View Full Version : Powder Burns and Silencers

07-31-2018, 10:17 PM
Murder in the current WIP was committed up-close with an M1895 Nagant. It's a Russian revolver (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GGvhhnAEjw) that is able to be threaded for a suppressor (silencer). When the revolver is cocked, the cylinder forms a gas seal between the barrel and the cylinder.

I've seen meat rabbits shot up-close with an ordinary handgun. It left behind a grayish powder mark on their fur. I presume that's what's meant by the "powder burns" that books always talk about as being indicative of a close-range gunshot. But I don't know if the powder burns come out of the barrel (in which case, will the silencer get in the way?) or through the gap in the cylinder as the gases escape (in which case, will the gas seal get in the way?).

If someone was shot at close-range with that kind of setup (the M1895 Nagant + the silencer), would there be powder burns?

Al X.
08-01-2018, 12:11 AM
A silencer isn't going to appreciably suppress hot gases and burning powder from the muzzle. Think car muffler.

08-01-2018, 12:36 AM
Powder burns are indeed caused by gases coming directly from the muzzle.

I suspect, given the design, that a Nagant is actually going to spew more gas than a typical revolver. With the gas seal between the cylinder and barrel, plus ammo that's different from normal revolver ammo, that pretty much guarantees extra gas at the muzzle.

But a suppressor is designed to slow down the gases coming from a fired cartridge, so what happens? It turns out that there's a video on YouTube of a guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMCUgmkJxfw) shooting a suppressed Nagant. He's using a modern "can" or suppressor, so I don't know how the original suppressor would have handled the gas. I think from what he says at the end that the older cans used a different attaching system than modern stuff (which is a screw-on system. He talks about having to thread the barrel). Spoiler - there's practically no gas from this modern suppressor.

You should get a couple of other videos about the Nagant after you watch that one, plus you can probably reach out to this guy for more info.

Curious - are you writing a period piece, or is there a particular reason you're using the Nagant?

Edit: found this discussion board (https://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?36263-Bramit-device-Nagant-silencer) with a couple of diagrams of the original Bramit suppressor. It seems the suppressed version may have used a saboted .22 bullet. I suspect the Hickok45 video you should find on YT has plenty of info about the gun, although I skimmed his video and didn't see that he ever had a suppressor.

08-01-2018, 04:22 AM
Thank you very much for your help!

When I was looking for YouTube videos, I was fortunate and found a few videos of Nagants with silencers. It was interesting to hear how widely they varied, in terms of sound-suppression.

I ended up using the Nagant revolver, because (a) my plot is set in 1928; and (b) the murderer is trying to pin the deed on Bolsheviks. So a Russian revolver made sense. And when I tried looking up Russian firearms of that general 1917-1928 period, I came across the Nagant, and it sounded... distinctive? Like the sort of little unique detail from history people would know about and recognize.

But once I read about it, I realized that if I could suppress the sound to a degree, it helped me move my timeline for my murder up. And so I got a bit attached to the idea, and rather than shopping around to see all 1928-era Russian handguns that were compatible with suppressors, I got a bit more married to the idea of using that particular one. But I wasn't sure how the suppressor itself, combined with the uniqueness of the gas seal, would affect what I would expect an up-close gunshot wound to look like.

Thank y'all for the education!

08-01-2018, 07:07 PM
There is a difference between burns from expelled heated gases and burns from particles of still-burning gunpowder (stippling). Your pistol-armed shooter and victim would typically have to be closer than one meter/three feet. A muzzle-affixed suppressor will further mitigate/capture hot gases and bits of ignited gunpowder. You'll need to have your characters very close, and a near-contact wound.

(Links may be disturbing for some folks.)



08-01-2018, 07:20 PM
Thanks! That's a really great distinction-- what I was originally thinking of as "powder burns" perhaps being more accurately described as "gunshot residue". I appreciate the links; very educational!

08-02-2018, 02:29 AM
Silencers will also give a different looking burn, if held close, by virtue of the baffles in the silencer. The Nagant 1895 revolver doesn't seal tight at the cylinder, depending on the actual one used there is often some end shake in these guns and you can get powder burns from the gap between cylinder and barrel (don't ask how I know). Beyond that, surplus ammunition is often dirtier and corrosive, which can change burn patterns.

None of this likely changes your story or how you use the powder burns, the forensics in some of this is so technical that FBI labs are needed to differentiate specifics. The powder burns and stippling are generally used to indicate the distance a firearm was from the object shot, not much more detail.


08-02-2018, 07:18 PM
Check out all of these videos on this exact subject. I'm sure you have found some of these already but for the benefit of the other readers here, I thought it would be good to show them exactly what the differences are in the Nagant.

I'm not necessarily a gun guy but I like the interesting engineering to solve problems.

The first one is a guy showing some slow motion of a real revolver and the problem of the cylinder gap between it and the barrell. Noise and burning gas escaping means a silencer really won't work too well, however, the Nagant! That is different in the videos after.

video of a normal construction revolver and the frame video showing whats going on.
here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbFaMb_76ik)

Here's a video of a Nagant in use without a supressor, the same people do screw one on and show the difference with it later on, which I skipped to and put in another link below this one.
**I watched a few videos by these folks and the presenter here DOES quite a bit of shooting videos/range work**
It has a double action trigger which when cocked, aparently works great but if you dont and just pull through the action, it's aparently a VERY heavy pull.
Nagant without supressor video. (https://youtu.be/UKoCIeqVHIY?t=40)

This is the video of a Nagant WITH a silencer, and watching closely, we can see not only does the revolver have an amazing silencer screwed on the end, but also we would definitely hear more noise and see more flame if the cylinder and barrell were built the same, which it's not so we have some evidence here that noise and powder burns with this gun is minimal.
Nagant with supressor video (https://youtu.be/UKoCIeqVHIY?t=178)