Updated 11/09/01

Njanear's Russian M1895 Nagant Collection 


Definitely an interesting handgun from an era gone by, the 7-shot Nagant Revolver is an extremely unique design dating back to the 1890s.  The most interesting design point is that upon cocking the hammer, the cylinder pushes forward in an attempt to seal off escaping gas; the cartridge case itself then provides the final seal at the point of firing and supposedly adds 50 to 150 fps to the bullet's initial velocity.  Because it seals itself fairly well, it is actually one of the very few revolvers that could make effective use of a silencer.

Designed by the Nagant Brothers (Emile and Leon) of Liege, Belgium, the original design was accepted by the Russians in 1895.  The initial shipments were produced at Liege, Belgium and exported to Russia.  Around 1898, the Russians then initiated their own production at their Tula Arsenal.  Originally designated to be replaced as frontline issue after the adoption of the TT30 in 1930, the production on these military weapons actually continued up through 1945 and they could still be found in the hands of reservist troops and police into the 1950s.

Russian FlagA pair of Nagants (1944 Izhevsk & 1945 Tula)Russian Flag

Specifications:
Caliber:                    7.62x38mmR Nagant
Capacity:                                      7 rounds
Overall Length:       9.4 inches   (240 mm)
Barrel Length:        4.5 inches    (115 mm)
Overall Weight:                        1 lb. 12 oz .

The M1895 Nagant revolver was produced in two distinct action models.  The most commonly encountered is the Single Action/Double Action (SA/DA) model; the other is the Single Action Only (SAO) model.  For those who are unfamiliar with those terms, please let me explain: Single Action (SA) references a design that requires the shooter to manually cock the hammer prior to every shot, at which time the cylinder is rotated and the weapon awaits the shooter to pull the trigger [just like the old Colt Peacemaker].  Double Action (DA) references a design that allows the shooter to simply pull the trigger to fire, with such action actually cocking the hammer, rotating the cylinder and releasing the hammer to fire.  The old story is that due to the Czar's military hierarchy, only officers were deemed trusted enough to have a weapon that was capable of firing with just the pull of a trigger; hence, they received the SA/DA models while the NCOs had the SAO model (to ensure that they concentrated on where their rounds went).  Whatever the true reason, these two different variations were built side-by-side up until the Revolution.  At that point, it then appears that all Nagant revolvers were made as SA/DA models.  There is even evidence to suggest that almost all SAO models were rebuilt into the SA/DA model during later refurbishment.  Some collectors have also reported post-1919 Nagants in the SAO configuration; whether this was truly originally built as a SAO or if it simply got a SAO hammer during a subsequent rebuild is unknown at this point.

Russian Officers firing Nagants

All of my ex-military handguns are in very good or excellent condition.  Many of them are reconditioned examples and are stamped as such on the frame.  They are relatively inexpensive and will allow you to build a range ready collection of history for little cash outlay.  While the various distributors sources have dried up, you generally get a holster, screwdriver, lanyard and cleaning rod as part of the package; a great deal indeed!   They make for an interesting conversation piece, watching the cylinder leap forward every time it is cocked, and represent an amazing design that just did not happen to catch on with everyone else.


After you have had a chance to study up on the markings, please stop by and fill out a Survey Sheet on your M1895.

Also, please stop by the M1895 Forum.  A place for all Nagant collectors to swap information and stories.


Now to explain/show some of the differences found amongst the M1895s:
Note: As more photos become available, I will get them posted for your viewing pleasure

Manufacturers* *Markings* * Hammers * *Grips* *Front Sights* *Accessories * * Ammunition
(click on the above links to go to a category; click on theBack  to return here)

Manufacturers Back

The original M1895 was produced at Liege, Belgium from 1895 to 1898.  They are somewhat scarce on the market and generally command a higher price when they can be found (from my readings, only about 20,000 were produced although reported serial numbers cover a range of over 31,000 pieces (assuming there were no missing SN blocks)).

The Russian M1895 was originally produced at the Tula Arsenal.  From app. 1898 to 1945, Tula produced many M1895s for the troops (both single- and double-action variants).  Actual quantities are unknown but as of WW1, it is expected that approximately 500,000 examples were in use; one can only imagine as to how many were built by the cessation of military production in 1945.  Outside of military pieces, Tula also produced .22 Rimfire, police and target models (all of which are scarce in the United States).

Rare Police VariantRare Target variant

Russia also began production of the M1895s at the Izhevsk Arsenal from 1943 to 1945 (from the data I have seen).  Unfortunately,  there are no official production numbers known for that arsenal either.

Poland also produced the Nagant for a short period as the Radom Ng30 until the vis35 was officially adopted as the Polish Army's handgun in 1935.  They received all of the original tooling from Belgium to do so but did not make many.  These versions are extremely scarce.
   

Markings Back

Here are some of the stamps that can be found on these revolvers.  This is what they mean:

ARMORY MARKINGS:  (still incomplete; as more become available, I will post them)

Scrubbed Arsenal Markings: These are seen on numerous older Nagants and is not uncommon.  It can almost be assumed that like with the old M91 Mosins, after the Bolsheviks took over, they removed all signs of the past regime when reworking the weapons.  Note the date is not the original (see placement) but rather, is probably the date of rework.

'Scrubbed' Markings - 1918 Tula

Belgium (Liege) markings: Mark of the Liege, Belgium Factory, 1895 to 1898

Belgium Liege Proof
Actual 1898 Proof

Imperial Russian markings: Mark of the Tula Arsenal, app. 1898 to 1912

Tula Imperial Marking
Actual 1909 Proof
Actual 1911 Proof

Imperial Russian markings commemorating Peter the Great:     Mark of the Tula Arsenal, 1912 to 1918 Russian Peter The Great Marking
Actual 1912 Proof
Actual 1913 Proof
Actual 1918 Proof & Revolver

Post-Imperial Soviet markings: Mark of the Tula Arsenal, 1918 to 1920

Tula Post-Imperial marking
Actual 1920 Proof & Revolver

Soviet Marking - PCCP: Mark of the Tula Arsenal signifying Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, 1921 to 1923 Soviet PCCP Marking
Actual 1923 Proof

Soviet Marking - CCCP: Mark of the Tula Arsenal, 1924 to 1928

Tula CCCP marking
Actual 1926 Proof
Actual 1927 Proof

Soviet Marking - Star: Mark of the Tula Arsenal, 1928 to 1945

With Arrow inside:      1928 to 1943
With Sceptre inside:    1943
With Hammer inside:  1944
With "T" inside:         1943 to 1945

Post-1928 Tula stampTula Star with Scepter1944 Tula with Hammer Stamp1945 Tula Stamp

Soviet Marking - Triangle with Arrow inside: Mark of the Izhevsk Arsenal, 1943 to 1945

Izhevsk Stamp

Polish Marking: Mark of the Radom Arsenal, early 1930s

Radom Ng30 Stamp
Actual Radom Proof
Actual Radom Revolver Page

ARMORY PROOFS:

Lion over PV mark: Mark of the Liege Factory

Hammer (or small T): Mark of the Tula Arsenal, pre-1928

Star stamp:   Mark of the Tula Arsenal, post-1928

Triangle with Arrow inside:   Mark of the Izhevsk Arsenal, post-1928

Liege ProofPre-1928 TulaPost-1928 TulaPost-1928 Izhevsk

SERIAL NUMBERS:

Side of Frame:   Belgium and Russian Nagants have the serial numbers stamped on the left side of the frame directly forward of the cylinder (The Polish Ng30 has the date stamped here instead; their SN is found on the right side of the frame in the same general location).  Up until 1938, no Cyrillic prefixes were utilized; following that time, the prefixes were stamped before the numbers.  With the rebuilds, you will sometimes see a variation (ex. no Cyrillic prefixes on a 1941-dated Tula); if you check inside the sideplate, you will then usually see a restamped number indicating this was done during the rebuild process.

[NOTE:  On import-stamped examples, you will generally see the English translations for the Cyrillic alphabet stamped above these characters so that you can record them properly in your bound book (if you are a Class 01 or 03 FFL holder)].

Trigger guard:   On rebuilt Nagants, you may see the serial number stamped on the left side of the trigger guard on either end of the guard next to the frame.  This has not yet been examined on original non-rebuilt revolvers.

Cylinder:   On the face of the cylinder between the chambers, you will find the serial number stamped.  It should match the frame serial number exactly, to include Cyrillic characters.

Sideplate:   Nagants also have the serial numbers stamped on the inside of the sideplate.  The grips may also have a portion of the serial number stamped into them.  Sometimes the sideplate will also have XXed out numbers; this was done during the rebuild process and signifies that the sideplate is not original to the frame.
 

PROPERTY MARKINGS:

MO/:   Thought to indicate use by the Ministry of Defense.  In most cases, it has been followed by a 2 digit number (those reported so far are 49, 50, 51, 52 & 53); it is unknown if this is a date of acceptance, rebuild date, section number, etc.  This will generally be found stamped on the left sideplate.

MO/ Mark

[SA]:   Suomen Armeiji - Finnish Army property stamp adopted in early 1942 to signify that the revolver was the property of the Finnish Army.  This mark is fairly scarce as most Finns kept these as war trophies instead of turning them in to the armories; expect to pay a premium for such an example (several hundred were imported some years ago).  This will generally be stamped on the right side of the frame but not always.

SA Property Mark - Finnish Army

1 in Triangle:  This is an East German Proof showing that this weapon was of Top Quality for issuance to the EG Troops; it may also be found with a 2 or 3 representing less-than-perfect specimens. This will generally be stamped on the right side of the frame.

Issuance Mark - East Germany


OTHER COMMON MARKINGS:

Point of Aim Proof:  Firing Proof signifying pistol meets acceptable accuracy level

Point of Aim Firing ProofPoint of Aim mark

Commission Proof:  Proof of acceptance by government inspectors found on the frame.

Commission Proof

Box with vertical division mark:   Russian rebuild mark, post-WW2.  There has also been seen the Box with diagonal slash mark (post-WW2).  Most unique is a diamond with a line running from the right to left corners; then there is a line running from the top point down to this line, bisecting it.  The period for this mark is currently unknown.

1945 Tula StampAnother Post WW2 proofPost-1928 Tula stamp

Currently unexplained markings:  On several reported Nagants (and a friend's 1944 Tula M44 to boot), there exists a trio of additional stamps that are found together in sequence on the sideplates around the Arsenal Marking (not on the frame/receiver itself).  These marks are (1) a circle with crosshairs inside, (2) a rectangle with a HORIZONTAL slash mark, and (3) a standard commission proof.  So far, most have been found together but in varying sequence; the exception has been one reported revolver having only marks (1) and (2) on it.  See this photo for a better explanation (the 1941 marks have all been Xed out but are still legible):

Mysterious markings (also 3 styles of Stars)

If I have missed any standard markings, please let me know so that I may add them to the page.  As I can get photos/scans taken and developed or as I complete drawings, I will continue to publish them here for all to see.

Hammers Back

As mentioned, the M1895 has been produced in both Single Action-Only (SAO) and normal Single Action/Double Action models.  The primary difference between the two is the hammer itself.  Whereas the SAO Hammer (left) is one piece, the SA/DA Hammer (right) comprises the hammer, the DA pawl and other hardware necessary for Double Action firing.  Look closely at the photos to easily see what the physical differences are.

M1895 SAO HammerM1895 DA Hammer

Grips Back

The grips on the military Nagants may be found made of wood or Bakelite.  On early non-rebuilt Nagants, the wood appears to be dark walnut with finer checkering; on later non-rebuilds,the wood appears to be dark walnut with coarser checkering; many of the rebuilds sport light-colored wood with coarser checkering instead.  There may be other variations found too; please feel free to forward me a photo on whatever you may have so that we can get it posted here.

Original Walnut GripsLater Wood GripsBakelite Grips

[NOTE: A very interesting grip was discovered on a Radom Ng30; it is a gold/honey colored with a Swastika imbedded in it.  While the real story behind it is currently unknown, it is a very unique piece in its own right.  Click here to view it.  Thanks to Russo-Jap for the photo.]

Soviet Drawing demonstrating how to hold the Nagant properly
Manual depicting holding techniques
 

Front SightsBack

The early Liege front sight was a unique blade that was rounded on the front end but had a flat cut on the rear perpendicular to the barrel; the Russians later improved on this by going to a circular blade (which the Poles appear to have kept).  Later Russian models (circa 1930) then had simple sight notches cut into the circular blades, probably to afford crisper sight pictures (these notches varied from revolver to revolver - examples).  These blades are extremely fine and represent a challenge to use when trying to fire double-action.

M1895 Liege Sight BladeM1895 Original Round Sight BladeNotched Front Sight Blade - found on newer/rebuilt models
 

Accessories Back

Most of the Nagants that you can purchase now come with a holster, lanyard, screwdriver set and cleaning rod.  Every holster that I have is of a rubberized canvas material with leather straps and trim; the original was made of leather and so far has eluded me (although Eric has contributed some photos below to demonstrate what they look like). The lanyard is a simple leather affair with a metal snap on its end.  The screwdriver consists of a wooden handle and a reversible blade for taking down the revolver, and the cleaning rod is a simple metal rod with a looped end for gripping and a slot for a patch.  If you are fortunate enough, you can also find authentic Soviet M1895/M1933 Manuals.

Rubberized Canvas Holster
Holster with Cleaning Rod
Leather Holster - standard issue
Leather Holster - [SA] stamped
Miscellaneous Accessories
Screwdrivers
Soviet M1895 manual (dated 1954)

M1895 Nagant Holster (Late Issue)
 

AmmunitionBack

The Nagant round is definitely an interesting design, with the bullet contained entirely within the case (see the Soviet Drawing below).  When fired, the case has to expand to allow the bullet to escape; when it does so, it closes the remaining gap between the cylinder and barrel, thereby theoretically sealing the revolver and forcing all gas out the barrel (this supposedly adds 100 to 150 fps to the muzzle velocity).  While surplus ammunition is relatively hard to find, Fiocchi has imported a quantity of 7.62x38mmR Nagant and it is boxer primed (reloadable) and available for about $25 a box of 50.  Additionally, Century Arms offered a model converted to .32 S&W Long, as well as still produces a cylinder chambered for .32 ACP.  Some Nagant shooters have also discussed the use of .32 S&W Longs directly in the 7.62mmR Nagant cylinder and generally only experiencing bulged cases, but as with any firearms, I wholeheartedly recommend using only those cartridges that the weapon is chambered for; therefore, I offer this information only as second-hand knowledge, not as an endorsement of the practice.  For reloaders, the possibility of using .32-20 brass to form the case is also reported but as this is currently beyond my area of expertise, I cannot offer you instructions here at this time but do hope to have a page up soon with loads, tips and suggestions.

Drawing from Soviet ManualScan of various Nagant Rounds

There is also a company that advertises a cylinder conversion to 7.62x25mm Tokarev. Due to the higher pressure generated by this round and the relatively thin cylinder walls of the revolver, I urge you to PLEASE DO NOT HAVE THIS CONVERSION PERFORMED NOR FIRE ONE THAT HAS BEEN CONVERTED AS SUCH. Your safety and the safety of others may be threatened if you do so, as the cylinder may possibly explode like a hand grenade right in your grasp.



Want to know how to: Load the Nagant, Unload the Nagant, Remove the Cylinder, or Remove the Grips?  Please check out my newest page: Know your M1895, dedicated to these operations.



Want to see some of my collection or those of some friends?  Click on those listed below for a view:
 

SAWMan's 1899 Imperial Tula Rework restamped '1918' Imperial Tula with 'Scrubbed' Markings (not an actual 1918)
DAG's 1918 Peter The Great Tula DAG's 1920 Post-Imperial Tula
1926 CCCP Tula Non-Import 1927 CCCP Tula Rework
1933 Tula with different rework mark & walnut grips 1940 Tula - Non-import
1944 Izhevsk with wood grips (non-rework-marked) 1945 Izhevsk with Bakelite grips (rework)
1945 Tula with T-in-star marking Eric Nagant's Finnish Capture M1895
Brooks' 1898  Liege M1895 Eric Nagant's Early CCCP with Original Round Front Sight

Other M1895 Nagant Sites to visit:

Frank Overbey's M1895 Page Hosted by Dan Z. Johnson, this was the page that got me introduced to these fine pieces.  Make sure you visit the other sections too, as Dan has a great site.

DAG's M1895 Page:  Dave's site reveals a little history behind Peter the Great, as well as some great photos of his own collection.

If you know of any more, please email me so that I can get them added here to increase our knowledge base.



So there you have it: a little info on the M1895 Nagant.  Special thanks go to all that have contributed to the site.  If you are interested in making a similar contribution, please feel free to contact me at the email address below.


Now that you had a chance to study up on the markings, please stop by and fill out a Survey Sheet on your M1895.

Also, please stop by the M1895 Forum.  A place for all Nagant collectors to swap information and stories.



Have a great day and come back often to see what changes have taken place in Njanear's C&R Collections.

Now back to the Collections Page....


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