6.5 x 50mmSR Arisaka, black wood bullet. Dummy or blank?

Found this item in a $1 bin at the recent Kansas Cartridge Collectors show.

Shown below is a 6.5 x 50mmSR Arisaka cartridge with a black wood bullet, unstaked unstruck varnished brass primer , NO knurled cannelures on the case and NO hole drilled in the case wall. Cartridge weight is 12.87 grams or 198.6 grains.

I could not find this cartridge in Japanese Ammunition 1880-1945, Part 1 by Ken Elks.


So is this a dummy round or a blank round?

Any information/discussion most appreciated.



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I don’t think it’s either Brian, I’d say it’s a grenade cartridge. I’ve seen them with plain wood bullets but not with black.

Concur, it should be a grenade launching cartridge.
The wood tipped blank cartridges were uncolored.

That was an excellent buy for a buck!

It appears that $1 bins at the shows are the best way to get rare cartridges. Since they are uncommon, there is no easy way to determine their value and they are placed into “unwanted” $1 bins. Also cool to rummage for them, like a cheap safe archaelogical dig of sorts.

If real, and not colored by some artistic child of a cartridge collector, it is an exceedingly rare round. I have a similar 7.7x58, but there is next to no documentation to confirm it is what I think/hope it is. Same story with this 6.5mm.

Thanks very much for all the responses, a most interesting and surprising consensus!

In looking at Elk’s book he shows 2 wood bulleted dummies (one colored red and one plain wood) and mentions a third having a black wood bullet that runs the length of the case. The dummies apparently all have either knurled case cannelure or a holed case.

Then there is the plain wood bulleted blank for the Type 11 LMG without primer stakes.

And finally a grenade blank with a plain wood bullet, having primer stakes and a black primer annulus.

Add to the mix the possibility of wartime changes which may in part explain the oddity shown above.

I will take a picture under better lighting and post ASAP.

Thanks again,


Given that a typical weight for a 6.5 m/m Arisaka cartridge case with primer is about 152 gr. it can be assumed that the black ‘bullet’ and whatever is below it in the case weighs about 47 gr. total. Jack

p.s. for what it’s worth the type 11 round contains what appears to be a normal full load of a flake type powder. It needs such a charge to power the mechanism of the LMG.

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I do know exactly what this bullet is. It is a trailing round that was used by Japanese high school and college students in their gym classes before and during WW11. They were shot out of smooth bore type 38 rifles. Every other week all male High School and Collage students had to do military marching and combat and rifle training. They would fire these wooden bullets at targets on the school grounds. They are loaded with a lot less gun powder similar to a blank. I have one of these training rifles and a matching bayonet.

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Glen, interesting information, thanks for sharing. Please, can you indicate the source of this identification?



I am interested in this “school trainer” connection too. I have a number of these Arisaka trainers. They are usually very beat up. Some look like they have not been finished at all. They do carry some remnants of rifling, and look like they are smooth bore, so faint the rifling is. A matching bayo must be an extreme rarity.

I have a book “Military Rifles of Japan” written by Fred L Honeycutt Jr. and F Patt Anthony. The bayonet is made of none hardened steal and has a blunt edge. Looks just like a type 30 military bayonet but will not fit on a regular military rifle. Some of the trainers were worn out military rifles that would then have the Chrysanthemum removed. Or as mine the receiver of the gun is not of hardened steel so it can not stand the pressure of a actual military round. Also most trainer rifles had no serial numbers and no Chrysanthemum on the receiver (as they were not property of the emperor).

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There are two classes of Japanese trainers. Some were standard 6.5 m/m rifles and carbines which were demoted to training purposes, then there were trainers made of inferior materials intended to fire only low pressure blank cartridges. These latter items resemble service arms only in general appearance and never bore the imperial chrysanthemum.

The age-expired (in most cases) service rifles and carbines usually retain the imperial seal which has been overstamped with one of several symbols to indicate its new status. Rifling in 6.5 m/m arms still in good condition can often appear very worn due to the fact the rifling is of Metford type with rounded lands and grooves. Jack

Glen, is this black wood bullet cartridge discussed in that book?

Starting at Page 172 is the short chapter on Training Rifles. There is scattered thru the book under the individual manufactures, the mentions if they made training rifles also.

On page 198 in the picture in the first row in space number 11, I believe is your bullet type. The trainer round wooden bullets were painted to look more real (usually gray to resemble lead). Grenade launcher bullets were not painted, as in the heat of battle you would not want to grab the wrong one, and either destroy you grenade launcher or fire a ineffective bullet at your enemy.
Is it possible some one after the war painted a grenade launcher bullet to make it look like a trainer bullet? You would need to ask your self why? The only real way to tell would be to take it apart, essentially destroying it, but why.

Jack you are 100% correct

Glen, thanks for the help. Yesterday I had the opportunity to check a copy of this book, but a black or painted wood bullet cartridge is not mentioned or illustrated. The picture in space number 11 on page 198 shows a dummy cartridge with plain steel bullet and knurled case.