Interest in the historic Manurhin MR73 has increased since Beretta announced its plans to import several models to the US—and for good reason. It’s called the “best revolver in the world,” designed to endure several dozens of shots per day, every day, for the lifespan of the gun. As the first official GIGN revolver, it has never been officially retired after nearly fifty years of service.
So, in the spirit of appreciation for historic firearms with exceptional design, we’re putting together this collection of articles about the Manurhin revolver. We think you’ll enjoy it, whether you’re a firearm’s history nut or you just love wheelguns. Click on the links below to find the individual articles, or just keep scrolling to enjoy the entire collection.
The Invincible Manurhin MR73 Revolver is Back in the USA
Patty Miller (September 1, 2021)
We all want to be a part of the cool kids, right? Well, thanks to Beretta, you can now have a slice of elite weaponry in the form of the Manurhin MR73. That’s right, Beretta has started importing two different models of the Manurhin revolver, touted as the best revolver in the
Let’s take a look, shall we?
The Manurhin MR73 came about after a horrific mishandling of the Munich Olympic hostage event in 1972. While the GIGN, the elite French counter-terrorism group, wasn’t involved, those events directly shaped how that group was formed and the weaponry they chose to use.
Made especially for the GIGN, the Manurhin MR73 has been used by this group for nearly 50 years. The most notable event they used it on was the 1994 Christmas hijacking of an AirFrance plane. It was recorded that at least three of the terrorists on that plane were dispatched thanks to the MR73.
This revolver is incredibly accurate and durable. The standard set by the GIGN is that these handguns have to withstand 150 rounds of 357 Magnum a day or at least 40,000 rounds of 158gr 357 Magnum a year. There are even rumors of a Manurhin revolver with over 1,000,000 rounds with no major parts replacement.
How elite can this revolver be, you ask? Well, how about the rigorous requirement of having an 0.8” 15 round group at 25 yards when fired by a gunsmith at the factory? Or what about the 12 hours their team of smiths spends hand-fitting components so that each part fits perfectly and functions with no issues? That elite.
Not only that, but the revolver is a beauty to look at. The bluing is so well done that you could almost see yourself in it — basically black chrome. But don’t worry about that shine when it comes to shooting. The top of the barrel is a matte black with serrations to keep the glean off the sights and out of your eyes. Not to be left out, the heat treating on the hammer and the trigger give them almost a gold-colored finish that really sets this revolver apart from the rest. Almost too pretty to be used as a duty gun. Almost.
Manurhin MR73 revolver accuracy is credited to two things:
1. The cold hammered forged barrel. The rifling is made during the forging, not afterward, giving it a smoother finish and more durability.
2. The frame and the cylinder are forged from billet steel from the same supplier since 1973. The cylinder is smoothed and hardened for more durability. Because of all those processes, it can supposedly handle double the power of a standard .357 Magnum load without sustaining damage. But it’s not like you’re going to want to try that though.
The MR73 has an adjustable trigger weight in both single and double action, with no loss of function. There are other adjustment screws on the frame, including one that allows for micro-adjustments to the rear sights for wind, etc. That is, of course, if the hand-tuning that’s done at the factory isn’t good enough for your needs.
To round out the review, James does say that overall, the MR73 is a bit heavy but will fit most K-frame holsters. The standard Trausch grips might seem like overkill for the revolver, but they do their job sucking up recoil. In his estimation, it felt like shooting a 22, something that you’d have to feel to believe.
The only real issue that James found with the Manurhin MR73 was the price. Coming in at a solid $3,300, it’s a steep price to pay but worth it for all that you get. With its incredible accuracy and insane attention to the details at the factory, he says it’s built like a Swiss watch and will run like one. In his words, the best gun he’s reviewed. If you can swing it, buy it.
Strongest DA Revolver Made: Manurhin MR73 357 Magnum
Patty Miller (June 14, 2021)
Have you ever wonder what the strongest revolver being manufactured is? According to the gent over at Sootch00, it’s the Manurhin MR73.
Never heard of it? That’s not really surprising considering there aren’t very many of them in the United States. The revolvers are made in France at the same factory that used to make Walther PPs and PPKs. That’s thanks to the fact that Walther was not able to produce them in Germany after the war, so the company contracted with Manurhin for the manufacturing.
Because the Manurhin MR73s aren’t super well known here in the States, they are pretty hard to come by. Sootch00 says that since 1973, these are the best revolvers in production. So good, in fact, that the French Special police forces helped design them to fit their standards. They are so well made that the MR73s are designed to take a full 150 fully loaded 357 magnums a day. He went on to say that some revolvers are documented to have run at least 175,000 rounds through them.
The MR73s that are in the country are being imported, but most are police surplus. He says the prices can range from $500 for used ones on surplus sites to $6,000 for a new model. The ones reviewed by Sootch00 are the police/combat models that come in 357 Magnum as well as 38 Special. Manurhin did have a 9mm cylinder to swap into the frames, but in the 1980s French law changed to make the 9mm illegal, so the company had to stop production.
The models have 3”-10” barrel options, with the longer barrels having bipods and scopes mounted to help with precision. The grips that are found most often are the military rubber ones, as it’s nearly impossible (or cost-prohibitive, perhaps) to find the walnut grips. He also
likes the beavertail on the grip to hold for 2nd and 3rd shots (or more) of the 6-round cylinder.
Each MR73 spends about twelve hours in the factory getting all the parts hand-fitted. They have hammer forged barrels along with the forged cylinders and receivers out of what they refer to as ordinance steel alloy. They are roughly the size of a K-frame with a straight back single- or double-action hammer.
MR73 accuracy is solid and known to be accurate even after many rounds. Supposedly the revolver’s accuracy has to be at most a .8” grouping at 25 yards in order to leave the factory. Not only that but the revolvers are tested with loaded ammo that has pressures about 30 percent stronger than commercially available loading.
He said that since they are surplus, that they’ll need to be taken apart to clean them up. With a two-piece grip and replacement parts being hard to come by, you’ll want to take it slow and easy and make sure you’re using gunsmithing tools to minimize any potential damage.
So, there you go, the Manurhin MR73 revolver — the strongest revolver out there.
French Badassery: The .357 Magnum GIGN Revolver Sniper
Bucky Lawson (June 14, 2021)
“The coolest combat revolver ever made.” That’s how Forgotten Weapons firearms guru Ian McCollum describes the Manurhin MR73 “Sniper Revolver.” A bold statement, but I have to agree that it would be tough to top a hand-fitted double-action .357 Magnum with an eight-inch
barrel designed to fire “multiple hundreds of thousands of rounds” over its lifetime that’s also equipped with a scope and bipod.
The MR73 was the standard service pistol of the elite French counterterror unit known as the Groupe D’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) or GIGN. Think of them as the rough equivalent of the American FBI Hostage Rescue Team or the German GSG 9. The GIGN revolver first entered service in 1973 and has not been officially retired, though it last saw widespread operational use around 2000.
I wasn’t personally aware of the MR73 and its official role until quite recently, and I thought to myself, “Why in the name of Sam Colt would a high-speed outfit like the GIGN choose a revolver as its primary sidearm?” Well, they had some pretty good reasons, as I learned. Ian does a great job explaining them in his video, keeping in mind the context of the early 1970s when all this went down:
• The only autoloaders available to the GIGN at the time were the Colt 1911, Browning Hi-Power, and French Mac 50, all single action only pistols.
• At the time, it was standard to not carry “cocked and locked,” meaning that any SA autoloader would require some kind of manipulation upon being drawn.
• The available autoloaders only met reliability standards with FMJ ball ammo, but since GIGN envisioned much of their mission to be hostage rescue, possibly in confined quarters such as airliners, they needed to use JHP to prevent over-penetration. A revolver gave them that capability with the reliability they needed.
• GIGN philosophy focused on fewer high precision shots as opposed to volume of fire, again reflecting their mission parameters. Because of this, capacity wasn’t a major concern, especially considering the available autoloaders only had standard capacities of eight or nine rounds anyway. GIGN was thinking in terms of two to three well-aimed shots.
So, the Manurhin Firearms Division designed the MR73 to the exacting standards laid down by the GIGN. Chambered in .357 Magnum, it features, essentially, what Ian describes as “improved Smith & Wesson lockwork” beefed up to handle the demanding training schedule of the GIGN. They had to be able to maintain a pace of around 150 rounds per day, every day, over the lifespan of the gun. As mentioned earlier, “multiple hundreds of thousands of rounds” without major wear and tear or malfunctions. And that is with .357 Magnum combat loads. No .38 Special plinking for this hot rod.
The MR73 was available with 3, 4, and 5 ¼ inch barrels, and every GIGN revolver was extensively hand fitted. As Ian notes, “the quality is there.” The trigger is equipped with roller bearings for a smooth pull and is adjustable in both SA and DA. Ian describes a “heavier cocking stroke” (snicker) for the hammer, but a lighter and smoother DA pull designed for a high level of precision. And high precision they are. The factory accuracy standard was no more than a 20-millimeter (0.8 inches) group at 25 meters. Ian says the MR73s are “supremely accurate revolvers.” Now put a scope on that.
The scope was a 2.5x Bushnell Magnum Phantom (again, consider the context of the time) with a simple crosshair reticle. The bipod was a Harris 1A2 Ultralight with a proprietary mount designed by GIGN and manufactured by Manurhin.
The sniper version came about in 1981 when the GIGN took over Presidential security from the police. According to Ian, the Presidential Mansion has certain windows that make great spots for snipers as part of the security setup but are so cramped that a rifle would have had to stick way out past the sill. So, the “supremely accurate” MR73 GIGN revolver, with an eight-inch barrel, scope, and bipod was slotted in. The shots in that role were expected to be no more than 100 yards, well within the capabilities of the scoped revolver, especially with a highly trained GIGN shooter on it.
As mentioned earlier, the MR73 hasn’t seen widespread operational service since about 2000, but it hasn’t been officially retired. It serves as the standard GIGN sidearm in ceremonial duties and it is believed that certain GIGN operators still carry it, as they have a lot of freedom regarding their personal weapons and gear. Ian says that GIGN “Likes the idea that they are high-speed operators using .357 Magnum revolvers,” so that may well be the case. There are a “handful” of sniper versions still in the armory, but none are known to have been used in that role for fifteen years or so.
Ian gives a brief, but interesting, history of the Manurhin company, including their involvement with Walther after World War II. I personally own a Manurhin P1 version of the venerable Walther P38. The company has been bought up by at least a couple of conglomerates over the last few decades, its current parent company being the French hunting firearms manufacturer Chapui Armes. Beretta USA has partnered with Chapui Armes to import a new civilian MR73 to the US, with the same standards and quality (and price). Damn fine-looking firearms.
Ian doesn’t hold back on his final evaluation of the weapon: “Every bit as good as the Colt Python, arguably better, given the longevity they can stand up to… The MR73 is, I think, without a doubt, the finest revolver they (Manurhin) ever made and, arguably, one of the best revolvers ever made, period.”
Beretta is Bringing Manurhin Revolvers to the States
Stephanie Kimmell (May 7, 2021)
Big news from Beretta this week! The company just announced that it’s now importing the French revolvers that were originally made for special police and military units. These Manurhin wheelguns are made by Chapuis Armes, a French manufacturer best known in the US for the MR73 series, which they are now importing and distributing in the the USA through Berretta.
Beretta is starting by making two models available stateside, the MR73 Gendarmerie 4” and MR73 Sport 5.25”, but the company plans to add more models in the future.
Both MR73s have target-adjustable sights, an adjustable trigger (adjustable three ways: overtravel adjustment on the trigger itself, trigger weight on double-action, and trigger force — two screws that adjust the mainspring force within the frame), and a fully cold-hammer-forged barrel.
About that barrel, Beretta’s Tactical and Pro Shop manager Erik Stern said, “With the cold-hammer forged barrel, and the extremely strong steel used in the manufacture of these pistols, the French GIGN and special police units actually tested and mandated in their spec for these revolvers when they were developed back in the 70s, that they be able to withstand tens of thousands of full-power .357 Magnum loads, and be able to maintain timing and lock up.”
“They are, in my biased opinion, the best revolvers in the world,” Stern says, adding, “It is a .357 Magnum, medium frame revolver with “some of the best bluing, period, as well as one of the best triggers on the market.”
In this video, Stern covers the details.
Here is the full product release from Beretta:
Beretta USA is excited to announce the inclusion of Manurhin revolvers into our commercial product line-up. The official launch of this new line will take place this week at the 2021 USPSA LOCAP Nationals in Talladega, AL.
The French company Chapuis Armes, a world leader in hunting firearms, has manufactured, produced, and distributed the legendary Manurhin revolvers for nearly 20 years. These storied firearms benefit from the expertise and craftsmanship of Chapuis Armes’ gunsmiths for quality and finish. The full range of Manurhin revolvers fulfills the needs of target shooters and law enforcement officers worldwide.
The Manurhin MR73 series of revolvers were explicitly developed for the requirements of the French Gendarmerie and special service units of the French Police and Military. The pistols feature exceptional accuracy and proven reliability, tested with tens of thousands of rounds of full power .357 Mag ammunition during durability testing.
“Beretta is proud to have the opportunity to bring the best revolver in the world to the US market in cooperation with our sister company, Chapuis Armes – the parent company of Manurhin. These products are in keeping with our philosophy of producing the best offerings on the market, and we are excited to enter into the revolver market with such a storied brand and the renowned MR73 series specifically,” Erik Stern, Tactical and Pro-Shop Product Manager, said.
The MR73 Gendarmerie 4” and MR73 Sport 5.25” will be the first Manurhin products that Beretta will import and include into the current premium product line-up. The accurate and durable MR73 series features cold hammer-forged barrels, target adjustable sights, an ergonomic target grip for enhanced recoil mitigation, and a premium target trigger that is adjustable for overtravel.
The cold hammer-forged barrel allows for enhanced durability and world-class accuracy. Cold hammer-forging processes provide the highest level of repeatability and consistency possible in the industry and are standard for Manurhin revolvers.
The LPA target adjustable rear sight allows the shooter to make macro and micro-adjustments for wind and elevation as necessary, making any adjustments needed for longer range shooting a snap.
The MR series of revolvers ships with a highly ergonomic target grip created by the legendary Jacques Trausch. These grips are known for extreme recoil mitigation (especially with full-house .357 Magnum loads) and high levels of shooter control and allow for increased accuracy, faster follow-up shots, and limit recoil transfer to the shooter’s hands.
All Manurhin MR73 series revolvers feature a triple adjustable trigger with an overtravel screw built into the trigger as well as a hammer force adjustment screw and a hammer spring weight adjustment screw built into the frame. This high level of adjustability allows for the shooter to dial in the trigger to the precise specifications needed for maximum control over the shot.
Read more at Beretta.