Rifle: Japanese Carcano Type I

Carcano Type I Tilt

Rifle Carcano Type I Manufacturer Terni, Brescia, Beretta
Cartridge 6.5x50mmSR Overall Length 50.75″ or 49.75″
Action Rotation Bolt Barrel Length 30.75″
Magazine 5 rounds staggered Weight 8.75 lbs


Japan was the poster child for limited resources and sustained its empire with the resources of the conquered.  Luckily joining the Axis powers gave the Imperial Navy another source for small arms from their Italian allies.

Before we start on the rifle, please join us for just a moment as we set the political scene and point out how an unexpected turn of events spawned an unusual weapon.  Anti-Comintern Pact is most immediately recognized as the ink and paper start of the Axis Powers of WWII.  What many don’t know is that the original intent was to give Germany a way to support both its traditional ally China and Hitler’s new friends in Japan.  The hope in Japan is that this would subordinate China and open opportunities for further exploitation. The Kuomintang wisely declined any interest but the pact went on to seal Germany, Japan, and later Italy.

Japanese Carcano Type I

Following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, the Imperial Army began a full invasion of mainland China and quickly strained Japanese manufacturing to the limit.  Every other outpost and the whole of the Navy were given second priority with regards to military production.  Luckily, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact later that same year and the Imperial Navy wasted little time in approaching their new ally with an offer to purchase rifles for their own men.  A delegation was sent to Italy to oversee the design and production of a rifle comparable to the Arisaka Type 38 in the 6.5x50mmSR cartridge.  Ultimately, existing manufacturing was turned to producing an Italian arm with Japanese fittings.  A contract was begun in 1938 and completed in 1939.

What was provided, in very simple terms, was a Carcano made to look just like an Arisaka.  A standard Carcano M1891 receiver and bolt were mated to a standard twist rifled barrel chambered for 6.5x50mmSR.  Japanese five round staggered fixed magazines were replicated on the new rifle.  The stock was an Italian duplication of the Japanese two-piece, semi-pistol grip Type 38 design.  Unfortunately it appears Italian hard wood was used as the stock is much heavier than any Arisaka stock we’ve encountered.  Duplications of the Type 38 rear sights appeared graduated from 400 to 2,400 meters.  Barrel bands, bayonet lugs, and cleaning rods also followed the same Japanese patterns, if not exactly identical.  Two lengths of stock appear to have been made with one larger by a full inch through the shoulder, making for a somewhat awkward rifle for the small stature soldiers of the time.  The Japanese designated the rifle the イ式 (“i shiki”) or “Type I” after the first phonetic sound in “Italia.”  Type 30 bayonets were provided back home in Japan.

Initially Fabbrica d’Armi Regia Esercito Terni (“Terni”) began with barrel production but several other manufacturers became involved in completion.  Fabbrica d’Armi Regio Esercito of Gardone V.T. (“Gardone“), Fabbrica d’Armi P. Beretta (also of Gardone V.T.), and Fabbrica Nazionale d’Armi Brescia (“FNA-Brescia“) all assembled and Type I rifles.  Serial prefixes were applied by 9,999 rifle blocks and ran from letters A through L with an estimated production near 130,000.  It is known that Japanese inspectors gave final approval but some sources say each of the three assembling factories had inspectors while others say all inspections occurred in Gardone V.T.

One of the reasons Type I rifles tend to go unnoticed is that they very rarely have any visible distinguishing markings above the stock line.  Generally, unobservant collectors mark them off as Italian Carcano or Japanese Arisaka variant rifles and assume they have been scrubbed or otherwise mistreated.  Rifles prefixed A-F were assembled at the Gardone arsenal, G-J at FNA-Brescia, and J-L at Beretta.  If you dismantle your Type I rifle you should be able to find a simple two or three character initial on the underside of the receiver and barrel.  When present these will represent your assembling factory.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had the occasion to confirm all the manufacturer markings.  Our example has a PB for P. Beretta.  If you have the occasion to take apart a Type I of your own, please let us know in the comment what markings you encounter!

From the start, the Type I was seen as a second standard weapon and was given over to training cadets, Naval Guards, and many went straight to storage.  Despite lives lived mostly in lockers and boats, the Type I rifles did find their way to the front lines on occasion.  Naval Guard units would be dispatched to defend shore installations and, because of U.S. island hopping, quickly become entangled as standard infantry units.  This was noted especially at Kwajalein Atoll.  Most Type I rifles, however, appear to have come from storage on the Japanese mainland post war.

I sincerely doubt many troops would be happy to lug around the exceedingly heavy and awkward Type I rifle.  However, Japanese soldiers did enjoy sniping from concealed positions with the Type 38 due to its long barrel and light cartridge giving very little away.  The Type I shared these same characteristics and the added weight could only assist with follow-up shots.  While much maligned, the Carcano action is still hearty and reliable and certainly matches other split bridges like the man Steyr-produced Mannlicher military rifles still in service at that time.

Overall the Type I was a serviceable firearm, certainly more robust than some of the other hybrids we have seen.  As a collectible it can really serve to remind us of the truly global nature of the second world war.  These rifles can be pretty common in the United States collectors market and are often sold for reasonable prices even today.  So if you have the slightest curiosity after reading all of this just keep an eye open and I’m sure you’ll find one to look over yourself.  Don’t forget to tell us what markings you find under the stock!

 Japanese Carcano Type I


65 Responses to “Rifle: Japanese Carcano Type I”

  1. Havan Tucker says:

    Thanks for the great and informative article! I have a Type I that was brought back from Japan by my grand father following his tour with the Blacksheep. It is S/N F8014, so apparently built in Gardone, and the marking under the barrel is FAT. From what I’ve seen this stands for Fabricca Armi Terni.

    Thanks again for the information. Really helped me learn a little about this family relic!

    • Nagao says:

      That is some useful information. Thanks! If you ever get a chance and some good lighting (hardest part really) snap a picture of that marking.

  2. Jacob says:

    What kind of value would you typically expect a good condition example to hold these days? Also, is a bent bolt handle at all typical? I’m looking into picking one of these up, if I do I’ll put together good lighting and get you a good marking picture (Caon T3i, not a cell phone).

    • Nagao says:

      The Type I is just such an unusual gun that it commands only a little more than say a Mosin carbine these days. Most people don’t recognize it and it seems few appreciate it enough. I’m afraid I have never seen a bent bolt and would assume it was either sporterized or taken from a regular Carcano.

  3. martin mudd says:

    I have PB with a crown with a cross above, also several staps

  4. John Shannon says:

    I’ve aquired one of these rifles from an uncle who served inWWII, it is a shortened version with a slide-in front blade site. I need a stock for it and I’m sure I’ll never find a shortened stock for it. Maybe I can aquire a long stock and rework it to size. The serial # is H673 and it has a large 39 on the barrel under the stock, it also has what looks like a little “AS” in a small box.

    • Nagao says:

      There were no military shortened Type I rifles. I would recommend trying to find a sporterized stock to work with. The 39 is likely the year the receiver was made. I have never seen an AS mark but an SA mark would mean we are not talking about a Japanese Carcano.

      • John Shannon says:

        This rifle is definately a shortened type 1, no doubt. This rifle had to be shortened in it’s period, maybe in Japan. The machine work and the dovetail front blade site as well as the patina are all consistant across the weapon and are factory done. It’s a shame that I fitted it into a 38 stock with typical Carcano mag-box trigger guard, it looks perfect but as I now realize, it wont take a Stripper-clip. In it’s current stock, it’s 37 inches long and looks beautiful. It’s too bad that I waisted so much time an effort fitting into the wrong lower. I started with just the complete action ( reciever, barrel, complete bolt, trigger assembly, front blade sight and the long 2400mm adjustable windage rear sight) and was hoping to make a complete rifle (which I did, just the wrong rifle), now I have to hope to find the correct lower for it. I really hope you can help me locate the type 1 complete lower, maybe I can offer the 38 parts I have to somebody who can use them or may have what I need towards a trade. I’m convinced this rifle was a war trophy and had seen action, it wouldn’t have been among my 92 year old uncle’s possessions. He was in The Pacific during WWII. I really hope you can help me complete this project, I pulled this out of storage after 20 years just to spend money putting it together with the wrong parts, what a shame. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated, thank you very much. John.

        • I have a PI reviever and trigger guard. I would like to sell it. You know they are not the same as a standard carcano. The extracter post is in the wrong posision. Let me know Wild Bill Ga

      • John Shannon says:

        P.S. Remember, theres a first time for everything and I’ve been researching this gun for years and I’ve never seen a shortened Type 1 as well, that why I didn’t realize it WAS a type 1. I think this is a very rare version and there may be very few that exsist, thats why I really want to put it back together with the right parts. I realize that I will have to shorten the stock, if I’m luck enough to get on, but I’m good with this stuff so it shouldn’t be that difficult.

        • Nagao says:

          There are no records of a shortened Type I being assembled in Italy or modified by the Japanese Navy. Also, please note this is a “I” as in “eye.” The term “Type 1” refers to a prototype weapon of a completely different make.

          • John Shannon says:

            Is it possible to aquire what I need to make it functional? With the way I have it set up, would it take a standard Carcano tin-box magizine or is the reciever too different to allow that to lock in place?

      • rx1582 says:

        I have an italian carcano cavalry rifle that is a carbine, short thing…will the 6.5 jap round fire thru this?

  5. JCitizen says:

    @John Shannon:

    I empathize with your mission as I had an uncle with many great trophies after the Pacific war! I just admit that what you describe jibes with a few rifles captured by soldiers in Vietnam. By then, they had a mini arsenal rebuilding old Japanese infantry rifles – the ones with the machined trigger guards – into something completely different. One of them I collected had a modified magazine well to take the 7.62mm AK round, and the barrel was actually a Browning machine gun barrel cut at both ends to make rechambering possible. They did a great job touching it up to look like a modern government arsenal rebuild, but I suspect it was a jungle shop run by the VC in a desperate attempt to get enough weapons out there. The thing didn’t shoot half bad, and was more accurate than most junked out SKS I’ve found from the period. An uninitiated person might think it was an original carbine, when it started out as a full length Arisaka of WW2.

  6. Matt says:

    Got one that has a FAT mark under the barrel and is numbered C64.

  7. William Russ says:

    Mine is marked “F T” under the barrel, which I presume is “Fabbrica Terni”, with a “C” prefix and 3 digit serial. It’s the “long” version, too, at 50.75″ with an original leather sling and cleaning rod. Thanks for all of the great info about the rifle!

  8. I also have a complete rifle . The stock has been cut but the rifle is unaltered. Wild Bill GA

  9. Mason says:

    Just purchased a Type I Carcano. J6189 Beretta Mfg. with capture tag with the name of the Marine who captured the rifle. It’s in beautiful shape with all numbers matching, original cleaning rod, and a beautiful, clean bore. A new gem in my collection!

  10. Ed Moore says:

    I also have one which is full length and the markings under the receiver/barrel are an AS in a block and what looks like a proof mark under that, kinda like a circle and wings or some such. Also, a large 39 on the receiver as well. Also the number H7726 on the receiver and a 5 on the underside of the stock. The numbers 3/13 are painted on the stock near the butt plate too.

  11. steve willims says:

    I have a carcano arisaka serial number L 3133

  12. Rob Harper says:

    I have a Type I with an early serial number of A6244. Unfortunately, the somewhat extensive rust underneath he stock doesn’t show any markings, but there are several in other places. The trigger has an M and CA in a tiny oval, the magazine well shows a D, the magazine floor plate has PS in an oval, the rear receiver tang has scattered inspection marks of 8, V, S, J, and F, and the bolt handle has 29 in a diamond at its root.

  13. rick says:

    I have what I believe is a Type 1 and the serial number is G4927 can you tell me anything about it. I can find no other markings or numbers on it????

  14. rick says:

    I have a Type 1 I believe. The Serial number is G4927, can you tell me anything about it? I can find no other markings?????? It is missing the bolt. Where can I get a bolt or other parts????

    • Othais says:

      You may want to read the article. It is a Type “I” not 1. The serial does not tell us a date as we have no manufacture data. No other markings is common. No one currently stocks these rifles as they were captured from Japan and never imported, so there are no parts sources other than the secondary market.

  15. Donald Sanders says:

    I just picked up a sporterized Type I. S/N A1199 bottom of barrel just forward of receiver is marked FAT. Hope this is helpful. Donald

  16. Tom Kemper says:

    I have a 1939 Type I, SN I 9198; late production. The underside of the receiver shows a small SA and a larger AA, I also see a couple other letters closer to the barrel – what looks to be RDC. I have a slew of pictures if you want them.

  17. Todd Branscum says:

    Does anyone know where I can get a complete stock set?

  18. Billy Clark says:

    I have a Type I that looks brand new, and shoots great. SN G9683, rear sight marked PB, and under side of barrel marked with a crown PB, On the receiver by the mag area It is marked with a crown and a PB, The trigger has a PB mark as well, The safety also has PB. The trigger guard on the under side at the front is marked PB.

  19. Chris H Iowa says:

    I recently acquired a Type I with SN J3252

  20. Chris H Iowa says:

    The Type I J3252 that I have acquired is complete with a leather sling featuring kanji on it

  21. Todd Branscum says:

    Will a type 99 stock set fit on Type I?

  22. Todd Branscum says:

    Will a type 38 stock set fit a Type I?

    • Othais says:

      Only a Type I stock will fit a Type I. It is a Carcano, not an Arisaka, but it has Japanese features so a pure Carcano stock won’t fit either.

  23. Todd Branscum says:

    Thanks for the info, Othais. Any idea where one could get a Type I stock set?

    • Othais says:

      I’m sorry but given that they were all brought over one-by-one the stocks always came on a rifle. I know of no spare parts.

  24. Harold Holcombe says:

    Will the italian carcano bolt assembly fit the Japanese carcano? I have a Japanese Carcano, but the bolt is missing some parts.

    • Othais says:

      You know, I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I would bit it does but whether or not it would headspace is another matter.

      • mark says:

        Although they look similar, the slot on the bottom of bolt that the ejector rides in are at different locations. Sorry to say, they do not interchange.

        • mark says:

          Although I posted that the bolts do not interchange due to the location of the extractor….The rest of the bolt components…… safety, firing pin etc…. appear to be the same….as compared to a Carcano bolt I have.

  25. chad says:

    sn F2589 , “FAT” under barrel at alignment mark, next to that mark is an “S” turned 90 degrees to the fat. Between magazine cut out and recoil lug is “R 2 ?”. Under rear tang “8” or “S”. Under bolt root “PA”. Rear site, standing, front side top, in a diamond “SAD” the D is a triangle on it’s side. Rifle from island in Pacific ww II send back.

  26. Nick says:

    I have one the cereal starts with k and on the bottom there is pb with a crown and a cross any thoughts

  27. Paul says:

    I have one serial # C 7787. Letters on the receiver are OS. Also, the very end of the bolt has a small symbol of a circle with two lines coming off completely opposite of each other.

  28. Brian sigley says:

    I have a type I with the crown and pb under the stock and some other markings and AS on the back of the bolt

  29. Jeff Rayner says:

    I have had my Carcano since 1963. My dad bought form someone… It has been bent in the bolt, poorly done. The stock has been lopped off. The action has been stripped of rust so not much of the original finish remains on the outer parts of the action. The same is true for the mag floor and trigger bow. All the rest appear to what you would expect in a well protected rifle of this age. The bayonet fitting is missing. As the ammo is tough to find, I do not shoot this often. It is very accurate when I do shoot it.
    The Ser. No. is K1939, Barrrel is marked (from muzzle end to butt – (on taper U or V), (maybe a lion?), (Crown), (PB), (0), finally a circle with an X or star inside.
    The action has the Crown then the PB. Trigger and assy. has PB. Underside of rear tang has 1 then 5 near screw hole. There are various stamps on the bolt and other bolt parts. I cannot make out any for sure, so I will claim to know crap I do not know.
    Your history was very useful to me as I remembered most of the story, but your site filled in the rest. THANKS!

  30. Terry says:

    just received pics of a rifle from a friend I can’t ID. It appears to be an 1891 with a straight bolt handle. The stock has the finger grooves and a “Z” in a sort of oval on the right side of the stock. The stock looks like a 1938 type but not vertical cut for the turn down bolt handle. Any Ideas??? thanx TG

  31. Jeremy Garner says:

    I just purchased a Type I Japanese Carcano. Serial number is G4077. I removed the action from the stock and on the under side of the action was an, AS inside of a square with a character directly below it I can’t quite discern what it is but looks like a F and N mashed together and a much larger 39 directly under that. I have pictures if you would like them. I’m assuming based on the G prefix in the serial number and what I can only guess is an F and an N mashed together in the stamp this was made in FNA-Brescia.

  32. richard humphreys says:

    picked up what I believe to be one of these this past Saturday, guy at the pawn shop when asked if he had a 6.5 arisaka handed it to me and I knew it wasn’t really an arisaka but I liked it so I bought it got it home and tried a 6.5 jap round in the barrel end way to much wiggle room, now certain it was something else stock and receiver are similar to pictured here no disenable markings aside from a small H on top of the receiver, this is a great article really gives me a direction to go in in identifying this old neat rifle.

  33. Alan Hassell Col USAF (Ret) says:

    Great article. My Type I is as follows: S/N is C6064 and the front bottom side of the barrel is stamped FAT. But the best part is that the very top curved area of the butt plate is unit marked “AJR10 (over) 32”. Gun condition is exc with mint bore. No other markings on the weapon. I hope this AIDS some reader with research. Regards, Alan

  34. rx1582 says:

    I have an italian carcano cavalry rifle that is a carbine, short thing…will the 6.5 jap round fire thru this?

  35. rx1582 says:

    the italian carcano cavalry rifle that is a carbine, short thing…will the 6.5 jap round fire thru this?

  36. Craig says:

    I recently saw one of these Japanese Carcano rifles that was re-chambered for 6.5×55 Swedish.
    Anyone care to speculate on the safety factor of that combination?

  37. Chris W says:

    Great article. Thanks! I had been trying to identify the type I. It just wasn’t quite like a Arisaka. Mine is s/n I 1314 and has what appears to be a BB on the bottom.

  38. Dave says:

    Good article. There are a handful of useful videos on youtube — just search for Carcano type “I” — but also search for Carcano type “1”, as many folks don’t understand it is the letter “I”, not the number “1”. Mine is s/n G63**, wood (stock) in moderately poor shape, metal good, barrel is pristine. I just took the entire bolt apart, cleaned, lubed, checked, and have ordered ammo.

  39. Lou says:

    I own a Japanese Carcano type I that my father brought back from WWII. My father was in the Navy and he told me when the war ended his ship sailed into port in Japan and they opened an Imperial store house took the rifles and dumped them on the ships deck telling the sailors they could take one. The Type I has serial number K407. There is a PB with a crown under the barrel where the barrel screws into the receiver, a PB is stamped on the trigger and an N A stamped behind the trigger assembly. The wood stock is in good shape and there was a little light rust on the barrel that cleaned up nicely with a little Hoppes 9 gun oil an old toothbrush, rags and some elbow grease.

  40. kenneth polnik says:

    have 50.75 length riffle,PB on bolt. FAT under with C 9xxx sr.#

  41. Chuck M says:

    I’ve recently acquired a Type I rifle and am busy trying to learn more about it based on its markings and serial number. Based on what I’ve been able to find on-line, everything from the two piece stock, bolt, front & rear sights, butt plate etc all look correct. Markings indicate this rifle was made by Beretta. So far, so good, right?

    Now my question … on-line info suggests Type I rifle serial numbers if made up of a 1 character prefix ( A thru N ) followed by a 4 digit number that ranges from 1 to 9999.The serial number on the rifle I’ve acquired DOES NOT have a 1 letter prefix, it only has a 4 digit number that starts with a zero (0xxx ).

    I haven’t found any info indicating any Beretta made Type I rifles were produced with serials numbers that didn’t include a 1 letter prefix. Does the lack of a 1 letter prefix suggest its either an earlier or later made rifle? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards, Chuck

  42. Chase says:

    I have recently acquired a Type I rifle, The serial number starts with the prefix “A” and serial number 37XX. The bolt has the numbers “29” inside a sidewards diamond and I found the letters “FAT” in a sideways diamond when I disassembled the rifle.

  43. Tom Macur says:

    My father brought back a Japanese Carcano Type I Rifle from WWII when he was in the Navy in the Pacific. It has a type 30 bayonets on it. It is marked FAT and C1200. Unfortunately it is missing the piece of wood on the top in front of the site. How does this piece of wood secure to the gun at the site location? What are the two holes (in the above picture) in the wood at the site location for? At the other end there is a metal band. Any information would be appreciated.

  44. Art Dake Jr says:

    I recently acquired a Type I. Really decent shape, barrel very clean, ( I cleaned it anyway). Removed bolt and stripped to check firing pin and make sure it looked good. It was very clean, but not lubed, so I gave it a touchup and reassembled. I don’t really want to remove the barrel as I am going to resell it. Wood is blond, PB stamped on bolt, sear, firing pin, and safety,which makes me think it was built by Beretta, but S/N is E8803, . Either way it’s a nice gun and hope the folks at the gun shows think so also. But if anybody has any more info or date ideas please let me know.

  45. Dave says:

    Hi there,
    I recently aquired a Type I barreled receiver and stock, from an uncle who passed away. I am currently in the process of putting together the rest of the parts to complete it. The barrel is in very good shape with clean rifling and no pitting. The stock looks like it saw action. Im not sure where or how my uncle came across it, but with 35 years in the US Army, Im not surprised. Anyway, it is SN# H9839, and has the FNA stamp under the barrel. There are also an AS in a box as well as some other markings, including the 39. How do I send pictures, as Id like to know the meanings of the markings…..
    Thank you!

  46. Frank M. says:

    I believe I have a “Japanese Type I(eye) Carbine(bent bolt)”, in a Remington Monte Carlo Stock, with a 23″ barrel to the inside of the receiver, re-barreled in .257 Roberts… Has FAT for Fabricca Armi Terni under barrel, with a double stamped BB over each other, and a little sideways turned u with the opening pointed Right, a little mark on Top of the u pointing to the left… .257(period in front added by me), on Top Right of receiver, with Serial #F19** on Top Left of receiver. Being the 6.5mm is a .256. Would it be advisable to consider the .257 Roberts and the .256 very similar? I don’t know that they could be chambered in the same weapon, probably not. I know the .257 Roberts is a necked down 7X57 Mauser cartridge. Thank you for your time I also hope this may help someone…

  47. Russ says:

    Underside of barrel/receiver A so assembled at Gardone, S/N H6710. Other markings RCO (perpendicular to barrel length), 39 (year of manufacture?), 45 inside diamond shape on bottom of bolt handle next to bolt, trigger guard has rectangle with A inside, YCH behind trigger, PS inside an oval on inside of magazine plate.
    Bought this at an online auction, only 2 photos. Advertised as an 8mm Mauser with no markings. Stock looked cracked in photos but is the dovetail joint that runs length of stock. When arrived didn’t know what I had but not a Mauser

  48. Scott johns says:

    F3495 R/S this is the rifle my brother has,it was originally purchased at a flee market by our father in the 80s.

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