The unusual M1895 Colt–Browning “potato digger”, an air-cooled, belt-fed, gas-operated machine gun that fires from a closed bolt with a cyclic rate of 450 rounds per minute, the first successful gas-operated machine gun to see service. 

Nicknamed as such for her unusual operating mechanism, similar to a lever-action rifle, in which the rear-hinged lever, located under the barrel, was actuated by the muzzle blast operating upon it, making it operate the action by swing downwards and rearwards, cycling the weapon.


Imperial Nagant M1895 revolver

Designed by Léon Nagant and manufactured by the Tula Arsenal starting in 1898, this one c.1912 - serial number 7644.
7,62x38mmR seven-round scoop-grooved cylinder, double action, loading gate with pivoting ejector rod, blued finish with expert and extensive silver scrollwork inlays.
White Russians had some very high standards compared to their communist successors.

Produced during the First World War, the Russian military model of the Winchester 1895 was chambered for 7.62x54mmR, and is rather unique in the world of lever-action rifles in that it can be loaded with a clip. Several hundred thousand were build, before the contract came to an end due to the Russian Revolution.


Lazy family photo.

From the top:

  • 1954 SKS
  • James River Armory Bulgarian AK-74
  • 1944 Mosin Nagant M91/30 PU Sniper
  • 1942 Mosin Nagant M91/30
  • 1925 M1895 Nagant Revolver
  • Molot Vepr-12
  • 1944 Mosin Nagant M44

Russian Nagant M1895 revolver

Designed by Léon Nagant and manufactured by the Tula Arsenal starting in 1898, imported by Century International Arms in Georgia, Vermont - serial number 189509351.
7,62x38mmR seven-round scoop-grooved cylinder, double action, loading gate with pivoting ejector rod.
The Nagant M1895 is well-known for being one of the few revolver that circumvented the cylinder gap gas-leaking problems by having it push forward with each pull of the trigger. This was complemented by long cartridge brasses that bridged to the barrel and expended inside it when fired.


The Marlin Model 1917/1918 machine gun,

 In 1914 Marlin began producing the John Browning designed Colt Model 1895 machine gun, aka “The Potato Digger” for the French, Belgian, and Russian Army during World War I. It was called the "potato digger" because of the gas actuated arm which swung downwards.  When the United States entered the war, Marlin then produced the weapon for the US Army.

In 1917 a Marlin employee named Carl Swebilius redesigned the M1895, dispensing with the swinging arm and replacing it with a more conventional straight piston. While theoretically the new system was an great improvement over having a swinging arm jutting off from the end of the muzzle, in reality the new Marlin Model 1917/18 had a serious flaw, one that was missed due to rushed testing and production.  Replacement of the lever with the straight piston completely changed the timing and energy of the action, resulting in tearing of spent casings during extraction, leaving a piece of the casing jammed in the chamber.  Marlin claimed that the problem was due to the US Army using low quality ammunition.  However other Allied countries who purchased the machine gun had similar complaints.

As a result of the this flaw, the Marlin Model 1917/18 was relegated to use on aircraft, as the aircraft service was issued the highest quality ammunition with stronger casings than common infantry cartridges.  In its role as an aircraft machine gun, the M1917/18 served exceptionally well, especially because the machine gun could be easily tuned with an airplane’s interrupter gear, which prevented the gun from firing through the aircraft’s propeller blades. By the final months of the war, more than 50% of all Spad XIII fighter planes had their Vickers guns replaced with M1917/18’s.  Plans were drawn up to use the M1917/18 as a tank mounted machine gun, but the war ended before this could be put into effect.

Silent Revolver

Comment from the S&W Model 10-7 post

The answer to this would be yes and no. While a majority of your traditional, from the factory revolvers cannot be equipped with a suppressor, there are exemptions.

The Russian Nagant M1895 revolver, a military issued sidearm that saw use in conflicts even before World War I up until the Vietnam War; can use a suppressor.

This is because of the ammo being sealed; with the bullet seated further back in the casing to create a gas seal. Another benefit to this style of cartridge is the increase in velocity, although very small, about 70 to 75 extra FPS.

One caveat though; the barrel on the M1895 has to be threaded.

The other example would be the Knights Armament Silent Revolver Rifle. It is a Ruger Super Redhawk modified into a rifle with a suppressor. Normally chambered in .44 Magnum, the Knights Armament Silent Revolver Rifle supposedly used a special .30 caliber cartridge which wasn’t specified.

So for the most part a revolver can be suppressed but a large reason why that can be accomplished is the ammo. On a final note, it’s a very stark contrast between the M1895 and the KAC Silent Revolver Rifle; one is a sub-$200 pistol you find on surplus at gun shows, gun shows, online auctions. The other a high end custom built prototype firearm that was never made available to the public and remains in KAC museum of guns. (GRH)


Pieper M1893 Revolving Carbine, Mexican contract.

Manufactured in Belgium for the Mexican Rurales, serial number 112.
9-shots cylinder, 8x50mmR Pieper caliber.

The Pieper revolving carbine, unlike any other of this kind - usually spelling their uselessness, used the same gas-seal system as the Nagant M1895 revolver designed in 1886. The 8mm cartridge’s brass was very long, encompassing the whole of the bullet, and the cylinder pushed it forward on firing, creating a sealed bridge with the barrel when it expended. This allowed the fitting of a suppressor on the handgun and the use of a front grip on the carbine.


The FEG Hungarian 35M,

After World War I the Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen and Hungary itself had become an independent nations.  While the Hungarians continued to use older Mannlicher rifles issued to the Austro-Hungarian Army, by the mid 1930’s there was demand for a native rifle design to be adopted as a replacement.  Famous for being a straight pull bolt action, the Mannlicher had some problems the Hungarians wished to resolve.  The straight pull bolt action was fragile and susceptible to malfunction due to dust, dirt, or moisture.  The straight pull action was also complex, making it difficult to maintain or repair, and difficult to mass produce. In particular, the bolt of the Mannlicher was so precisely made that they had to be hand fitted and were not interchangeable.

In 1935 the 35M rifle was introduced as a replacement of the Mannlicher.  It was very similar to the older M1895 Mannlicher, however the straight pull bolt action was replaced with a more conventional turnbolt action from the Mannlicher Schoenauer.  In addition the barrel was lengthened, and a two piece stock was used to ease production and manufacturing (less dimensionally stable wood can be used).  The 35M was chambered for 8X56mmR, and used a 5 round single stack fixed magazine which was loaded using stripper clips.

The 35M was used throughout World War II and even made appearances during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956.  In 1943 the 43M was introduced, which was an improvement of the 35M.  It too was used by the Hungarian Army in World War II, and was produced for the German Army by special contract as well.