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Harvey Lembo was tired of being burglarized and his medications stolen- five times in six years. The A 67-year-old wheelchair-bound former Maine lobsterman described himself as a “walking drugstore.” So Mr. Lembo purchased what the reporter described as a “vintage gun.” Harvey said “I bought a gun. Best thing I ever did.” A couple of weeks ago, a suspect broke in . . .

He was awakened – he’s not sure by what – and noticed that the clock read 12:04 a.m. He saw a shadow pass from the kitchen toward his living room. At first he thought it was his cat, Mittens, but the shadow was too big.

“I pulled my gun out from under the pillow, got in the wheelchair, rolled out here and he was standing here at my pills,” Lembo said during an interview in his living room Tuesday. The room was lit Monday night by the light he leaves on all the time.

Lembo said Wildhaber told him “I’m here to rob you like everybody else.”

Lembo described the burglar as clean-cut, wearing khaki shorts and a white T-shirt. He ordered the man to sit on the coffee table against a wall while he called police.

“I told them, ‘I got him under a gun. If he makes a move, I’m going to shoot him.’ ”

When Wildhaber bolted toward the kitchen and the apartment’s front door, Lembo turned and fired, putting a slug in the fleeing man’s shoulder.

“I got a little scream out of him,” he said. report says the gun was a 7mm, stashed under Mr. Lembo’s pillow. I only know of one moderately common 7mm pistol: the Japanese Nambu. Cartridges for it are collector’s items. 7mm pinfires are even rarer. Maybe it was a 7.62 caliber.  7.62 or 7.65 pistols and ammunition are common. Another story says that the pistol was a 7mm Russian revolver. From the bangordailynews:

He said he purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver Monday but declined to say where he acquired it. He said he bought it because he was concerned he would continue to be the target of criminals looking to steal his prescribed medications.

Now all becomes clear. The revolver is almost certainly a Russian Nagant. I have a few. They are an interesting mechanical device, and large numbers were imported and sold for low prices.  They work, but are a little slow to reload, and the ammo is pricey. If all you need it for is shooting the occasional burglar, it appears to be enough.

Some of my Russians [above] were converted to 7.65 x 17, and a small number to 7.62 x 25. But most of the Russian revolvers still shoot the original cartridge, the Nagant 7.62 x 38R.  The Fiocci ammunition is likely the best for self defense.

Most of the Nagants imported to the United States were made before and during WWII. The Russians refurbished them at Soviet arsenals; the ones I have seen were in good condition.  A few were made before WWI.  They all are likely to remain useful and reliable for another hundred years.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

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  1. They also have the distinction of being the only revolver that seals well enough to usefully take a suppressor.

    • And a further distinction of having the most God-awful double-action trigger pull of any handgun I have ever fired. Long, heavy, creepy, and generally guaranteed to make you miss. However, the single-action pull isn’t too bad – firing the PRVI Partisan ammo at 7 yards from a rest, I got about 35-40 shots into a 6″ cluster. Certainly adequate for “minute-of-burglar” shooting. Just don’t be in a hurry to reload.

    • It’s not the only one, just the only one commonly available. Knight’s Armament developed their Silenced Revolver Rifle in 1992 as a compact accurate survival rifle. It used a sleeve in the cartridge that slid forward to seal against the forcing cone during firing. It was never produced in large numbers.

      The PSDR3, based off of the S&W 625 was developed in ’93 for German SWAT teams, it used an enclosed cylinder design.

      I suppose the OTs-38 also deserves a mention, though it was designed for integrally suppressed ammunition.

  2. This burglar will run to the hospital and claim it was a drive by. The incident will be another individual component of gun control statistics on gun violence – despite what it really was – self defense.

  3. Oh man I miss my Nagant Revolver. I sold mine years ago. It had some it after I couldn’t sort out this odd problem with it not wanting to function in SA/DA mode. I know they had some rare examples that came from the factory SA only. But mine would dry fire in SA/DA unloaded just fine. :/

  4. There are also replacement cylinders out there that chamber .32 ACP. Maybe he had a Nagant equipped with one of those. .32 SW, .32 SW Long, and .32 HR Mag can also be fired from the Nagant, but it is not a good idea because the cases tend to bulge or even split. Milsurp ammo can be found at J&G Sales, among other places. If you can find good ammo, and get one with a decent trigger, it does hold 7 rounds and is safe to have a loaded chamber under the hammer

    • I spent some time trying to fine one of those. They’re really kind of hard to find anymore it seems. Given just how many of these guns are floating around you’d think someone would try to churn out some.

    • Cabela’s (and a fair number of gun stores) carry the PRVI Partisan (Serbian) 7.62X38R ammo, for about $25-$30 per box of fifty. Seems to work fine.

  5. I own two of those puppies one pre and one post revolution manufacture. I have to say, the Imperial version is definitely nicer. Higher quality finish, wooden rather than bakelite grips…

    • I have a war production version, 1943 according to the stamp. Talk about rough machining and finish work. It does have wooden handles tho, I have read that they used whatever they had on hand.

      The commercial loads are very mild, almost cute to shoot. the Mil-surplus loads are quite potent on the other hand, and your brass will stick sometimes. Dead reliable design tho, if anything is not working right, you can fix it with a rock.

      • Well, not quite. A piece of the lockwork broke on mine, got my handy-man son to put in the replacement part for me. But I do like the gun, that “gay nineties” round-section handle fits my hand perfectly, and my particular one has a not-indecent trigger.

    • The commies never made anything that could be considered a “nice” gun. They were all about the cheapness.

      • Ignorant comment my friend. I don’t suppose you have heard of CZ. The CZ 75 is generally regarded as a nice handgun.

      • Yeah, but their stuff generally works surprisingly well, for what it cost them to manufacture.

        A government of paranoid lunatics like the Soviet Union chose its weaponry very carefully. Look at the AKM and AK74–stamped sheet metal receiver, rough plywood buttstocks and handguards, ammunition loaded in steel cases. But they sure run like sewing machines, in 130 degree desert heat or -50 degree Arctic winters, clean or dirty, lubed or dry.

        • The memory of their experience with the brutal winter war with Germany kept their designs ‘focused’.

          Can you imagine what America’s military today would look like today if we had experienced the kind of combat and starvation losses as Russia did back then?

      • “The commies never made anything that could be considered a “nice” gun. They were all about the cheapness.”

        The companies’ guiding philosophy was “The best is the enemy of the good enough.”.

        The employees’ guiding philosophy was “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”.

  6. Interestingly, all of my liberal coworkers responded to this story with the general sentiment of ‘good job old man!’ When I pointed out this man’s mistakes ( as I interpreted from the article ) they all said it doesn’t matter. Your home is your castle. Don’t wanna get shot? Don’t break into homes.

    These are the same people who react to other shootings by demanding we ban guns. I’ve opted not to call them out on the discrepancy. Instead I revel in the fact there is hope for the 2A.

    Overall, happy ending to the encounter, other than the fact his gun is sitting in an evidence locker now.

  7. Some kid on 4chan said he had a Nambu this morning. Talk about rare. Apparently they were crap to shoot, but what a great looking pistol.

    • The Nambu, “a great looking pistol”? Did you mean “super weird”, but accidentally typed “great”? That thing looks like some kind of steampunk dental instrument.

      • Which Nambu? There were several Nambu designs, ranging from the ghastly and frankly unserviceable and unsafe to the very decent.

        The Model 1902/Type A Nambu, the one the collectors call “Grandpa Nambu,” was copied by the Italians as the Glisenti and Bill Ruger borrowed most of the design–simplified to reduce manufacturing costs, of course–to create the original .22 semiauto pistols that we now call the Mk. I, back around 1947.

    • That’s crap considering there is precedence neither the building or the police is taking proper measure to secure the area properly. Any one of these idiots who broke in could decide it’s not worth it to leave witnesses around.

    • So now the next would-be thief knows the place is not protected, as well as any neighbors… great advertising you moron!

    • “He said owners and managers of private rental units can prohibit firearms. He said most multifamily housing developments have such prohibitions. Stanford manages about 1,500 units in Maine, he said.”

      ATTN: TTAG Legal:

      It’s his home. They can’t do that, can they?

  8. I’m 100% on this guys side! The burglar got what he deserved, However, not too many states will let you shoot somebody EXITING your home. Breaking in! That’s a whole different story.
    If it came down to brass tacks, and the DA wanted to press charges, it would be pretty hard to prove you were in fear of your life, when the dude was running out the door.
    Lets hope the DA will look the other way on this one. Of course if the “suspect” doesn’t come forth, that’s even better.

    • Is it considered a good shoot if you are holding someone at gunpoint waiting for the police and he runs away from you, not at you? Doesn’t seem like self-defense to me.

        • Well, OK–actually it sounds kind of iffy to me, too. If it was Texas, and the burglar still had some of the pills in his pocket, the shooter would be in a lot better position. But then, the guy in the wheelchair can argue that he reasonably feared that the bad guy was running to get a weapon or some such. I think technically the shooter could be in hot water, but as a practical matter it kind of depends on the prosecutor and what he or she thinks the voting public would favor.

      • “Disparity of Force” is an issue here. A 67-year old man in a wheelchair vs a young punk, in the old man’s house. Probably hard to get a jury to convict him of “unreasonable” force, when he couldn’t know if the punk was going to turn back and attack him.

  9. For a while you could get the russian army issue surplus 14 round packs of ammo for the Nagant. Quite cheap. And it appeared to be hotter loaded than the modern commercial stuff. I haven’t looked for it in a few years. It may have dried up.

    Russian soldiers where issued 14 round packs, 2 complete loads for the revolver. Brits were issued 12 round packets. Again, 2 full loads for their revolver.

    • you can still get the Russian mil surp for it, i got some a few years back. lots more pepper in them vs the commercial loads.

    • I just bought a bunch of the Russian surplus ammo not too long ago. $4/box, if I recall correctly. It’s still out there.

    • Aha–kind of wondered about the 14-round thing–but now that you’ve said it, it’s completely obvious, isn’t it? Looking a bit sheepish now, I am…

  10. By the way, one of the Nagant revolvers in the picture is a Swedish Model 1887, as are two of the holsters. Just sayin’.

    • The Swedish Nagant in the picture was converted to .22 rimfire for the American market.

      One of the Russian Nagants was converted to 7.62 x 25. Actually works pretty well, if very loud. Quite a bit of pressure lost between the cylinder and barrel in that design. Velocities about 1,000 fps, as I recall.

  11. This guy is what I visualized when reading The Old Man and the Sea. Then I read Mr. Lembo was a lobsterman and just for a second the world makes sense.

  12. I remember Nagants use to sell for $100, now they go for $200+. At that price I would just buy a Rock Island .38 Special.

    The author has a Nagant in 7.62×25? Man, that sounds awesome.

    • First one I saw for sale in CA was 69 bucks. Last one was 375. Jeebus.

      And 7.62×25. Is that even safe in the nagant frame?

      • Yeah, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to shoot a Tokarev round through a Nagant. A hundred-year-old pistol and ammo that’s almost quadruple the pressure of the original chambering? No, thanks!

    • Same here. At $100, I’d buy one just for fun, and to go with the Mosin. At $200+, I’ll pass and buy a Taurus or Rossi revolver instead, or a CZ82 or Makarov. Shoot, I got a 1917 Colt and a Glock 22 for around 300 each withith the last year.

      • If you can find a real Makarov for @ $200, tell me where! There are several Mak-caliber handguns about for @ $200 (the P-64 and the Wanad P-83 are currently available for $220-@250 at J&G), but the actual Maks are now selling for @ $500 I hear.

        • 200 bucks for a Mak? I’d be on it like a fat man on a donut.(wait, I’m a fat man, where’s that pastry?)

        • I picked up a never-fired Hungarian FEG PA-63 at a pawn shop a few months back for $220. I was really trying to hold out for one without an import stamp, but one of those in good condition is probably the EDC of a unicorn.

          But overall, it’s now probably one of the best gun purchases I’ve ever made. There are better guns in better calibers sure, but the pure value (what you got vs what you paid for it) is hard to beat.

  13. …described himself as a “walking drugstore.”

    If he fired that Nagant in double-action, he’s obviously not on any arthritis medication…

  14. Fiocci makes brand new ammo for that gun, last I checked it was readily available.

    But after shooting that wretched revolver once, my small stockpile of ammo for it may never be used up. The gun is inexpensive, and has the worst trigger pull of any gun I have ever experienced, no doubt in lart due to the mechanism that pushes the cylinder forward to seal it when firing. It’s now just a curiosity in my gun safe, kept for its historical interest.

    • They are interesting historical artfacts. One of mine was made in 1914, as I recall. It went through WWI, the Bolshie revoluton, the White and Red wars, maybe the Finnish War, WWII, the Cold war, and ended up with me.

      But I agree, the double action pull is very hard, the sights so-so, and it reloads slower than a Colt Single Action. If I had to choose between it and an Iver Johnson Sealed 8 .22, an H&R 9 shot .22 or the High Standard Sentinel 9 shot .22, I would take the .22 every time.

      But it is considerably better than an RG-14.

      • Hey, I’ve got an old High Standard Sentinel Deluxe! It’s actually a pretty decent-shooting revolver, if you can get past the fact that it looks and feels very much like a child’s cap gun.

        • I have a 1938 Tula- The sights are off, so if you aim it (or fire it double action) you can’t hit anything. I found its actually easier to point shoot it than aim it. Being a 1938, the machining is good, but they were starting to skimp on the wooden grips. Mine have the feel of unfinished balsa wood.

    • Ain’t that the moral of all our stories? Have a gun and try not to shoot yourself or another undeserving person with it.

  15. My 1940 Tula is as accurate as any of my Ruger Single Actions (when fired single action).

    Just think of it as a Rugerskov Single Seven with BisleyCommie grips.

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