After the horrific terrorist attacks during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics that left 11 hostages dead, nations around the world began to create their own versions of what we in the United States , let's call them Tactical Response and Special Weapons Teams, or SWAT teams.
Just under a year later, France created its own elite tactical police unit, the Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or GIGN .
Their counter-terrorism efforts are well regarded when operating in their country, but few people know that they are also a component of the French armed forces, which means they are both elite police and special operations soldiers.
It quickly became the most experienced and effective counterterrorism organization in the world, with more than 1,800 publicly known missions and a near-perfect track record. And whenever the Gendarmerie faces a threat, they always bring a trusty six-shot revolver as a sidearm.
"If it looks stupid, but it works, it's not stupid".
Although the GIGN uses a wide variety of firearms for any mission, including the MP5 submachine gun, the Fabarm SDASS Tactical shotgun, the Hecate II sniper rifle, and recently the BREN 2 rifle, their handgun of choice is almost always the Manurhin MR73 double-action revolver. It should be noted that some have been known to wear Glock 17s, but this is more the exception than the rule.
When testing which handgun to use, the MR73 was retained after teams were able to fire over 150 rounds of .38 Special with their reference weapons.
They didn't need to see any other firearms - the MR73 was the first and only handgun they wanted to test.
Each MR73 is designed for use in shooting competitions.
The weight of the trigger is adjustable in double action mode and in single action mode, which makes it possible to adapt it perfectly to the person who handles it.
Even when the officer has several firearms to choose from, he will almost always choose the revolver. Because nothing beats a classic.
But while the MR73 revolver is a solid and practical choice, it's just as much a status symbol. Commissioner Robert Broussard also saw what the revolver meant to America's lawmen.
It was the weapon of choice used by the police to take down Old West outlaws and Prohibition-era gangsters. Such a weapon deserved its place among its police officers.
This is how the weapon is used in its debut by the new recruit:
"After 14 months of training, each one, the day before receiving his patent, passes a final test: a shot at one of his comrades.
It is about a shooting at 15m with the revolver, weapon used for the instruction, on a clay pigeon, fixed on the bulletproof vest of the "target".
This shot has a particular symbolism, beyond the technical gesture, mastered at the end of training. He exemplifies self-confidence: "I received training that makes me confident, sure to hit my target without a doubt. I will not fail."
Mutual trust: "He trusts me, he won't move, out of fear or bad reflex, the second I shoot."
Mutual trust always: "I trust the one who is aiming at me. Trained like me, he will not miss his target."
Finally, my graduates, already certified, with whom I am going on a mission tomorrow can now place their trust in me."
The slide of a modern self-loading pistol can interact with a shield or even another member's body in close formation and cause malfunctions at the worst time imaginable.
Keep in mind that if you're pushing a shield in a possible firefight, you're probably the point man. In fact, American tactical units turned to Smith and Wesson for this same problem, resulting in the R8 eight-round tactical revolver and the TRR8 which soon followed.
Revolvers are also very accurate and extremely reliable, which is very important when you need to know that your gun will explode and the bullet will hit what you are aiming for in close combat scenarios, such as engagements on planes, trains, buses or in crowded buildings.
These situations also do not require huge volumes of shot, so the capacity limits of a revolver become less of an issue.
Over the years, semi-automatic pistols have become more reliable and more accurate, so the revolver's relevance outside of very specific situations has diminished.
But the MR73 , in particular, is a very well-constructed, heavy, and highly accurate revolver, and is widely regarded as one of the finest caster revolvers ever built.
It's clear that GIGN sees it as something of a lightsaber, an elegant weapon that's well past its time for all but the most skilled operators.
But for those who know how to use it with extreme efficiency, it remains a powerful tool, even superior in some respects, for many applications.