RIA: Russian M1870 Galand Revolver (Video)

The Galand was an innovative revolver design created by Frenchman Charles Francois Galand and patented in 1868. It is most notable for using a long lever system to eject cartridges by throwing the cylinder and a separate cartridge retention plate forward. It was also one of the early adopters of centerfire ammunition (a .45 caliber cartridge with an unusually thick rim, specifically).

In addition to being licensed for production in England, Belgium, and France, the Galand was adopted in 1870 by the Imperial Russian Navy, and several thousand (including this example) purchased by them. Some were made by the Nagant brothers in Liege, and some by the Tula factory in Russia.


  1. Very cool! That cartridge is as wide as it is tall! Interesting. Great reference to the Galand in the Sergio Leone s’ghetti-western “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!”

    I like the saw-handle grip on that piece. I have it that if Lefaucheux pin-fires are taken into consideration, that the first two metallic cartridge revolver adopters ever include Norway (specifically the navy, I believe), and the Spanish army. In turn, while the U.S. was preoccupied with the secessionist Civil War and the “Monroe Doctrine” was in abeyance, Spaniards actually used these in the desultory, disease-ridden campaign to restore colonialism in the Dominican Republic in cahoots with certain Dominican political factions….

    One can imagine trying to load a cap and ball revolver on a rolling ship!

    During WWII, the Mauser firm drew up line drawings of a prototype sheet-metal revolver that had a metal plate to pull out the cartridges. In that case, the prototype was in 9x19mm rimless, and so the metal plate was designed to slide into the extraction grooves under spring tension. The exterior of the plate had a grasping surface with knurled edges, so the user would open the action, grasp the edges of the plate, and pull it back manually to empty the cylinder…

      • Well, the most informative source I’ve found on it is in W. Darren Weaver’s _Desperate Measures_ about the multifarious “last ditch” weapons for the Volkssturm Nazi militia and the Heer. I have an image, but somehow it has been reversed? The version with the swing-out cylinder swung left, not to the right… It wasn’t a French Ordnance revolver after all!


        • W. Darrin Weaver, _Desperate Measures: The Last-Ditch Weapons of the Nazi Volkssturm_ (Cobourg, ON: Collector’s Grade Pubs., 2005), 294-6:
          “At least three firms were involved in an effort to develop separate revolver designs … incorporated as many stamped sheet-metal parts as possible, and were reportedly fitted with 100mm (4″)barrels. […]
          The model sumbitted by Böhmische Waffenfabrik Strakonitz (CZ) reportedly was made from 13 milled and 33 stamped partss. […]
          Mauser … developed two separate [Trommelrewolwer] models, known within the company as project ‘V.357’ [oh, the irony!] (a break-open design) and project ‘V.258’ (a swing-out cylinder design). …
          Some time later, the decision was presumably made to concentrate on the break-open model, made up of 65 individual components, of which most were fabricated from stamped sheet metal. […]”
          Everyone working on the project, according to Weaver, were shunted over to the VG4 development project in January 1945.

        • “http://i.imgur.com/sDRuBP9.jpg”
          It somewhat reminds me of Saturday Night Special revolvers and rather that with lower price, both in look and philosophy (poor weapon is still better than no weapon at all)

          • And ironically, various crummy low-cost “Sat. Night Special” revolvers marketed by German pot-metal companies like “Arminius” and “RG” were marketed in the USA until the 1968 GCA.

            I do like how the Mauser folks solved the 9mm pistol cartridge-in-a-revolver without the use of so-called “moon clips” although I enjoy my moon-clip revolvers a great deal…

      • I could translate the Spanish “Velo-dog” advertisement, but there may not be much interest in that as opposed to the military revolver with the one-piece grips that come off to expose the spring after the little knurled latch is turned to the side…

      • First image

        Figure 38 : war revolver, Galand model, can be dismantled without tools

        View of the weapon with dismantled hand grip (C) – plate coverign mechanisms (open) (P) – mechanism set up & uncovered.
        All dissassembled parts are numbered and reproduced (draw) in double.

        • 3rd picture

          New Invention

          Indestructible cartriges, (made) in steel, for centerfire revolvers

          Fig. 39 : Tool to defuse and fuse centerfire revolver cartriges, and bullet mold

          Breech loading firearms require special ammunition which are expensive. Those can only be used once, they can not be reloaded, and it’s sometimes hard to restock.
          It was high time to create a tool able to ‘indefinitely’ reload ‘indestructible’ steel cases proper for service revolvers, in such way the holder of such weapon would never be out of ammunition, and from California to Europe, he could get anytime his cartrige belt loaded.
          Galand cartrige, (made) of steel, perfectly fits that purpose. With a sufficient quantity of spare primers and with the re-fuser tool, which is also a bulled mold, one can travel without fear, because everywhere he can get required powder and lead.

          Nota : The steel cartrige is designed for all center fire revolver models and for all calibers. A dozen, 6 fr. -The re-fuser mold-tool, all calibers, costs 10 fr. Primers with anvil and alveolus, 1 fr. per cent. [?]

          [This translation is not perfect, sometimes very close to original syntax & writing style. I bet it does sounds kind of exotic for native English speakers]

        • N°3

          Rifles Galand
          Carbines Galand Hunting & Shooting
          Pistols Galand
          Revolvers Galand

          House founded in 1864

          Gunmaker – Manufacturer

          World’s fair
          Paris 1900 : Gold Medal
          Liège 1905 – Anvers 1907 : Great Prize
          Bruxelles 1910 : Member of judging panel

          International hunting weapons contest, Paris 1902 – 1903
          3 Gold Medals, (one) Silver Medal

          7, Rue de la Loi, 7 (adress)

          Telegraphic address : GALANDARMS
          Principal house :
          15, rue d’Hauteville, 15

        • [HPH chapter]

          SPORTMAN REVOLVER, GALAND’s extracting system
          With an articulated shoulder stock, that sticks to the weapon

          Fig.42 : Sportman Revolver with deployed stock

          Fig.43 : Sportman Revolver with collapsed stock

    • The British also developed a prototype 9 x 19mm revolver early in WW2, intended for use by Resistance forces in occupied Europe. Interestingly enough, it was patterned on the 19th Century Dolne “Apache” pinfire pepperbox, complete with a folding “bayonet” and a folding pistol grip that functioned as a set of “brass knuckles”.

      The main reason it never went into production seems to have been the huge numbers of S&W “Victory” model M-10 revolvers in 0.380in (.38 S&W) that arrived via Lend-Lease.

      Plus the fact that every Resistance fighter really wanted a Colt .45 automatic, which became essentially the default handgun of the Underground, again mainly due to Lend-Lease.

      See Ezell, Handguns of the World, pp. 510, 515-16.



  2. “M1870”
    According to http://www.armoury-online.ru/articles/add_articles/Galand/ official name was «4 1/2-линейный револьверъ Галяна» (4 1/2-line revolver Galan)
    It reports that:
    -Galan revolvers have weak (easy to damage) trigger spring.
    -1500 were ordered from Tula, 2500 (+75000 cartridges) were order from Belgium, 155000 cartridges were made in Russia
    -it was used by commanders of mine boats during Russo-Turkish War
    -proved be good in combat
    -in 1881 there was decision to replace it with 4,2-line Smith&Wesson revolvers in fleet (standardization with army)
    -revolvers removed from fleet were used as late as 1901 by border guards

  3. I applaud Galand for originality though I suppose such a revolver has issues with manufacturing expenses. Tolerances associated with the frame, extraction assembly, and the cylinder necessitate more precise machining in order to keep the system from jamming. And I have to ask the obligatory question: How did it deal with mud and getting smashed into a hostile’s face?

    • Something tells me that like any good, solid, double-action revolver, a “pistol whipping” with an empty or malfunctioning piece was, erm, “authoritative” shall we say? As a “boarding pistol” such close quarters use would be within the naval “repel all boarders” tradition… Just as the old single-shot could make a dandy bludgeon.

      • When naval boarding actions were still a real possibility, that is until the end of the age of sail, and even during the ironclad era of circa 1860-1890, navies stocked a lot of swords, usually some variation of cutlasses. So, the use of an empty pistol or revolver as a bludgeon was probably not very common, although in theory you of course could first parry with your sword and then smack with the pistol. Parrying with the gun itself would be quite dangerous to your fingers, so I doubt that was taught.

        • While I can’t remember the exact details, the last use of cutlasses in a boarding action by the Royal Navy actually took place in WWII.

          • RN ships were still carrying some cutlasses up to 1956, if I remember correctly, although not for every man like in the 19th century. I have also heard about the 1941 boarding, but I read that the use of cutlasses has not been recorded anywhere and no living eyewitnesses have been found, so it may be just an embellished war story. The same article said that last confirmed use of cutlass by the RN was in 1900 in China.

  4. Whether or not the famous Russian officer’s game-of-chance ever actually took place, I wonder if these might have been the first “roulette capable” revolvers?

    • Here’s a worse fictional variation of “Russian Roulette” possible only in fiction: 3 Colt Single Action Army revolvers, one loaded with a single cartridge, position of the cartridge in the cylinder randomized. The user juggles all three in the air and during the process of juggling, cocks the hammer and pulls the trigger of a random gun pointed in the intended victim’s general direction. There are five more trigger pulls during this very dangerous juggling act, and hopefully none of them are on the live round. Guess where I got this example…

      • In a (Russian?) movie, there was room full of drunk officers.
        One get up on the table with a fully loaded revolver, the other switched off the lighr and hid.
        One after an other, they jumped out yelling “cuckoo”. And the guy standing on the table tried to shoot.

  5. There is that pesky “russian” spur again. It appears that this was not necessarily a norm on the Galand at least of if a quite look at google images tells me anything.

    • That spur on the grip helps control a revolver during firing and was very common on european revolvers, since most of them were DA, so no need to rotate revolver in a hand to cock a hammer.

  6. I found some (as my eyes can see) exactly same revovers labeled as Model 1872. Is there any difference between them?

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SayUncle » Gun Porn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.