Object Title

Nagant Model 1895 revolver

Nagant Model 1895 revolver


This solid frame seven shot revolver was designed by Léon (1833-1900) and Émile (1830-1902) Nagant, of the firearms company Fabrique d'Armes Émile et Léon Nagant. Having developed revolvers for the Belgian military since the 1870's, the two were experienced in the field of firearms design. From 1892-95 Léon patented the first gas-sealed revolver, the only one of its type to triumph on the commercial market. The first 20,000 Nagant Model 1895 revolvers were manufactured in Liège, however having worked with the Russians on the Mosin Nagant Model 1891, the two brothers had a close connection with the Russian military, which undoubtedly led to the official adoption of this revolver as its sidearm. Mass manufacture of the revolver began at the Tula Arms Factory around 1898, and was available in both single and double action versions.

Nagant's unusual design meant that when cocked, the cylinder moved towards the barrel, creating a gas seal. Due to the designs requirements, this revolver chambered an unusual, long-cased round with a tapered mouth fully enclosing the bullet, known as the 7.62x38mm Nagant. As this movement occurs, the round partially relocates itself into the back of the revolver barrel, enhancing the gas seal system. Theoretically this process increases the accuracy and velocity of the bullet, by maximising the gas pressures from inside the cylinder, which are traditionally lost when a standard revolver is fired.

Use and effect

This revolver saw use in Sweden, Poland, Greece, and possibly Romania, however details of its issue are lacking. Its main user was Russia, particularly throughout the First World War. The single action version was issued to enlisted men, allowing them a more accurate shot but a lower rate of fire as the hammer would have to be cocked for every shot. The double-action version (which was noted to be heavy) was reserved and only issued to officers, providing a more rapid rate of fire if desired.

The seven rounds were loaded into this revolver individually and were extracted by use of an ejector rod, which passed through the axis of the cylinder. This limited the rate of fire of the revolver. The subject of the Nagant's ability to increase accuracy and velocity is a debate that continues. There is no doubt that the gas seal does what it is intended to do, however the amount of extra energy created is not considered considerable enough to justify the mechanical complication involved in creating this weapon. However the gas seal system on the Nagant means that it is one of the few revolvers to which a suppressor can be fitted. The absence of the gap between cylinder and barrel, results in the loud report which is usually heard from a revolver goes unnoticed, and the sound usually heard from the muzzle is silenced by the suppressor. These were used by Russian reconnaissance and scout troops during the Second World War.

Although declared obsolete in 1930, manufacture carried on throughout the Second World War to around 1950. The total number produced is said to be around 2,000,000. Remarkably they are still in use today being carried by armed guards. The high-risk 'game' of Russian Roulette was invented by officers during the Russian Revolution. It was played using the Nagant revolver.


Action / Operating system Double-action
Barrel length 11.4 cm (4.3 in)
Calibre / Bore 7.62x38mmR (.30 in)
Capacity (rounds) 7
Country of manufacture Belgium
Date entered service 1895
Effective range 35 m (34 yd)
Feed Cylinder
Manufacturer Tula Arsenal
Muzzle velocity 327 m/s (1070 fps)
Other operators Belgium
Other operators Poland
Other operators Sweden
Other operators possibly Greece
Other operators possibly Romania
Overall length 23 cm (9.1 in)
Primary operator Russia
Weight 750 g (1 lb 10 oz)


Lisa Traynor