Manurhin MR 73: A famous revolver used by GIGN

Eric Sof

Manurhin MR 73 Revolver

The Manurhin MR 73 is a compact revolver basically intended for police use, though the longer-barreled versions can also be bought in competition form. They are currently used by French police and security agencies and are also commercially sold.


The Manurhin MR 73 is a conventional solid-frame revolver with a swing-out cylinder. In ‘combat’ form (ie with 2.5, 3 or 4 in barrels) it has the usual fixed blade and notch sights. In competition form (ie with 4, 5.25, 6, and 8 in barrels( an adjustable rear sight is provided. The cylinder is removable and can be replaced by a special cylinder that chambers the 9 mm Parabellum rimless cartridge; in this case, the cartridges must be loaded with a special spring clip in order to position them correctly and also to ensure that the empty cases are ejected properly. The standard cylinder is designed for use with rimmed .357 Magnum or .38 Special cartridges.

The lockwork is fairly conventional and there is a safety bar that prevents the firing pin striking a cartridge unless the trigger is pulled. The linkage between the trigger and hammer spring, via the rebound slide, is engineered so that the load felt by the trigger finger remains almost constant throughout the double-action pull.

Air France flight 8969 hijacking

The Manurhin MR 73 revolver made his name during the assault on Air France flight 8969 which was hijacked by the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. In the assault carried by GIGN, three of four terrorists were shot and killed by the Manurhin MR 73 revolver.

hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 in December, 1994
The hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 in December 1994. French counter-terrorism unit GIGN assaulted the plane and freed hostages (Photo: CCTV)

Technical specifications: Manurhin MR 73

Manufacturer: Giat Industries, F-78034, Versailles-Satory, France – the company is now part of Nexter Systems
Type: six-shot, double-action, solid frame
Caliber: .357 Magnum or 9 mm Parabellum
Barrel: 2.5 in (63.5 mm); 3 in (76.2 mm); 4 in (102 mm); 5.25 in (134 mm); 6 in (152 mm); 8 in (203 mm)
Weight (empty): 31.4 oz (890 grams) with 3 in barrel
Capacity: 6 rounds

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