The Model 1895 Nagant Revolver
by Mark Hubbs
Model 1895 Nagant and Accessories
History and Shootability on a Budget
The Model 1895 Nagant Revolver
I've been a shooter for forty six of my fifty two years. I've had good guns and bad guns, expensive guns and cheap guns. But I've had very few cheap good guns. Sometimes one comes across a firearm that pleases for a variety of reasons, seems to "stick", and continues to make trips to the range. One such firearm for me has been the Model 1895 Nagant Revolver. It is indeed a cheap, good gun.
First of all, the Nagant would not be the first weapon I would choose for self defense. It is not a "carry" gun. It is what it is. A military surplus weapon that is inexpensive, well made, rugged, underpowered and a hoot to shoot.
How inexpensive is it? First of all the import Nagants I have seen are in new, refinished condition. Bores range from pristine to dark, but shootable. These went through a Soviet rebuild program after WWII and have been in storage since. They come with a holster, lanyard, cleaning rod, and screwdriver. They wholesale for as low as $69.95. They have Curio - Relic status, so if you have a Curio Relic FFL* they can be ordered from the distributor and delivered directly to your residence. They can be found at gun shows in the $100 - $150 range.
I'll not go in depth about the history of the Nagant. An internet search will reveal more information about this pistol than you can digest. Suffice it to say that it was adopted by Russia as their primary side arm in 1895. It was produced until 1933 when it was replaced by the venerable TT-33 Tokarev pistol. When WWII began in 1939 the Soviets could not produce the TT-33 in sufficient numbers to arm their expanding military, so the Nagant was put back into production and was made until 1945. Because it was the only revolver that most Russians had any experience with for the first half of the 20th Century, its name became a household word for "revolver", similar to the fame the Colt products enjoyed in America.
The Nagant is seven shot and is chambered for the unusual 7.62X38 cartridge. It is remarkable in that it is a "gas seal" design. The cartridge extends forward of the cylinder. When the cylinder turns it simultaneously moves forward, thus inserting the cartridge mouth into the forcing cone. This significantly reduces the amount of gas that escapes between the cylinder and barrel. How much does this actually improve projectile velocities? Probably not enough to justify the complexity of the mechanism. The extra movement of the cylinder also contributes to a horrendous double action trigger pull! The double action pull is long and will easily top 20 lbs. That is why most Nagant shooters treat the gun as a single action. The single action pull is short and crisp.
The Nagant is loaded through a simple loading gate on the right side, similar to Colt single action revolvers. It is unloaded by an ejector rod that stores inside the cylinder pin. It pulls out, then pivots to the side to press through each chamber as the cylinder is manually turned and aligned with the rod. Most empties fall free of the chamber without aid of the rod.
The revolver points well and all the Nagants that I have owned shot consistently to point of aim at about 25 yards. Recoil is very light. The grips are rather small and my wife also found it very easy to hold and shoot. The 7.62X38 round is similar to the .32 Magnum round in velocity and pressure. In fact many Nagant shooters routinely shoot .32 S&W Longs and .32 Magnum in their revolvers. 7.62X38 ammunition is being imported from several sources. You will probably not find it at your local gun store, but it can be ordered from Midway and other mail order sources. The best price is on "Hot Shot" brand 7.62 that is new made commercial ammunition imported from Serbia. It averages about $24 a box of fifty. As I mentioned earlier, many shooters have turned to .32 S&W and .32 Magnum. These shoot accurately, but they do not take advantage of the gas seal feature of the revolver. There is also the chance of bulged cases with the domestic .32. So, they may not be an option if you plan on reloading.
The cost of ammunition for the Nagant is tempered with the slow speed of the reload. You get to savor the next seven rounds as you eject each empty and single load each new cartridge into the cylinder!
Weight...........1 lb 12 oz
* If you are interested in surplus firearms I would recommend applying for a Curio & Relic FFL. Application fees are only $30 for three years. The C&R license does not allow you to sell firearms, only acquire certain collectible firearms for your own collection. These will include most surplus guns from the WWII era and earlier. The best thing is you can order directly from distributors at wholesale prices.