Brazilian 1883 Nagant Revolver: The .44 Henry Rides Again!

In 1883, the Brazilian government decided to purchase 3,000 new revolvers, and they chose the Mauser Model 1878 “Zigzag” to procure. The officer charged with making the purchase in Europe, however, appears to have done some of his own investigation and unilaterally decided to buy Nagant revolvers instead of Mausers. This naturally caused some scandal back in Brazil, but in hindsight it was clearly the right choice – and Brazil would go back and buy more Nagants in later years.

Specifically, Brazil purchased the Model 1878 Nagant, configured to their specifications. The guns were chambered for 11mm Nagant ammunition, which is actually just another name for .44 Henry Centerfire. Brazil had a significant number of 1866 Winchester rifles chambered for the Henry centerfire cartridge (having purchased them as late as 1891!) and wanted these revolvers to use the same ammunition. The first 3,000 were single action only, but later orders through both Nagant in Belgium and the Suhl consortium in Germany were double action. This particular example was issued to the Brazilian Navy.

Special thanks to Douglas de Souza Aguiar Jr, Curator of the Museu de Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo, for his gracious assistance with this video. Collectors and researchers looking for more information on Brazilian firearms should contact the museum through Old Steel Historical Firearms for letters of authentication.


    • As the design only features a half-cock sear/hammer notch intended for loading, and doesn’t have a rebound mechanism, hammer block or transfer bar, I don’t think that carrying one with a live round under the hammer would be wise.

  1. Muito obrigado!

    “Marinha dos E.U. do Brasil” aka. Navy of the United States of Brazil.
    On the cusp of transition from the old Empire/monarchy to the military-dominated Republic. Note well that the Brazilian armed forces used the Comblain rifles, musketoons, and carbines at the time as well.

    I believe that eon noted earlier that the .44 Henry cartridge was mighty popular in Mexico as well at about the same time period.

    • Bring back .44 Henry centerfire! It would be worth the price for a new Henry if it was chambered in an original cartridge.

  2. Hello, Ian.
    With regard to the video on the Brazilian Nagant, a bunch of Nagant were actually converted to the 45 ACP caliber and after some time stored, offered for sale to collectors.
    I own one of the Winchester 1866 in .44 Henry, since she was in the Brazilian Army.
    The Military Police Museum of the State of São Paulo is a reference in relation to the history and artifacts used not only by the police but also by the Brazilian armed forces throughout our history.
    I really liked the video. Congratulations on your channel and your research.

  3. I have one made by suhl. Its a nice revolver. Would love to shoot it. But not sure on what to convert into it. Are they worth anything?

  4. Hello, sorry to bother …
    May i ask question
    The marks on the Nagant revolver; (circled) “GB”, “MARINHA DOS E.U. DO BRAZIL”. Do you think they were engraved in the origin factory, like the “BREVET NAGANT” patent mark, or were later stamped in Brazil ?

    Thank you in adance

    • Hi Fernando
      This type of marking is usually done at the factory. As well as S&W revolvers purchased from the USA during and after World War II, which were engraved and given the national coat of arms in the factory itself.

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