1895 Nagant vs. 1895 Nagant Part 2 Part 1
The Russian Version of BBs vs. Pellets
By Dennis Adler
Since we are talking about air pistols, it is easier to toss theories around and “in theory” the Nagant BB model with the BB loaded at the front of the cartridge and the cartridge nose sealing with the forcing cone, like the original Nagant Model 1895 design, makes the BB model more authentic in operation than the pellet-firing version which has the pellet seated at the back of the cartridge. It is a very minor point, which, in the past, has proven to favor the rear loading cartridges with Peacemaker BB and pellet models. Will a front loaded BB in the Nagant design have as much velocity and accuracy as a rear loading pellet cartridge model? And just for extra measure, we’ll toss in the wild card by also loading the BB model cartridges with lighter weight (i.e. higher velocity) Dust Devils. In Part 3 we will see which gun performs best at 21 feet and 10 meters, the BB or pellet model. It is a question that has been asked before and now with newer BBs to fire (that did not exist when the first Nagant Model 1895 models were introduced several years ago in the Gletcher Russian Legends series); the outcome should be more interesting.
Change, oh change, why?
As for the addition of the manual safety, which was not on the earlier Nagant 1895 BB or pellet models, I don’t see it as a great detractor to the gun, but it is something the superbly reproduced Nagant air pistol did not need. Other CO2 revolvers are also burdened with manual safeties, even the Peacemaker and Schofield, so it is not surprising that this safety mandate has caught up to the Nagant. Honestly they could have made a better choice in the design and placement, maybe even have been so bold as to copy the old Webley MK IV .38 revolver, which had a crossbolt safety in the frame to block the hammer from being cocked. At least it would have had some measure of historical relevance. What we had with the first series Nagant CO2 models was a gun suitable for anyone to shoot well with a little practice, and that has always been one of the best characteristics of a revolver, it is ambidextrous by design. Gletcher has just slightly mucked it up by complying with a mandatory safety. I’m not sure about the internal design of the Nagant air pistol but a more subtle sliding safety behind the hammer, like the Schofield CO2 model, would still have been less obtrusive.
Aesthetics aside, is there any other difference between the early BB and pellet firing Nagant models and the latest Gletcher Nagant pistols? The answer is no, just that wrong-sided safety lever (unless you like kicking it on and off with your trigger finger or if you are left handed, with your thumb). There is one other small point, the finish on the latest pellet-firing black model, which is more of a dark grey than black. Again not a deal breaker; just depends on what you like to see. I’d like to see it weathered or antiqued, and the grey finish has more “potential” for some customizing work.
Stripping it down
The Nagant CO2 models are built to the same design specs as the Model 1895 pistols and that is admittedly a somewhat awkward orientation. Loading speed was obviously not a mandate, especially when it comes to using the ejector rod to push spent shells out of the cylinder. This was a necessity for the 7.62x38mm models because the shell was designed for the nose of the cartridge to expand and close the gap inside the forcing cone to complete the gas seal. Ejecting the spent shell cases required the ejector rod. Not so with the CO2 model, the shells just drop out one at a time when you tilt the gun back and rotate the cylinder, but the original design has been authentically duplicated by Gletcher and the ejector rod works. Outside of a topbreak revolver or one with a swing out cylinder, the Nagant, like a Colt, Remington, or any single or double action with a loading gate, is slower to reload; it’s the nature of the beast. But the ejector has another role. You have to rotate it the same as if you were ejecting a spent shell to fieldstrip the Nagant. This is a basic fieldstrip that ends up with the cylinder being removed.
As with the 7.62x38mm pistol, be certain the shells are removed and with the airgun that there is no CO2 in the grip before starting to fieldstrip the Nagant. This is accomplished by lowering the loading gate, pushing the tip of the ejector rod inward and turning it 90 degrees to the left until it pops forward. At this point the notch in the ejector rod has disengaged from the stop inside the ejector housing, pull the rod forward until it stops and then rotate the entire ejector housing up so it is in line with the cylinder. With an actual 7.62x38mm Nagant you would use the rod to push each spent shell case from the cylinder chambers. But there is a second function here when field striping the gun. With the ejector housing rotated up, catch the leading edge of the cylinder arbor sleeve (at the front of the frame) and pull the sleeve completely out. You can now roll the cylinder out of the frame by pushing it from the left side and taking it out from the right. The barrel can be cleaned with a pellet pistol cleaning rod and patch (of any lead residue build up in the rifling) and perform any other routine cleaning. Reassembly is reverse order. It is the same as a centerfire Nagant pistol.
In part 3, it’s time to put that lead residue into the barrel rifling and the smoothbore as well, testing the BB vs. pellet model and firing pellet shells from the smoothbore Nagant.