MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories / Arisaka - Empire of Japan
OPERATORS: Imperial Japan
ACTION: Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action System; Repeat-Fire.
CALIBER(S)*: 6.5x50mm Arisaka
SIGHTS: 2.5x Telescopic Sighting Device.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Arisaka Type 97 Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle.
Entry last updated on 5/22/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Taking a page from European battlefield doctrine, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) finally moved to adopt a standardized sniper rifle. This came in the form of the Type 38 bolt-action infantry service rifle which, when a 2.5x scope and monopod was added and the stock reduced in weight, became the "Type 97". The series was introduced during 1937 in time for the bulk of the fighting in World War 2 (1939-1945).
The Type 97 differed little from its Type 38 origins beyond the aforementioned changes and modifications. One of the key limiting factors was its continued reliance on the 6.5x50mm Arisaka rifle cartridge which fared somewhat poorly when compared to its European counterparts. The rest of the rifle was conventional in that a manually-actuated bolt-action system was used and feeding was from a 5-round internal magazine (stocked by way of "stripper" clips). Overall weight was 8.7lb with an overall length of 50" and barrel assembly measuring 31.4" long.
Production of the Type 97 spanned from 1937 until the end of World War 2 in 1945 and the series saw additional combat action in the Chinese Civil War (1927-1936) (where the need for dedicated Japanese sniper elements was impressed upon authorities after facing German-trained Chinese snipers in the field), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953).
In practice, the rifles proved their worth. Even though the 6.5mm Arisaka rifle cartridge was relatively underpowered in its man-stopping capabilities, it was lethal nonetheless and the added inherent benefit was that little muzzle flash was encountered at range, making the sniper's position hard to identify particularly in deep brush or in the jungle environment.