M1895 Nagant Revolver Reloading Project

by George N. Fisher

Project and page started Oct 10th, 2002

This site designed for 800x600 res.

Last Update, November 9th, 2002

Clickable Pictures and Links are Blue and underlined. Newest Updated info highlighted in Yellow, changed info Highlighted in Green.

A few weeks ago I finally broke down and bought myself a M1895 Nagant Revolver to fill a gap in my collection of Former Soviet Military Pistols.

At first I wasn't impressed with the piece, the trigger was heavy, the sights barely visable, and Factory Ammo all but unavailable. What ammo is available runs $35 - $50 USD per box of 50. After looking over the revolver however, I grew more and more impressed with the design and unique Gas Seal Action. While not my first choice as a combat sidearm, it does show great promise as a target, small game and general plinking piece. More information on this revolver can be found here : The Nagant Page.

The original caiber is the 7.62x38R Nagant Gas Seal Cartridge. I got a replacement cylinder chambered in .32 ACP from Makarov.com, with the intent of using the .32 ACP ammo for plinking and target shooting, and saving the original cylinder for the day when I found a good deal on original ammo. Some searching on the Web, and some helpful folks over at the Gun Boards Nagant forum, turned up some interesting information. Usable cases can be made from 32-20 brass. There was some mention of having to thin the rims of the cases for some revolvers, but I didn't find this to be the case for me. I ordered a set of Lee Steel Dies and some StarLine 32-20 brass and got to work.

First step is to full length resize the 32-20 brass in the 7.62 Nagant sizing die. Apply a bit of lube and this is an easy process. This removes the shoulder from the 32-20 brass, and gives it a long tapered case that is a perfect fit in the original cylinder. The Lee 7.62 Nagant Dies did not seat the bullet below the case mouth as this round requuires, and a note included with the dies even states this, and suggests the use of a 1/4-20 machine bolt as a replacement bullet seating punch. My first loads were all seated with this arrangement, but I was not happy with the slight marks left on the bullet nose from the bolt, and so I turned the first 3/8" of the Lee bullet seating punch down to .308" to allow it to seat the bullets as it should. This worked much better, and seated the bullets much straighter, giving better accuracy. Modified Seating Punch picture.

During this time, I found some older reloading data for several .32 caliber rounds from a project from several years back. Included in this data are Heavy bullets loads with weights as high as 150 grs in the .32 S&W Long cartridge. I decided to look at some new data for the .32 ACP cylinder, using standard .32 ACP brass, but with loads designed for and able to chamber only in the longer .32 ACP cylinder for the Nagant. I called the new loads "32 Nagant" to keep the load data seperate from standard loads in .32 ACP for use in Semi-automatic pistols such as the CZ-50/70. One thing I did notice during firing with the 32 ACP Cylinder installed was that it must be kept clean, or the revelver would tend to bind after about 50 rds or so. A cleaner buring powder may help resolve this.

Included in this new series are Sabot loads with 46 and 55 gr bullets, Wad Cutter loads, Semi-Wad Cutter Loads, Jacketed Hollow Point Loads with heavy bullet weights, and heavy weight cast bullet loads. Please remember that these are experimental loads only, and for referance and informational purposes only. Use this or any other load data at your own risk.

General Shooting Notes

As I stated in the beginning, the sights on this revolver are hard to see, that was the main reason for limiting the shooting to 15 yds. I used a fairly standard Pistol target for all accuracy testing.

The .32 ACP Cylinder worked very well, but tended to get dirty within 50 rds or so. A cleaning or chamber brush makes life much easier, and allows extended shooting time. As the cylinder got dirty, chambering rounds got to be a chore, and the action got stiffer and harder to operate. A few passes with a brush solved this.

All the loads tested at first would either drop free from the chamber either under their own power, or with a slight tap of the ejection rod. The FN Factory ammo was the only ammo that required a firm push to eject the brass.

The Double action pull of the test revolver was off the scale, but I would guess it to be somewhere in the 20 lb range. All testing was done single action.

The windage was right on for almost all loads, with the worst (FN Factory ammo) being 1.5 inches left of center. Most loads tended to shoot 2-5 inches high when a center hold was used, but with a 6 O'Clock hold, most loads seemed to be fairly close to center.

I also noticed the original wood grips tended to rub the hands after about 100 rds were fired, but the pistol did not move around in the hand, and recoil was very mild.

Notes On what I would do to build a Custom Target / field Revolver based on the M1895 Nagant.

If a person wanted to build a unique target or Field/hiking Revolver using the M1895 as a base, I would be sure to start with a revolver that has no or almost no collector value. Check here for more info. The Nagant Page.

Personally, the following is a list of the changes and improvements I would (and am planning to or have already) do:

1. Change out the grips for a set of custom smooth or finely checkered Walnut. Another option would be some of the original Bakelite grips, if a spare set could be found. The rough checkered, light colored wood grips that came on this pistol leave alot of room for improvement, reguardless.

2. Smooth the action and inner workings of the Revolver. A good general cleaning and hand polishing of all contact surfaces should reduce the DA trigger somewhat.

3. Sights - Have to do more research, but it seems a good revolver target type sight could be adapted to the M1895 Nagant.

4. If you don't handload, than the .32 ACP Cylinder is almost a must have. A fairly wide selection of .32 ACP ammo can be found. Even so, I would carry a spare .32 ACP Cylinder for Field use, simply to allow the use of Factory ammo. (Hollow points for small game hunting, etc.) If spare parts can be found, the cylinder can be fitted with a Spring and Cylinder plunger, to make switching cylinders a simple process.

5. Holster for Field / Hiking use. Don't see many holsters that work with the Nagant, but Makarov.com has a nice Nylon hip holster that includes loops along the front to hold extra rounds. The Holster includes a adjustable thumbsnap to secure the the revolver in the holster. The original Military Holster is also good, if you follow the proper care for leather. Some people (myself included) find the flap type holsters uncomfortable and hard to use however.

6. Belt Pouch for Field / Hiking use. A good belt pouch to hold extra ammo, a cleaning brush or maybe one of the Boresnake type cleaning pull-thru's, and the spare cylinder if needed. There are many military surplus type pouches available that would serve this purpose well, most available for under $10.00. I use a Surplus East German belt pouch.

Reloading Data

Warning - This data is provided for informational purposes only. You are responsible for the safety of your ammo, and how it is used. The Author, nor anyone else, is not responsible for the use or misuse of this data or any other information found on this website.

7.62x38R Nagant loads using converted Starline 32-20 Brass
All loads used Winchester Small Pistol Primers
All loads were given taper crimp with Lee Die, with bullet seated below case mouth.

Bullet Type Bullet Weight (grains) Powder Type Charge (grains) Velocity (fps) COL Notes and Comments Group Size (7 rds @ 15 yds)
Moly Coated SWC 100 AA #5 3.8 667.8 1.324 Good starting load, very mild recoil

2.775, 6 rds in 1.644

Plated DEWC 83 AA #5 3.8 660.2 1.285 Very Mild Load


Plated HBWC 83 AA #5 3.8 648.9 1.285

Very Mild


Plated WCHP 83 AA #5 3.8 651.0 1.285 slighty worse spread than when loaded as HBWC


Moly Coated SWC 100 Red Dot   NYT      
Plated DEWC 83 Red Dot   NYT      
Plated HBWC 83 Red Dot   NYT      
Plated WCHP 83 Red Dot   NYT      

.32 Nagant loads using standard .32 ACP brass (for use in the .32 ACP cylinder in the 1895 Nagant revolver Only)
All loads used CCI Small Pistol Primers
All loads were given taper crimp with Lee Die

Bullet Type Bullet Weight (grains) Powder Type Charge (grains) Velocity (fps) COL Notes and Comments Group Size (7 rds @ 15 yds)
22 Caliber JHP w/ Sabot 46 AA #5 2.5 820.1 .996 at 15 yds the Sabot had not seperated from the bullet. Very snappy load, recoil about like a 22 RFM from a Pistol. 1.895
22 Caliber JHP w/ Sabot 55 AA #5 2.5 725.5 1.200 at 15 yds the Sabot had not seperated from the bullet. No signs of yawing or unstable bullets. 2.306
Plated HBWC 83 AA #5 2.2 803.0 .941 Very nice load, most accurate to date with the 32 Cylinder 1.459
Plated DEWC 83     NYT .941    
Hornady XTP-HP 85 AA #2 2.2 762.9 .980   1.963
Plated WCHP 83 AA #5 2.2 798.5 .941 HBWC loaded backwards as Hollow point 1.755
Moly Coated SWC 100 AA #5 2.2 592.5 .968 Recoil slightly heavier than other loads, still very light 2.164
Cast LRN 93 AA #5 2.2 NYT      
Cast RNFP-GC 120 HP-38 2.5 710 .975 MAX LOAD  

.32 ACP loads using standard .32 ACP brass (Loads also suitable for Standard .32 ACP pistols in good condition)
All loads used CCI Small Pistol Primers
All loads were given taper crimp with Lee Taper Crimp Die

Bullet Type Bullet Weight (grains) Powder Type Charge (grains) Velocity (fps) Notes and Comments Group Size (7 rds @ 15 yds)
FMJ 71 Bullseye 2.1 902.2 Standard target load I use for my CZ-50 Pistol 1.775
Hornady XTP-HP 85     NYT    
Hornady XTP-HP 60 Bullseye 2.6 835.5 Good load for CZ-50 pistol, comparable to most factory HP loads of same caliber. Not recorded (target misplaced)
22 Caliber JHP w/ Sabot 46 AA #5 2.5 820.1 at 15 yds the Sabot had not seperated from the bullet. Very snappy load, recoil about like a 22 RFM from a Pistol. 1.895

7.62x38R Nagant Snake Shot load using converted Starline 32-20 Brass
This load was a spin off of an older reloading project for the .32 H&R Magnum round. To start, brass is prepared as normal, and than again resized in a .30 Carbine sizer die to give it a straighter forward portion. The case is primed, and powder charge dumped, measured, however you do it. A .30 caliber gascheck is seated just off the powder charge, and the case filled to within 1/16" of the case mouth with the smallest size shot you can find. I use number 8 shot, pulled from some old 16 gauge shotgun loads I had no use for. Each shotgun shell gives enough shot for 10+ snake shot loads. Another .30 caliber gascheck is seated on top of the shot, cup side down, and a light roll crimp added. I also found that the top gas check is much easier to seat if it is first run thru a .308 bullet sizing die. The bottom gas check should not be sized, as it needs to be slightly oversize to align itself in the case during seating. I used a 1/2 long 1/4-20 bolt as a seating punch for the bottom gas check, in the Lee die. The bolt is inserted from the top, and the adjustment screwed all the way down. The modified Lee seating punch was used to seat the top gas check. Works good for Snakes or other pests at up to 7-8 feet (maybe further, but at 10 feet, I leave them alone and remove myself from the area.)

Powder Type Powder Charge (grains) Shot Size Shot weight (grains) Primer Firing results @ 7 feet
AA #5


# 8

56.3 (includes 2 30 caliber gas checks)

CCI Small Pistol

32 pellets in a 7 inch circle, 6 pellets in the 1.5 inch center aiming point, 55 pellets total on a 8.5x11 sheet of paper. Both GC's hit within 1 inch of each other, just left of point of aim. Both GC's hit flat and cut a WC type hole in the paper.


# 8

56.3 (includes 2 30 caliber gas checks)

CCI Small Pistol

28 pellets in a 7 inch circle, 7 pellets in the 1.5 inch center aiming point, 61 pellets total on 8.5x11 sheet of paper. One GC hit almost dead center point of aim, other was 3 in high and right from center and entered sideways.

.32 ACP Factory Ammo, Tested in .32 ACP Conversion Cylinder

Brand Bullet Weight Bullet Type Velocity (fps) Average Group of 7 rds (15 yds, from a rest)

Notes and Comments

Winchester 60 grain Silver Tip JHP 899.0 2.228, 5 shots in 1.900  
FN / Military Surplus 75 grain FMJ-FP 860.3 1.316 This ammo uses a FMJ-FP bullet design that refuses to feed in many Semi- Autos. I bought a case planning to use the brass for reloading, however, despite the sellers claims, this ammo is Bredan Primed, and VERY dirty. However it was accurate in the .32 ACP Cylinder, and is a good general Plinking / target load. It comes packed 25 rds to a Egg crate type plastic box, 1050 rds per case.
Magtech 71 grain FMJ-RN NYT    
HiTech Ammo 42 grain TC - Copper Hollow Point 1306 3.650  
RWS - German Plastic Training Ammo 21 grain Plastic Round Nose NYT    
American Eagle (Federal ) 71 grain FMJ-RN NYT    

List of Abbreviations used on this page.

List of Sources for parts and reloading items used.