When the Tula Arsenal restarted production of M1895 Nagant revolvers in 1924 after the Russian civil war, they made both full sized standard guns and also compact “Commanding Officer” models. These had a shorter grip and barrel (85mm), and were intended specifically for people who would carry the guns concealed in civilian clothing, like NKVD agents and customs officers. About 25,000 of the compact models were made total, with production ending in 1932.
Thanks to Legacy Collectibles for the loan of the pistol!
I was not aware that the NKVD had their own version of the Nagant revolver.
Most police or military pistols are carried a lot but seldom fired. However, it occurs to me that, given the propensity of the NKVD to execute their victims by a pistol shot to the back of the head, these NKVD Nagants may well have been used to kill far more people than better known and better designed pistols. Obviously, it helps when your victim is in no position to fight back.
You can silence them also; the Nagants.
Yes, but I believe the normal version must have been used a lot more for such sinister uses. I have seen photos of the shorter version described herewith whose captions described it as a plain clothes’ pistol intended for “regular” police work; that notwithstanding, the line between “regular” police work and political repression can become quite blurred in a totalitarian state…
Totally I am sure. I mean doubtless they thought it was for a “good cause” at the time.
They definitely were used for this purpose, but the ‘proper’ mass executions, with hundreds victims shot per day by one executioner – like the Katyn massacre – were done with much more reliable and user-friendly German pistols.
The top NKVD executioner used German Walther Mod. 2 6.35-mm / .25 acp pistols. quieter in the execution chamber, and with a ten hour shift and a lot of bodies to get through during the purges, repetitive hand motion and recoil become factors. Quiet. Less recoil. only a six-shot magazine, but there are several more in a briefcase. <65 ft.lbs. of energy sufficient for a shot to the base of the skull… reliability and user-friendliness had little to do with it, although people who fancy such micro-pistols report the Walther 2 and 5 as having reasonably good ergonomics for the type.
The Soviet guillotine:
Well… For that purpose, a fire weapon is not indispensable. I’m thinking about the tomahawks used by the scalp hunters in some non-totalitarian state, for the supression of the native people.
“I was not aware that the NKVD had their own version of the Nagant revolver.(…)”
It was not exactly this way. This weapon is today commonly associated with NKVD, but it was exclusively used by them – other users were militsya and Таможенное управление Наркомвнешторга [will explain it later]. In 1924 year 1436 example were made. Barrel length 85 mm, overall length 202 mm, radius sight 124 mm, height 115 mm, weight unloaded 760 g, loaded 810 g. It was also issued to operatives of OGPU and NKVD. In 1925 year TOZ received order for 8000 examples for militsya of RSFSR. In this year TOZ managed to create 4571 examples. In 1926 year less examples were made but exact value remain unknown. In 1927 year 2251 examples were made – order from Soviet postal service. For 1928…1929 production of 9375 example was planned and 6000 examples per year in following years. In 1930 year there were few trials with shortened revolver to detect its viability for usage in armed forces of USSR, 85 mm, 90 mm, 95 mm, 100 mm lengths were tested (114 mm was default) and ultimately were turned down as having worse accuracy at 50 meters range. In effect in that year production ceased.
For more data see: https://www.armoury-online.ru/articles/revolvers/russia/nkvd-nagant/
Mentioned organization were mainly concerned with fighting common crime (for example robbers) and illegal import from abroad respectively.
One oddity to those of us less familiar with Soviet handguns is that the Nagant M1895 seven-shooter was valued for its slender “pencil barrel” that could poke through the slits of tanks and cloches/observation ports on bunkers…
This then formed a desirable criteria for a potential replacement to the TT-33 7.62×25-mm service pistol in the form of the double-stack 18-shot prototype Voevodin pistol:
Just wanted to say, I always appreciate your insightful and informative comments!
Thanks for the details. Much appreciated.
Nah.. Your regular NKVD man didn’t execute anyone. They had specialists for that, usually armed with .25 or .32 German automatic pistols.
(As NKVD found out, Soviet pistols just couldn’t stand up to the stress of hundreds of executions per night.)
Many of these probably went unused, since just fear of the “organs” kept people cooperative when arrested, etc.
The only scenario I could see them get used was put in the countryside in the 30ies, when the famine was raging and NKVD troops did grain “requisitions”.
The M1895 is one of the few revolvers that can be effectively “silenced”. The NKVD used a version of the “short” barrel/butt M1895 with the barrel modified for a silencer similar to that on the High Standard HD Military used by the OSS.
Since the “gas seal” system eliminated the barrel-cylinder gap, and since 7.62 x 38R Nagant ammunition is just barely subsonic anyway (93 gr FN FMJ @ 1,070 F/S for 250 FPE), they had what amounted to a nearly-silent .38 Special or .32-20 WCF in terms of killing power.
Of course, if anybody dug the distinctive “cup-nosed” FMJ Nagant bullets out during a PM, it was sort of a “dead” giveaway.
I really like the whole gas seal system on a Nagant.
If only there was a gun that combined that with the auto ejection on a Webley, that would be the ultimate revolver right there.
Well, the ultimate revolver of my dreams, anyways!
“(…)gun that combined that with the auto ejection on a Webley(…)”
Not auto ejection, but still progress in swiftness of reloading compared to Nagant 1895 is Pieper gas-seal revolver used by Mexico – uses swing-out cylinder, see 3rd image from top:
There was also a gas-seal Pieper revolver carbine purchased during the Porfiriato in limited quantities.
Thanks! That’s a gorgeous revolver! Gonna go and see if I can find some more about it.
Looks like a good gun for Ian to do an episode on!
Well! It looks like the Steyr 1893 had a similar combination with f autoeject and gasseal.
Just putting it on here for all the revolver fans!
Thank you, at least the inscription “НКВД” is not.
All this is interesting and funny …
But what kind of speculation with the “НКВД”?
And where did it come from?
Probably, by analogy with the “weapons of the SS”… 😉
Or “ninja weapons.” LOL
1895 Nagant revolvers are all said suffering of extra heavy double action trigger. But they were purposedly made with this hardness since that main spring were for the retraction of cylinder from the barrels back in case of enlarged case mouth staying sticked at the somewhatly rusted barrel cone… If noticed, trigger had a small step just over the axis pin and this protection gets contact with the front of annular cylinder shoulder carrying the stop notches thereover when the cylinder is at pushed forward position and, forces it backward through the leverage of that powefull main spring when the trigger released…
Thanks for the explanation! I’d wondered…
“1895 Nagant revolvers are all said suffering of extra heavy double action trigger”(С)
Not all. Only those that went through the hands of Soviet gunsmiths.
Revolvers which made according to the original Belgian technology, have an acceptable trigger. Although, of course, incomparable with Webley or the like.
Finally a subject Ian’s antifa sympathizing ass can get into. Commie execution guns.
If you have read the comments above you’ll note that it was not an “execution pistol”. NKVD did have a few models of pistols specifically for executions, and Nagant was not one of them, and if it sometimes was used, so did many others – I bet many more people were being executed with the use of the 91/30 Mosin (merely because there were much more Mosins than Nagants on hand).
Don’t feed the triggered J.D. Atkisson troll… Or perhaps a “bot?” Wants equal time for other totalitarian-used pistols and handguns I suppose? Or perhaps a Jakarta machete or strand of wire…or the barges of Nantes?
In my voluminous reading on the subject of NKVD, it has been said that at least some of Stalin’s executioners used small caliber pistols- .22 and .32acp.. much less bloody mess to clean off the floors between killings. This was for indoor (Lubyanka and other prisons). Vasili Blokhin was noted for this and was credited with over 10,000 deaths personally!