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Nagant Revolver

Updated on March 23, 2013

Nagant Revolver

A Nagant revolver made in 1931
A Nagant revolver made in 1931 | Source

Nagant Revolver History

Nagant M1895 revolver was first designed and produced by a Begian man named Leon Nagant for the Russian Empire. The revolver was ahead of its time due to the gas-seal system which closed the gap between the cylinder and barrel, that in turn increases muzzle velocity.Leon Nagant and his brother, Emile, had played a large part in the design of the Mosin Nagant rifle a few years prior to designing the Nagant M1895.

Production began in Belgium but was soon moved to Russia. The revolver became standard issue for all army and police officers of the Red Army. The revolver continued to be standard issue even after the Soviet party gained control of Russia. The semi-automatic Tokarev slowly replaced the Nagant revolver starting in 1930, but the revolver still remained in use through, and even after, the Second World War due to its high availability and cult status. Being a member of the Soviet party and receiving the revolver was one of the greatest honors of party membership. In the early 1950s, the Makarov pistol replaced the Tokarev and increased the amount of Nagant revolvers removed from duty.

Remote police forces and some railways still use the Nagant revolver to this day, but its use decreases as the years pass.

Gas Seal Demonstration

Nagant M1895 Technology

The technology used in the Nagant revolver was a bit ahead of its time. The 7-shot revolver uses a gas-seal that increases muzzle velocity, but a unique shell must be used for the gas seal to function correctly. The gas-seal functions when the trigger is pulled or the hammer is cocked. The cylinder slides slightly forward and closes the gap between the cylinder and barrel. This occurs just before the hammer strikes the chambered round. The unique ammunition helps create the seal between the cylinder and barrel.

Nagant Revolver Ammo

Notice the recessed bullet inside the brass shell
Notice the recessed bullet inside the brass shell | Source

Nagant M1895 Ammunition

The 7.62x38R ammunition is necessary due to the excess brass that extends past the bullet. The excess protrudes past the bullet and fits around the barrel, which creates a tight seal when the round is fired. The ammunition is becoming more and more difficult and expensive to obtain as time progresses. A couple sites online carry original surplus ammo and newly produced ammo, but ammo and shipping cost makes the Nagant revolver not very suitable for plinking and sport shooting. Fourteen rounds of surplus ammo can sell for around $4, give or take a dollar or two.

Conversion cylinders are available that can be swapped with the original cylinder. Conversion cylinders allow more common ammunition types to be fired, but the price on such cylinders can be steep. Never fire ammunition that is not made specifically for the Nagant revolver. Some internet sources claim to have success firing different ammunition, but it is never a safe practice. If a potential buyer wants a firearm to shoot regularly, then a Nagant revolver is far from an ideal choice. The majority of owners possess the historic revolver for collectible purposes, unless they have a readily available and cheap source of 7.62x38R ammunition.


Potential buyers should keep an eye out for surplus guns at shops and gun shows. Nagant revolvers shouldn't be too difficult to come across. Purchase can also be made online if the potential buyer has a "Curio & Relic" license.

The prices can range from $75 to $150. Older models can easily cost more, especially models stamped with Imperial Russia markings. Once the Soviets gained power, a lot of the revolvers had the Imperial stamps scratched and marred.


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