Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Witness to 100 Years of History

I happen to be the lucky owner of an original 1912 Tika manufactured M1895 Nagant Gas Sealing “Officer’s Model” Revolver; if this gun could talk, just imagine what stories it could tell.

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It was manufactured for the armies of Tsar Nicholas II, and would have first seen action in World War I, two years after it was assembled and most likely presented to a line officer as his sidearm. During that war the Russian Army fought on several fronts, but was not involved in the trenches of France and Belgium. In 1916 this gun would have most likely found itself serving in the Brusilov Offensive, where the Russian army famously destroyed the bulk of the Austrian-Hungarian Army.

However, as the first World War dragged on the growing dissatisfaction with the Tsarist regime led to the Russian Revolution of 1917, where this gun could have found itself in the hands of revolutionaries fighting to dethrone Nicholas. The Russian Civil War was fought in stages, the first being the February Revolution, in which the Tsar was other thrown and executed, but this would hardly be the end of the internal conflict. With the weak Provisional Government struggling for power with the Soviets led by the Petrograd Soviet, hostilities would soon turn once again to war.

In October of 1917 the Bolsheviks led by Lenin over threw the Provisional Government, again this gun would have likely switched sides, or perhaps found itself in the hands of the anti-socialist White Army. The White and Red Armies continued to struggle for control of Russia, each turning their Nagant Revolvers on the populace, did this gun fire on civilians in the White or Red Terrors of 1918? No one may ever know.

For a time under Linin’s rule a relative peace settled over the new Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, but in 1924 Linin would die and be succeeded by Josef Stalin, and soon this Nagant would have found a new job not on the hip of a regular officer, but on that of the NKVD, where these revolvers were standard issue. Despite the introduction of the more advanced Tokarev semi-automatic pistol in 1933; the Nagant would remain popular with the NKVD and Red Army Commissars, it became an honor to possess one, and it was a great honor to be presented with one by Stalin himself, but those examples were emblazoned with the Red Star.

Soon war would return to Europe, as Hitler grew in power, the Russians armed for war not only producing more modern weapons but churning out even more Nagants, and refurbishing the older ones. This gun’s full length barrel indicates it would have likely returned to regular Red Army service soon after the outbreak of World War II. In the Red Army this Nagant could have saw duty in Stalingrad, or on the Finnish Front. It becomes increasingly difficult to trace an individual gun’s history during the war, but by 1954 the Nagants were finally retired from Red Army service, and replaced by Makarov pistols. But that’s not the end of the story.

The Nagant Revolver would still see service as the standard sidearm for Russian Railway security forces, also they were issued to rural police forces. It’s likely that this gun served in one capacity or another for  nearly 80 years, before going into the warehouses of the Red Army’s logistic preparedness agency, where weapons were stockpiled to fight world War III. However, those warehouses would soon be emptied as the Cold War ended, and new Russian Federation would decide money would be more important then a stockpile of 90 year old revolvers. So this gun would soon find itself auctioned off and imported as a relic to the US where I was able to buy it in 2007, and that’s were it’s been ever since.

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Above you can see the date and where the Tsar’s seal was “scrubbed” by the Soviets.