fill your hand!

Symmetrical wraparound Nill grips on the recently produced Korth revolvers are ambidextrous and nicely hand-filling. I am getting the last two made by Nill for post-1986 Korth revolvers, and have their likes installed on my five favorite Manurhin MR73 revolvers. Original Korth stocks have an open backstrap and a shallow thumb rest just big enough to block a speedloader. They offer a nice rolling fit for the right hand; not so good for the left. Korth revolvers have two kinds of gripframes: the square butt frame on the Sport and Match revolvers, and the rounded butt gripframe on the Combat models. Since every revolver is benchmade individually, factory stocks are hand-fitted to each gun, and cannot be expected to interchange between them, much like the original Magna stocks on S&W Registered Magnums.

The Manurhin MR73 has a uniformly dimensioned, compact grip frame in a true round butt configuration. There are two kinds of factory stocks for the MR73. Most of the early revolvers regardless of the model, and most of the Police and Defense models regardless of vintage, are fitted with abbreviated walnut stocks that follow the contours of the grip frame, except for filling the gap behind the trigger guard in the manner of the pre-WWII S&W grip adapter. They are very comfortable to hold, but require a very firm grip for controlling the roll under recoil, and provide little feedback for a consistent handhold. The factory walnut, symmetrical finger grip Sport stocks fitted to later production Sport and Gendarmerie models wrap around the front strap and extend past the butt in a squared configuration, exposing the typically grooved backstrap. They are more hand-filling and offer better indexing, albeit not to the degree afforded by Nill grips. Full wraparound Trausch rubber grips, which can be had with or without a shelf at the bottom, offer all advantages and drawbacks of their kind.

No revolver designed and manufactured in the U.S. after 1911, was intended or suited for combat, as that destination was interpreted by the makers of Webleys and Nagants. Owing to America’s late entry into WWI, none of them were widely and successfully used in trench warfare, in the manner of the LP08 Artillery Luger. Like the S&W M19, its delicate precursor, the MR73 was designed and built for fighting by the constabulary personnel, not for combat by the military. Its typical application took place 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. His fellow GIGN intervention troopers still choose to carry their vintage Manurhin MR73 revolvers alongside a modern automatic pistol such as a Glock G17 or G19, or a SIG P228 or P2022. Such anecdotes add up to all the data at my disposal, attesting to the relevant user preferences. N.B.: The plural of “anecdote” is “data”.

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.