The revolver was constructed by the company Nagant in Liege, Belgium. The weight was low: 0.8 kg and the output speed, 240 m/s, which gave a flat trajectory and high penetration ability. The weapon was easy to disassemble and the mechanism was double action and could also be cocked and fired single action like the older revolvers.
The revolver was produced for Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. A variety of calibres were produced including 9mm, 22.
The Russian nagant was produced in 7.62×38mmR using a gas seal system where the cylinder moved forward on cocking.
The Sweedish and Swiss 7.5x 25mm rimmed this version there was no gas seal requirements. The Sweedish version 14000 pieces were made between 1897 and 1905.
Since their proposal was changed to a few points (the grip was extended by one centimeter and the sights were changed slightly), the weapon was adopted as a Swedish officer revolver m/87.
However, there remaining weakness of the revolver was that the drum could be turned when the hammer remained down. Already in 1888, Lieutenant T F Törnell patented a device that blocked the drum even in this position. But few weapons were equipped with Törnell's invention. From Nagant, 2.600 weapons were delivered to the Swedish army.
Husqvarna Gun factory made the major part of these m/1887 revolvers.
Revolver m/87 was initially intended only for officers and non-commissioned officers. Officers had to buy their weapons for a sum of 38 Swedish Krona from the Crown or through MEA (Military Equipment Ltd.). Non-commissioned officers used their service weapons at no cost.
In 1898, even m/87 was delivered to enlisted men also, which meant that large amounts of weapons had to be purchased. The production was transferred to Husqvarna, which produced a total of approximately 14.000 revolvers. The Swedish Navy purchased a lot of m/87 in 1891. The Norwegian Navy had done so already in 1889.
During the First World War, it was borne by the “Swedish Landstorm” army units and even in the second world war it occurred in some local defense forces. Landstorm – In German-speaking countries, the term Landsturm was historically used to refer to militia or military units composed of troops of inferior quality. It is particularly associated with Prussia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The revolver was not only proving to be accurate, it was also proving to be much easier to clean. The m/1887 was not suffering as much as the earlier revolvers from firing residue in the mechanism and lead fouling in the bore, which degraded both reliability and accuracy. The 1st Cavalry Regiment (K.1 livgardet till häst) reported in the earlier trials of 1884 that they had fired up to 75 rounds without cleaning the revolver and still received good accuracy and functionality.
The original ammunition used in the 1884 trials was made by Switzerland but with the adoption of the new revolver in 1887 production was begun in Sweden at the Marieberg factory. The 7,5mm ammunition evolved through three major variations during its service life:
- The first type was the m/1887 cartridge which used a paper-patched lead projectile and was loaded with black powder. The paper-patch was used to lessen the lead fouling in the barrel.
- The second variation was the m/1898 cartridge with smokeless powder and a cupro-nickel jacketed projectile that was used for only a short period. A problem with shelf life developed with this cartridge and it was discontinued. The paper-patched m/1887 resumed as standard issue.
- The third variation of the 7,5mm cartridge that evolved once again used modern smokeless powder but with a newly designed lead projectile with gas check grooves filled with wax to reduce the lead fouling.
As the revolver continued in limited military use during WW2, as late as in 1941 there was a contract with Suhl in Germany for an additional 1,000,000 rounds valued at 120,000 SEK.