The m1895 Nagant pistol was developed in 1894 by Emile and Leon Nagant, Belgian gun designers (Fabrique d'armes Emile et Léon Nagant) when the Imperial Russian army was looking for a new pistol. The firm proposed a new model pistol with some rather unusual characteristics. The primary unusual feature is that the cylinder moves forward before the hammer falls. The cartridge has a long case with a tapered mouth and the bullet is seated inside the case below the cartridge case rim. The purpose of these design features was to prevent gas leakage between the cylinder and barrel. The downside of this design is that the pistol has a 13 lb. single action trigger pull (trigger's only function is to release the hammer, the hammer must be manually cocked each time) and a 20 lb. double action trigger pull (trigger is responsible for both cocking and releasing the hammer in one motion). The m1895 was eventually adopted by the Russians in 1895.
The Nagant revolver was produced in both single-action and double-action versions. It has been said that the single action model was issued to enlisted men and the double action model was issued to officers.
The m1895 Nagant was used in World War I, the Russian Civil War, World War II, and numbers of the revolvers were used by both the North Koreans and the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) in the Korean conflict.
The Nagant pistol served the Soviet forces until its replacement by the semi-automatic Tokarev Model 33 pistol.