Rare Japanese Rifles — Barn Find

This story just recently popped up in the milsurp circles. It seems some very rare, and cherry WWII Japanese rifles were recently discovered by a collector. It’s quite the tale.

I didn’t even know there was “Mexican Type 38” rifle. The author claims fewer than 50 are known to exist today. If true, this seems like quite the find.

I’m sure my fellow military surplus collectors will be spending lots of time looking at the photos. As such, I have created a gallery. Immediately below that is the owners original comments on the find. I have left his words unedited.

 

Marky
www.tacticaltshirts.com
www.john1911.com
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

“here is a good story for the day. I collect Japanese stuff pretty heavy and I’m always on the lookout for good Japanese stuff. I setup educational displays at gun shows and teach kids and adults the nuances of Arisakas, Nambus, bayonets, field gear, and more. I sometimes draw in something cool from the crowd at the show and once got a nice type 97 sniper scope that had literally been in a guys sock drawer for years because he didn’t know what it was. He was handsomely rewarded that day and was tickled pink that anyone would give him 4 digit money for it.
One day, a close friend of my fathers’ called him up to ask if i was still buying “Jap rifles” and if i was, i should come over because he had some for me to look at. Our friend is an antique dealer and doesn’t get into guns so i thought what the heck….it might be something cool or rare. So, my Dad and I went over to see them the next day. He took us to the garage where he pulled out a long wooden crate. Inside the crate were 2 Japanese rifles wrapped in paper with cosmolene all over them. It was packed on so heavy i had to scrape it off with my fingers in order to see what they were. As i was doing this our friend told us a guy picked them up in an old barn from a widow who told him to take everything to the dump. there was a bunch of antiques, garbage, and this crate. The guy drove to the dump and discarded the garbage and was about to toss this crate in as well until he pried off the lid and saw two guns inside. He took them to our friend and gave them to him. I was pretty shocked at the story because these guns were literally moments away from being lost!
I finally got enough of the paper and cosmolene off of the receiver to see what they were. The first one was a Nagoya made type 38 long rifle with brass muzzle cover in mint unissued condition. all matching numbers to include the dustcover as well. The serial number of the rifle falls outside of all known ranges and the wooden tag attached to the rifle translates to ammunition velocity test rifle # 4. The next rifle literally left me speechless! It was another type 38 long rifle in the same unissued and mint condition as the other. But this one was EXTREMELY RARE! It was a Mexican Type 38 rifle with all matching numbers. With fewer than 50 known to exist today, it is the finest condition known to exist. Most every one of these that surfaces is in horrific condition. This one also had a wooden tag attached to it denoting it was a type M rifle #5. In the end when i consulted other experts about them they agreed that these were arsenal pattern room examples. the Vet who’s name is on the wooden bring back crate was an officer in the first Army unit of Occupation in Tokyo where the Tokyo Arsenal was located. Enjoy the pics!”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at John1911.com
Writer for john1911.com. Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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  • Mikial

    Wow, that’s pretty interesting.

    Japanese infantry weapons were never up the levels of reliability and quality of other WWII era infantry weapons from the USA, USSR, Germany or even Britain, and the Arisaka was no exception. There were Mexican Type 38 ordered around 1913 but most of them weren’t delivered for political reasons. If this is genuine, it’s a pretty good find.

    I am always glad when old military weapons are discovered and preserved.

    • Pretty cool post. I don’t claim to be our resident mil-surp expert. That’s Freeze’s job. But I “generally” know the common stuff. Never heard of Mexican – Jap rifles. It’s actually pretty neat. Glad you kind of verified the info about how rare these seem to be.

      Marky

  • Conner

    This would be a great story if I wasn’t so frikkin jealous! What a great find. I have a model 97 Arisaka and won’t EVEN go into how the scope was lost….the scopes are built rifle specific serial numbered. Seriously awesome find ! ’97 is on the right of the center 3.