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Russian Nagant.


ever built is the Russian Nagant in 7.62x38. For one thing, it's a seven-shot revolver. Also, when you cock the hammer the cylinder comes forward, eliminating the flash gap--which was done to increase velocity with the ammo available.

While a novel idea, it wasn't the first revolver with this feature. The design dates to the 1840s, but because it's complicated it's never found its way into modern revolvers. The factory ammo for the Nagant is unique as well in that the bullet is seated all the way into the case, which allowed the cylinder to move forward.

Russia brought out the Nagant in 1895 to replace the .44 Russian. The Nagant served the Russians in both world wars and various other skirmishes until the gun and cartridge were replaced in 1930.

One factory load lists a 108-grain bullet at 1,100 fps. I have chrono-graphed some loads that showed considerably less. Fiocchi loads with a 98-grain bullet produce only 779 fps in my gun. Bullet diameter is usually listed at .295, but slugging my barrel showed that .311 diameter bullets worked best.

For someone who wants an unusual military revolver this is a good place to start. They are common and easy to find, and they generally sell for about $100. You can find ammo at reasonable prices or you can handload. I found that a .32-20 case can be used; just seat the bullet to normal depth rather than inside the case. A little experimentation will produce accurate ammo. Do not attempt heavy loads, as the Nagants are not designed for them.

The gun is light, as is the recoil, making it desirable to shoot and carry. It certainly would be an interesting trail gun for harvesting small game. Like most double-action revolvers of the period, the double-action trigger pull is horrendous, which makes sense since in double action you're not only cocking the hammer but rotating the cylinder and moving it forward. The single-action pull is quite manageable.

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Title Annotation:OLD SCHOOL
Author:Shell, Bob
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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