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"Service Rifle" from Intelligence Bulletin, January 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on the Japanese service rifle was published in the Intelligence Bulletin, January 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The Japanese service rifle is a simplified Mauser type with an action similar to our M-1903 (Springfield). Its official name is the Meiji 38th-year pattern (1905) rifle. Its caliber is .256 inch (6.5 mm). The weapon has not been changed since 1905, and the bulk of Japanese infantry is armed with it, or its carbine form.

The Japs are known to have a larger (bore) rifle of the same pattern, but it has not been used on a quantity basis. Its caliber is .303 inch (7.7 mm), enabling the enemy to use the British .303-inch Mark VII small-arms ammunition. The rifle has been used to some extent as a sniper's weapon, mounted with a telescopic sight.

The caliber .256 rifle is operated very much in the same manner as our M-1903 with the exception of the safety lock, which is easily figured out. This safety lock is much more awkward to operate than that of our M-1903. The rifle itself is a manually operated and bolt-action weapon, which takes 5 rounds in a clip, as does our M1903. The bolt-stop is of the Mauser type; it is located on the left rear of the receiver and is pivoted on its forward end. To withdraw the bolt, the back end is pulled out.

[Figure 4. Japanese Service Rifle.]
Figure 4. Japanese Service Rifle.

The barrel is 31.4 inches long, and the rifle itself is 4 feet 2 inches without bayonet and 5 feet 1/4 inch with bayonet. It is too long for easy handling--it probably is made long to compensate for the small stature of the average Japanese. This length gives them a good reach in bayonet fighting. The rifle is equipped with a long knife bayonet, in the use of which the Japanese soldier receives a great deal of training.

The bolt handle is not bent down like that on our M-1903 and, consequently, catches in underbrush and is not so fast in operation. The sights are graduated from 433 yards to 2,598 yards. The leaf sight has an open "V" notch with no windage adjustment. The rifle is not so accurate as ours, especially at ranges greater than 300 yards.

All in all, the American soldier equipped with an M1 or 1903 rifle is far better armed than the Jap soldier with this "squirrel" rifle.


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