The Nagant was designed by Leon Nagant (brother of the designer of the Mosin-Nagant rifle) of Belgium in the late 1800s. It used a unique "gas seal" mechanism where the entire cylinder moved forward a few millimeters to lock the onto the barrel when the hammer was cocked. This increased the muzzle velocity of the bullet (as no pressure was lost out of end of the barrel closest to the cylinder when fired), and increased the accuracy when compared to a traditional revolver. The gun was adopted by Russia in 1895, and saw service through the First World War. Under Soviet control, the revolver became a popular gun for Red Army officers. The more advanced semi-automatic Tokarev TT-33 began to supplement the Nagant in the 1930s, but the gun remained in production until 1945, primarily because it was viewed as a status symbol. Besides the gas seal, it has a few other interesting features. It is one of the few revolvers that can be used effectively with a silencer, and takes unique ammunition where the bullet is actually fully enclosed by the brass casing (this is necessary to create the gas seal, but it also means that the ammunition is $1 per round and I had to import it from Italy!). The Nagant apparently still remains in use with Russian Railways today.
My revolver has an interesting history (assuming my sources are correct). My revolver carries the "star and arrow" stamp, with a date marking of "1943r".
The marking indicates the revolver was made at Tula arsenal (indicated by the Tula "star and arrow"). Tula was out of commission from late 1941 through 1942 as the factory was relocated to prevent its capture by German troops. When the factory resumed production in a new location, Tula had a new stamp -- a "star and hammer" (ie: a hammer where the arrow used to be). My example is dated 1943, yet has the "star and arrow" insignia that had not been used since late 1941.
The date stamp is the key to deciphering this: the cyrillic "r" was a mark used solely by Izhevsk Arsenal. When Tula relocated in late 1941, the Tula parts and equipment were taken to Izhevsk and the assembly was completed there. Given that they were already stamped with the Tula "star and arrow", Izhevsk stamped the "r" to indicated that this was completed at their arsenal. It is very hard to find information on this interesting marking, but I believe what I just said is correct. This revolver is certainly an interesting piece of history.
M1895 Nagant 2.jpg 116.26KB 36 downloads
M1895 Nagant star.jpg 48.63KB 36 downloads
Finally, a few of my thoughts about the gun: This is my first revolver. Prior to this, I was exclusively a semi-automatic pistol and rifle owner. First off, the trigger pull is extremely heavy when used in double action mode. Apparently it is well over 20 lbs. A "GI" 1911 has a trigger pull of about 6 lbs. The ammunition (Nagant 7.62x38) is really unique. I've never seen anything like it, and I had to get it imported from Fiocci in Italy. At close to a buck a round, its about the same price as .44 Rem. Magnum up here. I spent close to what I paid for the gun on ammunition when all was said and done. The accuracy is good for a 69 year old gun. From 20 meters I could get 3 inch groups (I alternated between single and double-action fire on the same target) that were in the black near the bulls-eye. The recoil isn't bad. The round has significantly less kinetic energy than a 9mm Luger round, so it is quite light. Overall, its a fun gun to shoot with a very interesting history.
Edited by George Patton, 07 June 2012 - 05:22 PM.