manurhin mr73

I

Writing a year after the end of WWI, prewar Olympic gold and silver pistol shooting medalist Walter Winans began Chapter I of his treatise The Modern Pistol and How to Shoot It with a bold pronouncement: “There is now no use learning revolver shooting. That form of pistol is obsolete except in the few instances where it survives for target shooting, or is carried for defense; just as flintlock muskets even now survive in out-of-the-way parts of the world. If a man tries to defend himself with a revolver against another armed with the automatic pistol he is at a great disadvantage. […] The automatic is more accurate than a revolver [and has] a much longer range than the revolver.” This article is concerned with technical features of the most conspicuous exception to Winans’ pronouncement, the Manurhin MR73, the last revolver developed and fielded forty years ago as an offensive sidearm, a capacity in which it continues to excel to this very day.
    But first, a few words about its precursors. Continue reading manurhin mr73

shot 2012

I went to the SHOT Show. Here are my impressions.

Sauer’s Legendary P210 is back in three variants. The standard fixed sight model is complemented by two adjustable sight variants, the Target with its standard 120mm-barrel and the 150mm-barreled Super Target. This lineup suggests that the original Swiss micrometer sight fitted into the standard milspec dovetail is no longer cost-effective. Since Dobler’s dovetail-mounted compact adjustable rear sight can be had for around half the cost of the traditional unit, Sauer’s new adjustable sight shared by the Targets and the Super Targets, with its housing milled en bloc with the slide, is also an instance of deliberate branding. The new integral rear sight is a less dedicated target shooting setup, moderately compromised in its sight picture, stability, and adjustment in comparison with its dovetail-mounted predecessor.

The safety lever of the Super Target has been made more familiar to M1911 shooters by relocating its pivot behind the hammer action retained by a Torx T15 screw, from its traditional forward position in the foregoing P210 variants. As explained in my Legend review, this arrangement appears to have been derived from an Ergosign design exercise long touted by Karl Nill. In addition to this modification, the Super Target’s frame also differs from the standard frame employed by SAN in its 2003 longslide version of the P210, in its newly extended dustcover, presumably adding a little extra precision to its alignment with the slide. The retail pricing of the new Super Target model, at $3,626.00, is set on par with similar going rates for previous P210-5 variants, cutting in half the current collector value of the original P210-5LS long slide pistol. Its street price in Germany is around 2,300.00 €, including the 19% excise tax, which may be refunded for export shipments.

While Sauer may have the capacity to improve on the Swiss originals in the long run, its initial efforts to do so failed in several ways. Five shot test targets fired at 25m have shown a spread comparable to that of SIG’s original ten shot test targets fired at twice that range. Initial changes in the control levers of the Legend left them poorly secured, while the lateral magazine release caused the omission of the trigger stop. Newer Legends appear to correct these shortcomings with their reconfigured slide stop spring, augmented safety detent, and abbreviated trigger stop free of interference with the lateral magazine catch. In this connection, I recommend consulting Barhin Bhatt’s excellent review of his fixed sight Legend variant, briefly available on the SIGforum.

All Sauer P210 variants are built on heavy frames, descended from P210-5 SN P54980 designed by the Swiss marksman Reiny Ruess and his friends at SIG. A special series from SN P79101 to 79150 has a heavy frame. Around three hundred of P210-6 pistols with forged heavy frames, for example those numbered between P76521 and 76620, or between P79621 and 79720. They can readily be found in Europe, at around twice the prices of comparable standard forged frame specimens. According to Vetter and Armbruster, CNC guns with heavy frames are found numbered P309600, P309650, P309660, P312382, P316550, P321108, etc. All P210-8 variants made by SIG, and all P210-6S and P210-5LS variants made by its Swiss Arms Neuhausen (SAN) successors with a lateral magazine catch, also had the heavy frame. If the newly reconfigured spring can secure the slide stop in the frame of the P210 Legend, the Sauer heavy frame design will represent an improvement over the Swiss standard and heavy frames, in virtue of deleting the slide stop spring retaining pin, originally press fitted into a hole drilled in the frame at a location subject to stress during the firing cycle. Nevertheless, reports of fractured Swiss heavy frames are conspicuous by their absence in hundreds of thousands of recorded individual round counts, so the structural benefits of this arrangement are likely to be moot. Besides, stainless steels used by Sauer in the construction of their pistols, are unlikely to exhibit the same wear characteristics as carbon steels formerly used by SIG and SAN, in particular appearing to be considerably softer than their predecessors. Along similar lines, it bears notice that unlike the traditional Swiss oxide finish, Sauer’s Nitron, a vacuum furnace heat treatment of physical vapor deposition, creates a surface buildup that results in tolerance stacking and complicates the assurance of proper clearances, consistently with anecdotal reports of various malfunctions observed in the Legend by European and American shooters.

A NIB P210-6 might fetch between 900 and 1400 € on eGun.de, more for special variants. I don’t know of a comparable online resource in Switzerland, but Kessler’s prices for vintage SIG P49 and P210 pistols are running high. The SIG P 210-S, “Versuch Schweden” SN P59699, which the auctioneers had estimated at Sfr. 7,000/14,000, sold for Sfr. 19,000 plus the auctioneer’s premium. Its approximate counterpart among Swiss Lugers, the W+F P29, “Versuch” SN 100000, of questionable authenticity according to Bobba’s study of its kind, and estimated at Sfr. 18,000/36,000, sold for Sfr. 43,000 plus the premium. These prices are likely to represent world records for a SIG P210 and a W+F 06/29 Luger. As ever, the ongoing economic crisis is continuing to inflate the values of high-end collector items. Notably, these values suggest the ongoing emergence of the P210 as an object of serious collector interest.

I have been assembling published materials and tracking U.S. online sales on the P210 Facebook page. I invite my readers to contribute to this resource, as well as similar pages for Korth, Korriphila, and Manurhin MR73. Among notable trends, sporadic availability of newly manufactured P210 Legend magazines does not appear to have affected the $150-200 going rate for used originals. California shooters will be heartened to learn that IGB Austria now lists 120mm and 153mm P210 barrels for 245.83 €, with P210-5 front sight threads and slots and CIP proofs costing 45.84 and 12.08 € extra. (Ready availability of unthreaded 6" barrels make the P210 eligible for circumventing the CA DOJ drop test via the “single shot exemption”.) In Germany, Waffen Verwertung, a.k.a. Schäfer & Schäfer, continues to offer 120mm polygonally-rifled P210 barrels at 198.00 €, while Harald Berty lists like items at nearly three times the price, along with complete 6" top ends, at 1,995.00 €. Note that all claims on behalf of barrels stabilizing lead projectiles should be evaluated against the twist rate specification.

In related news, Fabryka Broni Łucznik-Radom returned with its elegant 2010-rollmarked Wz.35 VIS Semiautomatic Pistol, once again projected to retail for $450.00, less than one tenth of the current value of a decent Polish Eagle specimen. Regrettably, my inquiries about a wholesale import order in response to the 2011 appearance of the Radom VIS have gone unanswered by its makers. I would welcome the return of this classic M1911 derivative, second among them only to the SIG P210 in intrinsic accuracy, ruggedness, and durability. If I may be allowed to daydream, the revival of the long-lost 1937 Argentine test .45 ACP prototypes, would stand a good chance of rendering M1911 variants obsolete in the U.S. civilian gun market. The VIS Radom now benefits from a handsome Study and Photographic Album of Poland’s Finest Pistol, compiled by William J. York, more than sufficient to alert a new generation of shooters and collectors to the virtues of these remarkable handguns, documented among the official Swiss 1941 inspirations for the SIG P49 replacing the W+F P06/29 Lugers and M1882/29 revolvers in military service.

The sole Swiss gunmaker in attendance was KRISS Arms Group, with its subsidiary Sphinx, claimed to be the last remaining swiss handgun maker. Previously imported by ill-fated Sabre Defense Industries, Sphinx handguns, designed by the late Martin Tuma, have been absent from the U.S. market since 2005. It remains to be seen whether their customizable target handgun can succeed where Tuma’s previous design for ASAI failed, offered at less than one-fourth of the price projected by Sphinx for its deluxe CZ-75 derivatives. Likewise, I am not holding my breath for the XXIst century revival of the Tommy gun, touted by KRISS since 2008.

Italian gunmakers were well represented in both the traditional formats of double-barreled shotguns and black powder and cartridge historical replicas, and novel designs exemplified by the Chiappa Rhino revolver firing from the bottom chamber in the manner of its Mateba Unica and Stechkin OTs-38 predecessors. I was not surprised, though sorely disappointed, to see French firearms industry missing in their entirety. I would have loved to see such classics as sliding breech Darne shotguns, traditional doubles and up to date self-loaders made by the venerable Verney-Carron, or the constabulary wheelgun counterpart to the P210 service pistol that is Manurhin MR73, still produced in small batches by Chapuis. But that was not to be, as yonder cheese-eating surrender monkeys made themselves scarcer than accordions at a deer hunt, at the world’s most important gun show.

By contrast, the Germans invaded Nevada in force. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of Korth, though their handguns, custom-made at the annual rate of around 300 units, are still not officially imported into the U.S. The most exotic piece on display was the Niebelungen Magnum revolver made out of Damascus steel pattern welded by Markus Balbach, and pre-sold for $32,500.00. Korth’s “classic revolver” with its externally adjustable trigger and cylinder yoke retained in the frame by a quick-release latch, starts at 5,000.00 €. Its current version is mechanically similar to the final iteration of Willi Korth’s design, and should be likewise capable of delivering the same accuracy even after firing 50,000 rounds of full-powered .357 Magnum ammo. I would not expect the same performance from revolvers made out of pattern-welded steel, but Korth’s top of the line products are clearly not made for such shooting duty. Zombified presence of Mauser’s latest incarnation was once again distinguished by the outrageously priced, traditional controlled round feed M98 rifles punctuating the banal lineup of their switch-barrel, push-feed M03 would-be successors. Among the real players descended from their Oberndorf am Neckar original, HK showed its piston-operated Stoner rifle derivative, which struck me as unremarkable despite its commercial success.

Surefire showed its innovative, 200 Lumen hard-anodized aluminum-bodied 2211 wristlight powered by a lithium-ion battery recharged through a mini-USB port. Like many of its other impending offerings ranging up to the 2,000 lumen UDR Dominator, it features an LED fuel gauge reminding the operator to recharge his light long before it begins to dim. If all goes as it did with its Invictus, we can look forward to Surefire delivering these lights before 2015. In the meantime, I invite my faithful readers to visit the web pages dedicated to my favorite service and sporting handguns:

http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/p210
http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/mr73
http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/korth

Shooters and collectors seeking advice or assistance in this regard are very welcome to address me with all their questions and requests. Lastly, I have a small assortment of Swiss, French, and German handguns available for adoption in good homes. Please look below for addressing your inquiries.

Michael@massmeans.com | Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860 | http://www.subrah.com |
http://larvatus.livejournal.com | “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett

how tight are your charge holes?

A few words on another aspect of close clearances. Tight chambers yield better accuracy. Given that revolvers are no longer used for combat, there is no reason to build them with clearances required for reliable operation in the dirt, which would degrade their accuracy. As Bill Jordan put it, “Speed is fine but accuracy is final.” I never had any problems in chambering, cycling, or ejecting good quality ammo in the Korth or Manurhin revolvers. There is only one legitimate reason to make handloads that cannot be chambered in them, and that is to use heavier bullets that cannot be seated deeply enough for the loaded round to fit inside their chambers. You would then be limited to the models endowed with longer cylinders. Otherwise, if you resize and trim the fired brass to the SAAMI spec, it’s all good.

I have used Meyer minus gages to measure the chambers of two representative French and German revolvers, along with their American counterparts. On a 4″ MR73 Police and Defense number C37705, the .382″ gage enters only at the mouth, whereas the .381″ gage goes all the way in. On a 6″ Korth Sport number 32126, the first gage to enter the throat is sized .382″, whereas the first gage to go all the way in is sized .379″. By contrast, on a 6″ S&W Registered Magnum numbered 50138, registration 1829, the first gage to enter the throat is sized .383″, whereas the first gage to go all the way in is sized .380″. Lastly, in a Colt Python numbered 2894, the first gage to enter the throat is sized .382″, whereas the first gage to go all the way in is sized .379″, though the one sized .380″ makes it almost all the way in. I think the previous owner was more fond of firing .38 Special than .357 Magnum.

I am collecting these critical measurements for an ongoing study, meant to correlate them with shooting performance. Tighter chambers should yield better mechanical accuracy, up to a point. Whether or not that can be demonstrated in practice, remains to be seen.

french and german revolvers for sport and social work

I own and shoot a good number of Korth revolvers that I personally imported from Germany on an ATF Form 6. I have a similar number of Manurhin revolvers, which I am able to compare to a passel of Colt Pythons, Bankers and Police Positive Target Specials and Single Action Armies, as well as a good selection of Smith & Wesson’s best, ranging from prewar Kit Guns to Registered Magnums and a Triple Lock Target.

As a preliminary evaluation of these revolvers, here are some talking points.

  1. Based on my experience, the quality ratio of Colt to Smith & Wesson is proportional to that of Smith & Wesson to Harrington & Richardson. The Colts are much better made and more precisely fitted, of finer and stronger materials, than Smith & Wessons. I base this statement on the personally observed differences in working internal parts with a diamond file, and wear and peening in contact surfaces with comparable round counts.
        The Smith & Wesson single stage lockup is not nearly as precise as, but much more durable than, the Colt double stage lockup. The Smith & Wesson bolt is softer but less stressed than the Colt bolt. The S&W action is much easier to work on than the Colt action. All the more so for the Manurhin MR73 action, a S&W derivative relentlessly rationalized in the true Cartesian tradition. The Korth is easy enough to work, but the need never seems to arise. As with the MR73, the only part subject to wear on it is the forcing cone that erodes from firing Magnum ammunition. In principle, the shrouded barrel of the Korth should be relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. In practice, I wouldn’t know how to go about it. The MR73 seems to resist this erosion a little better. The only part liable to break on it is the floating firing pin.
  2. The Colt V-spring action as used in the Python with its “Bank Vault Lockup”, is a licensed derivative of the Schmidt Galand patents. As the trigger of these revolvers is pulled, the double hand forces the cylinder against the locking bolt. The harder the trigger is pulled the tighter the cylinder is locked. Consequently, as the cylinder recoils, it compresses the hand, eventually peening it out of spec. This is all the more applicable to Magnum chamberings never contemplated by the original European inventors. The ensuing requirement for periodic maintenance is the price you have to pay for shooting a Python.
        The basic features of Colt double action revolvers are well summarized by Grant Cunningham: “Colt revolvers have actions which are very refined. Their operating surfaces are very small, and are precisely adjusted to make the guns work properly. Setting them up properly is not a job for someone who isn’t intimately familiar with their workings, and the gunsmith who works on them had better be accustomed to working at narrow tolerances, on small parts, under magnification.” On the other hand, by referring to a copy of Kuhnhausen’s shop manual, I was able to fit a new bolt to one of my Bankers Specials using NSk calipers, S&W screwdrivers, the diamond-coated file of a Leatherman Charge TTi, and a wooden shaft. So I agree that Colt actions are highly refined. I also agree that they require working at narrow tolerances, on small parts, under magnification. But much of that is within the reach of a hobbyist equipped with a $30 manual and $200 worth of hand tools.
        In this regard, Grant Cunningham says: “On a properly timed Colt, the cylinder bolt (which is the piece in the bottom of the frame window) will drop into the cylinder’s locking notch just before, or just as, the hammer reaches full cock (in single action) and just as the sear releases (in double action.)” On the other hand, every Colt double action revolver that I own, including unfired and factory overhauled guns, fails to carry up when thumb-braked in the course of cocking the hammer, though it carries up when the cylinder is free to rotate in the course of cocking the hammer, no matter how slowly I cock it. So either this tuneup represents a factory error, or the factory rightly or wrongly considers this condition normal.
  3. The Manurhin MR73 is the best fighting revolver ever made, designed as a significantly improved S&W, crucially strengthened at the yoke, ingeniously refined at tensioning the hammer and the rebound slide, and manufactured to the quality standards of 1950s Colts. I have tried the current S&W revolvers. There is no comparison. In a nutshell, an early Python is a better revolver than a Registered Magnum, in the same sense whereby a Ferrari 330 P3/4 is a better car than a Ford GT40. But the MR73 is the only revolver I would take in harm’s way, in the way I would choose the Citroën ZX over the Ferrari and the Ford for entry in the Paris-Dakar rally.
        American shooters tend to be impressed by popularity. Smith & Wesson is the most successful revolver maker in history, and the biggest handgun maker in the world. But these ratings attest to the quality of S&W handguns in the same way, and to the same extent, as the international market proves that the Big Mac is the king of burgers. To disparage Manurhin for refining the S&W Hand Ejector instead of following the example of Willi Korth in designing a revolver from scratch, is to disparage Colt for copying Schmidt-Galand designs in the wake of its homegrown failure to develop a robust and reliable double action revolver. The problem with S&W is not design, but quality. Their basic action layout is capable of uncompromising performance, as witness this Manurhin chambered in .32 S&W Long, beating match guns by S&W, SAKO, and Walther. But in order to get a current production S&W to perform like that, you would have to rebarrel it and replace its MIM lockwork with increasingly unobtainable forged parts. And even then, it will not approach the quality of Manurhin’s hammer-forged frame, barrel, and cylinder.
        The SIG P210 remains my favorite autopistol. I consider the Manurhin MR73, the last and best revolver to be designed and adopted for constabulary service, as its wheelgun counterpart,. Apart from the gloomy Olivier Marchand polar, my favorite MR73 story unfolded on the day after Christmas of 1994, when Captain Thierry P. of GIGN entered the hijacked Air France Flight 8969 plane, grounded at the Marseille airport. He served as the point shooter, armed with a 5¼” .357 Magnum Manurhin MR73 and backed by his partner Eric carrying a 9mm HK05 submachine gun. Thierry killed two Islamist terrorists and wounded a third with his revolver, before taking seven bullets from an AK47 fired by the fourth hijacker. In spite of then absorbing a full complement of grenade shrapnel in his lower body, Thierry P. survived the assault, as also did 171 hostages. Not so the four terrorists, who had been planning to deploy the plane as an incendiary missile against the Eiffel Tower. Thierry could have armed himself with any firearm. He chose an MR73. I have mine at my side right now.
        You cannot appreciate a tool without considering its intended purpose. Like the SIG P210, the Manurhin MR73 was designed and built for an administrative market that formally required extreme precision and durability orders of magnitude greater than that expected from and built into contemporaneous U.S. police sidearms. The aesthetic sensibility of most American shooters derives from an appreciation of fancy sporting goods and service sidearms meant by their makers to be surplused after firing several thousand rounds. Although that is no longer the case owing to the worldwide decline of revolvers in constabulary use, throughout its history Smith & Wesson and Colt never had an economic incentive to forge their gun parts out of tool steel. It was far more cost effective to sinter and machine softer materials, replacing the products under warranty in the rare instances of their being put to hard use. That was not an option for Manurhin in making deliveries to GIGN and SIG, to KTA. Hence the unexcelled durability and precision of their military and constabulary service handguns, combined with a more or less utilitarian finish in most of their variants.
  4. The Korth is by far the best made modern revolver, comparable in quality only to the best of the pre-WWI classics, from the French M1873, the Mauser M1878, and the Swiss M1878 and 1882. It is equal in mechanical precision to a Target Triple Lock, and far superior to it and the Registered Magnum alike in ruggedness and durability. Among post-WWII revolvers, only the first generation Colt Pythons compare to it in fit and finish. It is arguably the best sporting revolver ever made, as distinct from a social work tool such as the MR73. Its lockwork is hand ground out of steel forgings and deep hardened. It is nowise stressed at ignition, resulting in unexcelled durability and enabling Willi Korth to guarantee the same accuracy even after firing 50,000 Magnum rounds. Its design incorporates some Colt traits such as clockwise cylinder rotation, within an original layout that bears some resemblance to S&W two-point lockup and transport. Its ingenious hand detachable yoke is a great boon to regular maintenance, and its spring tensioned ejector built into the optional 9mm Para cylinder is the best such system that I ever used with rimless ammo in a revolver.
        Korth revolvers are a breed apart. For all its mechanical excellence, the MR73 is fitted and finished like a Seventies handgun. Whereas the fit and finish of Korth revolvers rivals that of an S&W Registered Magnum, if not quite coming up to the standard of a Triple Lock. Speaking of the latter, it was obviously easier for S&W to achieve their superb surface preparation before they belatedly followed the example of Colt by starting to heat-treat their revolvers in 1920. Doing it nearly as well with steel hardened to a remarkable grade of 60 RC is a testimony to the diligence of Willi Korth. Like the MR73, a Korth revolver never wears in normal use, except for the inevitable forcing cone erosion caused by firing Magnum ammo. Every S&W revolver I ever saw suffer a high round count had its cylinder notches thoroughly peened. Every double action Colt revolver I ever tested, including brand new and freshly factory tuned specimens, failed to carry up in hand-cocking the hammer while braking the cylinder. Nothing of the sort is evident even in hard worn MR73 or Korth revolvers. And unlike the MR73, the Korth is refined to a fare-thee-well, with mirror finish on the major components and barely discernible joints between them. It is, however, a quintessentially sporting handgun, with the tightest possible clearances between its moving parts and a finely tunable two-stage double action trigger pull that is not meant for fast combat style shooting in the Bill Jordan fashion. If you want a range toy, the Korth is your finest choice. If you want a top notch tool for social work, get an MR73 or a P210.

I cannot answer the question of subjective value. In Germany, used Korth revolvers of the latest design cost between 1,200 and 3,500 Euros, depending on the condition, configuration, and luck of the draw. By contrast, you would have to spend between 700 and 1,800 Euros for a used Manurhin MR73, and between 400 and 1,000 Euros for a used Colt Python. To put this in perspective, my nicest blue steel Korth cost me around $2,200 to acquire and import in a large combined lot. I wouldn’t part with it for three times that price.

les revolvers manurhin

LES REVOLVERS MANURHIN

En France c’est peu à peu qu’est acceptée l’idée d’équiper les personnels de la police de revolvers à grande puissance (357 Mag, 9 Para). En effet traditionnellement équipés de P.A. en 7,65 Browning, les policiers ne peuvent prétendre au cours de missions dangereuses, à une totale efficacité et constatent une disproportion dans l’armement au cours d’affrontements dits de « grande criminalité », face à des individus n’hésitant pas à faire usage de « gros calibres ».
    Créé en 1962 le Centre National de Perfectionnement du Tir de la Police Nationale, dirigé par Raymond Sasia, permet d’améliorer la formation technique des fonctionnaires de police actifs. Mais l’outil susceptible de rendre les meilleurs services au tir, au plan de la sécurité, de l’efficacité et de l’économie reste encore à définir. L’expérience de Sasia lui permet d’affirmer que le revolver en 357 Magnum est la meilleure réponse à ces questions. D’ailleurs Raymond Sasia fait mettre au point par Smith et Wesson une version spéciale de modèle 19 : le 19/3 RS ( 3 pouces Raymond Sasia ) conçue spécialement pour les forces de l’ordre.
    Entre temps le Ministère de l’Intérieur, soucieux d’acheter français ( marché prévu : 80 000 revolvers ) recherche dans l’hexagone un fabricant pouvant concevoir et exécuter un revolver. Vaste problème ! Grâce à la législation que chacun connaît il n’y a plus en France un seul fabricant de revolver, civil ou militaire, sportif ou défense. C’est finalement la Manufacture de Machines du Haut-Rhin ( plus connue sous le nom de Manurhin ) dont le département armement fabrique des P.A. sous licence Walther depuis l’après-guerre qui est désignée en 1971.
    Le bureau d’études se montre à la hauteur de la tâche et sort un prototype qui est une synthèse des meilleures caractéristiques des Colt et Smith et Wesson. Rien n’est particulièrement nouveau mais il est difficile d’innover dans le domaine du revolver depuis l’invention du barillet tombant en 1889 par Colt et depuis la mise au point de la 357 Magnum par S et W en 1935. La chaîne de production et d’assemblage qu’installe Manurhin est très efficace et le résultat est une arme très proche de la perfection où se mêlent les techniques modernes ( canon martelé à froid aux rayures d’un fini exceptionnel ) et classiques ( carcasses et pièces de platines travaillées mécaniquement, pas d’utilisation de microfusion, bronzage noir brillant sur des pièces polies et finies manuellement ).
    En bonne société industrielle Manurhin ne se repose pas sur ses lauriers et l’important contrat que constitue la fourniture d’armes de poing aux forces de Police et de Gendarmerie ne l’empêche pas d’aller explorer les besoins spécifiques des tireurs sportifs civils. Peu à peu la firme de Mulhouse crée ainsi toute une famille de revolvers :
    1973 — MR 73 version police ( défense ) canon de 2½, 3 et 4 pouces, aux calibres 9 Para et 357 Mag.
    1974 — MR 73 versions Match et Sport, à canons de 4, 5¼, 6 et 8 pouces, calibre 357 Mag.
    1977 — MR 73 versions GIGN ( Gendarmerie ) à canons de 3, 5¼, et 8 pouces, calibre 357 Mag.
    1980 — MR 32 Match.
    1981 — MR 38 Spécial Match.
             — MR Long Range à canon de 9 pouces, calibre 357 Mag.
             — RMR Spécial Police, calibre 357 Mag.
    1983 — MR Silhouette à canon de 10¾ pouces, calibre 357 Mag.
             — MR Commémoratif, 357 Mag. en acier inoxydable.
    1986 — MR 22 LR Remora 5 ( le petit frère en 5 coups calibre 38 spécial ).
    1987 — Modèle convertible.


1973 — MR 73
Des le départ c’est une arme de grand prestige. Si la conception est classique ( avec quelques astuces au niveau de la double action ) l’arme se caractérise par la grande qualité de ses aciers, le canon martelé et l’usinage parfait de chacune des pièces du mécanisme.
    Les seuls problèmes qui se présentent viennent du ministère de l’intérieur et de son souci d’économie qui fait exiger une arme pouvant tirer la 9 Para : il faut donc un barillet avec dans l’étoile de l’extracteur des petits ressorts qui viennent prendre la gorge des douilles ( chacun sait que la 9 Para est une cartouche à gorge et non à bourrelet ).
    Heureusement le dispositif inventé exprès pour cela marche plutôt bien, mais le fonctionnaire de police peut toujours avoir l’appréhension au plus fort d’une action violente, que « ça foire », ce qui ne facilite pas la concentration. La 9 Para prévue pour l’utilisation est ( au début ) la cartouche de l’Armée : il est notoire qu’elle est faite pour le P.M. et son utilisation dans une arme de poing ( heureusement solide ) entraîne un tir brutal. L’amorce prévue pour la masse percutante du PM est très dure : il faut une percussion très musclée, que le MR peut heureusement fournir par réglage de sa platine, mais au prix d’um alourdissement catastrophique de la double action ! De plus l’amorcées corrosive et les meilleurs aciers du monde ne peuvent donner que ce qu’ils ont face à la corrosion. Pour le tir de la 9 Para le diamètre intérieur du tube est établi à 0,354 pouce ( pour le tir à balle blindée en 357 c’est OK, mais pour un tir de match à la balle plomb il faut bien vérifier la matrice de récailibrage, sinon précision = zéro ).
    Alors qu’est annoncée l’attribution de l’arme avec son barillet de rechange en 357 Mag, les fonctionnaires de police voient souvent arriver un revolver juste prévu pour la 9 Para ( économie oblige ) avec finition parkerisée ( noir mat, toujours l’économie ). Heureusement en 1981 cette malheureuse expérience est enfin arrêtée et on lance le programme qui donne naissance au RMR Spécial Police ( voir plus loin ).
    À côté du modèle Police ( défence ) à canons de 2½, 3 et 4 pouces à crosse de bois, type « round butt », à organes de visée fixes, à finition parkérisée pour la clientèle administrative, existe une version semblable mais à finition bronzée noir brillant, pour la clientèle privée ( semble-t-il, cette version n’a pas été fournie en 9 Para, rien qu’en 357 Mag ). Dans les deux cas les plaquettes de série sont le modèle dit « standard » : deux blocs de bois réunis par une vis centrale, les plaquettes laissant la carcasse apparente, sauf sous le pontet où elles se rejoignent : ainsi est respectée l’accès aux vis de réglage de la détente et du ressort. Le médaillon doré inséré au bas des plaquettes ( emplacement inhabituel dans l’armurerie de poing ) est visible même sur l’arme au poing ( ce serait l’explication du choix de cet emplacement ).
    Quelques mois plus tard, en 1974, apparaît le modèle Sport à hausse réglable et guidon carré, à canons de 4, 5¼, 6 et 8 pouces.
    Toutes ces versions civiles présentent la finition que chacun reconnaît être remarquable chez Manurhin : bronzage profond sur pièces impeccablement polies.
    4 pouces : 357 Magnum. C’est la version la plus équilibrée pour le tir de précision, la défence.
    5¼ pouces : Modèle compétition, calibre 38 Spécial. C’est la nouveau réglementation de l’U.I.T qui détermine cette longueur. En fixant le poids maximum à 1,4 kg et la longueur totale à 30 cm l’adaptation d’une crosse orthopédique devient difficile pour le 6 pouces, type le plus fréquent jusqu’alors ( Colt Officer’s Match, S et W K 38 ) alors qu’en 5¼ pouces on améliore la préhension sans nuire à la précision. Sur ce modèle qui fonctionne en double action le chien est allégé.
    6 pouces : devient du fait de la nouvelle réglementation l’arme du sportif non matcheur. Ce modèle est prévu d’origine dans les calibres sportifs 38 Spl et 22 LR et les calibres magnum : 357 Mag et 22 Mag. Les versions 22 ajournées ( on ne sait pourquoi ) ressortent bien plus tard sous une forme différente ( voir 22 Match ).
    8 pouces : c’est une « canne à péche », difficilement maniable, mais très précise, surtout utilisable avec lunette. Peut-être envisagée comme arme de chasse ( pour l’exportation aux USA, en Afrique ), c’est dans la version Gendarmerie avec bipied que l’arme s’épanouit.

MR 73 — MODÈLES GENDARMERIE
Après la création d’un Groupe d’lntervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale ( GIGN ), fer de lance dans la lutte de la Gendarmerie contre le terrorisme et les prises d’otages, est apparu le besoin de remplacer le PA MAC 50 peu adapté à ce genre de mission. Après une série d’essais mettant en présence la fine fleur des revolvers du Monde ( SW, Ruger, Colt et Manurhin ) c’est le MR 73 qui est retenu. De la collaboration étroite entre la Gendarmerie ( Capitaine Prouteau ) et Manurhin est né un modèle spécifique ou s’associent la maniabilité des modèles « défense » et la précision des modèles « sport ».
    Sur la carcasse du MR 73 une hausse micrométrique semblable à celle du modèle sport mais à planchette de visée plus petite assure la précision sans gros risque d’accrochage en sortie rapide de l’étui ; de même le guidon monté sur une longue embase n’est plus taillé en angle droit, comme sur le modèle sport, mais possède des contours abattus, comme sur le modèle défense. Il y à trois longueurs de canon disponibles ; selon le type d’intervention on choisit :
    — une arme à canon de 3 pouces pour le tir rapproché ( poids 890 g ), d’origine à petites plaquettes ( standard ), mais peut bien sûr recevoir d’autres plaquettes plus étoffées ( pour le tir à deux mains ).
    — une arme à canon de 5¼ pouces pour le tir à moyenne distance ( jusqu’à 60 mètres ), d’origine à grandes plaquettes ( Gendarmerie ) portant sur le devant l’empreinte des doigts permettant le tir à deux mains. Ces grandes plaquettes masquent l’accès aux vis de réglage mais sont si efficaces même pour la préhension à une main qu’on les retrouve sur les modèles match 32, 38 à coté des crosses orthopédiques.
    — une arme à canon de 8 pouces en 1981 qui rejoint les deux autres MR Gendarmerie. Avec une lunette ( Bushnell grossissement 1,3 ) lit grandes plaquettes elle autorise un tir à 100 mètres, puis avec lunette à grossissement 2,5 et bipied amovible elle permet le tir à 200 mètres. À ces distances la carabine Ruger Mini 14 en 5,56 dont est aussi doté le GIGN est une alternative non négligeable.
    Le 8 pouces à lunette fait 1,125 Kg sans la lunette, 1,32 avec.
    Apparus à partir de 1977 les MR Gendarmerie reçoivent d’office la modification apportée alors au mécanisme du MR 73 : changement du ressort du linguet. La corde à piano trop fragile ( possibilité de bris à quelques milliers de coups ) fait place à un ressort à lame.

1980 — LANCEMENT DU MR 32 MATCH
Après expérimentation en 1979 de l’ultime prototype par l’équipe de France de Tir, l’arme lancée dans le circuit commercial et sportif en 1980 fait tout de suite forte impression par son esthétique et par le titre de Champion de France au pistolet sport 1980 ( se posant ainsi en challenger du PA Walther 32 ).
    Le barillet, court, n’occupe pas toute la carcasse qui est celle du MR 73, ce qui permet de reculer le canon et de tenir les normes de gabarit UIT avec un canon de 6 pouces. Bien sûr chambres et cône de raccordement correspondent à l’utilisation de wadcutters.
    Canon de 6 pouces ( diamètre de récailibrage = 0,313 pour les rechargeurs ) 6 rayures au pas de 450 mm, la hausse est surbaissée et le contrepoids réglable sous le canon. Au début l’arme est livrée munie d’un prolongement métallique rapporte par soudure sur la carcasse, pour améliorer la tenue lors de l’utilisation des plaquettes de crosse sport. La fourniture ultérieure par Manurhin de crosses orthopédiques en bois rend cette corne disgracieuse inutile et elle disparaît sans laisser de regrets aux tireurs.
    À partir de 1974 sept prototypes successifs dus à la collaboration du Commandant Wack ( directeur de l’équipe de France militaire de tir et de la section tir de l’école interarmées des sports ) et des spécialistes de la maison de Mulhouse transforment peu à peu le MR 73 en redoutable arme de matcheurs.

1981 — LE MR SPÉCIAL POLICE
Après l’introduction du MR 73 dans les services de police, en priorité dans les services spécialises qui avaient tout à fait l’usage d’une arme conçue pour leurs besoins spécifiques, la crise pétrolière internationale et les restrictions budgétaires nationales font revoir au Ministère de l’Intérieur le poste de l’équipement en armes. Le MR 73 est coûteux : sa fabrication est classique, sans utilisation de pièces de microfusion. Pour abaisser les coûts Manurhin fait appel à Ruger ( d’ou le nom aux initiales RMR ) qui est, aux USA, le champion de l’arme de qualité dans le créneau des prix corrects ( par opposition à Colt et Smith et Wesson dont les prix sont dans la cIasse au dessus ).
    Schématiquement le Spécial Police ( c’est son nom officiel après adoption par le Ministère de l’Intérieur ) c’est une carcasse et un mécanisme Ruger ( avec pièces obtenues par microfusion ) type Speed Six, avec un canon et un barillet forgés Manurhin. Les pièces arrivées brutes en France sont finies et montées à Mulhouse. Le bronzage noir brillant change agréablement les fonctionnaires de Police du modèle précédent. La couleur blanche du chien et de la détente est peut-être plus moderne que la finition jaune paille du MR 73. Malgré l’air de famille aucune pièce n’est interchangeable avec celles du MR 73.
    Canons de 3 et 4 pouces, à six rayures au pas de 400 mm. Poids total 875 g ( 3 pouces ), 950 g ( 4 pouces ). À noter qu’il existe une version en 38 spécial pour l’exportation. Après 16.000 pièces fabriquées le modèle est arrrêté : l’augmentation du dollar rend moins séduisant le prix du Ruger et, disent certains, les tolérances Ruger un peu lâches se marient mal avec la rigueur alsacienne. Une solution totalement française : le Spécial Police F1 naît en remplacement ( voir plus loin ).

1981 — MR 38 MATCH
C’est le frère du MR 32 sorti deux ans plus tôt et si on excepte son barillet qui occupe toute la carcasse, il lui ressemble beaucoup : même grande poignée à empreintes pour les doigts sur le devant, même hausse micrométrique rallongée à l’extrême arrière du sommet de la carcasse MR 73, même guidon anguleux sur courte embase, même mécanisme en simple action, même possibilité de monter le contrepoids de 100 g sous le canon.
    Manurhin sort cette arme car son revolver MR 32, sans aucunement démériter dans les concours, se diffuse peu, freiné qu’il est par la relative nouveauté qu’est pour beaucoup de tireurs la cartouche.
    La 38 spécial est archi-connue, les rechargeurs archi-équipés, c’est donc commercialement logique de sortir fin 1981 un MR Match dans ce calibre.
    Canon de 5¼ pouces, à 5 rayures ( jusque-là tous les MR 73 ont six rayures ) au pas de 476 mm, étudié pour la wadcutter, son calibre ést, à fond de rayures 9,05 mm ( 0.356 pour le récailibrage ).

1981 — MR 9 POUCES SILHOUETTE
Le tir sur silhouettes métalliques vient des USA, à partir de 1980 ; il rencontre en France un succès grandissant et Manurhin saisissant l’opportunité d’élargir sa gamme et de barrer la route aux productions US sort en janvier 1981, sur carcasse MR, une version à canon long.
    Schématiquement c’est la platine à simple action et chien allégé, les organes de visée des versions match, avec un barillet et un canon de 357 Magnum. Le logement de la tige d’extracteur se continue sous le canon jusqu’a la bouche ( sur les prototypes il s’arrête à mi-course ) et équilibre l’arme. Poids total 1300 g, longueur totale 360 mm. Sur ce modèle de 2e génération la partie arrière de la carcasse est lisse ( alors que les MR de 1ère génération ont un arrière strié ).

1983 — SPÉCIAL POLICE F1
Le RMR, hybride franco-américain, nécessitant trop de travaux de finition mécanique devenu à son tour trop cher, la société de Mulhouse se tourne vers une solution entièrement française qui ne peut que plaire à l’état français : ATS France Société spécialisée dans la microfusion en tout genre fournit les carcasses brutes, que Manurhin finit et monte. Le bureau d’études en profite pour remanier le mécanisme et c’est une arme profondément remaniée qui sort, même si extérieurement la ressemblance est grande avec le RMR Spécial Police ( interchangeabilité oblige ) : plus de pontet amovible, mais une classique plaque de recouvrement.
    Les longueurs disponibles pour les canons restent 3 et 4 pouces. La version finition bronzée noir se trouve pour la première fois chez Manurhin épaulée par une version inox ( Enfin… ! disent certains, étonnés de voir le revolver inox être l’apanage des productions étrangères ).

1983 — LE MR 10¾ POUCES SILHOUETTE
Le 9 pouces avec sa remarquable canonnerie couplée à d’excellents organes de visée excite beaucoup les tireurs sur silhouettes métalliques. La science du rechargement et la robustesse de la carcasse du MR 73 laissent prévoir une cartouche « renforcée et perfectionnée » .
    Pour barrer la route des 44 Magnum américains et pour tirer le maximum de cette 357 optimisée ( la 357 Magnum Mega Match ) le département armement de Manurhin, toujours dynamique, sort le MR 10¾.
Le nom « Silhouette » jusque-là porté par le 9 pouces est attribué au 10¾ pouces. Le 9 pouces est rebaptisé « Long range ».
    Canon de 10¾ ( 273 mm ) à 5 rayures au pas de 476 mm, poids à vide 1,428 kg, longueur totale 424 mm. Schématiquement c’est le 9 pouces allongé et doté d’une poignée plus grande. Attention : la 357 Mega Match peut être tirée sans danger dans tous les MR 73 en 357 Magnum, mais Manurhin propose le chambrage du barillet du Silhouette soit en 357 Magnum, soit en 357 Mega Match ( qui, lui n’accepte pas la 357 Magnum normale ).

1983 — MODÈLE COMMÉMORATIF
Pour fêter les 10 années de son produit Manurhin sort une arme gravée, avec plaquettes en bois précieux ( bois de violette ), en acier inoxydable, vendue par souscription. Il à été présente à la presse deux prototypes de cette arme : l’un avec organes de visée « défense », l’autre avec organes de visée « gendarmerie » dédicacé à Christian Prouteau ( les 10 ans du MR 73 ont coïncidé avec les 10 ans du GIGN ).
    Mais il y à bien d’autres exécutions spéciales du MR 73 , exécutées discrètement sur demande à l’usine : gravures, incrustations de fils d’or, finition luxe, montage de lunette, coffrets somptueux bien loin de l’ordinaire boite de carton. Ce genre de cadeau fait toujours plaisir aux puissants de ce monde.

1985 — LE MR 22 MATCH
Attendu depuis longtemps, le 22 LR, calibre qui figure déjà dans une publicité de 1977, apparaît enfin en public. C’est un revolver dans la plus pure tradition des versions « match ».
    Chien allégé à course courte, simple action, hausse basse sur la main, contrepoids amovible sons le canon, crosse orthopédique conforme aux règlements UIT. Ce revolver offre par barillet interchangeable la possibilité de tirer la 22 LR et la 22 Mag : souhaitons que ce Manurhin aux deux barillets rencontre un sort meilleur que celui de son ancêtre MR 73 avec le couple 9 Para et 357 Mag. Je ne suis pas contre la 22 Mag ( sauf contre son prix… ) mais je vois mal son intérêt dans une arme typiquement destinée au tir à la cible.
    Canon 15,3 mm ( 6 pouces ), à 6 rayures.

1986 — LE REMORA 5
C’est dans sa destination et sa présentation le petit frère du Spécial Police F1 à 5 coups en 38 spécial. Cette arme légère ( 560 g pour le 2 pouces ) à canon court ( disponible en 2, 2½ et 3 pouces ) est destinée à un port discret, invisible. En acier inox elle ne peut craindre ni la sueur, ni l’absence d’entretien.

1987 — MODÈLE CONVERTIBLE
Sur la mécanique éprouvée du MR 73 Manurhin présente un revolver de match à canon et barillet interchangeables : carcasse, poignées, organes de visée restent les mêmes, mais avec des outils simples fournis avec l’arme on peut au choix tirer en 22 LR, en 32, en 38. Sur les premiers modèles vus en exposition la finition extérieure semble en baisse nette par rapport aux armes antérieures, mais l’ajustage mécanique est irréprochable. Si le prix reste abordable on peut prévoir que de nombreux matcheurs seront intéressés par le convertible.

EN CONCLUSION
Au moment ou s’écrit cette revue de la production Manurhin ( printemps 1987) on murmure que la firme de Mulhouse prépare pour l’armée un PA qui remplacerait le MAC 50. Souhaitons à ce PA moderne de bénéficier de l’expérience acquise par le bureau d’études lors de l’élaboration de revolvers répondant à des besoins très divers.
    Après tout, celà à été la démarche de Colt et celà lui à très bien réussi.

Maître Simili et Denis-Alain Specteur


NDLR
Cette étude, fort bien documentée y compris dans sa conclusion, à été menée alors que le Ministère de la Défense poursuivait ses études sur les armes proposées par différentes firmes pour équiper en particulier la Gendarmerie Française, 3 firmes étaient en lice : 2 françaises, 1 italienne.
    — la MAS ( Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne, Manufacture d’État à ne pas confondre avec feu Manufrance ) qui proposait un SIG… suisse,
    — Manurhin qui , proposait un Walther de sa fabrication, mais d’origine… allemande,
    — Beretta, qui proposait son célèbre 92 F dont on connaît le succès historique auprès des armées des USA.
    C’est à dire rien que des armes de conception étrangère, confirmant ainsi la pauvreté et le triste déclin de l’industrie armurière du pistolet en France. Depuis le choix a été fait et la décision prise : la Gendarmerie Française sera dotée du pistolet italien Beretta 92 F, en calibre 9 mm Nato ( = 9 Para ).
    Toutefois les compétiteurs français, écartés du choix, ne le seront pas de la production qui, sous licence Beretta, sera confiée partie à la MAS, partie à Manurhin.
    Espérons que nous retrouverons dans ces armes la qualité et le soin « Manurhin » qui ont fait la renommée méritée du MR 73.
    Heureux gendarmes… quand ils les auront… ces nouveaux pistolets.

LA RÉDACTION

importing guns

 I have imported guns from Switzerland and am about to import from Germany. Here is a current summary of my experience, linked to relevant online resources:

  • Research comparable values. Study all relevant web pages in the foreign top level domain of your concern. In my case, an interest in the SIG P210 calls for all Kessler catalogs and price listsHere is a search query composed in accordance with my interests. Bear in mind that all long-distance purchases involve a risk. With market prices abroad on items of my interest running between a quarter and a half of market prices for comparable items stateside, my risks are well justified. Likewise in cases when such items cannot be had locally for love or money.
  • Find an export agent. Your best bet for finding an agent willing and able to handle your firearms lot for export from the foreign country is online auctions. For example, the Swiss dealers selling on Gunbroker include AfA and swissdagger. Make sure that your export agent understands the legal requirements for shipping firearms to the U.S. Also make sure that he has the right connections to do so. For example, Swiss law no longer allows shipping firearms by mail. Many common carriers follow suit, refusing to accept firearm shipments, unless the sender cultivates a "special relationship" with them.
  • Choose wisely. Generally you will have to pay for your firearms before you can apply for export and import licenses. The firearms you import must be deemed suitable for "sporting use" and attested as having remained in the country from which you are exporting them for the past five years. Only civilian firearms and foreign military firearms that qualify as curios and relics can be imported. U.S. military firearms cannot be re-imported.
  • Select a U.S.-based importer. I am paying through the nose for import licenses and international courier services, but Andrew Zink (AfA) and Stefan Mahrer (swissdagger) have access to common carriers and less costly importers. Make sure that the importer that your export agents recommend will mark your gun discreetly, e.g. inside the magazine well or under the stocks.
  • Stay legal. ATF requires licensure of both the importer and the import itself via the ATF form 6 application. Of special importance on this application are items 19 through 24, which discuss release of the firearms shipment from Customs custody. Also of importance is the form 6A, which must be presented to Customs at the time of its entry. ATF Form 6 s only good for occasional private imports via an FFL holder, for your personal use, but no one will stop you from reselling some of your personally imported guns after a while.
  • Understand the tariff classification and duty rate of firearms. See the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2009)SECTION XIX: Chapter 93: Arms and ammunition; parts and accessories thereof. Special classification and duty treatment are afforded to firearms meeting the collector’s interest and/or antique provisions of SECTION XXI: Chapter 97: Works of art, collectors’ pieces and antiques. In addition to duty and applicable taxes, Customs collect user fees such as MPF (Merchandise Process Fee) equal to 0.21% of the entered value, with a $25 minimum, and a $485 maximum, and HMF (Harbor Maintenance Fee) equal to 0.125% of the entered value, with no minimum or maximum, and only applied on importations via seafreight.
  • Consider using a broker. A licensed customs broker located at the port of entry will be able to submit the license and release documents locally. National Customs Brokers Association lists local associations of individual brokers. Port of entry information is available from U.S. Customs. Import brokers charge a fee for a Customs entry, plus charges for messenger services where applicable. Brokers may also charge a fee for government agency submissions, its amount depending on the complexity of the agency requirements. Additionally, a customs bond will be required, either as a continuous bond for ongoing imports over a calendar year or as single entry bonds per each instance of importation.

Good luck. Please feel free to pose further questions and requests via email or phone 323-363-1860.

double action revolvers in europe

 I am relatively new to owning revolvers, though my experience of collecting, researching, and maintaining autopistols dates back over 30 years. In .357 Magnum I have three prewar S&W revolvers, two registered and one non-registered; a 1937 Colt Shooting Master and a 1957 Python; and three MR73 Manurhins, with many more coming from Germany. I also have two Colt Bankers Specials in .22LR. In am not interested in Rugers or any other oversized cast guns. Over the past two years, I have taught myself to work on my Colt, Manurhin, and Smith & Wesson revolvers. Here are my observations.

  1. Colts are much better made and more precisely fitted, of finer and stronger materials, than Smith & Wessons. I base this statement on the personally observed differences in working internal parts with a diamond file, and wear and peening in contact surfaces with comparable round counts.
  2. The Smith & Wesson single stage lockup is not nearly as precise as, but much more durable than, the Colt double stage lockup. The Smith & Wesson bolt is softer but less stressed than the Colt bolt. The S&W action is much easier to work on than the Colt action.
  3. The Manurhin MR73 is a significantly improved S&W K-frame Combat Magnum derivative that combines the quality and precision of the Colts with the ruggedness of the Smith & Wessons, and ease of tuning unavailable in any other service revolver.

Based on my experience, the quality ratio of Colt to S&W is proportional to that of S&W to H&R. The MR73 is designed as a crucially improved S&W and manufactured to the quality standards of 1950s Colts. I have tried the current S&W revolvers. There is no comparison. In a nutshell, an early Python is a better revolver than a Registered Magnum, in the same sense whereby a Ferrari 330 P3/4 is a better car than a Ford GT40. But the MR73 is the only revolver I would take in harm’s way, in the way I would choose the Citroën ZX over the Ferrari and the Ford for entry in the Paris-Dakar rally.

The problem with S&W is not design, but quality. Their basic action layout is capable of uncompromising performance, as witness this Manurhin chambered in .32 S&W Long, beating match guns by S&W, SAKO, and Walther. But in order to get a current production S&W to perform like that, you would have to rebarrel it and replace its MIM lockwork with increasingly unobtainable forged parts. And even then, it will not approach the quality of Manurhin’s hammer-forged frame, barrel, and cylinder.

The basic features of Colt double action revolvers are well summarized by Grant Cunningham:

Quote:
Colt revolvers have actions which are very refined. Their operating surfaces are very small, and are precisely adjusted to make the guns work properly. Setting them up properly is not a job for someone who isn’t intimately familiar with their workings, and the gunsmith who works on them had better be accustomed to working at narrow tolerances, on small parts, under magnification.

On the other hand, by referring to a copy of Kuhnhausen’s shop manual, I was able to fit a new bolt to one of my Bankers Specials using NSk calipers, S&W screwdrivers, the diamond-coated file of a Leatherman Charge TTi, and a wooden shaft. So I agree that Colt actions are highly refined. I also agree that they require working at narrow tolerances, on small parts, under magnification. But much of that is within the reach of a hobbyist equipped with a $30 manual and $200 worth of hand tools.

Since you are in Norway, the Manurhin MR73 makes more sense than either the Colt Python or any S&W. It is as strong as a Ruger, as lively and easy to work on as a K-frame S&W, and much smoother and more precise than either of them. You can find them with barrels measuring 2½", 3", 4", 5¼", 6", 8", 9", and 10¾", though 4" and 6" are the most common variants. Some of my current and incoming revolvers are shown here. The 6" target model is nimble enough to be used for self-defense, while its sight radius is adequate for target shooting. I get my Manurhins on Egun.de for a fraction of the new retail price. Many of the sellers can be talked into exporting, but if you have a problem getting them to ship to Norway, contact me via email for assistance.