This week on Wheelgun Wednesday we discuss a rather perplexing and often misunderstood revolver in the Nagant M1895. Being the wheelgun addict that I am, when presented with the opportunity to buy one of these discontinued and old revolvers I jumped at the chance without seeing it. The equivalent would be like walking into your favorite gun shop and seeing a pallet of 9mm ammo with a sign that reads: “Free.” Like Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars taught us, it might be a trap, but we simply cannot help ourselves. So, before we jump into the shenanigans I am about to embark on, let’s take a look at the history and background of the Nagant M1895.
History of the Nagant M1895
The Nagant M1895 is a 7-round, gas-sealed revolver that is over 100 years old. It is chambered in 7.62x38mmR (the large capitalized “R” denoting the cartridge is rimmed). This wheelgun was developed and produced by a Belgian industrialist named Léon Nagant as solicited by the Russian Empire at the tail-end of the 1800s. This revolver would be incredibly underwhelming and likely forgotten throughout history if not for its one saving-grace feature: the gas-seal system.
For those who might not be unaware, you cannot suppress revolvers with any meaningful results because of the gap between the cylinder and the barrel of the firearm. Trace amounts of gas escape as the bullet is hurled out of its shell casing from the cylinder and into the barrel. This has no detrimental effect on the accuracy of revolvers as we all known how impressively accurate they can be, but for suppressor lovers like our Editor Pete and even me, it means it is a no-go to silence wheelguns – except the Nagant M1895.
The Nagant M1895 has the peculiar feature that once the double-action/single-action hammer is cocked rearward the cylinder moves forward. This movement forward closes the otherwise existing gap from the cylinder to the barrel. It is not a 100% leak-free seal, but it does mitigate enough gas from leaking around the cylinder that velocities of the 7.62x38mmR are boosted from what they would be normally. Also, the forward movement of the cylinder pushes the mouth of the live casing into the barrel and expands when fired sealing the gap from cylinder to barrel even more completely. Another ancillary side effect is that the gas-seal system also allows you to successfully suppress the M1895 Nagant to hearing safe decibel levels.
Background of the Nagant M1895
So, let’s say that you are squirrelly like me and own/bought a Nagant M1895. Congrats! Virtual high-five!… But now you want to brag to all your buddies what you got. This is where it gets interesting… You tell them you bought a Nagant revolver. You get blank stares with a reply of “You mean a Mosin Nagant?” You rebuttal irritated: “No, a Nagant revolver. It is chambered in 7.62x38mmR.” They laugh at you and fire back: “Do you mean you have a wheelgun chambered in an AK round, that’s sweet!” Completely frustrated you blurt out: “No! It is a 7.62x38mmR. It is a .30 Cal handgun.” Now they insultingly retort with laughter: “Ok, you take your .30 Cal, AK, handgun, Mosin revolver and go have fun!”
We already know that us wheelgun folks are cut from a different cloth, but trying to explain to people what a Nagant M1895 revolver is can be difficult at best. Yes, the nomenclature for the 7.62x38mmR is extremely close to what an AK-47 shoots, but they are not even close ballistically speaking. A normal 7.62x39mm round for the AK-47 is 2,000+ FPS while the Nagant M1895 is a kitten’s cough of ~800 FPS.
It is true that Léon Nagant invented both firearms (he had help on the Mosin Nagant), but that is where the similarities end. One is a long, unwieldy rifle of war while the other is a sub-sonic blasting wheelgun that can be suppressed. So, when you attempt to one-up your buddies at the water cooler with the new Nagant M1895 you picked up at a gun show be very choice in your words. The gun’s name… its round… and the fact that it can be suppressed is a mothball of things normal people would not understand. The Nagant M1895 is an enigma among the revolver family.
Suppressing an M1895 Nagant
So, we have spent a good deal of time emphasizing that this revolver shoots a slow, moderately-weak cartridge and it is one of the few wheelguns with a gas-seal system where it can be feasibly suppressed. It will not come as a surprise then that I am going to get this pea-shooter threaded and suppressed! Our own TFB and AllOutdoor writer, Samuel Schaust, who loves old guns and wheelguns turned me on to Tornado Technologies who specializes in threading lots of older, less common firearms including the Nagant M1895.
At the time of this writing, my Nagant M1895 is in the mail on its way to Tornado Technologies to be threaded. They have a simple PDF form you can fill out to choose the firearm you are sending in, the thread pitch you desire, and other small housekeeping notes. In a future Wheelgun Wednesday, we will discuss this process of threading a Nagant M1895 further and see its performance with a few different silencers. Until then, what do you think? If you got one of these revolvers would you thread it and suppress it? As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.