With the Internet it is easy to do research on items I find interesting. Back when I was just a gleam in my Dad’s eye, my uncle brought back a Japanese rifle from the Pacific Theater. I asked an engineer of Japanese descent at the manufacturing plant I worked at if she could interpret the insignia. She said it means, “Model 99.”
That just fed the interest in finding out more about it.
With the help of a decades old book and the Internet, this rifle is called Arisaka Model 99. There is a fascinating history to it I am going to share with you unless you fall asleep.
Its predecessor was a different caliber. The one my uncle brought back is a 7.7mm caliber, which equals to .303 inches, whereas the previous version was a 6.5mm, or .256 inches.
The decades old book I have that is pre-Internet, points out that the Japanese army went to the 7.7mm (commonly known as 7.7 Jap) so that if any of the Allied forces captured any of their 7.7mm ammunition and tried to shoot it in their 7.62 (30 caliber) rifles, it would cause over pressure and destroy the rifle. And if the Japanese captured any Allied ammunition, they could shoot it in their 7.7 mm rifles. It would not be too accurate but would work.
So I am in possession of my uncle’s rifle (with bayonet) which I heard over the years was a training model. Those models have no rifling and cannot fire a real cartridge. I was happily surprised, even to the point of giddiness to find this rifle is not a trainer. It has rifling and not only that, I purchase a box of 7.7 Jap ammo from the Norma Manufacturing and have shot 10 of the cartridges through it.
History books say that in order for these rifles to enter the US, they had to have the imperial ownership seal, a 16-petal chrysanthemum known as the Chrysanthemum Flower Seal stamped on top of the receiver in all official imperial-issue rifles, filed down. See below. This rifle unfortunately had it removed.
Because the Japanese are little people (do not confuse with Munchkins), the butt of the rifle is short and has a metal butt-plate, so it tends to want to jam itself into the shoulder of a grown Texas man, really hard.
Further research says this rifle is a low pressure weapon designed for only 38,000 psi. The modern day rifles usually tops out at about 56,000 psi. So when I fired the cartridges from Norma, I noticed the primers were flattened. Now I realize I probably lost you there, but understand it means the cartridges from Norma are for high pressure rifles.
So I acquired a Lee-Loader® so I could reload the cartridges to a safe pressure. I used the 7.62 mm (30 caliber) bullets and used less powder. It was not an accurate load but would hit a pie-pan at 100 yards without a scope.
That is actually impressive for an undersized bullet, So if the Chinese or Russians attack us, I will pull the 7.7 Jap from under the bed and head into battle. If any of you want to join, please send me your name, address and phone number.
P.S. Bring your own rifle, … and your own snacks.