The nicest factory Nagant revolver, ever
This extremely fine M1895 Nagant revolver, #7644, was produced at the Tula Arsenal in 1912 and has been extensively decorated in a koftgari/damascene style with extensive floral scroll patterns laid out and textured by an engraver into which silver foil was driven and then detail engraved, giving the silver a raised texture.
At the tail end of the 19th century, the Imperial Russian Army was the largest military force in the world and was in need of replacing stocks of old Smith and Wesson break-top .44-caliber revolvers.Coincidentally, the Liege, Belgium based arms firm of FELN (Fabrique d’armes Émile et Léon Nagant), had a revolver to sell as well as the Tsar’s ear.
FELN was the personal gun company of a pair of brothers, Emile and Leon Nagant. The pair had started being Remington’s European license manufacturer of rolling block rifles in the 1860s. By 1878, they had invented a revolver that was fairly advanced for the day. Combining the double-action trigger/hammer concept of the English Adams series revolvers and added it to a solid frame weapon much like the Colt Single Action Army. On the Nagant brother’s revolver, the cylinder spun fixed in the center of the frame and was loaded/unloaded through a flip-down hinged rear gate that gave access to the cylinder. It was accurate, powerful for the time, and rock solid reliable. The new Nagant series revolver was soon adopted by military and police forces in Belgium in 1878, Norway (1883), Sweden (1887), Serbia (1891), Brazil (1893), and Greece (1895).
Meanwhile, the Nagant brothers pitched in with one Colonel Sergei Mosin to help design a new rifle for the Russian Army (which became of course the Mosin-Nagant Model 91), which opened doors for them in the frozen East. As soon as they caught wind that the Tsar’s War Ministry was looking for a new revolver, they polished up their already proven design for submission. As a little extra, they promised more power through a wondrous new gas-seal technology.
The Imperial Russian Army as the M1895 accepted the Nagant for use. Although the Russians soon moved production to Tula, the brothers Nagant soon had enough money for their kids to switch to making automobiles which they did until the 1930s.
The Tsar had a funny pecking order in his army and as such, officers (who didn’t prefer their own personal sidearms) were issued double-action M1895s while common sergeants and soldiers were given single-action only models.
Too bad the officer who ordered or was otherwise presented the Nagant revolver above isn’t remembered.
It was up for bid last weekend at RIA’s Premere Auction, $2000-$3000.