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Handload for 7.62 Nagant Model 1895

30366 Views 24 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  pastordl
Hi all, am new to this forum, and looking for info on handloads for the lil' Russian revolver. Its too cute not to use regularly for vermin around here. Since I cant afford to shoot the original ammo, I wondered if any of you have got any load data ? thanks,:)
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These are neat revolvers, and fun to shoot.  I remember that Lee Precision is making a limited run of dies for your little gun that are designed to use .32-20 Winchester brass and although the brass is a bit short, the COL is right when loaded as per their instructions.  The result is a very accurate potential round for your Nagant, and readily available brass to boot!

As I recall, some pretty extensive data is included with the Lee Dies that I examined, and most of it pretty well paralelled that of the older low pressure .32-20 data of years gone by using 90 grain lead bullets.

Although these are well made revolvers, remember that they are aged friends, and shouldn't be hot-rodded too much.  Just shoot them, as you say for dispatching pests and varmints, ventilating tin cans and enjoy your Nagant for years to come!

God Bless,

Thanks for the info Marshall, will check out the Lee Precision equipment. Many thanks and lots of safe happy shooting in the future pard.
I found this old thread doing a search here . . . if there is anyone still interested in the Nagant revolver, I recommend the following reloading site:

I just started reloading the Nagant using the Lee die set and .32-20 brass.

If anyone is interested, I'll pass on my results...
Been playing with the nagant for a few years...and will state that it really makes a difference to use the right length brass. The cylinder is bored at the mouth to take a bullet AND the brass case wrapped around it...this makes the chamber mouth about .338". A 32-20 case is not quite long enough to fill this mouth so when fired the bullet has two choices: (1) if pressure is high enough, will bump up to .338" and then slam into a .310-313" barrel or (2) pressur eis too low to upset the bullet to cahmber mouth diameter, so gas leask past the .311" bullet in the .338" throat.

The gas seal actually relies on the long case to fit into the recess cut into the forcing cone...without it, the gas DOES bleed a bit between cylinder and forcing cone.

Worked out a way (with a LATHE) to make usealbe full length nagant cases form .223 brass. will out line it for those interrested:
1. Size .223 case in .30carbine sizer...just until the soild part of the .223 is encountered. Will look like mini-belted magnum brass. Can't size the solid web of a .223 case.

2. LAthe off the belt. this will make the case into a rimmed case as you DO NOT lather the RIm (OK...the .223 is rimless...but once we take the body down, we leave a rim).

3. Cut case to nagant length.

With this brass, get the lvel. that the Nagant was noted for AND good accuracy. Consider: the case feeds the bullet directly into the rifling, the case lockes the barrel and cylinder together for great alignment, and the bullet gets full use of the powder charge (no blow slamming a .338" bullet into a .311" bore).

Was (and am) amazed at how well the old clunker will shoot with the above brass and HBWC's (light charges). FORGET DA way with that system to get anything near a reasonable DA trigger pull.
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Ribbon, I shot some Fiocchi Nagant ammo and some of my reloaded resized .32-20 stuff, and my ammo shot tighter groups.

also, there are at least two sources of Nagant brass: Bertram and Graf house brand.
Have used the 32-20 in mine, and can get it to shoot well, but there have been some pressure jumps...I'd guess that jump signifies where the bullet makes it to .338" in the chamber mouth and then runs into the .310" (on mine) barrel. Doesn't have to be the death-kiss to accuracy.

Most of my shooting is with HBWC's and a very light charge...lobbing a 100gr. WC out at 700-750fps is not impressive on paper, but it is a great small game load.

With full length brass, have gotten 1280fps with cast 88gr.(and perhaps can get a bit more) or the 115gr. at 1010. that's probalby well over the dersign limit of the old Nagant.

Now I'm using converted .223 cases, and their volume won't match 32-20 the powder charges aren't getting listed. The internal volume of the case isn't really going to change by using full length brass...volume won't care if the bullet is seated out of the case to full cylinder length or seated all inside the case for full cylinder length...BUT the .223 cases have a thicker web/base and the volume after seating is noticably less than 32-20 cases.
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"there have been some pressure jumps...I'd guess that jump signifies where the bullet makes it to .338" in the chamber mouth and then runs into the .310" (on mine) barrel"

Is the pressure jump something you feel in your hand? I'm not familiar with the term.
OK...will give one example:

115gr. cast bullet:

4.0gr. of X powder =820 FPS
4.2gr. of X powder = 845fps
4.4gr. of X powder = 935fps
4.6gr. of X powder = 1003fps
4.8gr. of X powder = 1022fps

So what happened between 4.2 and 4.4gr? Best guess is that at 4.2gr the bullet was still not quite filling the chamber mouth, but adding just a bit more powder was enough to "slug up" the bullet and seal the system, adding the nearly 100fps. vel. with only a slight increase in powder charge. Continuing up in charge returned to what i'd think of as "normal" velocity increases.

So...I ran the same tests with the same charges, but this time used full length brass. Got higher velocity from the start (due to the lesser volume of the converted .223 cases) but never got a non-proportional jump in velocity.
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Ribbon, thanks for the illustration, but do you actually understand what happens there? What are the bullet diameters? What powder(s)? What is your explanation?

I'm going to try out some of this type of experimenting.

I am getting about mid 500s fps with 3.1 gr W231 powder and flush loaded 83gr plated HBWC in a resized .32-20 brass, and I get mid 600s fps in the commecially loaded Fiocchi 7.62 Nagant (longer case).
Bullet is .311" (the bore on this one is right at .3105"), the cases are WW 32-20's (and in the second test, converted military .223's). The cylinder mouth measures right at .338"...that''s large, but it is suposze to hold a case with a bullet inside it.

What I think happens is that with loads light enough not to bump-up the base, the gas has a short secion of .338" hole to by-pass the bullet base (in my example, all the charges below 4.2gr). When the pressure becomes enough to bump up the bullet base, it seals the .338" hole...or partly seals it...and the driving gas stays more behind the bullet giving a sudden "jump" in vel. readings. Never got that "jump" with full length cases...but also never got that jump in vel. using jacketed bullets in EITHER case. Best guess on jacketed bullets is that I never raised pressure to the point were they'd deform the base.

As stated, the accuracy wityh the short cases hasn't been bad with selected loads...the revolvers are in need of some single action trigger work (forget double amount of work will overcome that), the round cross-section grips are not the best, and the design does let the cylinder revolve backwards if you apply pressure (Which would NOT be something I'd care for if I was issued one and expected to actually fight a war). Can fix the trigger and even fix the grip...but as far as the design goes, there have been better ones in the last 100years.
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7.62x38R ????

I had to dust this thread off but I just got a Russian 1895 Nagant revolver and a box of the expensive "Hot shot" ammunition made in Serbia. Took it to the range today and fired two cylinders (14rds) through it. It fired all fourteen without a hitch , was pleasant to shoot and I hit the 10" steel plates 12 out of 14 times at about 18yards. It was fun and now I have to figuire out a way to afford to shoot it. I checked Lee's web site and found no sign of Dies for the caliber. Anybody out there have any ideas for me?:confused:
I've tinkered a bit with the Nagant. The only reloadable brass I've found is the Fiocchi brand from Graf's. Trying to make do with 32/20 is an exercise in futility. My revolver won't accept .32/20 brass at all, the rims are too thick, plus, as mentioned above, they are too short. The Nagant really needs the full length brass for reasons described by Ribonstone.
The cartridge would seem to make a good small game gun but the revolvers are not accurate enough for small targets. After some "on again, off again" work with three different Nagant revolvers over several years I've finally concluded the best use for a Nagant is just to show off the most ridiculous handgun ever adopted by any major military power.
I can reload a cap & ball revolver with paper cartridges faster than reloading a Nagant and have much more power and better accuracy as well. I pity the Russian cavalryman who had to trade in a Smith & Wesson top break .44 and carry that silly little POS Nagant. The reloading sequence of: twist the ejector to unlock, withdraw, rotate the ejector into position, punch the fired case out 1/4", flick it the rest of the way out with a fingernail, retract the ejector, rotate the cylinder to the next chamber, repeat seven times, rotate the ejector back under the barrel, push in and twist to lock, then load seven rounds one at a time--geeze! Imagine trying to do that while wearing heavy gloves in a Russian winter, under fire, on horseback! And for all of that they got a pip-squeak cartridge in a revolver with a double action trigger so heavy one could not hope to hit a barn from the inside.:D
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Ribbon: I like that conversion sequence. What is the finished dimension of the .223 brass after step 2?
Is it 0.3567"?
I also have pick up this russian revolver. And have a lot of .223 brass laying around. I have been trying to make it work in the revolver. I also have the base of the brass cut down to close to 0.3560 with the rim left alone. I have not been able to find the info for the size to cut the brass down to for lenght. I know that a factory finish is 1.5080 but that is with a big crimp in the brass. Does anyone have this info. Thanks

I've just measured the length of a couple of fired but not resized cases. The PRVI brass measured 1.518" over all and a Russian case was 1.514". That is for the full gas seal loading, if you don't want to bother with the gas seal just measure your revolver cylinder and cut your brass to that number. Another thing I think worth mentioning, proper Nagant brass is very thin, .223 brass will be thicker and therefore with a bullet inside that thicker brass it may be too fat to chamber or if it does chamber it may pinch the bullet and run up pressures.
Graf's, Midway and probably others have the Fiocchi and PRVI factory loads in stock. Southern Ohio Guns and probably others have the Hot Shot brand ammo and all of them are boxer primed reloadable brass. With proper brass available I can hardly see the point in modifying .223 or fooling around with 32-20, 32 special or .32 mag brass. The Nagant loads are often even cheaper than some of the stuff people substitute.
Proper dies are another matter, the Lee die set as mentioned is designed for 32/20 brass. I've found they work more or less OK with Nagant brass but you will need a Nagant shell holder. The Nagant has a very small and thin rim, it doesn't provide much grip even in a proper shell holder and the .32/20 shell holder is so oversize it doesn't catch the rim at all. I found an RCBS special order Nagant shell holder at Midway, it cost more than the Lee die set but until someone comes out with real 7.62 Nagant dies and shell holders the RCBS is the only option.
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Do a search on "Reloading the 7.62 Nagant"
How do you suppose he found this old thread?:D
.223 brass for Nagant 7.62 another way

Suggested tools and materials:

.223 brass --Cheyenne brass one fired
Lee shell holder #4 -- Lee 90204
.30 Carbine reloading dies -- Lee 90626 Carbide
222 Rem. Factory Crimp -- Lee 90816
EZ-expander De-capping rod .308 -- Lee SE2169
Lee de-capping Die -- Lee 90292
# 4 press Shell holder (.223) -- Lee 90521
.223 Trimmer shell-holder -- Lee GH1276 – From Kit 90114
7.62x39 Trimmer -- Lee GH2008 – From Kit 90113
#19 Trimmer Shell holder -- Lee GH3327 – From Kit 90153
Case Conditioning Combo -- Lee 90950
.308 EZ expander de-capping rod -- Lee SE2169
Reloading press (mine’s a Lee Classic Turret 4 hole)
Disk sander (not necessary but it does help to speed things along) or Dremel
Case lube (ie: Imperial)
Mill file with smooth edges or Neck turner with a 17 cal pilot.
If you want to reload 7.62x38R Brass
Shell holder (7.62x38R) -- RCBS 57170-SH7.62RussNag

To form .223 / 5.56 x45 brass to 7.62x38R brass.

1. Use the de-capping die to remove the primer.

2. Clean the cases

3. Shorten .223 brass. After trying a number of ways, I found that the easiest way, and very fast, was to use my disc sander. It takes about 3 seconds per case using a no. 60 grit. No, the disk does not fill up with brass. Push the case into the sander disk, removing material to about half way down the shoulder (about 1.5”). This may seem a little short to you, but the case lengthens considerably as it is reformed. A Dremel with a reinforced cutting wheel is slower but cheaper.

4. Using a case chamfering or de-burring tool, remove the burrs.

5. Remove primer de-capping rod assembly from the .30 Carbine full length sizing die. Next insert the EZ expander .308 de-capping rod.

6. Set the case forming die to touch the shell holder with ram fully extended then back out ¼ turn.

7. Lube the case liberally and run it into the .30 Carbine die about 1/3 of the way. Do not force it beyond where it feels good and tight. Doing so is to assure that a stuck case will result. Take it from one who learned (several times) the hard way. Back the case out of die.

8. Re-lube case and ram to about 2/3 the way home. Same warning as in 4, above. Back the case out of die.

9. Re-lube case. This time you can run it all the way home. It will back out easily. Notice that at this point, the swaging process should be complete to .100” before the angle at the extractor groove of the case. It will look like a belted case. That is good. If not adjust the die as needed.

10. Three options for sizing down the remaining case.

>>>A. File the remaining bulge with a mill file with smooth edge. Use Lee trimmer base and shell holder chucked in drill. File carefully to .354” diameter (Not less than .350”, if less than throw out the case). This leaves about .034” - .038” wall thickness above the web. Don’t worry the .223 is a 55,000 psi case, the Nagant is 11,000 psi max. You may have to file the face of the drill trimmer, shell holder a little. Let the drill do the work again. Use the cylinder to check for fit. A few bucks for the file. It works but its slow

>>>B. Using a neck turner (Mine’s a Forster) with a 17 Cal pilot to use in the primer pocket. Using a carbide bit in the Dremel cut a slot in the base of the pilot to allow the .100” travel of the pilot. Trim the shell to .354 diameter (Not less than .350”, if less than throw out the case). Cost about $80.00 with shipping. I use a RCBS bullet puller with a 35 caliber collet, dilled to a depth of .970” with a cobalt drill to allow for the depth of the case. I made chuck in my drill with a 3/8”x16 – 2-1/2” bolt threaded to at least 1-5/8” and cut the head of the bolt.

>>>C. A third option is to get two, two step, base forming dies from RCBS at $161.95 each, plus shipping (a 10 week or more special order), Next a 3 ton arbor press about $200.00 plus shipping. Costing roughly $600.00 of tools and tooling for a $99.00 weapon. If you like to spend, it is the way to go. A metal lathe will work if you have one, or just want to spend more money.

10. Chuck case into your trimmer shell holder and set to reduce the case length to 1.52". Will need to file the 7.62x39 case length gauge at the bevel that touches the inside base of the shell. Also may need to file a little of the shaft of the gauge to fit in the end of the shell. Notice that the brass has lengthened significantly, as it steps through the swaging process. If it the shell was cut per instructions in step 2, only a few turns of the trimmer will be needed.

11. Again, de-burr inside and outside

12. Lube the bottom ½” of the base. Turn Sizing Die in ¾ of a turn, then full-length size in the die again.

13. Check the fit in your revolver. If you have followed all the steps it should fit fine, if not file or trim as needed.

It is possible that the case mouth will benefit from annealing to keep it from splitting but I chose to skip this process until I see need for it. I have annealed the original 7.62 brass because of the radical crimp applied to the factory rounds.

At this point, your brass is ready to load.....

Lee Classic Turret Setup

Note: To reload 7.62x38R brass use the 7.62x38R shell holder. Don’t forget to anneal the mouth of the brass.

1. Remove the EZ expander .308 de-capping rod, resize and prime the case. There is no need to change the die setting from the last of the case forming.

2. Set the Lee powder thru expanding die to expand the mouth to .312” (Care should be taken in feeding the cases into the dies, these are long cases with no neck and a small base. Trust me crushing the top of a case at this point will not make your day. Slow and steady)

3. Use 2.5 min to 3.5gr maximum of Trail boss with 70 to 115gr cast or brass plated bullets. (I use Berry’s hollow base 83gr brass plated wad cutters.) 750 to 1100 fps.

(Lee auto disk pro with double disk works great. A .46 on bottom and a .30 on top tapped three times to settle, then tapped twice with ram fully up, gives me consistent 3.3gr {.57 tapped for 2.5gr}. Trail boss is a very bulky and light powder. Needed for the long case and low pressure (11,000 psi max).

4. Set the seating die up per lee instructions, then do the following.

>>>A. Turn the bullet seating plug to .296” for ½” – Chuck in drill and file carefully and chamfer end.

>>>B. Cut a .250” piece of 5/16 rod or bolt.

>>>C. Put the seating plug in with the turned end down, add the rod piece and put the seating cap on.

>>>D. Set to insert the bullet to .020” below the top of the case.

5. Set the 222 Remington Crimp die to crimp the mouth to about .048” from the mouth which should leave an inside diameter of about .290” at the mouth. You may have to trim the base of the crimp die a little.

6. Lightly lube top half of case then, resize the case again about half way to remove any bulge created in the deep seating of the bullet.

7. Do not fully cycle the ram down so you can put in the next case to be sized and re-primed.

You are ready to go shooting.
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When you resize the loaded round to eliminate the buldge you are actually resizing the bullet to a smaller diameter. The Nagant brass for which the gun was designed is very much thinner than the reworked .223 brass. The Nagant chamber will not accept a loaded round with the thicker brass and a .311 bullet inside. That is why the buldge in the case and the need to resize the loaded round. Even after that final resize the bullet will still be pinched very tightly in the case when fired and that can only run up pressures to some unknown extent, not a good idea in a revolver of unknown strength. Then when the bullet does reach the bore it will have been sized down to smaller than bore diameter. Aside from that it just seems like a heck of a lot of work for no good reason when proper factory loaded Nagant ammo in reloadable brass is readily available from several sources. Why take the long way around to the outhouse?
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