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Answering the Whatziss

Yes, Sanger had it right in the first post.  Eric knew what it was, too.  This pic's for you, Eric.  John Not-the-Armorer knew what it was because he sold it to me.

It's a single action Nagant pistol, that was cut-away (most likely a home-grown job, not an arsenal-quality piece of work) and then stored badly (as Tim noted).

Cut-away Nagant single-action revolver.

The Nagant's claim to fame is that unlike most revolvers, this pistol actually seals at the breech.  The bullet is seated well down inside that cartridge case (yes, that's a loaded Nagant cartridge) and that elongated neck is designed to protrude from the cylinder face and enter the barrel as the cylinder is pushed forward when cocking the hammer  - thus sealing the barrel and chamber, allowing for, among other things, the most power possible from the weapon. Click here to see what I mean.  It also means that if you put a silencer on it, it would be much quieter than your average silenced revolver. 

Another fun fact about the Nagant - the official Soviet-era manual for the pistol has a very thorough laydown of fire commands.  My favorite?

"At the fleeing deserter, FIRE!"

That says a lot about the Red Army.



typical soviet/russian: very simple, but with a twist. simple reliable revolver, but why something sophisticated like the sealing? Why chrome lined barrels in a ppsh 41? why water cooled barrels on their version of the maxim?

Thanks for the pic. 
That sounds like a spiffy concept, the sealing thing, I mean. How does that impact trigger pull, though?
Sweet whatsis, dude. Nice to see the freaky stuff coming out  and seeing the light of day.
Grimmy - all the hard work occurs when you cock it.  Trigger let-off isn't bad, and the cylinder stays forward until you release the trigger.

The pistol comes in two-flavors.  A single-action only "NCO model" and a double action "Officer's Model."  The double-action trigger pull is pretty stout, which is true of most revolvers.  The pushing the cylinder forward piece doesn't really seem to add much to the effort.

That said, I've never fired this pistol after having to fight my way forward in mud or dust or ice and snow, so it might not be so much fun then.