The Rifles of Thailand/Siam

by Dan Reynolds

Thailand, formerly known as Siam remained an independent nation while all the other nations around it fell to colonial rule.  The Thai crest is the “Charkra” a disk with sharpened cutting blades around its circumference.  It is found in several variations design in its center.

In the 1950's the U.S. began supplying small arms and ammunition to Thailand.
M1903A3 Springfields, M1 Garands in .30-06 and M1 and M2 .30 carbines were
the rifles delivered.

At this point in time Thailand had various obsolete rifles in service or inventory.
The oldest were the M1888 Mannlichers in 8x50mm Siamese, the Steyr M1895
Mannlichers (straight pull bolt action) 8x50mm Siamese, M1903 Type 46 Mauser in 8x50mm Siamese ( this design was  based on the transition Mauser M1897, a factory to make this rifle was supplied by Mauser to Siam along with a license, but it proved beyond the capacity of the Thais to make this rifle in country.  Tooling for production of major components was shipped to Japan by the Thais and rifles were, in the main, assembled in Siam with Japanese technical help.  Machinery for making parts was set up in an arsenal at Bangkok by the Japanese.  In 1923 an improved 8x52mm cartridge was adopted and many Mausers were converted to the new the round.  New Arisakas of the type 38 pattern in 8x52mm were delivered in 1928-29 and numbered 35,000 units.

In 1930's Thai Police organization purchased new BSA .303 Enfield No.1 Mk111*
rifles. These have a "Tiger Head " crest marking and some say this is because the
Police organization was known as the Tigers. Another report says the BSA .303
Enfield No.1 Mk111* rifles, a quantity of  80,000, were purchased by the "Wild
Tiger Corp", a Patriotic Association of leading figures in the Thai society founded
by King Rama VI, and presented to the Thai government.  The number 0f 80,000
seems very high. Based on what I have been able to learn I would speculate that a
much smaller number of Enfields were purchased by the "Tiger Corp" and then
issued by the government to provincial police or militia type units.

About 1935 a program was initiated to modernize the Model 1903 Thai Mauser by shortening them from Long rifle to short rifle configuration.  This conversion was
said to be called the "Rama VI " rifle.  It is believed that only a small number were produced.

Additional small numbers of Mauser Rifles such as the 7x57mmm Model 1904 made at Mauser Oberndorf A/N and the identical Model 1907 made at DWM were purchased for use in Siam.  Around 1938 the Standard Modell short rifle and carbine in 7.92x57mm were acquired from Mauser Werke in Oberndorf A/N.
During WW2 Thailand was a co-belligerent of Japan and was given 6.5mm Arisaka
rifles and carbines.  Various French rifles and carbines were supplied by the Japs
in small numbers.

During the Malaya Communist insurgency beginning in 1949 the British supplied No.4  Mk.1* .303 Enfields to Thais to help them secure their border with Malaya.
A U.S. MAG helped the Thais to modernize their Arsenal in the 50's as .30 caliber
weapons arrived and some existing rifles M1903 Type 46 in 8x50mm and Type 46/66 in 8x52mm were cut down to .30-06 short rifles.  The Thais found .30-06 too recoil intensive but really liked the .30 Carbines.

About 1956 Bangkok Arsenal began converting 6.5mm Arisakas to a very handy
carbine for police use.  This is really one nice light rifle .  It is configured to look
like the M1 carbine, but the cartridge is much better.  It has a Charkra Crest and using the Siamese systems of numbers for serial number.

During the war in Viet Nam the Thais bought new .30 Carbines from Howa in Japan
as the U.S. could not supply them.  The Thais wanted to convert their .30 Carbines
to 7.62x39 and looked into the idea out but it was not feasible.

Over the course of the last century Siam/Thailand acquired various small lots of foreign weapons of non-standard type as well as machinery to produce such small arms as a Spanish semi-auto pistol and the Ingram Submachine Gun, neither of which were made in any large number.

Siamese Type 47 carbine caliber 8mm.  A large quantity of rifles were converted into carbines in the 1960s. You can tell an original carbine by the markings on the receiver ring.  The rifles are marked Type 46 & the carbines are marked Type 47.  Unfortunately, they are marked with Siamese characters. However, if you count the number of characters under the Charkras you can tell.  The Type 46 has 6 characters while the Type 47 has 9.