In theory, suppressing a weapon is a straightforward process, but wheelguns are a bit different. Gas — and noise — can escape in the gap between the cylinder and barrel negating any efforts to suppress the noise from shooting a revolver. An integrally suppressed revolver is possible, but expensive. However, the Russians produced one that could be a great platform for a suppressed revolver while the Tsar still ruled. Let’s take a look at what they did to create this unique revolver.
On May 17th, 2022, a new novel I was excited to read hit the shelves, and I immediately grabbed a copy. Jack Carr, a New York Times Best Seller, released his fifth novel in the James Reece/Terminal List series.
According to his bio, Jack Carr “led special operations teams as a Team Leader, Platoon Commander, Troop Commander, and Task Unit Commander. Over his 20 years in Naval Special Warfare, he transitioned from an enlisted SEAL sniper to a junior officer leading assault and sniper teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a platoon commander practicing counterinsurgency in the southern Philippines, to commanding a Special Operations Task Unit in the most Iranian-influenced section of southern Iraq throughout the tumultuous drawdown of U.S. Forces.”
In other words, Jack Carr has served a long time, seen a lot of stuff, met many people, and has a resume to prove it. If you read his books, his knowledge from his career and his love for geopolitical world history shines through his writing.
Perhaps one of my favorite pieces of his writing besides his storytelling is how well he portrays the way of the gun. Few authors I’ve read can describe operation firearms in such detail as Carr. Many can write riveting action sequences, but none have described the gun like Carr.
In particular, the newest novel, In The Blood, sees the series protagonist, James Reece, overseas in places like Israel, Africa and Montenegro. On his journey, he conducts a manhunt for a deadly assassin and acquires some firearms to complete his mission.
Sourced in the country of Montenegro, the three following guns are presented to us: a Dragunov sniper rifle, a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle and a Nagant M1895 revolver. Recently I had the chance here at GunSpot to get my hands on the famed Nagant M1895 revolver, and just like the one Mr. Reece uses in the book, this one had been threaded for being suppressed.
Quirky Revolver with a Gas Seal
The Nagant M1895 is a genuinely unique revolver. It has several unusual features that all play a part in making this revolver truly suppressible. Revolvers are often unworthy of suppression due to the cylinder gap nature of their design. The way the cylinder has space between itself and the barrel allows gas and sound to escape from this gap, more or less making suppression worthless.
However, the 1895 design of the Nagant revolver actually resolves this. As the hammer is cocked and the cylinder rotates, it pushes the cylinder forward and over the opening of the barrel. This creates a gas seal as the two slide into place. One thing you will notice is that because the cylinder has moved forward and is mashed up against the bore, the firing pin is a tad longer than found on most other revolvers so as to reach the now forward-moved round.
The second thing that really helps this revolver shoot quietly is the cartridge for which it is chambered. The revolver fires the 7.62x38mmR round, also commonly known as the 7.62 Nagant. The cartridge is rather odd as the casing is longer than the projectile requires, with the projectile tucked into the casing and not protruding out the front.
At first glance, a full cartridge can appear as a spent casing until you inspect it and see the projectile hidden down inside the case. The end of the casing where the projectile exits is actually crimped inward. When the round is fired, the projectile travels down and out of the casing, and the crimping expands to complete the gas seal.
While innovative, the 7.62x38mmR round is not blessed with speed or power. In fact, we discovered it was quite the opposite with the ammo we had for testing. I found an average speed for the cartridge listed online at around 1,000 fps. In most instances, it will never be fast enough to induce a sonic crack from breaking the sound barrier.
Hands-On with a Suppressed Nagant
We suppressed our revolver with a 7.62 rifle suppressor from Bowers Group. This was a beast of a suppressor for this little revolver, but man, oh man, did it do the job. With our ammo suppressed, this revolver sounded like a pellet gun. Actually, I know for certain I’ve shot pellet guns that are indeed louder. This is the quietest gun I have ever shot, and I would dub it “Hollywood quiet.”
The particular revolver we got the chance to shoot was from the year 1944. Clearly, the Russians produced these revolvers for a long, long time. This revolver is genuinely a unique piece of history. The revolver does not come with a threaded muzzle, so this one had been customized.
I could not be happier to have had the chance to shoot a gun like this, and one that is like the one in Carr’s excellent book. It is a unique design that stands the test of time in its own quirky way.
Sidebar: Suppressing a Nagant
The M1895 offers an unusual opportunity to suppress a revolver. As described above, the cartridge forms a seal between the cylinder and the barrel as the trigger is pulled and the cylinder moves forward. This forces all gasses forward out of the Russian revolver’s muzzle. Because of this, suppressing the weapon is possible.
Original Nagant barrels were not threaded. To attach a conventional suppressor, you will need to thread the barrel of your Nagant. Once done, you can screw on any appropriately sized suppressor. As hot gasses escape out of the end of the barrel, they can expand and slow down before leaving the barrel.
With a suppressor attached, the Nagant is reportedly one of the quietest handguns using a (mostly) conventional design. However, to permanently modify the wheel gun to attach a suppressor or silencer. While the Russian revolvers haven’t traditionally been major collectibles, that is changing. Surplus stocks are drying up, and the weapons carry the history of two world wars and more. You have to make the decision for yourself if a silenced revolver is an innovation worth modifying one of these historical weapons.
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