The Nagant M1895 Revolver is a seven-shot gas-seal revolver designed and produced by Belgian industrialist Leon Nagant for the Russian empire. The Nagant M1895 was chambered for a proptietary cartridge, 7.62x38mmR, 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 and allowing the weapon to be suppressed (an unusual ability for a revolver). Other Nagant rovolver designs were also adopted by police and military services of Sweden, Norway, Poland, and Greece. These revolvers were largely similar to the Russian Nagant M1895, but lacked the gas seal mechanism.
Leon Nagant and his brother Emile were well known in the Tsar's court and military administration because of the important part they had played in the design of the Russian service rifle Mosin Nagant 1891. The Nagant M1895 became the standard issue side arm for Russian army and police forces, later for Red Army and Soviet law enforcements.
Production began in Liege, 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 WWII. Despite being supplemented after 1930 by the Tokarev, it was never fully replaced until the arrival of the Makarov pistol in 1952. 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 honors that could be bestowed on a Party Member. The common Russian name for the revolver became synonymous with the concept of the revolver in general and was applied to such weapons regardless of make or model. It remains in use with the Russian Railways and remote police forces.
Technical characteristicsEditThe 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 an 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 remain in production and use throughout WWII.
The Nagant's sealed firing system meant that the Nagant revolver, unlike most revolvers, could make effective use of a sound suppressor known as the "Bramit device". Like many other suppressed foreign weapons (including the Sten Mk VIS), captured Nagants were used in limited numbers by Nazi Germany. Suppressed M1895 Nagant revolvers, modified in clandestine workshops, also turned up in the hands of Viet Cong guerillas during the vietnam War as assasination weapons. There is an example of a suppressed Nagant M1895 in the CIA museum in Langley, Virginia.