Random thoughts from flyover country

Friday, September 12

Getting back to guns

In 1929 at the Tula Arsenal in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, this 1895 Nagant 7.62x38R came off the assembly line. It wasn't finely finished, and it's design was admittedly obsolescent, soon to be supplanted by the Tokarev but not replaced. The arsenals that built these revolvers continued to churn them out through the end of World War 2 in 1945. Under the old Soviet system, when a gun was in production, it stayed in production.

My brother, formerly a Russian linguist/specialist for the USAF, told me that as late as the 1980's some Soviet police still carried this gun. In a country where the odds of a полицейский facing an armed criminal or citizen were miniscule, the mere threat of a gun may have been enough.

I just wanted one. Surprisingly, it feels very good in my hand. The trigger pull, both single-action and double-action are heavy but manageable. The finish shows some tool marks through the almost black bluing. This is not a "shiny" gun, but the wood grips are very nice with checkered wood inlays in the front and back straps.

The Nagant action is interesting in that as the hammer moves back the cylinder first rotates, then moves forward to surround the forcing cone of the barrel. At the same time, the recoil plate also moves forward to support the base of the cartridge lined up with the barrel. Using the unique ammunition with the bullet buried below the mouth of the casing, when the gun fires the extended case mouth expands, sealing the cylinder gap. This makes the Nagant the only revolver, contrary to what we've seen in the movies and on TV, that works with a suppressor. Releasing the trigger allows the cylinder to retract and reset. On the down side, all the movement when the trigger is pulled in double-action is what make the trigger pull heavy.

The gun came with a fake-leather fabric holster with a double ammunition pouch that holds 14 rounds. (Did I mention that the Nagant is a seven-shooter?) There may have been a cleaning rod and lanyard with it originally, but they are long gone.

The 1895 Nagant holds the record for service-handgun production and service. While there's no way of knowing if mine saw active service, I'm happy owning a piece of history.


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