as the War came to an end. The only differnece between the German 98 and the 7.7 Jap and the Springfield was that the 03a3 Springfields workmanship was bad right from the beginning of production during the war and our factories were not bombed to smithereens and our raw materiels cut off.

April 26, 2003, 05:25 PM
BtW -- The Arisaka was also made in 7X57. The Type 38 was manufactured in 7X57 Mauser for Mexico during the era of Porfirio Diaz. There were only a few delivered as Diaz was deposed before the main shipment was made.
Many of the Type 99 Arisakas were rechambered to 8X57 Mauser and sent to China after WW II. They were not rebored! China had manufacturing capability for the 8X57 ammunition in the Mukden Arsenal. (Manchuria) Other Type 99 Arisakas were rechambered to 30-06 and given to South Korea. They were all safe conversions.
After WW II there were ads in the American Rifleman for the rechambering of Type 38 to the aforementioned 6.5/257 Roberts
(aka 6.5X57 Mauser) The Type 99 was rechambered to 300 Savage. There may have been an additional charge for setting back the bbl on the Type 99s. The conversions were cheap.

April 26, 2003, 07:46 PM
BtW -- The Arisaka was also made in 7X57. The Type 38 was manufactured in 7X57 Mauser for Mexico during the era of Porfirio Diaz.

Good God, I would trade off several of my girl friends to get my hands on one of those.

Just curious you seem to know a lot about Arisaka's. Any recommondations as far as books on the subject?

April 26, 2003, 09:23 PM
If this crops up somewhere else forgive me. I hit the wrong key and lost this answer.

Somewhere among my goodies is a set of dies for a 6.5 X 257
Roberts. Think how old these are. At the time there was no way to get proper Arisaka cal. ammo.

For those too young to remember both 7.7 Jap, 8X57, and 7X57 was regularly made from the plentiful 06 cases. Safe? All I know is I have burned a bushel of IMR 3031 in these made up cases. If anyone knew anything about the trimming of case length other than with a file and pocket knife or checking neck thickness they never told me and my shooting friends.

This I am sure says much for the quality of those military rifles.

My first ammo for a 7.7 Jap was some old souvenir ammo that came with the rifle. Cost $12-13 or so for it all. When shot in the gravel pit, the bank exploded. After the second round I quit. A book I owned at the time "Small Arms of the World" I think, had a note on this ammo. If it had a violet band it was supposed to explode upon impact. Danger: It is known to explode in the chamber upon firing, between rifle and target, or on target as designed. The ammo now resides in the bottom of the San Marcos River below the Cheatam Street bridge. Has since 1949.

Don,t get me started. I once had a German burp gun. A schmisser or however it is spelled and said. Came home in the bottom of a returning GI duffle bag. How some of us lived is only because God takes care of fools and drunks and I don't drink.

Andrew Wyatt
April 26, 2003, 09:39 PM
Yes it is, in regards to laughing at the Springfield. Considering the Jap rifle has a gas escape system that is light years more advanced than the crummy almost non-existant protection you get from the 03a3.

that's fine and dandy, but an 03A3 has better sights, a better trigger and you can be certain they're not made of wrought iron.

the 6.5mm arasakas are neat little guns, the 7.7 ones aren't so great, and there are better bolt guns to be had, like the number4 mk1, or the 03a3, or even the 98 mauser.

April 26, 2003, 09:49 PM
Yes, but when I bought my 99 for $13 and a 98 was all of $25 which I didn"t have. Took most of 2 mos to save the $13. I was almost 14 year old.

That is lots of yards at 2 bits each.

April 27, 2003, 01:07 PM
Early Arisaka rifles were well made and very strong - it's my understanding that the Jap arsenals had perfected a very sophisticated differential heat-treating process that left parts of the action very hard where they needed to be hard, but softer where they needed to be softer to preserve "toughness" and prevent the whole part from becoming brittle.

As WWII went on, production shortcuts took place to the point that heat-treating was abandoned entirely, and in the latter stages of the war tolerances were so loose that occasional rifles have been encountered where only one of the locking lugs engaged at all . . . and then, just barely. No question that some late rifles were unsafe to shoot right off the production line.

One little tidbit for those interested in refinishing (for whatever reason) an Arisaka stock: apparently the stock finish used on some of the rifles was not an ordinary oil but something with nasty vesicant properties. A friend of my father's sanded an Arisaka stock and got a really nasty skin infection from it that required medical treatment.

Mike Irwin
April 27, 2003, 01:19 PM
"Considering the Jap rifle has a gas escape system that is light years more advanced than the crummy almost non-existant protection you get from the 03a3."

You know, BH9, you must be one UGLY and SCARRED man from all those 1903A3s that you have explode in your face.

I can't even begin to count how many threads in which you hooted and shrieked about the 03's gas handling properties. Do you sit around with a file thinning the case heads on your brass just hoping, beyond all hope, that a case head will rupture, the Hatcher holes won't be up to the challenge, and you'll take a chunk of receiver to the coconut, just so you can come here and hoot and bleat some more?

Tell me, is that just theoretical hooting, or have you actually conducted burst experiments on these guns to see how effective their gas handling abilities are?

Sort of reminds me about all the hooting and hollering that was done about the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, about what a horrible death trap it was, about how the 25mm gun wasn't worth anything, about how it would be nothing more than a flammable coffin for American troops...

Oh well.

Have fun filing the heads on those cases.

April 27, 2003, 01:25 PM
OK...from an impartial observer who loves Arisakas (unground mums only)..

General agreement with Mike Irwin and Hank B.

Total disagreement with BHP9s tenor, and quizzical looks at some of his asserttions.

6.5 Arisaks are universally excellent in quaility, although crap as a battle rifle. Type 99 7.7s especially last ditches are a potential accident waiting to happen unless checked first by a competant gunsmith.

The 03 is a far superior military rifle and rifle in general.


April 28, 2003, 08:29 AM
Have fun filing the heads on those cases.

It is obvious you have done very little handloading and if you have done any you havn't learned much.

Tell me, is that just theoretical hooting, or have you actually conducted burst experiments on these guns to see how effective their gas handling abilities are?

I suggest you educate yourself and read P.O. Ackely's books along with the book Frank Dehass wrote. Then maybe you will understand what constitutes a first class military rifle.

Also pay more attention to what I posted about the people who loaded ammo too hot with 06 cases (not myself) and suffered no injury from the 7.7 Arisaka rifles they were using. What more proof do you need. A demonstration?

April 28, 2003, 10:43 AM

I have a 7.7 Jap with intact mum which appears to be in good shape. I am going to have it looked at by a good smith very soon, but I was wondering how the 7.7 brass compares to 30-06 brass. Can someone post some pics and also include a comparison showing the 6.5 Jap case also.



Mike Irwin
April 28, 2003, 12:09 PM
I'll try to get a photo posted this evening, Boo.

But, if you have access to a .303 British round, the 7.7 Arisaka is fairly close in size and shape, just rimless.

Mike Irwin
April 28, 2003, 12:19 PM
Thought so.

All theoretical, nothing practical in so much as parroting 50 year old advice from others.

I'd come to that conclusion a long time ago, actually.

The question remains, however, how many destroyed 1903A3 actions have you seen from burst case heads?

No, I haven't done a lot of reloading.

Compared to some of the people here.

My records show about 85,000 reloaded over the last 25 years -- shotgun, handgun, and rifle. College and 3 years living in DC really cut into my shooting time, unfortunately.

I know people who do that many in a year.

Interesting, about 2,000 of those rounds are for my pair of 1903A3 Remington Springfields...

I'll have to check both of them to make sure that neither one blew up when I wasn't looking...

April 28, 2003, 01:59 PM
There were only a few Mexican Arisakas shipped to the Diaz regime. Mexico cancelled the order (or lost it's credit) after Diaz was deposed. There were both Cavalry carbines with the folding bayonet and long barreled Infantry rifles in the first shipment to Mexico.

Most of the 7X57 Type 38s were kept in storage. They were rumored to have been sold to Russia. It is not known if they were rebarreled to a different caliber for the Russian sale.

April 28, 2003, 05:54 PM
All theoretical, nothing practical in so much as parroting 50 year old advice from others.

Its good advice from a Master Gunsmith and physics havn't suddenly changed that I am aware of or the validity of P.O. Ackleys tests.

Experiments by Ackley proved that the Arisaka handled gas better than the 03 and that the Arisaka would handle overloads at an astronomically higher rate than any of the other bolt action military rifles including the 03 Springfield.

Once again proving it the superior design of rifle.

What I did not say was that 03 springfields blow up left and right but they can and do blow up as proved by P.O. Ackely.

His tests proved the 03 Springfield was not even in the same design class as an Arisaka. His results were valid 50 years ago and are still valid today.

I think this all has to do with the prejudice that many Americans have toward the Japanese because we went to war with them over 50 years ago and the prejudice still exists to a marked degree. Rather than evaluate a weapon as a machine we attached human emotion to the design of the weapon and ignore the professional test results achieve by P.O. Ackley and others like him and in my humble opinion the practical everyday use experience of many people (like myself)who have used these weapons and found them very reliable, safe and outstandingly accurate weapons.

In the South Pacific theater of operations nothing was prized more as a war trophy than the Arisaka sniper rifle. True, it is not in the same class as todays snipers but that is only because of the use of superior optics and the use of heavy barrel's in todays sniper rifles. If you give the Ariska a modern scope and a heavy barrel it will shoot right up there with the best of them because there is nothing inferior about the design of the weapon. As a matter of fact it is in my opinon far more rugged and reliable than many of todays modern snipers. The Remingtons failure in VietNam as detailed in the sniper book written by "Peter Senich" amply proves this point.

Andrew Wyatt
April 28, 2003, 06:04 PM
in europe, a mauser 98 sniper rifle was a prized war trophy. war trophy desirability comes not from the effectiveness or superior design aspects of a rifle, it comes from the iwannacoolgun virus. "sniper rifles" are cool.

in any event, an arasaka is miles behind an 03A3 in the most important areas: sights (the arasaka has horrible ones), safety (again, the arasaka safety is crap) and trigger (again, not as good as an 03A3).

that being said, i do think the 6.5X50mm round is rather dandy, and wouldn't mind having a little lee actioned boltgun built up on it.

Mike Irwin
April 29, 2003, 01:05 AM
I've thought about that for a long time, Andrew.

I agree with you, the 6.5x50 round is a spiffy round.

I've reloaded probably 1,000 rounds for my Type 38. Crapola sights, crapola trigger, and it still shoots well.

A light-weight short action rifle with an 18" barrel would be a beautiful mating for this round.

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