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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hang in there - it's about half done! One more .22 conversion and we're ready for the MTs-4s and TO3-36!

Here is the "reprint" with images of the Nagant Target revolver post. It includes the information on the sight testing and shooting program from the 1920s and 1930s, the .22 caliber revolvers, the MTs-4 revolvers and for the first time the information on the TO3 36 and 49 revolvers from the 1960s. It is a VERY big post and I have blocked 20 replies due to the limit on the number if images allowed per post, but please don't add replies until I get it completed which will probably take a couple of days. Enjoy!

The Russian and Soviet Nagant Target Revolvers
“The target shooters are now using self loading single purpose lead dispensers.”

The Nagant gas seal system for revolvers lends itself well for target use. Most revolvers have the problem of precisely lining up the chamber of the cylinder with the bore of the barrel. When a cartridge is fired, the bullet must cross the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. When the bullet reaches the barrel, it is captured in a forcing cone, which guides the bullet into the barrel where the grooves of the rifling grab it, and guide it down the barrel. If the alignment of the bore of the cylinder and the barrel is not perfect, the bullet can be slightly “shaved” or deformed in the cone and will not fly true. This weakness of the design of the revolver is why automatic and single shot pistols are usually more accurate than revolvers.

Automatics, on the other hand, put the cartridge in the chamber, but the extra motion of unlocking the system and capturing energy to reload the pistol can cause some inaccuracy. A single shot just shoots the bullet and is by far the most inherently accurate system, but a rate of fire that is measured in tens of seconds per round doesn’t lend itself well to some forms of rapid fire competition.

The Nagant gas seal system moves the cylinder of the revolver forward to lock the face of the cylinder securely with the stub of the barrel and in the process the front of the cartridge case is pushed into the opening of the bore of the barrel. Since the mouth of the cartridge case is in the bore of the barrel as the cartridge is fired, just like an automatic or a single shot pistol, there is no travel across a gap between the cylinder and the barrel or chance to damage the bullet. Alignment is assured to be 100% correct. There is no uneven leakage of gas from a gap between the cylinder face and the barrel because the gap is completely closed by the cartridge case. There is no extra motion of the system to cause vibration or inaccuracy. The rate of fire in single action is as fast as a skilled shooter can cock the hammer. The gas seal revolver is an excellent compromise in events that require multiple shots fired in a relatively short period with extreme accuracy.

For these reasons the Nagant M1895 revolver and its descendants continue to be used to this day, not as a service revolver but as at sport or target revolver. The Nagant revolver had been used as a target revolver before the First World War, by using it in single action fire for competition in center fire (large bore) competition events. There had been plans to modify it, but its stability and accuracy were satisfactory for the time and the modifications never came about during that period.

After the conclusion of the Civil War the new Soviet government set about improving the weapons used to arm the Workers and Peasants Red Army (RKKA) and to develop and supply it with new models of weapons. A competition to develop a self loading pistol was declared and, from the experiences gained in the First World War and the Civil War, the government also took over the rework and modernization of the existing weapons on hand, including the revolver. Active participation in this work was carried out by a member of the Scientific – technical committee (Научно-технический комитет НТК) of the Artillery directive (Артиллерийское управление АУ ) A.A. Smirnskii (А.А. Смирнский)

Fellow of the HTK AU A.A. Smirnskii (Член НКТА АУ А.А. Смирнский)

Smirnskii was a famous athlete and in1913 he established a world record shooting small bore rifles at a distance of 50 meters, scoring 194 points out of 200 possible. In 1925 under his leadership tests were carried out to determine the optimum shapes for the front sight and the rear sight cutout of the Nagant revolver. Revolvers were tested with various front sight shapes: the notched half round front sight of the Belgian model (like the revolvers supplied by Nagant under the military contract in 1896-98), a notched sight with straight 1.25 mm blade and a straight sided blade with a thickness of 2mm. Revolvers with rear sight cut outs of various shapes were also tested: the standard ‘V’ shape, semicircular with a width of 2mm and square shaped cutout with a width of 2mm were all evaluated.

Results of these tests showed that the best results were achieved when shooting revolvers with the front sight blade shaped like the original Belgian models and a half round rear sight notch. Shooting, during the course of the tests, also revealed that the thin gap between the side of the square front sight and a square rear sight groove severely fatigued the eye during sighting.

The original Belgian Nagant front sight. The Russians changed it to a simple half moon sight when they started production at Tula in 1898 because it was easier to manufacture and didn’t damage the holster when the revolver was withdrawn.

As a result of these tests a test batch of 1000 revolvers was ordered from the Tula Factory. These revolvers had the half round rear sight groove with a width of 2.5mm and the Belgian model sight with a 1.25 mm thick sight blade. Tests with these revolvers would eventually lead to the sight change of mid 1932.

The Soviet Shooting Program

The “Festival of Red Shooting” (‘Праздник Красного стрелка’) of the USSR was established in July of 1925 and was carried out under the slogan “The country must have accurate shooting” (‘Стране нужен меткий стрелок!’). In September of 1925 the Soviet government encouraged the newly formed shooting organizations with the slogan: “Proletariat! Give us accurate shooting!” (‘Пролетарии! Даешь меткого стрелка!’) This greatly increased the popularity of the shooting sports, which in turn created a demand for both improved target models of the Nagant Service revolver and for models of .22 caliber rim fire weapons which could be used for low cost mass training in shooting in the shooting sports.

A pair of target adapted revolvers from the 1920’s
Top: a long barreled .22 caliber revolver dated 1925. The rear sight is still a ‘V’ shaped groove in the frame. Bottom: a 1927 dated service revolver with a ramp type front sight and a half round groove rear sight.

The Society for the assistance of aviation and chemistry or Osoaviakhim (Общество содействая авиции и химии – Осовиахим) was founded in 1927. The following year the Soviet government gave it supervision of shooting sports development in civilian organizations. The Osoviakhim shooting cup was competed for by all organizations in the country. This competition promoted the popularity of shooting sports amongst the population (especially amongst youth) and helped individuals to learn shooting skills. A significant role in the development and popularization of sport shooting in the Soviet Union was played by Peoples Commissar of Defense of the USSR Klement Efremovich Voroshilov (Клемент Ефремович Ворошиов), a the great lover of shooting himself.

In February 1929 the presidium of the shooting section of the Osovakhim established the qualification levels for shooting the revolver. This classification was first designed and set by the presidium of the shooting section of the VCQK (ВСФК Высшего Совета физической культуры Supreme Council of Physical Education) and ВЦИК (Всеросси́йский Центра́льный Исполни́тельный Комите́тAll-Russian central Executive Council) 28 January 1926 and was originally put into effect on 1 January 1927.

There were two principle classifications for shooting the revolver; the Beginners (Тировая) and Field (Полевая) Classifications.
The course of fire for Beginner’s Classification was carried out at a distance of 25 meters using the revolver (or 5.6 mm subcaliber revolver) at a № 5 target. 7 cartridges were fired and time on fire was unlimited, but exit from the firing line was forbidden. Scores required for achieving First or Second Class of the Beginner’s Classification are shown in the table below. Shooters achieving the necessary scores received a certificate.

Beginner’s Classification

______________Revolver Model 1895 (7.62 mm) ___Revolver Caliber 5.6 mm
First Class ______50 __________________________55
Second Class ____45__________________________50
Satisfactory _____40__________________________ 45

It was required to first have successfully completed the Beginners First and Second Class before attempting the Field Classification.

The course of fire for the Field Classification consisted of two stages and was as follows:
1. Slow fire at a № 5 target at 50 meters. 10 cartridges were allowed, three “sighters” and seven for score. Seven minute time limit to complete the stage.
2. Rapid fire at a № 5 target at a range of 30 meters. Seven cartridges were allowed (no “sighters” were permitted) within a 30 second time limit to complete the stage.

The course of fire was carried out in a single attempt without a break between the two stages. It was permitted to attempt the Classification an unlimited number of times, but not more than one attempt could be made in a single day. Scores to achieve the proficiency levels of the Field Classification are shown below. Scores are the sum of the two stages and the maximum possible score for the two stages – 140.

Field Classification

Classification ____________________Ordinary shooters _________Shooters of MPSO “Dynamo” (МПСО ‘Динамо’)
First Class - Master marksman _______90_____________________100
Second Class – Outstanding marksman _85_____________________90
Third Class - Good marksman ________80_____________________85

Shooters who successfully completed the Field Classification were given a certificate and earned the right to wear an award badge to show their achievement. [Reference: The Russian Nagant, Koldunov]

The Early 7.62 mm Target revolvers

The first target revolvers were common service revolvers, often with some work done to the trigger mechanism to make the single action hammer release a bit better. A.A. Smirnskii’s testing had shown that improving the sights of the revolver would increase accuracy and several examples of altered revolvers have been observed from the 1920’s with modified sights. The most observed model, although still somewhat rare, is the model from the 1925 -1932 period. The front sight insert has been replaced with a sight that has a straight post and a horizontally ribbed ramp to reduce glare.

The earliest example of these has been observed on a 1923 dated revolver and the latest on a 1931 dated revolver. Shown below is a 1927 dated example.

Details of the front sight on the 1927 dated 7.62 caliber target revolver. This model is a factory produced version seen on target revolvers from the period.

Detail of the rear sight of the 1927 dated target revolver. Note the round rear sight notch which would be used on production revolvers starting in 1932.


3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
A slightly different version of the ramped front sight. This one is on a 1931 dated revolver (SA marked). The rear sight on this one is still the early ‘V’ shaped groove. It should also be noted that this revolver has just about the finest trigger cleanup ever observed by the author on a M1895 service revolver!

Serial № 15801 1931 production

The base has been cut further down to make the blade higher on this model.

Period drawing of the ramped target sight

A 1923 dated revolver with the straight sided front sight blade. Several revolvers with this version of front sight have been observed. (Could this be the straight side version from Smirnskii’s testing?)

Side view of a 1923 target revolver

The front sight and the rear sight with its rounded groove. This is a very nicely made straight blade with a width of 2mm

The trigger mechanism of this revolver has been worked over to reduce and clean up both the single and double action trigger pull.

Besides slightly reshaping the contact surfaces of the trigger and the hammer, it was common practice to reduce the load on the trigger by either wedging a bullet under the lower leaf of the main spring or grinding it down to weaken it. The cut down bullet preloads the lower leaf of the spring and takes load off of the trigger and makes the double action trigger pull much easier. This example has had both of these measures applied and it has a very nice trigger pull, both in single and double action.

continued ...

3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Another odd front sight designed to get maximum sight radius from the short barrel of the Nagant. This one was found on a 1922 dated revolver. (Courtesy Ron W).

This next target front sight was named for the MPSO Dynamo (МПСО Московское пролетарское спортивное общество Динамо) shooting club in Moscow which used the experimental version of this sight in 1930. It was called the “dynamo type” (динамовской) front sight. I suspect that this sight was never adopted for Service revolver construction due to its complexity of manufacture.

The dynamo front sight has the same basic shape as the early Belgian produced sights but the upper blade has straight sides and a width of about 1.25 mm. This sight in conjunction with the half round rear sight was the result of A.A. Smirnskii’s testing.

The Dynamo front sight.
This particular sight was found on the front of a 90mm barrel Shortened model test revolver.

A shortened revolver used in the accuracy testing of 1930

The next variation of a front sight is on a 1926 dated Shortened revolver. It has a notched half round sight, but the notch has a ramp, rather than the horizontal cut of the Belgian style front sight.

Details of the sights. The half round notch would not be put into production until 1932.

Detail of the bullet under the lower leaf of the mainspring. This particular revolver has a very nice trigger exceeded only by full blown target revolvers.
continued ...

3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The Nagant Smirnskii 5.6 mm Caliber Revolvers
In 1925 A.A. Smirnskii had already designed a small bore rifle designed on the basis of the Model 1891 7.62mm service rifle. This rifle received the designation “small bore rifle Smirnskii first model”. At the order of the Osoviakhim in 1926 A.A. Smirnskii also designed a conversion of the standard service revolver to shoot 5.6 mm (.22) caliber rimfire cartridges for training purposes. This new training revolver, as originally constructed differed from the standard service revolver in the following aspects: it had a single action trigger mechanism, reduced height of the front sight (to accommodate the ballistic characteristics of the 5.6 mm cartridge), inserts in the cylinder chambers for the smaller dimensions of 26 mm rim fire cartridge, a new .22 caliber barrel and changes to the breech block and firing pin to allow the use of the rim fire ignition system of the cartridge. The conversions of these original small bore revolvers were carried out at Army arsenals and the shops of the Osoviakhim. They were made from previously issued and used revolvers of earlier production, mostly pre WWI production.

When these converted small bore revolvers are fired, the cylinder advances to the barrel stub, just like a service revolver. The barrel stub fits into a counter bore on the face of the cylinder which helps to center the chamber of the cylinder with the barrel bore. The shorter.22 caliber cartridge does not extend forward out of the cylinder to create a gas seal so there is some leakage of powder gasses at the gap between the barrel and cylinder face. To aid in accuracy the trigger pull of the new small bore revolver was reduced to 1.5kg in single action fire. These early conversion Nagant Smirnskii revolvers achieved a good reputation for accuracy at a distance of 25 meters.

The conversion process was move to the Tula Weapons Factory in the late 1920’s to enable mass conversions of service revolvers to the small bore version. In 1930 alone more than 2000 Nagant Smirnskii conversion revolvers were produced at the factory. Production/conversion is reported to have continued into 1939 when production needs for the Winter War terminated production, however, a 1940 dated factory revolver has been observed.

The factory conversions were made at the Tula factory and can be divided into three observed types; early factory conversions without dates – pre 1933 made from earlier production revolvers, dated factory conversions of earlier revolvers – usually pre 1936, and late factory production of new .22 caliber revolvers – 1936-39. Both early factory conversions and dated factory conversions are usually marked with a new Acceptance Commission mark on the right side of the frame and this new AC mark should be consistent with the year of conversion.

The basic models of the .22 caliber Nagant revolver

Early Osoviakhim and Army depot conversions
Early undated factory conversions
Early Dated Conversions
Late Factory Production “conversions”
Gunsmith conversions

Early undated factory conversions
The early factory conversions were not initially made as a .22, but converted from earlier standard service model revolvers. All of the early factory conversion revolvers observed have been altered from Imperial revolvers and the earliest was converted in the late 1920s. These revolvers had the cylinder, barrel, front sight, breech block and firing pin replaced with brand new .22 caliber versions of the components. The cylinders used in these were not sleeved like the earlier Osoviakhim modified revolvers, but factory new pieces. The front sight was a Belgian type with a notched half moon shape, but with a shorter vertical profile due to the ballistics of the .22 caliber round. The firing pin and breech block were replaced with piece modified to facilitate the use of rim fire ammunition. The trigger pull was reduced to 1.5 kg for better accuracy. The factory conversion revolvers are found in single action only as well as double action, but, by far the majority of observed examples are double action. When found the single action only version is made with Imperial single action parts, not modified Soviet parts from current production.

Comparison of the breech block and firing pin face on a standard Service revolver (left) and a .22 caliber factory conversion. Note the lower location of the hole for the firing pin and the flat face of the firing pin.

As previously stated, the basic trigger and cylinder advance mechanism is still present in the .22 caliber Smirnskii revolvers. When the cylinder advances, the small diameter counter bore on the face of the cylinder mates to the taper of the barrel stub and insures good alignment of the chamber and barrel.

Comparison of the barrel face on a 3 line standard service revolver (left) and a .22 factory conversion (right).

Comparison of the cylinders of a standard service revolver (left) and a .22 caliber factory conversion. One method of identifying original factory conversion cylinders is the diameter of the counter bores on the front face. The counter bore on the standard service revolver is noticeably larger than the factory conversion cylinders. The small counter bores on the conversion cylinder help cylinder and barrel alignment.

Shown below is an early factory conversion from 1932 or early 1933. This revolver has the Tula commercial mark on the side plate. The cylinder is serial numbered with its own number and the number is put on the right frame in front of frame in the area where the OTK mark and accuracy proof are usually found. Note that the conversion number on the frame is not dated.

An early factory conversion .22 caliber Nagant Smirnskii revolver

Early factory Nagant Smirnskii showing the altered firing pin with its flat tip for rim fire ammunition. Note the Tula commercial mark on the side plate.

Conversion number on the frame and matching conversion number on the cylinder. The number is A38. This revolver can be dated by its AC mark.

Left - detail of the front sight on the early factory conversion. Note that it is shorter than the standard front sight shown on the right.
continued ...


3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)

Early Dated Conversions
The second type of Tula factory conversion is has a date as well as a conversion number on the right side of the frame. These revolvers are still usually converted from Imperial revolvers. The new cylinder is given a serial number and that number is stamped on the frame along with the conversion date. Observed 1933 dated conversions are dated with a 2 digit date on the right side of the frame and some times a 4 digit date on the left side of the frame. 1935 dated conversions are dated on the right side of the frame with a full 4 digit date. The late dated revolvers of this type seem to have better finish (blue and polish) than the early ones. To my knowledge, nobody has seen a 1934 dated conversion. An early 1937 dated conversion of this type has been observed.

The conversion number and date on the right side of the frame. This revolver was converted from a 1917 dated revolver and has a square notched rear sight groove. It additionally has been give a new AC mark with an added letter ‘Р’, probably for repaired in Russian (Ремонтировать is to repair or rework).

Unusual, for a .22 caliber factory conversion, a square rear sight groove

Unusual additional ‘P’ mark found on a converted revolver from 1933. The normal AC mark for a 1933 dated revolver is the circled ‘Зр’ and star with out the extra ‘P’

The next revolver is a dated conversion from 1933. It was converted from a pre 1913 manufactured revolver. This revolver has been polished and reblued with brand new grips. It is doubtful that this revolver has even been fired since its conversion.

Left side and right side view of the 1933 dated conversion. There is no AC mark on this revolver.

Detail of conversion date on the right side of the 1933 date conversion. Note that the date is only 2 digits.

Seldom observed 1933 conversion date on the left side of the revolver. Note the new condition of the grips!
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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Next is shown a 1935 dated conversion. 1935’s have a full 4 digit date marked on the right side of the frame. This particular 1935 is single action only. Single action dated conversions are not common, but they do exist. This revolver is a converted 1913-1916 period revolver, probably 1913 or 1914 from the AC mark.

Single action only hammer. Note the shape of the firing pin.

Detail of the markings on the right side of the frame. Note the full 4 digit date.

Detail of the AC mark with the 1935 mark over an early WWI AC mark. The light colored circle in the lower right of the picture is where the hammer pivot pin has been replaced. This is common weakness in Nagant revolvers.

Another 1935 conversion. This revolver is double action and was converted from a 1916 dated revolver. The most interesting thing about this revolver is the unusual mark on the left side of the frame ‘БР’ Meaning unknown.

Dated conversion from 1935 left side view.

Unusual ‘БР’ mark on the frame

Detail of the date and conversion number on the ‘БР’ dated conversion from 1935

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Late Factory Production “conversions”
The last variation of factory “conversions” is the production conversions of new factory revolvers. These revolvers were produced in the 1936(?) through 1940 time period as factory new revolvers instead of being converted from older revolvers. (there are rumors of a 1935 dated and “converted” example)
These revolvers were purpose built from the start as .22 caliber, i.e. the frames were designated for .22 production before being finished, and not just random frames pulled from the line and made into small bores. The reason for this statement is that the frames on this model are not quite the same as the standard service revolver frame of the period - the rear sight groove is a ‘V’ shaped notch rather than the 2mm half round groove put into production in mid 1932.

This model is dated and serial numbered on the side plate and frame just like the production revolvers, but the .22 cylinder is numbered with a “conversion” number that does not match the frame serial number, just like the earlier dated conversion model. The “conversion” number from the cylinder and conversion date are stamped on the right side of the revolver in the usual location.

The conversion date and the date on the side plate do not always match! A 1936 high serial numbered revolver has a very low 1937 conversion number and an original revolver with a 1938 frame and side plate and a 1939 conversion date has been observed. Another example has been observed with 1933 sideplate date and a 1935 conversion date. It is unknown if this is a late factory conversion or a dated conversion, if the rear sight is a ‘V’ shaped notch, it is a Late Factory Production, other wise it is a dated production conversion simply converted from a late revolver which would be unusual in itself.

It is unknown if the conversion numbers were started over every year or ran continuously across year dates. The afore mentioned 1938 had a prefixed serial number so it is difficult to tell when it was produced during the calendar year, but the conversion number was in the low 6000 range.

1933 53137 conversion date 35 #1665
1936 62845 conversion date 37 #25
1938 ЧЧ951 conversion date 39 #6097

A rare variation of this model has the
Tula factory commercial mark in place of the AC mark on the right side of the frame. Three other examples of the .22 with the commercial mark on the left side, one of which is shown earlier, have been observed. This is the only observed example with the commercial mark on the right side.

A 1937 Factory production conversion .22 caliber revolver

Detail of the 1937 Factory production conversion side plate and hammer. Note the star on the flat tipped firing pin.

Detail of the conversion number and date on the frame in the same location as the dated conversion model

Detail of the serial number on the face of the cylinder of a factory production .22 caliber revolver

Left normal late 1937 AC mark on a 1937 dated production conversion revolver. This mark is the same as the mark found on standard service revolvers produced in the late part of that year (early and mid production have the very small circle with the mark Зр).
Right Rare Tula commercial mark for an AC mark on a 1937 dated factory production conversion.

How many?
The small bore Soviet Nagant revolver is a relatively rare piece and is seldom encountered. I have observed probably less than a total of 30 pieces over the years. They are definitely more common than the shortened of Commander’s model. 1937 has been the most common year observed. As previously stated it is unknown if the conversion numbers started over every year, but it would seem so. Serial numbers before 1938 and the conversion numbers seem to correspond to some degree, i.e. low serial numbers correspond to low conversion numbers and vice versa (1938 and later revolvers have 2 letter prefixes to the serial number in random blocks and will show no correlation with conversion numbers).
Assuming new conversion numbers each year adding the highest numbers observed with a consistent guess for 1938:
1933 – 4312
1934 – 0
1935 – 333
1936 – 5158
1937 – 6585
1938 – 6000?
1939 -6097
1940 – 1260
Total 29745 dated conversion and factory production revolvers

A conservative guess for total production of early Osoviakhim and Army depot conversions is probably on the order of a few hundred, these were hand made revolvers and there are few survivors and are difficult to identify since they don’t seem to have any special markings. Production of the early undated Tula conversions probably didn’t exceed a few thousand – they are almost never seen (the author has seen only one). This would make estimated total production to be around 35,000 revolvers.
Then why are they more commonly observed than the shortened model with about the same production level? One guess is that many of the shortened models were converted to MTs-4s and the .22s remained in original configuration. Another guess is that .22s weren’t lost in combat like a revolver shooting a service cartridge.

There is evidence of use of the small bore revolver by the agents of the Narcotic division (NKVD - НКВД) for use on several special operations. For example, to arrest a criminal when it was necessary to take him alive, he was shot in the leg or shoulder, to reduce his ability to run or return fire. The lead bullet of the .22 caliber revolver was less lethal and carried less danger to the life of the criminal than the bullet of the full power service revolver cartridge.
Needless to say, since the .22 rimfire revolver was cheap and fun to shoot it was also used for plinking and having fun.


3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Early and Gunsmith Conversions
There are other variations of .22 conversions, but all other observed models were made by gunsmiths rather than the factory. Most gunsmith conversions were made from 1930s and 40s dated revolvers. The only observed 1920s dated conversion is probably an original 1920s conversion by the Osoviakhim or Army.

This long barrel 1925 conversion shows characteristics of the 1920s target conversions. The barrel is a .22 caliber barrel and the cylinder is lined to take the .22 caliber rimfire cartridge. The front sight is post with a round bead. The firing pin has been replaced with an odd arrangement that curves up and the breech block has been opened up to accommodate this oddity.

This revolver still has the ‘V’ shaped rear sight notch
=>picture of the front sight coming

Detail of the odd upward curving firing pin and the enlarged hole in the breech block to enable the pin to hit the upper edge of a rim fire cartridge.

The tip of the mainspring has been thinned and the hammer trigger mechanism worked over. Trigger pull is very light and sight picture is excellent. A delight to shoot! It is my suspicion that this is a real 1920’s conversion.

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Here are pictures of a pair of gunsmith conversions. The first is a fairly standard conversion. The second is a bit more innovative.

This is a 1935 dated revolver that has had the cylinder chambers sleeved and the barrel lined. The front sight is still full height and it is unknown how the rimfire cartridge is handled on this particular conversion. Photos courtesy Collectible

A polished and reblued early 1935 converted to .22 and the right side of the revolver. Note that there is no conversion number or date by the original accuracy proof on the right side of the frame.

The front sight remains as original. How was the point of impact adjusted?

Left -the cylinder liners are visible. Note the large diameter reliefs on the cylinder face. Right - The barrel is lined, not replaced with a new .22 caliber tube.

Detail of the rear cylinder face

Another more innovative conversion with a sleeved cylinder and barrel. However, on this one the sleeves in the cylinder extend forward and mate into the stub of the sleeved barrel giving better alignment of the cartridge in front of the barrel stub. This is only possible on the Nagant revolver with its advancing cylinder from the original gas seal system.
Again, photos courtesy

A 1940 dated Service revolver converted to .22. Again, no conversion date or number on the right side

Detail of the cylinder face. The cylinder liners extend in front of the face and the barrel to effectively create cylinder chamber extensions. The barrel stub is full sized and relieved to accept the chamder extensions. When the cylinder moves forward, the extension mates with the barrel stub relief and alignment is assured. Very slick!!

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Another long barreled conversion


3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
The MTs4
In 1954 the first of the Soviet combined teams won the championship of the world in Caracas, (Venezuela). The members of the team shot with the service model Nagant revolver in the large bore sport revolver category.

However, in the individual championships, the service model Nagant revolver couldn’t compete with the Smith & Wesson and Colt target revolvers. The revolver models of these manufacturers had a long barrel of 6 inches (152.4 mm) and utilized cartridges with “wad cutter” type lead bullets. With its short barrel (about 115 mm) and old style cartridges loaded with flat nosed ogive shaped bullets, the old Nagant could not compete, even if the Soviet shooters could. An unprecedented decision was made and the Soviet shooters bought 2 Smith & Wesson revolvers and cartridges for them. With these revolvers the Soviet shooters proved that the were the best in the world – shooting with the 2 replacement revolvers they won the team 1st place (gold) and set a team world record of 2319 points. A. Yasinskii (А. Ясинский) was 4th with a result of 581 points, L. Vainshtein (Л.Вайнштейн) – 581 points ( 1 shot missing!) and the champion was T. Ul’man (Т. Ульман) – with 586 points.

The Nagant service revolver with its short barrel and old fashioned bullets was only capable of achieving a score of 88-90 points at a distance of 50 meters, and in order to achieve higher scores a new revolver was necessary. So, after having to use a foreign revolver to compete, the question of a better revolver and a cartridge for it using a wad cutter bullet was put to Soviet industry in 1955.

In Bucharest at the championship of Europe in 1955 the Soviets were still shooting the Smith and Wesson and M. Umarov (М. Умаров) established a new world record of 588 points. The Smith & Wessons were used by the Soviet team for the last time in the world championship in 1958 in Moscow.

The task of developing a new revolver was given to the specialists of the Tula Central design and research office of sport (target) and hunting weapons (Тульский Центральный Констукторский-исследовательский бюро спортивного и охотничего оружия or ЦКИБ и СОО) or TsKIB. The first models of the new revolver were built on the foundation of the old Model 1895 Nagant service revolver and first appeared in 1956.

The new revolver was the design of V.A. Paramonov (В.А. Парамонов) (the current supervisor of the Tula museum of weapons) and machinists A. Tatarinov (А. Татаринов) and Yu. Zemtsov (Ю.Земцов). The old service revolver was modernized to comply with the rules governing competition at that time for shooting with a standard service revolver. These rules included the following; the length of the barrel must not be greater than 150 mm, and the length of the sight radius not greater than 220 mm. A modified grip could be used but its width could not exceed 50mm. The shape of the frame within the grip must not be modified in profile from the original revolver by more than 5mm. The trigger pull must not be less than 1,360 g. There were also restrictions on the type of sights that could be used.

In 1956 the target revolver they designed received the designation MTs-4 (МЦ-4) and was put into serial production. The designation MTs for a Russian target weapons comes from the Russian letters ‘МЦ’ which is derived from the Russian word for Model and the first letter of the Russian word for central ‘Центральный’ . The “Central” is from the first word of the afore mentioned design bureau at Tula that developed special target weapons - Tula Central design and research office of sport (target) and hunting weapons ЦКИБиСОО or TsKIB. So МЦ comes from Mодель ЦКИБ or Model TsKIB. Note: In the English speaking world this designation is often called ‘MU’ because of the similarity of the English letter ‘U’ and the Russian letter ‘Ц’.

An early model MTs-4 revolver

Since the production of the M1895 service revolvers had been terminated by 1946, all MTs-4’s were produced by modifying revolvers from much earlier production.

The new revolver had a new heavy barrel of increased diameter and length for stability. Due to this obvious new feature, the MTs-4 was sometimes called the “rebarreled” revolver (перестволенный револьвер) or the target revolver. Most models of the new revolver also had a more comfortable semi orthopedic grip (the angle which was at exactly 117°, instead of the 111° of the service model).

A major improvement of the MTs-4 over the old M1895 service model revolver was its vertical and horizontally adjustable sights. The top of the frame of the MTs-4 was built up vertically to facilitate a horizontally adjustable rear sight. One turn of the rear sight adjusting screw moves the point of impact at 25 meters approximately 70 mm in the horizontal plane (shooting at 50 meters – 140mm).

Detail of the early style adjustable rear sight found on the Standard Service Model and Model 1 MTs-4. Note where the frame was built up for the sight up by welding and machining.

The front sight is vertically adjustable and one turn of the front sight adjusting screw moves the point of impact at 25 meters approximately 35mm in the vertical plane (shooting at a distance of 50 meters – 70mm). Note: The approximate movement values are due to the different sight radius distances of the different variations of the MTs-4.

Detail of the front sight on the Standard Service Model MTs-4. This type of sight has also been observed on the Model 1 MTs-4

There are several basic models of the MTs-4, some developed for special purposes, some as improvements over previous. The model names given here are mine and seem to be chronologically correct. These names are not to be confused with the Mts-4-1, Mts-4-2, etc. which are different altogether from the standard MTs-4 series revolvers.

The Sport (Target) Cartridge B-1 (Спортивный патрон В–1)
One of the factors that made the MTs-4 successful was the new B-1 (V-1 in Roman letters) target cartridge. This new Target Cartridge B-1 (Спортивный патрон В–1) was originally developed in conjunction with the MTs-4 revolver.

Fig. A section drawing of the B-1 Target Cartridge (Спортивный патрон В–1)

The brass case is virtually identical to the case of the standard service round. The bullet, however, is quite different. Instead of an ogive shaped jacketed bullet with a 4mm flat at its front surface, the unjacketed target bullet is made of lead with a hollow base to facilitate expansion to completely fill the lands and grooves of the barrel to insure accuracy. The front surface is flat – a wad cutter type bullet. The sharp edge of the front surface of this type of bullet cuts an even round hole in the target to facilitate counting points in competition. The bullet is deeply seated in the case and the front of the case is tapered to insure smooth operation as the cylinder moves to the barrel stub during firing.

The cartridge was loaded with a reduced charge to only give a velocity of about 185-200 meters per second at the muzzle. The resulting ballistic characteristics of the B-1 were very good and a maximum dispersion of the bullets at 25 meters is only 40mm.

Technical characteristics of the B-1 Target Cartridge

Caliber, mm - 7.62
Length, mm - 38.48-38.73
Weight, g - 10.9-11.32
Weight of bullet, g - 6.35-47
Length of bullet, mm - 13.8
Weigh of powder charge, g - 0.11
Muzzle velocity, m/sec - 183-198
Maximum chamber pressure. Kg/cm2 - 1100

Note: these are the cartridges recently imported from Russia labeled as Sport revolver cartridges in the Yellow and white boxes. The yellow box is from 1972 and the white box from 1985.

Recent import boxes of Russian target ammunition

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The Standard Service Model MTs-4
The Standard Service Model MTs-4 is built on a standard M1895 service model frame with an enlarged 17mm diameter barrel that has been lengthened to 148 mm. The barrel on this model is considerably smaller in diameter than the later versions of the MTs-4.
The hammer mechanism is double action only. The standard shape hammer can be cocked to a single action position, but pushes the trigger forward when the revolver is fired. This model was probably intended for rapid fire competition.

Left and right view of the Standard Service Model MTs-4

Details of the early style adjustable rear sight found on the Standard Service Model and Model 1 MTs-4. The square notch gives a good sight picture. Note where the frame was built for the sight up by welding in the right picture

Detail of the hammer and horizontal sight adjustment of the Standard Service Model MTs-4

Detail of the Double action trigger/hammer mechanism on the Standard Service model. Note the pointed shape of the sear on the hammer

This model retains the ejector rod and its standard carrier. The front sight is vertically adjustable and much smaller (and better made) than most of the single action revolvers observed.

Left - Side view of the front sight of the Army Model MTs 4
Right - Vertical view of the front sight of the Army Model MTs 4

The grips on this revolver are standard, but have very heavy checkering (from refurb?). This model was undoubtedly used for rapid fire shooting. The revolver shown was remanufactured from a 1924 dated revolver. The side plate date is shown below.

Side plate detail of a Standard Service Model MTs-4

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
The Model 1 MTs-4 Revolver

The Model 1 MTs-4 is constructed from the standard M1895 service revolver frame. The most obvious features are the improved orthopedic grips and the enlarged barrel. The barrel diameter has been enlarged to 20 mm and the length increased to 147mm. The rear sight area of the frame has been built up with a rear sight like the one found on the Standard Service Model MTs-4.

Basic MTs-4 Model 1 side views

This model still retains the ejector rod and its carrier, but the large diameter barrel necessitates a clearance groove in the bottom of the barrel for the ejector rod. Shown below is a detail of the clearance groove on the bottom of the barrel.

Fig. Detail of the ejector rod and clearance groove in the large diameter barrel

The frame is remanufactured from a standard M1895 service revolver with the rear sight area built up vertically for a horizontally adjustable sight.
Detail of the adjustable rear sight and the build up of the frame of the Model 1.

This model is single action only, but constructed with a standard double action hammer block and hammer with the hammer fly, spring and retaining screw removed. The hammer also has the spur turned up for clearance over the large grip plates in cocked position. The hammer and trigger mechanism on these revolvers were delivered unaltered from the original. It was expected that the shooter would modify the trigger mechanism to suit (source Danilov).

Fig Detail of the modified shape of the hammer

and why it needed to be bent up.

Diagram of hammer modifications from 1964 book Danilov

The front sight is vertically adjustable. The front sight on this model is long and very crudely made. Compare this to the sight on the Standard Service Model. I've often wondered if the original sights were saved and these are replacements put on the revolvers at refurb?

Detail of front sight. Note that there is a reduced diameter area in front of the sight on this model. This would be eliminated in the next model

Grips removed to show frame modification for better balance.

Technical characteristics MTs 4 Model 1

Length, mm -------292

Height, mm --------157

Width, mm ---------54

Length of barrel, mm - 147

Barrel Diameter, mm - 20

Length of Sight Radius, mm - 185

Weight empty, g -1050?

Weight loaded with seven cartridges, g - 1140?

Trigger Mechanism - Single Action only

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The MTs-4 Model 2

Soviet shooters complained about the balance of the original MTs-4 (the Model 1) so an effort was made to improve the balance and stability of the MTs-4. The rule that the outline of the frame could not be changed by more than 5mm limited what could be done to lighten the revolver in the area necessary, the butt area, so at least some, but not all, examples of the new model were made from the old shortened or Commander's model revolver manufactured in the 1924-1930 period. The smaller grip combined with the tapered weight forward barrel did give better balance, but it probably wasn't enough. The shooters needed better. It would be replaced by the TOZ-36 in 1962.

Side views of the Model 2 MTs-4

This example of the Model 2 was made from the shortened or Commander’s model frame. The reason to use the Commander’s model frame was probably the rule that the shape of the frame could not be changed more than 5 mm. Since the frame was shorter, the grip angle could be slightly improved and most of all, the smaller butt would put less mass in the butt of the revolver and allow better balance over the Model 1. Below is a view of the Model 2 revealing the shortened Model Revolver frame under the BIG grip plates.

Detail of the Model 2 MTs-4 with the side plate detached. The cut out is big enough for a standard M1895 service revolver frame. Only the horizontal cut for the butt cap would have to be moved for the longer frame. The left grip plate is held on from the outside like the Commander’s model (the inside hole is not beveled and the screw is under the main spring).

A model 2 MTs-4 with the larger standard service revolver frame. Both outside grip plates are attached from the inside just like on the Standard Service model.

The Model 2 has an enlarged barrel with the bottom of the barrel flattened for clearance for the shortened cylinder axle retaining pin and washer. This tapered cut moves the effective weight of the barrel further forward in an attempt to get even better balance for the revolver. There is no ejector rod or carrier. Extraction of spent cases would be accomplished with an external tool.

Detail of the tapered flat on the bottom of the barrel.

The cylinder axle retainer has a hole in its head for a cross pin tool to allow its removal. Note no ejector rod carrier

The cylinder axle has a short pin assembled into it and a flat sided washer. The washer in assembled position locks into a notch on the barrel where it meets the frame. This locks the cylinder pin in place. When rotated clockwise 90 degrees, the flat of the washer lines up with the milled surface on the underside of the barrel to allow the cylinder pin to be removed forward.

The major parts apart

The cylinder pin in locked position.

The frame is built up vertically and widened to a hammer head shape to accommodate a very good horizontally adjustable rear sight.

Fig. 3/4 view detail of the adjustable rear sight. Note the clearance for the hammer spur in the stocks.

Detail of the horizontally adjustable rear sight and a view of the rear sight and the rounded top of the Commander’s model revolver hammer

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3,760 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
The front sight allowed adjustment in the vertical plane

Fig. Detail of the front sight found on the import MTs-4’s. Note the taper of the barrel cut. Everything was done to focus weight forward – there is no reduced diameter cut in front of the sight as found on the Model 1.

Fig. Vertical view of the front sight of the Model 2 MTs-4

It is likely that a front sight was available for this model with an adjustable front post with inserts to allow changing the width of the front sight post.

Fig. Front sight with replaceable/adjustable post from 1964 dated book Danilov

This model is also single action only, built with a standard double action hammer block and a hammer of standard shape for a Commander’s model revolver with the fly, spring and retaining screw removed (it does not have a turned up spur typical for single action target use).

Fig. Hammer detail of the Model 2. The hammer has the rounded top of the hammer found on the Commander’s model revolver. Note the clearance cut in the stocks for the hammer spur

Fig. the different grip shapes of model 1 and model 2

Technical characteristics MTs 4 Model 2
Length, mm
Height, mm
Width, mm
Length of barrel, mm
Barrel Diameter, mm
Length of Sight Radius, mm
Weight empty, g
Weight loaded with seven cartridges, g
Trigger Mechanism
Single Action only

The various MTs-4 model revolvers were employed with success by Soviet shooters up till the time of manufacture of the specialized TOZ-36 target revolver in 1962. In ten years (from 1956 to 1966) 8,220 revolvers were produced.

View attachment 1765082
The MTS-4 models
All Soviet shooters of the time shot from the “rebarreled” Nagant and the B-1 cartridge with its wad cutter lead bullet, which had been put into production in 1956, but for a while the new revolver and the cartridges weren’t available in great numbers. Shooters still shot their “old iron”, the old standard service revolver and service cartridges with the truncated ogive shape bullets, and a few of the new cartridges (B-1 with lead wad cutters) as they were available.

Several experimental models of the MTs 4 were developed on the basis of the standard MTs-4 models. The development of these models was carried out by the designers of the TsKIB (ЦКИБ и СОО Tula Central design Bureau of sport and hunting weapons) I.A. Gorbushin (И.А. Горбушин), who also took an active part in developing target pneumatic weapons.
In 1961 the ЦКИБ developed 4 new models of revolvers МЦ-4, МЦ-4-1, МЦ-4-2 и МЦ-4-3. The МЦ-4-3 was a “hybrid” revolver and pistol. Above the cylinder and barrel it had a slide that resembled the lock of an automatic pistol which covered the hammer. On every shot it was necessary to draw the slide the extreme rear position causing the cylinder to travel to the rear and rotate. When the slide was returned forward it moved the cylinder forward. The hammer was covered and it wasn’t possible to visually determine whether or not it was cocked.

One of the experimental versions of the MTs-4 -1 for the B-1 cartridge

MTs-4 -1 for the 2RLSY (2РЛСУ) 7.62x26 cartridge

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