Here is the updated replacement post for the old one, it has some new information and better pictures.
Nagant side plate markings 1941 – 1945
In 1938 the format of the serial number of the revolver was changed. Instead of just being a numeric sequence it became a numeric sequence preceded with 2 Cyrillic letters. These letters were assigned in some designated, but not publicly known sequence in order to hide production numbers. The arsenal names had been removed from most types of weapons in the 1928 -1929 period in order to hide information about the arsenals.
The side plate marks were pretty consistent from the time arsenal marks were changed until 1941. The only real exception to this being the narrow date on the late 1935 dated revolvers.
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Serial Nos. 14700 and 24898 1935
1935 side plate markings showing the difference in the arrows and width of the date. The early style is on the left, late style on the right. Note the different late style arrow in the star, the arrow point on the right has flat sides and the fletching is wider. This arrow would reappear later.
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Early and late 1940 sideplate marks
Factory mark on revolvers manufactured at TOZ 1929 – 1940. Note the serifs on the numbers and the narrow width of the fletching and the shape of the point on the arrow within the star.
In 1941 Tula production is listed as 118,453 revolvers (Bolotin). In 1941 the factory mark changed noticeably in that the face of the numbers was altered and the shape of the arrow was changed and looks more like the late 1935 arrow with wider feathers shown above.
First the numbers, there are three different types of numbers used on the 1941 dated revolvers. None of them have serifs on the bottom of the numbers - 1940 vs. 1941 and the ‘9’ character is simpler (no ball terminal on the lower part of the ‘9’). The ‘4’ on the 1940 and the early 1941 have an open back (the upper area of the character is not closed), however, the later 1941 mark has a closed top ‘4’ and the ‘1’s have a longer upper slash (beak?). There is also an example with an open top ‘4’ with curved upper slash ‘1’s.
Shown below are examples of the known sideplate marks for 1941.
Note that there is no letter following the digits of the date. Also note that arrow on serial ПН663 only has four feathers on the fletching of the arrow.
This is the first variety observed from 1941. The arrow point is uneven and the arrow stamp is broken. The star is even and looks like the late star from 1941. The reason this is defined as early is that the revolvers seen with this mark have the same acceptance commission mark as the 1939-1940 dated revolvers.
(First picture courtesy Mosin Mike)
These 1941 dated Tula side plates show an open top ‘4’, rather than open back. The arrow is different as well, 5 wide feathers and an uneven point that goes further up into the upper point of the star. The star stamp is even on the bottom. The ‘1’s have a short curved upper slash.
The next variety has a slightly different same number face than previously shown version and has a different the five feather arrow, the point doesn’t extend as far into the upper point of the star. The lower legs of the star appear to be even, unlike the next variations.
(Courtesy Mitchell) Serial ЛА363
This example shows the side plate mark on a 1941 Tula manufactured revolver with numbers that are almost like the 1940 and earlier dated revolvers. The ‘1’s have a short curved slash. The ‘4’ has an open back and the left stroke is curved (Roman nosed ‘4’). The arrow has 5 wide, thin feather marks and a wide angle point that doesn’t go as far up into the upper point of the star. Note that the lower legs of the star are even length.
The next variety is very similar, except that the lower right point of the star is shorter.
Serial ПИ604 The arrow is similar to the previous examples but the lower right point of the star is noticeably shorter than the left.
The final known mark for 1941. The number face is now distinctly different than the previous examples. The arrow now has a longer point and only 4 feathers.
Serial ПН663. The ‘1’s have longer, straight top slashes and the ‘4’ has a sharp closed top. The arrow has a sharp point that neatly fits in the upper point of the star and only 4 wide feathers. The lower right point of the star is now noticeably shorter than the rest of the points. I believe this to be the latest of the 1941 marks because there are 1942 dated side plates that differ only in the date.