What is the Russian M1895 Nagant Revolver? The Russian M1895 Nagant revolver is one of the most interesting pistols in the military surplus (milsurp) market today. According to the Russian website, Modern Firearms, the Nagant revolver is a seven-shot revolver that was originally adopted as the standard Russian military pistol in 1895.
Drawbacks. As an American gun collector on a tight budget, I’ve often been tempted to buy a Russian Nagant. However, the revolver has a few drawbacks. For example, it has a reputation for a heavy trigger in single action (when the shooter has manually cocked the hammer) and a extremely heavy double-action trigger pull (when the shooter relies on the trigger to cock and fire the revolver). In his review for TheTruthAboutGuns.com, Nick Leghorn writes that the single action trigger pull is “significantly more strenuous” than other recently fired revolvers. “In double action,” he writes, “the Nagant’s trigger turns into a two-stage monster, with a heavy pull to rotate the cylinder and then an even heavier pull to move the cylinder forward into firing position.” In actual combat, reloading the Nagant would not be an easy task as a shooter must open a loading gate, manually eject spent shells one at a time with a non-spring-loaded ejection rod, and then load rounds one at a time.
Finally, Nagant owners generally have to order this ammunition online or take manufacture their own cartridges. The Nagant fires unusual 7.62x38mmR ammunition that isn’t typically available at mainstream sporting good chains like Walmart or Bass Pro Shops. Your luck finding this ammunition may vary at your neighborhood gun store.
Advantages. For gun collectors and recreational shooters, the eccentric Russian Nagant revolver also offers several advantages. Many collectors appreciate the M1895 Nagant revolver for being inexpensive, historically interesting, mechanically interesting, and ruggedly constructed.
Inexpensive. If you are building your gun collection and have limited funds, the Nagant revolver has traditionally been a gunshow bargain. For about 15 years, the Nagant was been available at gun shows for between $80 to $120. In the 1990s, I regularly saw them at gun shows for around $100. However, online discussions on gunboards.com indicate that surplus stocks seem to be dwindling. I confirmed that the revolvers are no longer in stock at online retailers like J & G Sales and Gander Mountain. However, a few online ammunition outlets do have foreign surplus 7.62x38mmR ammunition at an affordable price. For example, J&G Sales has 14-round boxes of surplus 7.62 Nagant ammunition for $4.90 per box.
Historically Interesting. Milsurp firearms are always a window into the past. Adopted for the Imperial Russian Army in 1895, the Nagant revolver has been around for a lot of history. The Nagant Revolver page at 7.62x54r.net has pictures of a dozen different arsenal marks that help collectors differentiate between the original batch of revolvers made in Belgium, revolvers produced in Imperial Russia, and later models made in Soviet arsenals. When you buy a Nagant revolver, it may have seen action in any Russian War since 1895. In addition, different sight profiles were adopted, short barreled variants were produced, and target models were created. When you get a Nagant, you will want to look at its features and markings to gain some insights as to its history.
Mechanically Interesting. According to the Nagant Revolver page on 7.62x54r.net, after Russia’s successful adoption of the Mosin-Nagant rifle designed by Emile Nagant, the Nagant brothers were able to get a contract to produce a revolver for the Czar’s army. The designer, Leon Nagant, attacked an interesting technical problem that all revolvers have. All revolvers have a gap between the end of the cylinder and the breech of the barrel. When a round is fired some of the gasses that propel the bullet down the barrel escape through the gap. The escape of gasses robs the bullet of a little velocity and makes the revolver impossible to fully silence. However, the Nagant revolver is constructed and uses ammunition that effectively seals that gap and provides each shot with a little extra velocity. As a result, the Nagant has a little more design complexity and odd ammunition compared to traditional revolver designs. In a world full of six-shooters, the Nagant is also a seven shot revolver.
Rugged Constructed. In contrast the Nagant may simply need to be cleaned well to remove the Cosmoline used for long-term arsenal storage. The Nagant itself is made of steel. As a large gun with a relatively small caliber round, the Nagant is robustly built and likely to last.
If you can find a Russian Nagant revolver, it is an interesting classic firearm to add to your collection. Next time I see a Russian Nagant at a gun show, I may just add it to my collection.
Discussion Thread: “Will a new batch of M1895 refurbs arrive?” Gunboards.com M1895 Nagant Pistol Collector Forum, January 6, 2014.
Njanear and Joe Leiper. M1895 Nagant Revolver , 7.62x54r.net.
GW Leiper. The Russian Nagant Revolvers . RussianRevolvers.com, 2008-2012.
Popenker, Maxim. “Nagant Revolver of 1895 (Belgium – Russia)”, http://world.guns.ru
Denis Prisbrey. “Soviet Nagant Revolver.” Military Surplus magazine, 2014.
Nick Leghorn. Gun Review: Nagant M1895 Revolver. TheTruthAboutGuns.com, March 28, 2011