The Belgian 1910 Swingout Cylinder Revolver

1910 Swingout Cylinder Revolver
A Belgian 1910 Swingout Cylinder Revolver

Nagant 1910 Swingout Cylinder Revolver

The 7.62mm 1910 Nagant swing out cylinder revolver was made at Liege and it was being tested as a replacement for the M1895. It is a true gas seal revolver and uses the same 7.62x38R cartridge as the M1895 but is quicker and easier to reload. This was probably done to make it more competitive with the new automatic pistols appearing at the time. Unfortunately the First World War came along and it was never accepted into Russian service.

Left side of the 1910 Left side of the 1910
Side views of the 1910 Liege manufactured swing out Cylinder revolver

When the M1895 Nagant revolver was originally selected for service with the Russian Army, the criteria put forth by the test commission included the following:

Fired cases must be individually extracted (that is, not automatically or simultaneously). The members of the commission decided that "the necessity for repeated reloading of the revolver while in use in close proximity to a pressing enemy would only occur in isolated instances, undoubtedly, it would be a complicated and heavy revolver. The price of manufacture for such a revolver would be higher and information on revolvers of reduced caliber obtained by the commission in the period of 1888 - 1892 from various other countries, that did not use automatic (simultaneous) extraction showed satisfactory results."

The test commission actually disqualified revolvers submitted for testing on the basis of this criteria, most notably the revolver of Henri Pieper. It had other problems, but simultaneous extraction was the primary reason it was originally rejected.

The 1910 revolver has a true gas seal mechanism. The cylinder advances to move the mouth of the cartridge into the barrel stub when the hammer is cocked either manually in single action mode or automatically in double action mode.

The firing mechanism is "triple action" just like the Officer's model M1895, in other words, the revolver can be manually cocked and then fired by pulling the trigger, or fired with the hammer in the uncocked position by simply pulling the trigger. Since it is a gas seal the act of pulling the trigger in double action mode has to move the cylinder forward, making the double action trigger pull fairly heavy (but not as heavy as the Standard Service M1895).

Left side of the 1910
1910 with the hammer cocked and the cylinder in forward position

The cylinder swings out to the right side of the revolver for reloading. This was typical of most cavalry revolvers of the time. The revolver was carried in a backwards or butt forward holster on the horseman’s right side and cross drawn with the left hand. Reloading was accomplished by swinging the cylinder out and carrying out the loading operation with the right hand. The “loading gate” on the 1910 actually functions as a latch to retain the cylinder in place.

Right side, cylinder open Right side, cylinder open front
The 1910 with the cylinder in open position from rear and front

The 1910 revolver features a star extractor which pushed the spent cartridges from the cylinder. To reload the 1910, the "loading gate" was pulled to the rear releasing the cylinder to swing out to the right side of the revolver. The ejector rod would be pushed and the all of cartridges would be simultaneously pushed backwards to free them from the cylinder. Since the 7.62x38R cartridge is very long, the star only pushes them about half way out, but this was enough to free them so they could be shaken free from the cylinder. Once the cylinder was emptied, new cartridges could be loaded with the right hand and a flip of the revolver would replace the cylinder in the frame and the shooter was ready to continue.

Right side, cylinder open cartridges being extracted Right side, cylinder open star in rearward position
Left: The 1910 with the ejector rod fully to the rear to free the cartridges from the cylinder. Right: Side view with the ejector/extractor in rearward position.

Parts and Markings

Split Liege style butt on the 1910
The 1910 retains the original split butt design of the 1895 Commercial and Military contract revolvers. View of the butt of the 1910 showing the split butt plate design.
Lightened side plate on the 1910
An interesting feature of the 1910 is the lightened side plate. This was probably done to reduce weight of the revolver. I've often wondered why this wasn't done to the M1895 side plates. Note the original 1895 Liege style side plate with the two keys that mate to cut outs in the frame of the revolver.

Sideplate and open revolver
The lightened sideplate and the revolver showing the firing mechanism.
Rear sight shape Shape of the front sight
The 1910 has the same sight configuration as the original Liege manufactured 1895 design, a ‘V’ rear sight and a “tall notched” Belgian style front sight blade. Note that the front sight is not simply a notched half moon but the original “truncated arch” design of the Liege manufactured M1895s.

Proof marks on all observed 1910 barrels are the Lion over P.V (Pouvre Vieille Smokeless Powder proof used from 1898-1968), the crowned 'R' (Rifled bores proof used from 1894-1968) and the star over AR commercial inspector's proof. The frame has the same proofs minus the rifled barrel proof.

Proof marks on the frame and barrel
Proof marks on the frame and barrel of the 1910
Rear cylinder face Front cylinder face
Left: The cylinder shows the Lion over P.V, the star over AR commercial and the crowned oval E over LG over star Liege firearms proofs. Note that there are no recesses in the rear face of the cylinder for the cartridge rims. Right: Front face of the cylinder showing the last 2 digits of the matching serial number and alignment notches.

Internal Differences

There are almost no parts in common between the M1895 and the 1910 even though the basic firing mechanisms are virtually identical in design.

The basic gas seal mechanism of the 1910 is the same as the original M1892/5 system, when the hammer is cocked in single action or the trigger pulled in double action the cylinder is moved forward until the mouth of the cartridge case is inserted into the barrel stub. When the revolver is fired the case bridges the gap between the cylinder and barrel preventing gas leakage. However, there are some slight differences in how this is accomplished in the two models.

The M1895 uses the slider/hammer block and breech block to force the cylinder forward into engagement with the barrel stub. The cylinder pawl rotates the cylinder but doesn’t really push it forward. The cylinder is located at firing by the cylinder pawl and the knob on top of the trigger which engages notches in the outer surface of the cylinder.

On the M1910 the cylinder pawl does most of the work pushing the cylinder forward as the breech block makes no contact with the rear face of the cylinder if there is no cartridge in the chamber (the cylinder doesn’t have counter bores in its rear face for the cartridge rims like the M1895). The cylinder is located by the cylinder pawl and a cylinder locking lever which engages notches in the outer surface of the front of the cylinder.

In both models the tapered shape of the barrel stub and the counter bores in the front face of the cylinder aid in alignment.

Side plate open, uncocked Sideplate open, cocked
Side plate removed to show the firing mechanism of the 1910. Note the alignment notches on the front of the cylinder in the photo at right.
Detail of cylinder
Detail of the alignment grove at the forward edge of the cylinder

Observed serial numbers would indicate that around 2500 revolvers were produced.

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