From the repair of industrial equipment to the first revolver
In 1859, the eldest of the brothers, Emil, suggested that the youngest, Leon, organize an enterprise whose specialization would be the repair and manufacture of industrial equipment. Despite the very good progress of the young company of the Nagan brothers, the specialty gradually changed, and after a short time a larger amount of work was connected with the repair of revolvers, rifles and rifles from other manufacturers.
Of course, that only one repair could not satisfy the young designers. Seeing the imperfection of the designs of those samples weaponsthat fell into their hands, the brothers began to develop their own weapons, concentrating on rifles. It was then that the Nagan brothers' company got its name "Fabrique d'Armes Emile et Leon Nagant". Despite the fact that Nagan brothers' rifles were in many ways simpler and cheaper to manufacture, the designers could not offer anything fundamentally new in the market. In order to win a place among weapon companies with well-known names, it was necessary to invent something that would be superior in its characteristics to other samples. Designers even enlisted the support of Samuel Remington: visiting their production, he praised both the enterprise itself and the designers' developments, signing a contract with them to manufacture their rifles and carbines in Europe. With the permission of the American designer, the Nagant brothers slightly modernized the bolt of his weapon, and the Remington-Nagant rifle with a bolt was adopted by the Luxembourg Army.
The first recognized revolver Nagant M1878
This small victory for the designers gave them the opportunity to declare themselves as full gunsmiths, and soon they had developed a primitive, but outrageously cheap double-barreled gun for the Belgian gendarmerie. So, the brothers completely switched from long-barreled weapons, and since at that time the main short-barreled weapon was a revolver, it was the designers who took the development of revolvers more seriously.
In 1877, the Belgian army raised the question of replacing the not very successful Chamelo-Delvin revolver, and just at that time Emil Nagant patented his revolver with a double-action trigger and a ramrod pusher that was attached to the frame of the weapon and was removed in the drum axis after performing its functions.
After a number of improvements, this revolver was transferred to the competition for the Belgian army, and from the first days of testing left the competition behind. The integral frame of the weapon made it possible to use more powerful ammunition without harming the revolver itself, and the individual elements of the structure were more convenient and reliable. The price of the weapon also played a key role: despite the fact that the design of the trigger was not the easiest, the revolver itself required a large amount of high-quality metal, the Nagan brothers offered to deliver it at a lower price than its competitors.
As it is easy to guess, the M1878 revolver was adopted by the army of Belgium. This weapon became personal for warrant officers, military sergeants of senior sergeants, and later the same revolver became the main weapon of the Belgian gendarmerie.
The revolver was proposed by the patron, developed by the Nagan brothers. The cartridge consisted of a metal sleeve in which a lead-free shell-free bullet with a caliber 9,4 of millimeter and a mass of 12 grams was placed. The initial speed of a bullet fired from a revolver reached 200 meters per second. The revolver itself was a rather heavy weapon. Weight revolver was equal to 1,1 kilogram. The total length of the weapon was 270 millimeters with a barrel length 140 millimeters. Ate a revolver from a drum with 6 cameras.
This revolver, developed by Emil Nagan, became the starting point for the further development of this class of weapons of the brothers. All subsequent models, one way or another, were based precisely on this first successful revolver. The well-known side-flip door for extracting spent cartridges and equipping a revolver drum with new cartridges appeared in this version of the weapon.
Degradation of M1878 revolver: Nagant M1883 revolver
Weapons do not always follow the path of development, sometimes this is the path of degradation. In the M1878 revolver model, the firing mechanism was a double action. Despite the relatively low cost offered by the Nagan brothers, the highest military ranks felt that the weapons were too good for arming them all. The designers were asked to abandon the double-action firing mechanism and develop a cheaper single-action revolver. So there was a revolver under the designation M1883.
Gunsmiths greatly simplified the trigger mechanism of the weapon, making it a single action. Externally, the revolver could be distinguished only by the drum, the surface of which was smooth without dolov. In general, the characteristics of the weapon have not changed, if we forget that now before each shot it was necessary to manually trigger the trigger, but the cost of the weapon changed, although not significantly.
Despite the fact that the trigger mechanism lost its individual elements due to the heavier drum of the revolver, the mass of the weapon remained unchanged and was equal to 1,1 kilogram. The length of the revolver was equal to the same 27 centimeters with a four-centimeter barrel. The cartridge was used all the same 9,4x22.
Revolver M1884 Luxemburg - the old revolver with a new cartridge
Another modification of the M1878 revolver is the M1884 Luxemburg revolver. In the army of this small state in service were rifles with Remington bolts, improved and produced by the Nagan brothers. Apparently, the satisfaction of the cooperation and the final product played in favor of the fact that when the question arose of replacing the revolvers in his army, the military officials of Luxembourg again turned to the Belgians.
The main problem was that the military did not want to switch to the cartridge proposed by the brothers under any pretext, because the new revolvers were developed under a different ammunition - Swedish 7,5х23. True, the designers managed to "push through" and their ammunition, but more on that below.
Emil developed three models of weapons for Luxembourg: Officer, Safety, Gendarme.
The first was a military revolver, with the designation Officer and in fact was all the same M1878, but under the new cartridge.
It is necessary to immediately bring the characteristics of the used ammunition, so that it was clear why Luxembourg so resisted Naganovsky ammunition. As is clear from the designation of the cartridge, the sleeve length is equal to 23 millimeters with a diameter of a bullet 7,5 millimeter. The bullet itself was already in a copper shell and had a mass in 7 grams. The initial speed when fired from the M1884 Luxemburg revolver was 350 meters per second. If we compare it with what the Nagan brothers offered, then there is nothing to compare, the advantages of the Swedish patron are obvious. But back to the revolver.
The Nagant M1884 Luxemburg Officer revolver had all the same weight in 1,1 kilograms, all the same barrel length in 140 millimeters with a total length of 270 millimeters. That is, the designers simply reduced the drum chambers and replaced the barrel of the revolver.
More interesting was the model with the designation Safety. It is no secret to anyone that the perfect balance in weapons, between maximum security and constant instant readiness for use, immediately after extraction, is achieved in revolvers. However, even this did not seem enough in Luxembourg. For the weapon that was used to protect civilian objects and prisons, a special modification of the M1884 revolver was ordered, in the design of which a non-automatic safety device against accidental firing was provided. No doubt, it’s better to be safe once again with a firearm, but the fuse of a revolver is too much.
Structurally, the fuse was a lever that blocked the drum of the weapon, thereby pressing the trigger it became impossible to produce, as well as manually trigger the trigger. Fixed the switch with the help of an additional part, mounted on the frame of the weapon. The characteristics of the revolver remained the same as the version of the Officer weapon, only the mass increased by 70 grams.
As mentioned above, the designers managed to persuade the Luxembourgers to use their cartridge in one of the versions of the M1884 revolver. This revolver was the Nagant M1884 Luxemburg Gendarme, which, as the name implies, was intended for law enforcement.
The main distinctive feature of this revolver was a longer barrel, which had to be increased due to another interesting requirement from the customer. The fact that the Luxembourg gendarmerie asked to make it possible to install a bayonet on a revolver. What was the use of a thin bayonet of the entire length of 10 centimeters remains a mystery, but the problems he caused are quite well known. The mounting of the bayonet prevented the convenient use of the ramrod-ejector of the spent cartridges; it was for this reason that the barrel of the weapon was extended. In addition to the longer barrel, the revolver could be recognized by the smooth surface of the drum.
The elongation of the barrel on the scanty, seemingly magnitude in 20 millimeters, significantly affected the accuracy of the weapon, but other parameters of the revolver have changed. So, its mass began to be equal to 1140 grams without a bayonet. The length of the barrel was 160 millimeters. The total length, respectively, increased by the same 20 millimeters and began to equal 290 millimeters. As mentioned earlier, the revolver was fed with 9,4x22 cartridges.
Revolver M1878 / 1886: weapons updated Leon Leon
In the process of working on revolvers for Luxembourg, Emil Nagant began to have vision problems. Affected and long work with documents and drawings in low light and the age of the designer. While the eldest of the brothers was improving their health, the younger one did not sit with folded arms and developed a new double-action trigger mechanism, which was not only cheaper to manufacture, but also more perfect. The fact that the Nagan brothers used the old 4 springs was used in the old trigger mechanism of the brothers, says that there was still room to develop.
It was this development that Leon proposed. In his USM, instead of four, only one spring was used, and separate different elements of the old design became one whole piece. Undoubtedly, in the production of complex parts were more expensive, but their smaller amount more than compensated for this, making the overall result cheaper. In addition, the reliability of the weapon, which now withstood the most barbaric treatment, increased significantly.
In addition to a more sophisticated and cheaper trigger mechanism of the revolver, Leon thoroughly worked on the frame of the revolver, removing the extra metal where the load on the shot was minimal, which led to the relief of the weapon.
Finally, thanks to Leon, the cartridge 9,4х22, which began to be filled with smokeless powder, was modernized and received a bullet in a copper shell, which, in turn, favorably affected the general characteristics of the revolver. An interesting point is that Leon originally planned to develop a weapon chambered for 7,5х23, but after weighing the losses from sales of ammunition and problems with the promotion of weapons in the army and law enforcement agencies that used 9,4X22 ammunition, it was decided to modernize his own ammunition. As it turned out later, the development of a new revolver chambered for 7,5х23 was not in vain.
A new weapon was proposed to the army of Belgium, in which they happily adopted a new, cheaper revolver with a double-action trigger mechanism, and even more reliable and lightweight. By the way, all three versions of weapons that were in service with the army served until the end of the First World War and were replaced only because of the ammunition used.
The new revolver had a mass of 940 grams. Its length was all the same 270 millimeters with a barrel length 140 millimeters.
It may seem that Emil interfered with his authority to his younger brother, but in reality this is not at all the case. All previous designs of designers were joint work, authorship is usually awarded to the one in whose name this or that patent was registered. The disagreement among the brothers arose a little later, and although the disagreements concerned the arms company, they had nothing to do with a firearm.
A series of M1878 / 1886 revolvers with a shorter barrel for various ammunition
As mentioned earlier, Leon Nagan initially developed a new revolver chambered for the 7,5х23, but refused this ammunition in favor of upgrading his own cartridge. However, the developments were not wasted. A year later, Sweden announced a competition for a new revolver for its army under the cartridge 7,5х23, the only requirement that Leon’s practical ready-made revolver did not fit was the length of the weapon. The solution to the problem turned out to be the simplest: the barrel was shortened from 140 to 114 millimeters. Accordingly, the total length was equal to 244 millimeters, not 235, as written in many reference books: in addition to the barrel in the weapon, nothing has changed, and the frame remains the same. The mass of the new revolver was 770 grams, he received the designation Nagant M1887 Swedish. The competition for a new short-barreled weapon for the army, as it is not difficult to guess, he won.
The same revolver may be designated Nagant M1891 Serbian, under this name the weapon was taken in Serbia. The same weapon has one more name - Nagant M1893 Norwegian, under this name it was put into service in Norway and was absolutely no different from the Swedish version of the revolver.
On the basis of the M1878 / 1886 revolver, variants were made for other ammunition, namely under 11,2x20 and 11,2x22 for Brazil and Argentina, respectively. These revolvers already had a barrel in 140 millimeters and a length of 270, while the mass was 980 grams. These revolvers are designated as Nagant M1893 Brazilian and Nagant M1893 Argentinian revolvers.
So why did they forget Emile Nagan, but remember his brother? Nagant M1895
Despite the fact that Emil Nagan withdrew from the management of the company and devoted more time to restoring the deteriorated health, his blindness only progressed. Perhaps they are not used to sitting idle, and perhaps wanting to leave a significant mark on stories before he became completely blind, the designer began work on his last revolver.
One of the main drawbacks of revolvers is the breakthrough of powder gases between the barrel and the barrel of a weapon at the moment of firing. Such irrational use of powder charge could not be overlooked by gunsmiths and many tried to minimize it.
In 1892, Emil Nagan registers several patents, among which one can find a variant of the firing mechanism that causes the drum of the revolver to “roll” on the barrel of the weapon and the cartridge with a deep-set bullet inside. It was these developments that became the basis for the new revolver, which received the designation M1892, but was not commercially available.
The weapon did not go into the series due to the fact that this particular revolver was presented at the competition for a new short-barreled weapon for the Russian army. All the forces of the designers were aimed at defeating this time, after losing the competition for a new rifle. In the process of improving the revolver, both Emil and Leon went for a variety of tricks, because everyone knows the phrase that the Nagan M1895 revolver can be made from the rejected Mosin rifle barrels. The initial cartridge of the weapon was changed, the barrel and all this was deservedly rewarded with a victory.
The race for the contract from the Russian army finally undermined Emil's health, and after winning the competition, he retired in 1896. It is this event that can be considered the one that has erased his name in history. From 1896, the arms company was renamed from Fabrique d'Armes Emile et Leon Nagant to Fabrique d'Armes Leon Nagant. It was difficult to say why a change in the name of the company took place. Perhaps the reason was that Leon Nagan saw the development of the automotive industry, while Emil remained loyal to firearms. After the M1895 revolver model, the weapons company already had Leon Nagana unable to please with anything fundamentally new, concentrating on the development of passenger cars, and not new weapons. In 1900, Leon Nagan died at the age of 67. Emil, with his poor health and virtually complete blindness, could not replace his brother even as the head of a company.
It was a continuation, but not long
So in 1900, the children of Emile, Charles and Maurice, became the leaders of the Nagan company. True, it is necessary to make a reservation that the children were no longer children, but accomplished men who had previously taken an active part in the affairs of the company.
Just like their uncle Leon, they saw the future of the company in the automotive industry, but they did not abandon their weapons business, although for them it was in the background.
Of all the developments of the children of Emil Nagan, only one model of the revolver can be singled out that deserves attention, namely, the Nagant M1910. At its core, it was an M1895 revolver, but with one significant difference - its drum was reclined to the right side for reloading, which significantly accelerated this process. Unfortunately, this update of the weapon was a bit late, as the revolvers were seriously pressed by self-loading pistols.
The mass of the revolver developed by Emil Nagan’s children was 795 grams. The length of the weapon was equal to 240 millimeters with a barrel length of 110 millimeters. Ate a revolver from a seven-chamber drum with 7,62x38 cartridges.
In 1914, the production of weapons and ammunition at Nagant was discontinued. The First World War and the overall low demand for cars after it did not allow companies to develop in the car market. In 1930, the company founded by Emil and Leon Naganami closed.
According to the articles of Sergey Monetchikov and the guns.ru forum