Friday, October 7, 2016

Featured Gun: Swedish Nagant M1887

Another weird and rare gun....the Swedish Nagant model of 1887:

Leon and Emile Nagant were brothers of Russian decent that developed several gun designs throughout their life. One of those was a double (and a triple) action revolver used by numerous countries around the turn of the century.
The design dates back to 1870, and was modified for the various armies that adopted them. 
The most popular variant was the M1895 Russian Nagant. The M1895 gun was a "triple action" revolver in that pulling the trigger would cock the hammer, slide the cylinder forward to seal the B-C gap and drop the hammer.

The Russian M1895 Nagant:

When looking at different makes of the Nagant revolver you may notice a difference in construction quality. The gunsmiths at Husqvarna & Liege obviously took time and care to produce a beautifully finished gun, while the Russians...well let's just say they preferred function over form.

Before the Russians adopted the design, Sweden had been evaluating the revolver, a process that took some time (more than 10 years). 
Sweden was not the only country besides Russia to adopt the Nagant design. Norway, Switzerland, Poland and Greece also contracted with Nagant.

The Swedes chose a 7.5 x 22mm cartridge that featured a healed bullet in a brass rimmed case.

The Swedish 7.5mm was nearly identical to the Swiss 7.5mm cartridge, except the Swiss employed an internally lubricated bullet, rather than the healed one, however the two cartridges are interchangeable.
Then in 1898 the official loading changed from black powder to the then new smokeless powder.

The power and size of the7.5mm cartridge were on par with that of the S&W .32 Long.

On a side note, you can make the ammo by shortening .32-20 Winchester brass and load it with smokeless powder and a hollow base .32 lead bullet (.312" diameter).

In 1887 the Swedes finally agreed the pistol was ready for prime-time and adopted it as their military side arm.
The first guns were made in Liege, Belgium by Nagant and in 1898 the Swedish firm Husqvarna Vapenfabriks Aktiebolag (Husqvarna Manufacturing Co., aka HVA) began making them in their factory in the town of....Husqvarna, of course.

Exact production figures are not documented, but experts believe the Liege factory built approximately 2,600 pistols, while the Husqvarna gunsmiths cranked out some 14,000 units.

Many Americans are surprised to learn that the same company that makes motorcycles and chainsaws also made guns. 
Like BSA in England, Husqvarna started making guns first, moving into other products when military demand fell off.
Husqvarna's arms manufacturing dates back to 1689. Husqvarna was also one of the manufacturers of the famous Swedish Mauser.

The revolvers featured a double action rebounding hammer design that had a hammer mounted firing pin, a six round cylinder and an ejection system similar to the Russian Nagant. The octagonal barrel was 4.5" long and featured fixed sights.
The cylinder spins in a clockwise direction (like a Colt) and the grip frame sports the requisite lanyard loop.

Production of the revolver ended in 1905 and in 1907 the M1887 was replaced by the Browning designed M/07 Semi-Automatic Pistol chambered in 9mm Browning Long (9x20mm).

The M1887 revolver remained in service with various Swedish government agencies. The Home Guard kept the gun in their arsenals until 1945. The Swedish Post Office bought 940 of the units to guard money transports, these guns were marked with a horn.
Some para-military units used the revolvers in missions to protect State owned railways, Royal Telegraph and Department of Transportation assets (ferries and bridges), Power Plants and any critical industries.
Until recently the guns were still being used by the Swedish Army and some police units to fire blanks during security dog training exercises.

A few years after the guns left the service of the Royal Army and Navy of Sweden, they began to be imported into the US and sold as surplus arms. Throughout the '50s and '60s these guns were being sold mail-order for a small amount of money, this add has them for $13.95.

Some specs on the gun

Calibre 7,5×22
Ammunition 7,5 mm m/87 (black powder)
7,5 mm m/98 (smokeless powder)
V0 223 m/s (ammo m/87)
Feed Six-shot drum
Design Léon Nagant
Action Double-action revolver, side-gate opening
Manufacturer Nagant
Year of delivery Nagant 1887-1888 (Army)
Nagant 1891-1893 (Navy)
HVA 1898-1905
Quantity Nagant 2600(Army) + 480(Navy)
HVA  ≈14000
Barrel 114 mm, 4 grooves
Length 237 mm
Weight 0,8 kg
Sights Fixed
Miscellaneous Also used by the Royal Post Office
Some were modified in 1954-1957
Status Obsolete

Dis-assembly involves removing the grip panel, which also acts as the back strap and the side plate. The ejector rod must be pulled out, allowing room for the base pin & cylinder to be removed.

This picture shows the simple lock work and folded leaf type spring, similar to what Colt used.

Ejection of spent cartridges was similar to a Colt Single Action Army. The ejector rod would be released from the frame by unlocking the detent provided by the cylinder base pin, pulled toward the muzzle, then the ejector rod mount would be pivoted sideways to line up with the chamber. The side loading gate would be opened and the ejector rod pushed rearward to eject the spent shells.

This particular gun was purchased in the mid 1960s by a friend of my Fathers. He was at a military surplus store and they had just received a case of these guns, he wasn't looking to buy a gun that day, but the asking price of $17 was too good to resist.
The bluing and straw case hardening were in beautiful condition. The gun has a serial number of 10203, which should put its birth date sometime between 1903 & 1905, assuming that production was pretty much equal during the 7 years of production (2,000 units per year over 7 years = 14,000 units)

We had tried to sell the gun for him, but we were unsuccessful in getting anyone to buy. He has never fired it.

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Little Gun 
Walter Rego from the Smith & Wesson Forum