.256 inch Arisaka Ball

The first rounds to enter British service were Japanese manufactured Type 38 ball

Japanese Type 38 Ball

It appears from various records that this was known as "Ammunition S.A. Japanese Service Rifle" and was shown in Drawing CIW 2756. It was not shown in Lists of Changes.

The brass case was semi-rimmed with a slightly domed brass primer secured by two distinctive stab crimps. There
was no headstamp.

The bullet was flat based and pointed with a lead/antimony core and a cupro-nickel envelope. Bullet weight was 139 grains.

The propellant charge was about 33.0 grains of nitro-cellulose to give a muzzle velocity of 2,500 fps. 



Ball Mark I

Japan supplied at least 22 million sets of Type 38 cartridge components under British contract 027/649 dated 15th March 1915. In May 1915 Kings Norton Metals Co. were given the task of loading these components under the same contract number. The date may have
been retrospective however as the number delivered is shown as 22,339,100.

"Cartridge S.A. Ball .256 inch Mark I" was approved to design RL 22657 in September 1917 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 19475 dated November 1917. This approval was purely for the record as the rifles had long been withdrawn from British service and sent to Russia.

The case was the standard Japanese semi-rimmed case. It was unheadstamped but had the two stab primer crimp.

The bullet was flat based and pointed with a lead/antimony core and a cupro-nickel envelope. Bullet weight was 139 grains and it was secured in the case with three pin stabs. This is the distinctive indication of a KN loaded Ball Mark I.

The propellant charge was granulated MDT Cordite and the weight was about 32.5 grains to give a muzzle velocity of 2,450 fps. 
Drawing CIW 2756 for Ball Mark I

Ball Mark II

In November 1915 Russia requested a supply of 6.5mm Arisaka ammunition for the large number of rifles they had purchased from Japan. The request was for 45 million rounds per month and was for the older Type 30 round nosed ammunition, presumably because the Japanese had supplied the older Type 30 rifle they no longer needed themselves.

Britain promised 15 million rounds in March 1916, 25 million in April and 45 million per month thereafter. In the event, supplies never quite reached that level but a total of 558,947,000 rounds were eventually made, the highest production being just over 48 million rounds in March 1917.

"Cartridge S.A. Ball .256 inch Mark II" was approved to design RL 23574B and IDW 3295A in September 1917 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 19475 in November 1917 (for record). 

The Ball Mark II was manufactured by both Royal Laboratory and Kynoch and had a number of minor variations.

Royal Laboratory production

The case was based on the Japanese service case and was Berdan primed with 0.4 grains of cap composition. The cap was a small 0.2 inch diameter flat copper cap, often distinctively off centre to the case. the case was unheadstamped.

The bullet was round nosed with a cupro-nickel envelope with lead alloy core and weighed 160 grains. It was secured in the case by neck slit crimps. RL had difficulty making the bullet to specification in their early production.

The propellant was 37.5 grains of Cordite MDT Size 7-1 1/2 or 36 grains of Dupont No.16 nitro-cellulose.

 Left: RL production with small flat copper cap

Kynoch production

The case was based on the Japanese service case and was Berdan primed. Kynoch production utilised the larger domed 0.216 inch cap with 0.5 grains of cap composition. Initial production was headstamped "K   16" but his was later changed tp "K  16  II" or "K  17  II".

The round nosed bullet had either a cupro-nickel or cupro-nickel clad steel envelope with lead alloy core and weighed 160 grains. A "K" was impressed in the lead base of the bullet.

The propellant charge differed depending on the headstamp. Those marked "K   16" had 28 grains of chopped strip nitro-cellulose whilst those marked "K  16  II" or "K  17  II" had 34 grains of tubular nitro cellulose.

In all cases the muzzle velocity was  about 2,300 fps at a pressure of 23 tsi.

Specification L3805 to govern manufacture was approved in June 1916 and shows a charge of either Cordite or nitro-cellulose. However a revised specification L3805A issued in July 1916 omitted the reference to Cordite and allowed only nitro-cellulose. it is possible that some early production was loaded with Cordite but all specimens examined were nitro-cellulose loaded.
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