North China Type 30

When the Japanese invasion of China intensified in 1937, Imperial reliance on Chinese puppet troops for duties like garrisoning cities. Before long an estimated 500,000-900,000 such men were under the command of the Japanese, in both militia and regular army units. These men had to be armed, and Japanese domestic production of Type 38 (and later Type 99) rifles was all allocated to Japanese needs. Several solutions were found to the problem of arming the Chinese, including the extensive use of captured arms and also the organization of a domestic Chinese arms-making center in Tientsin.

From 1938 until 1943 (approximately; records are basically nonexistent) a conglomerate of at least five small factories in Tientsin produced about 38,500 North China Type 30 carbines. That name, by the way, is a US collector designation, as the official designation is not known. At any rate, the North China Type 30 was basically a Type 30 Arisaka chambered for the 8mm Mauser cartridge, as this was the ammunition most commonly available in China and the cartridge used by its national military before the Japanese invasion.

North China Type 30, left side
North China Type 30, left side
North China Type 30, right side
North China Type 30, right side

Only a small number of these rifles have been documented today, but we can make some inferences from them. For example, while fewer than 40,000 were made, they have serial numbers up to the 400,000 range. This is because each of the five arsenals or factories involved in the production was assigned a serial number block of a hundred thousand. The official Tientsin Arsenal made guns in the zero block (ie, starting at 0), with the other producers beginning at 100,000, 200,000, 300,000 and 400,000. If the leading digit is ignored, the highest recorded number is 16,503. This rifle, for example, is only the 3399th one produced in the 300,000 block (the names of these other factories are unknown).

Serial number and factory logo
Serial number and factory logo

These North China Type 30 rifles were made to a moderate level of quality, but to pre-war design standards. They use a flip-up ladder sight nearly identical to the Japanese Type 30, as well as steel buttplates, nicely finished sling swivels, etc. They do not have upper handguards, but that part was not included on the Japanese Type 30 either, as it was not deemed necessary.

North China Type 30 cherry blossom insignia
North China Type 30 cherry blossom insignia

In place of the Imperial chrysanthemum, these rifles are marked with the symbol of a 5-petal cherry blossom. The later Type 19 North China rifles are also marked with a series of kanji spalling out “North China Type 19” – the Type 30 examples do not have this writing, but the obvious similarity of the guns is what has led to that designation being applied to them as well by the US collecting community.

 

North China Type 30 "hook" safety
North China Type 30 “hook” safety
North China Type 30 bolt head
North China Type 30 bolt head

Thanks to reader and fellow collector Joe, we have a bunch of additional photos of this carbine to show:

In 1944, they would be replaced in production by the North China Type 19, in 6.5mm and using the Type 38 action instead of the Type 30. Those rifles show a significant degradation in standards over the course of production, similar to the devolution of the Type 99 in Japanese production. Both the Type 30 and Type 19 North China carbines are quite scarce today.