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Nagant M1895 revolver
Type Revolver
Place of origin File:Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium
 Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1895-Present
Used by See Users
Wars Russo-Japanese War, World War I, Russian Revolution of 1917, Russian Civil War, Winter War, World War II, Chinese Civil War , Korean War, Vietnam War
Production history
Designer Emile & Léon Nagant
Designed 1886
Manufacturer Nagant, Soviet Arsenals (Tula & Izhevsk)
Produced 1895-1945 (1895-1898 Nagant, 1899-1945 Tula, 1943-1945 Izhevsk)
Number built Approx. 2,000,000
Variants Single-action NCO version, .22 caliber sporting model
Weight 1.8 lb (0.8 kg), unloaded
Length 10.5 in (235 mm)
Barrel length 4.5 in (114 mm)

Cartridge 7.62x38mmR (7.62 mm Nagant)
Caliber 7.62mm
Action Double action
Rate of fire 14-21 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 750 ft/s (272 m/s)
Effective range 25 yds (22 m)
Feed system 7-round cylinder
Sights Fixed front post and rear notch

The Nagant M1895 Revolver was a seven-shot, gas-seal revolver designed and produced by Belgian industrialist Léon Nagant for the Russian Empire. The Nagant M1895 was chambered for a proprietary cartridge, 7.62x38R, and featured an unusual "gas-seal" system in which the cylinder moved forward when the gun was cocked to close the gap between the cylinder and the barrel, providing a boost to the muzzle velocity of the fired projectile. Other Nagant revolver designs were also adopted by police and military services of Sweden (7.5 mm M1887), Norway (M1893), Poland, and Greece (Περίστροφον M1895).


Russian M1895

Léon Nagant and his brother Emile were well known in the Russian Tsar's court and military administration because of the important part they had played in the design of the Russian service rifle Mosin-Nagant Model 1891. The Nagant M1895 became the standard issue side arm for Russian army and police officers, later including their special services, the NKVD and the KGB.

Production began in Liège, Belgium, but was soon moved to Russia. The M1895 started to be replaced by the more modern Tokarev semi-automatic pistol in 1933 but was still produced and used in great numbers during World War II. The distinctive shape and name helped it achieve cult status in Russia, and in the early 1930s the presentation of a Nagant M1895 revolver with an embossed Red Star was one of the greatest honours that could be bestowed on a Party Member. It remains in use with the Russian Railways and remote police forces.[1]

Technical characteristics

Non-gas seal revolvers have a small gap between the cylinder and the barrel; the small gap between the cylinder and barrel is necessary to allow the revolver's cylinder to revolve, presenting a new, loaded chamber for firing. This necessitates that the bullet jump the gap when fired, which may have an adverse effect on accuracy, especially if the barrel and chamber are misaligned, and also presents a path for the escape of high-pressure and high-temperature gases from behind the bullet. The M1895 has a mechanism which, as the hammer is cocked, first turns the cylinder and then moves it forward, closing the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. The cartridge, also unique, plays an important part in sealing the gun to the escape of propellant gases. The bullet is deeply seated, entirely within the cartridge case, and the case is slightly reduced in diameter at its mouth. The barrel features a short conical section at its rear; this accepts the mouth of the cartridge, completing the gas seal. By sealing the gap, the velocity of the bullet is increased by 50 to 150 ft/s (15 to 45 m/s).

However, success had its price. Nagant revolvers had to be reloaded one cartridge at a time through a loading gate with the need to manually eject each of the used cartridges, making reloading laborious and time-consuming.

The Nagant M1895 was made in both single-action and double-action models before and during World War I; they are known colloquially as the “Private's model” and the “Officer’s model”, respectively. Production of the single-action model seems to have stopped after 1918, with some exceptions, including examples made for target competition. Most single-action revolvers were later converted to double-action, making original single-action revolvers rather rare.

History and usage

The M1895 revolver was used extensively by the Russian Imperial Army and later by the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution. In Russian service, it was known for its extreme sturdiness and ability to withstand abuse. As one former Imperial Russian officer stated, "if anything went wrong with the M1895, you could fix it with a hammer".

It was widely employed by the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka, as well as its Soviet successor agencies, the OGPU and NKVD. In the police role, it was frequently seen with a cut-down barrel to aid in concealment by plainclothes agents. Despite the advent of the more modern Soviet TT pistol, the M1895 remained in production and use throughout World War II.

The Nagant's sealed firing system meant that the Nagant revolver, unlike most other revolvers, could make effective use of a sound suppressor, and suppressors were sometimes fitted to it.[2] During World War II, a small number of Nagant revolvers used by Russian reconnaissance and scout troops were outfitted with a variety of sound suppressor known as the "Bramit device". Silenced M1895 Nagant revolvers, modified in clandestine workshops, also turned up in the hands of Viet Cong guerrillas during the Vietnam War as assassination weapons. There is an example of a silenced Nagant M1895 in the CIA Museum in Langley, Virginia, USA.


7.62 mm Nagant is also known as 7.62x38mmR (Rimmed) or "Cartridge, Type R." The projectile is seated below the mouth of the cartridge, with the cartridge crimp sitting just above the bullet. When fired the crimp expands into the forcing cone, completing the gas seal and ostensibly increasing muzzle velocity by approximately 75 ft/s.

The 7.62 mm caliber was chosen, in part, to simplify the tooling used in barrel-making and manufacture of projectiles—the Russian service rifle of the time—the Mosin Nagant M91 featured an identical bore diameter, being chambered for the 7.62x54R rifle cartridge.

The revolver can be fired using the .32 Smith & Wesson Long, and .32 H&R Magnum cartridges, but this practice is not generally advised. The Nagant revolver was not designed to fire these rounds, which have different dimensions, so the shooter should be aware of the risks before attempting to use them in the revolver. Aftermarket cylinders for .32 can be installed by the shooter, allowing them to safely fire .32 H&R or .32 ACP.



  1. ^ "Modern Firearms - Handguns - Nagant 1895". Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  2. ^ "Silenced 7.62 mm Nagant Revolver". 2000-09-18. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  3. ^ "Dossier Nagant Revolver". Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]


  • Wilson, Royce: "The Nagant M1895 Revolver". Australian & New Zealand Handgun, Issue 4 (January 2006).

External links

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