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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up this scrubbed nagant at my local shop, and I can't determine the date range. It looks like it has no import mark that I can find, the serials all match, including the sideplate, and it has quite a bit of wear on the grips nearest the trigger guard. It also has Tula OTK marks on all the parts, and is single action only. Any guidance is much appreciated!

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OK, we need a few more pictures, but here is what is obvious:
The serial number on the trigger guard dates it to pre mid 1916. The checkering on the grips is fine and a detail picture of the grip plate around the screw retainer would help.
Does it still have any remnant of the AC mark on the right rear of the frame?
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your help Joe!

No AC mark on the frame. The only remaining marks are inside the revolver and the Tula hammers, one on the frame and the rest on various parts.

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1910-1916, probably 1915. The grips are post 1910.
I don't see some marks I should see, namely the OTK and inspection marks on the hammer and the accuracy proof on the right front of the frame (is it there and we just can't see it in the photograph?). This makes me wonder if it is a "lunch box" special which would be really cool!
The finish isn't what you would expect on an Imperial, but the parts don't look scrubbed, it looks more like they didn't get final polish. Additionally, the surfaces don't look to have been taken down to the point where the marks would have been removed - they were quite deep.
Nice piece!
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
That is great info, thanks so much!!

I can't find any evidence of any other marks on the outside of the pistol, except of another hammer and what looks like a K on the cylinder pin. I'm really quite happy with it, thank you for the compliments! The grip wear near the trigger guard suggests to me it was held often. Also the barrel is shiny and sharp for the first half, with some pitting but sharp lands and grooves towards the muzzle. 6 of the 7 cylinder chambers are shiny and smooth with one having some pitting towards the barrel end.


Here are a few more photos, sorry if this is so pic heavy:














 

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IIRC there was a period during the Revolution when some of the workers made guns that weren't marked. This one doesn't qualify - it is too early. With a War on, the parts wouldn't have stayed around that long and the hand finished parts are unusual even for the revolution/civil war period.
With its lack of accuracy proof and AC marks, the other possiblity is a training revolver and this doesn't fit that category either. Trainers were made from defective parts, but the parts would have been marked and the grips painted black. The paint can wear off but the marked defective parts would still be there.
The hammer on this one isn't marked, and they were marked with OTK marks and a letter inspection/acceptance mark in that period. It was probably a part that was hand finished and used. Ditto for the grip plate insert on one side. The X on the hammer block is also unusual.

I really do think that it is a "lunch box special".

Joe
 

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From the images, I would say that someone did an excellent job of refinishing a rusty pre- WWI vintage revolver. Most of the early non-import Nagants I have observed appear to have suffered from either poor storage or long use. These revolvers are often brown or pitted with rust. That's what I see here. Internal parts with rust pits indicate that at one time the entire revolver was rust pitted. In the course of refinishing, the side plate markings were lost. This is to be expected given that side plate markings were sometimes rather shallow. Whoever did the refinishing work did a great job. The excellence of the work does not necessarily indicate an official Russian refinish, for there are private gunsmiths who can do work like this if they want to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If it weren't for the absence of proofs anywhere inside or outside the pistol, and that it appears hand finished, and that the tula hammers are still present and deep, and the fact that it shows no sign of being scrubbed or reblued, I might agree with you. But, I'm going to go with Joe on this one, as I'm guessing he owns more Nagants than I've even seen and he knows what he's talking about :)
 

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If you look again, I think you will see that the information Joe has provided is not inconsistant with my observations. You have a reblue. Sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Actually, what you've said is inconsistent with Joe's observations. You are suggesting that the markings were scrubbed, whereas he is suggesting it was never marked in the first place. Judging by the missing PK proof, accuracy proof, and other marks on both the frame and parts, with no signs of them having been scrubbed, sanded, or removed, it seems more likely it was not marked in the first place. Unless you are suggesting that it was scrubbed very carefully by Tula employees and then absconded with before getting restamped.

I think it's a fascinating gun, but I'm not familiar enough with the original non-refurbished Nagants, let alone the original bluing to know its story for certain, so I'm open to all opinions. Right now, looking at the gun in person, having had other collectors look at it, and having compared it to multiple refurbished Nagants, the opinion that it was never marked seems to me to make the most sense.
 

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45 Auto, I don't think so. There are too many missing proofs and inspector's marks for it to be a simple reblue. I don't believe that the frame/sideplate was ever given a sideplate mark, an acceptance proof or an accuracy proof. I have seen revolvers without one of these marks in this period, but never all. There would be more damage to the frame and the way everything fits and looks if ALL of these had been buffed out. The hammer is pitted, but I'm not sure that is from rust. It is certainly missing the OTK mark and alpha inspector's mark as well - likely a salvage part made from a poor quality forging. The seams between the sideplate and frame are good without the really bad grinder marks you see on refinished revolvers.

As to your comment, Most of the early non-import Nagants I have observed appear to have suffered from either poor storage or long use. You need to see my collection of Imperials and I still keep finding them. There are LOTS of nice non-import Nagants out there - many are in collections but they still show up from time to time. I find more nice condition Imperials than I do nice unaltered 1920s pieces.

Everything I see in this revolver is consistant with a lunch box special. There are too many things wrong (or missing) with the reblue theory.
Joe
 

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Considering how much knowledge you have regarding the Nagant M95 it’s amazing that you have not noticed the signs that the above revolver was refinished. It would be much too involved to discuss all of the indications, but for purposes of illustration I will mention a few:
1. After more than 40 years of collecting and gunsmithing it has become rather clear that missing markings are to be expected when a worn and rusted firearm has been sanded down, polished and reblued. Someone tried to do a good job refinishing this handgun, maybe to get a good grade at a community collage gunsmithing class.
2. The Screws and loading gate: In “The Teacher’s” image of the right side of his M95, we can clearly see that whoever prepared this revolver for the rebluing tank did not do such a good job when it came to the screw head slots. If this revolver still had the original pre-1910 finish, the screw heads would have been properly shaped and finished prior to bluing. In this case, the screw heads rec’d a rather poor repair attempt prior to the blue tank. Note also in this image that the loading gate has a file mark, no doubt left from removing a bur or rust damage.
3. Rust Pits in hidden areas: In addition to the rust pitted hammer, rust pits can also be seen in the image of the inside of the frame. The inside of the frame suggests that the outside of the revolver would have had at least some rust pitting, but it has all been sanded and buffed away. Whoever prepared the revolver for the blue tank did not consider it necessary to remove the pitting inside the frame.
4. Surface Preparation and Finish of Internal Parts: Examining the finish on interior parts back in the pre-WWI era of production, the Tula workers clearly took great pride in a highly polished finish. The old original factory finish has a purple cast to it. In contrast to this high quality work the hammer in “The Teacher’s” scrubbed revolver is dull and shows evidence of heavy sanding and polishing in an effort to remove or at least reduce heavy rust pitting. In contrast to "The Teacher's" hammer, the trigger does not appear to have been refinished, but it has comparable rust pitting as one would expect.
5. Another clue, Surface Preparation and Finish of the Grip Screw Nuts: In "The Teacher's" images of these parts one can see file marks on one of them and polishing lines which are inconsistent with pre-1910 polishing and production techniques. Clearly, these parts received a quick sanding and buffing prior to being sent to the re-bluing tank with the rest of the revolver.
6. Scrubbed Side Plate Marks: It is not rare to find side plates on rebuilt M95’s without a trace of the original arsenal markings. This is because sometimes these markings were lightly struck to begin with and when this is coupled with rust pits and long use the markings are easily lost during the refinishing process. The fact that some inspection markings are still present in some other places on any given revolver while others are gone is not dispositive. Military revolvers such as the Nagant are often found with an assortment of markings some heavily struck and some lightly struck.
7. Forward left side of the Trigger Guard: In the refinishing process half of the arsenal mark has been erased and the first digit of the serial number is rather faint. Proof of a vigorous sanding and buffing job. To his credit, I think the gunsmith who refinished this revolver used hard felt buffing wheels instead of the soft cotton type. This technique avoided at least some of the rounding off of corners seen in some of the more amateurish work of this kind.

I could go on and on with more observations regarding why this revolver has been refinished, but I think the above should be more than enough.

Could this revolver be a ‘lunch box special?’ That’s your call. But one thing is for sure: that’s not the original factory finish.
 

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I didn't say it wasn't either refinished or the original finish accomplished outside of the factory. I totally agree that its current finish is not factory. What I said was that there is no sign or evidence of too many marks ever having been there for it to have left the factory as a standard service revolver with acceptances and proofs.
I have seen lots of Nagants that have been reworked, refinished, and messed with over the years. If it was a Soviet 1920s-1930s repair it would be marked, sometimes redated and there is always some evidence of at least some of the original marks, especially if the OTK marks are still there. One mark might be lightly stamped and lost, but not all of them on different parts of the revolver.
As to pitting, I have seen really nice external condition revolvers that have pitting inside - sometimes very heavy pitting. The trigger on this one is pitted, the hammer is likely a scrap part with pitting (it is missing the OTK mark and alpha inspector's mark which was heavily struck in this period).

I like your gunsmith student theory, but one of the other factors that is to be observed on this revolver is the the quality of the parts is not uniform, as you point out. Some are arsenal production quality, some are down right crude as would be the case if the revolver was partially made from salvage parts. If someone went to the effort of repairing and resurfacing an old revolver, I think they would have been more consisent. The file mark on the loading gate wouldn't be there if someone was refinishing it for a grade.

This revolver is not marked as a repair or a refurb. The exterior finish is either incomplete or likely resurfaced - but not heavily resurfaced. The normal acceptance and accuracy proofs are clearly missing and I don't believe ground off since all of the OTK marks are still there. The side plate mark is also missing. Quality of the parts is inconsistent as if at least some scrap parts were being used. One part is even likely marked as reject - the hammer block. This leads me to the conclusion that it was originally made from parts, some good, some not so good. The Russians tried to inspect quality into their guns and the scrap rates were very high. A worker would have easily been able to get enough parts to make a revolver.

I would really like to get an "in person" look at this one as it will tell me a whole lot more.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I appreciate all of the feedback and information guys. Thank you! I've learned a heck of a lot more about these guns than I knew before.

Until I can get someone with experience to take a look at it in person, I think we're going to just have to agree to disagree on this one. Pictures on the internet just aren't going to do it, since one bad angle or poorly placed light source can throw everything off. An experienced collector of Russian firearms has been kind enough to offer to take a look at it for me in person if I can sort out the logistics, so hopefully within the next two or three weeks I can get back to you with a firsthand professional opinion, and not just my own inexperienced one.

Thanks again for all of the very useful information!
 
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