The Nagant 1895 – Its Rise And Fall

This article is all about the Nagant 1895 firearm. The gun for assassins as you will see. We will look at the history and the origins of the Nagant 1895 firearm from its beginning to when it stopped being used.

So, before we continue, here is a short description of the Nagant 1895 pistol:

The Nagant M1895 was a seven-shot, single-action revolver designed by L. Nagant. It was just over 9 inches in length and it weighed around 2 pounds. This compact weapon saw extensive use by the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union as a standard military sidearm from 1895 to 1948. Although it is mostly associated with the Russian armed forces it was also used elsewhere.

That was a short summary. Now let’s continue with a more detailed breakdown of this historical firearm.

Origin Of The Nagant 1895

Despite it being most often associated with Russia, the gun itself was designed by a Belgian. Léon Nagant, a Belgian firearms designer, patented the design for the Nagant M1895 in 1892. The pistol was designed specifically for the Russian military and it was put to the test against other designs and the Nagant won. We will see what made this firearm so awesome a little later. But suffice it to say after its introduction, it stayed with the Russian armed forces right until 1948.

Video demonstrating the Nagant 1895 model

So, why did the Russians stick with this firearm across 2 world wars and the Russian revolution?

Well here is why.

Why The Russians Loved the Nagant Model

Even though it was eventually replaced the Nagant 1895 pistol was quite popular among the Russians. The army officers liked it due to its small size which made it easy to conceal. And surprisingly, even though it was small it packed a punch.

The small size and big firepower were also the reason for its popularity in civilian life as a self-defense weapon. an interesting note regarding this firearm is that it was also used by the NKVD the Soviet secret “police”. I say police loosely. This was basically the hit squad for the Communist party.

But why was this gun effective for assassinations?

Here is why.

The Nagant M1895 was one of the few revolvers that could be used with a suppressor. That was due to its unique gas-seal mechanism. This made it particularly useful for covert operations, such as political assassinations, during the early 20th century.

Hence why it was widely used by the Soviet secret police (NKVD) during the Great Purge in the late 1930s, as well as by Soviet partisan units during World War II.

It was just immensely useful for partisan activity and assassination because you could fit a silencer on it. This made it super stealthy.

Now let’s continue onward to the next segment which is.

The Dimensions Of The Nagant 1895

The Nagant 1895 was very small. It measured just 9 inches in length.

Weighing in at just 2 pounds. Despite its tiny size, it was capable of firing 7.62x38mmR cartridges, which could in some cases penetrate body armor. The pistol had a seven-shot cylinder.

This segment was as compact as the Nagant. I know, a terrible dad joke.

So, what were the drawbacks of the weapon if there were any? Here they are.

Drawbacks of Nagant 1895

One of the main drawbacks of the Nagant M1895 was its single-action trigger, which required manual cocking of the hammer before each shot.

This made the pistol less suitable for fast-paced, dynamic combat situations and more suitable as a backup weapon or for non-combat purposes. On top of that the Nagant M1895 also had a slow reload time, as the cylinder had to be manually rotated to reload each chamber.

These drawbacks lead to this model being replaced from official use by the Soviet army in 1948 by the Tokarev semi-automatic pistol.

Cool Factoid: Despite it being linked to Russia most often, the Nagant was used to a lesser extent in Norway and Poland as well.

In Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you learned a thing or two. If you wish to continue learning I suggest taking a look at my article on caplock pistols right here. Or you can continue learning about pistols and check the favorite for self-defense “the Derringer”. You can see the history and origin of this pistol here.

Take care

Source: Ezell, Edward Clinton. Handguns of the World: Military Revolvers and Self-Loaders from 1870 to 1945