I was going to post this in the thread Bill just posted about his gorgeous rifle, but I did not want to hijack the thread.
I was hoping we could discuss the dust covers on Japanese Type 38 and early Type 99 "Arisaka" rifles.
A commonly held idea (myth?) is that Japanese soldiers threw away dust covers because they rattled too much and would reveal them in stealth situations.
I believe that Japanese soldiers never discarded the dust covers.
1. Why would they part out a possession of their emperor/ living god? Wouldn't that be disrespectful?
2. With the bolt closed and a round in the chamber with the rifle ready to fire, the dust cover does NOT move or rattle.
3. When firing the rifle and cycling the bolt, sure the dust cover makes a little noise... But it's certainly not loud enough to be noticeable over the roar of combat.
The rattle is a nonissue unless Japanese soldiers decided to sneak around the battlefield with the bolts of their rifles cocked back and their weapons not ready to fire... This simply does not make sense to me in a combat situation! Wouldn't they want their rifles ready to fire immediately?
So, why are so many Arisaka rifles now missing their dust covers?
Here are a few of my hypotheses:
1. Late model Arisaka rifles never had dust covers in the first place as cost and time saving measure. BUT, Arisaka receivers continued to have slots for dust covers present right up until the end of production in 1945. I think a lot of collectors mistakenly believe that their rifles are missing dust covers.
2. Anyone who has ever tried to install an Arisaka bolt with dust cover attached knows that it can be tricky! A Japanese soldier with proper training would have no problem with it. On the other hand, a US serviceman unfamiliar with Japanese rifles may be less patient with an annoying to install dust cover. Why not throw the dust cover out? The bolt functions just fine without it!
3. At the end of the war, Japan was demilitarized and mountains of Japanese small arms were available to souvenir hunters. We have also heard about chrysanthemums being defaced. Stripping Arisaka rifles of dust covers, AA sights and monopods left the rifles still operable for souvenir hunters while also making scrap metal available to rebuild Japan with.
4. Lots of vets turned their souvenir rifles into hunting rifles... I've seen countless beautiful and rare rifles that have been sporterized. Sportsmen love light weight, streamlined rifles... An easy way to cut the fat would be to remove the accessories on Arisakas...
So, what do you folks think?