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Discussion Starter #1
I own and shoot many Korth revolvers that I imported from Germany. I have a similar number of Manurhins, 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. Here are some ensuing talking points.
  1. The Manurhin MR73 is the best fighting revolver ever made, designed as an improved S&W, strengthened at the yoke, refined at tensioning the hammer and the rebound slide, and manufactured to the quality standards of 1950s Colts. 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 performance of Manurhin's hammer-forged frame, barrel, and cylinder.
  2. The Korth is the best made modern revolver, comparable in quality only to the best of the pre-WWI classics, from the French M1873, the Swiss M1878 and 1882, and the Mauser M1878. It is equal in 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, and nowise stressed at ignition. Its design incorporates some Colt traits such as clockwise cylinder rotation, within an original layout that resembes S&W's two-point lockup and single stage transport. Its hand detachable yoke is a boon to 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.
  3. Aside from an early run of 20,000 2" and 4" 5-shot revolvers chambered in .38 Special and numbered in the 20xxx range, meant for, but not purchased by, the Hamburg harbor police, no Korth revolver has been made for constabulary service. It is less well suited for such use than its Manurhin and S&W counterparts. For example, the stroke of its ejector rod is comparable to that of a snubnose 2½" MR73, and shorter than that of the ejector rod fitted to MR73 revolvers with 3" or longer barrels. Consequently, rapid ejection may leave one or two expended shells hanging at the chamber mouths of the cylinder. This trait is inappropriate in a service revolver.
  4. The Manurhin MR73 was designed and built for an administrative market that required precision and durability orders of magnitude greater than that expected from and built into contemporaneous U.S. police sidearms. Throughout their history, Colt and S&W never had an economic incentive to forge their gun parts out of tool steel. It was far more cost effective to work with 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 delivering the MR73 to GIGN. Hence its unexcelled durability and precision, combined with a more or less utilitarian fit and finish. Korth takes this philosophy to the point that most American shooters would disparage with a tinge of fascination, as wretched excess. For many European shooters, this is not the case, in so far as their licensing requirements deny them the option of accumulating numerous handguns. By dint of being limited to a few specimens, they acquire a compelling incentive to invest in more durable goods.
  5. In my experience, every part on a Korth is much more robust than its S&W counterpart. For example, here is an independent testimonial pitting a Korth revolver against a vintage, all-forged S&W M28:
    I mentioned the strength of the metal in the Korth as well as the care of the hand fitting. I began some tests of the Korth vs. the M28. At the beginng of the tests the barrel to cylinder gap of the Korth was just over .0025 while that of the M28 was .003. With just under 200 rounds of heavy hunting loads through both guns the barrel to cylinder gap of the Korth was where it had begun for all cylinders. The M28 however had opended up and varied from .003 to .004. The S&W showed wear and some additional gas cutting on the frame above the barrel from some hot .125 grain loads. The Korth showed no significant wear.
    Please note that the frame size of the Korth falls between those of the K and L frames in the S&W lineup. A 4" Korth Combat revolver weighs 1016g, whereas a 6" Sport model weighs 1175g, as against the 4" and 6" S&W 686 weighing in at 1191g and 1298g, respectively. The Korth cylinder is sized comparably to the cylinder of the late S&W M19, originally known as the Combat Magnum, and takes the same speedloaders. And yet it appears that the Korth withstands the pressures of heavy .357 Magnum loads much better than the S&W N frame.
  6. Colt used to advertise its Python Elite as accurized to shoot a 2" group at 15 yards. By contrast, Manurhin tested the MR73 to shoot within 25mm (<1") at 25 meters (>25 yards). This disparity in factory requirements may make Pythons less than a third as accurate as their Old World competitors. To the contrary, thus spake Massad Ayoob:
    How accurate? From a Ransom rest with Match ammo, the Python will generally deliver about 1 3/8" groups at fifty yards. This is about what you get out of a custom made PPC revolver with one-inch diameter Douglas barrel. My 8" matte stainless Python with Bausch & Lomb scope in J.D. Jones' T'SOB mount has given me 2 1/4" groups at 100 yards with Federal's generic American Eagle 158 grain softpoint .357 ammo. The same gun, with Federal Match 148 grain .38 wadcutters, once put three bullets into a hole that measured .450" in diameter when calipered. That's three .38 slugs in a hole a couple of thousandths of an inch smaller in diameter than a single .45 auto bullet.
    I am not sure what to make of this testimonial. Please stay tuned while I gear up for my own round of Ransom rest testing.
  7. Regarding the Korth, here is the official factory statement:
    In order to give a statistically covered statement of the shooting performance of our weapon, numerous test series need to be performed. Single shooting results are therefore subjective. For this reason, we abstain from including an original target.
    Willi Korth used to guarantee his revolvers to maintain "the same accuracy even after 50,000 shots fired". I cannot fathom how this guarantee comports with the more recent disclaimer by his successors. In an otherwise inaccurate review, Gun Tests reported five-shot groups fired from a bench rest, measuring at the most between 1.6" and 2.2", depending on the ammunition used. While I cannot duplicate these results by aiming each shot individually with iron sights, I can easily do so with a 6" MR73 topped with a Docter sight.
  8. In my experience Colt Python, Manurhin MR73, and Korth frames are immune to stretching commonly observed in S&W frames. I am sorry to report having personally experienced a forcing cone fracture in my prized 1957 Python. Regardless of round counts, I've yet to see such breakage in a Korth or an MR73, despite their dimensional similarity to the notoriously fragile S&W M19. In GIGN service, none of the S&W revolvers could handle the daily practice regimen of 150 rounds of Norma 158 grain .357 S&W Magnum ammo. The MR73 was originally tested with this ammunition. Its torture test was abandoned without observing appreciable wear after firing 170,000 full power Norma .357 rounds. Numerous published tests witness this capacity. According to an article in Cible No. 342 on the MR73, its rectangle of shot dispersion remained the same after firing 20,000 Magnum rounds. The writer concluded that it would take at least 300,000 Magnum rounds for the bore to begin to wear. Several French police armorers confirmed this estimate from their experience with high round counts in service revolvers. Make of their claims what you will.
  9. 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.
After nearly 40 years of amateur photography, I am teaching myself the essentials of studio lighting. Next week I should be getting a Broncolor Mobil A2L travel kit to complement the Leica S2 that I use in my performance art. Please stay tuned while I work on my first gun photo shoot and update my blog threads.
 

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Just a few comments that come to mind from one who has 'been there and done that' in several respects. First off, the French and Germans have a deserved reputation in several fields such as wine, cheese, women and to a degree aviation, "btdt", but revolvers is not among them.

A common mis-conception is that the key to success is perfection. On the contrary, it is 'good-as-it-needs-to-be'. Perfection, in part, has its place, such as wear points, rifling, etc but the rest only good to a reliable functional standard.

The cited S&W Triple Lock revolver and the Merwin Hulbert are examples of approach to perfection, at least in complexity. The Merwin failed in the marketplace and with simplified design S&W joined Colt in success.

The writer makes a case for better quality - a slippery slope started after WW2. That said, good-enough sells and survives with te basics being met. It's something like the battle of the X's - TimeX vs RoleX. If you want perfection for perfection's sake, you can have it. All it takes is money.
 

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I don't have an opinion as whether Korth or Manurhin revolvers are superior to Colt's or not.
However, many Colt collector's tout the Colt double action revolvers to be the best. Because of that I can't agree with the point of view that perfection is not good because it is a convenient debating statement. It seems like the shoe is on the other foot.

Good as it needs to be is an axiom that well describes the Kalashnikov. The exact phrase has been used in Russia by generations of arms designers to describe AKs and the old reliable T-34 WWII tanks. The concept certainly has merit. AKs fail so rarely even with negligence in cleaning and maintenance, reliably operating in any extremes of climate despite never having a gas adjustment valve, and are so dependable that they are the seminal infantry small arm of the late 20th and early 21st century. What a grunt wants is a rifle that always works under any conditions. Nothing comes closer to that ideal than an AK. But, they are not perfect.

Good as it needs to be is a statement I have never seen before used to describe a Colt. I can't see using it now. Colt's are obviously better than good as they need to be. If Korths and Manurhins are better, then that's just the way it is. Are they so much better that I would chose one over a Colt? I doubt it very much.
 

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I have NO experience with either the Korth or the Manhurin, but will only say that the French gave us the Chauchat Mod 1915, perhaps the biggest pile of crap to ever have fired a projectile (when they would shoot at all). When I think of fine firearm designs, oddly I don't think of the French.
 

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To be fair to the French, they also invented the famous French 75mm field artillery piece which was one of the finest of WWI. It's rate of fire was considerable. I have no love for the French. I'm just trying to be objective.

The Chauchat cannot be compared to any Manurhin made pistol. What country hasn't fielded a lousy weapon at one time? As far as French arms go, the Chauchat was the exception to the rule. Their Lebel rifles were perfectly acceptable even if they were not quite as good as K98s, Enfields, & Springfields.
Their Exocet missiles and Mirage jets are also excellent weapons systems.

The Korth revolvers are German if I remember correctly.

Fritz Walther thought highly enough of Manurhin to contract with them to produce the PP and P-38 family of pistols from 1950 until he was able to expand operations in his post war factory at Ulm in 1986. Walther was picky, though. He bought the steel used in Manurhin made Walthers instead of leaving it to Manurhin. It may have also been cheaper for him to do so but I'd like to think it was to maintain Walthers reputation for excellence.
 

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Yes, Malysh, you made some excellent points, it's just that the Cho-Cho was the first thing that came to mind!
 

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I have very kind memories for a lot of things French and German. German guns in general plus a lot of their other products and achievements. French too but not guns in modern times. The Manurhin is no doubt a well made product and, as described, quite a bit better than need be - with which I have no argument. As they say 'different strokes for different folks'. The folks who prefer Colts and S&Ws are not the different ones, IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
If I had my druthers, any citation of the AK47 as a winning battle arm would be made in the historical context of Russian wartime casualty rates ranging from 2:1 to 10:1 in favor of the eventually vanquished adversary. Since I have but one life to live, it is best safeguarded by more precise weapons.

To be fair to French accomplishments in firearms design, we need only two words: smokeless powder. The rest is commentary.
 

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A very thorough and thoughtful dissertation Michael! Not one I'd expect to see on the Colt Forum. While I bow to your obvious expertise with these two revolvers, I can say that I've shot and handled both. I'm not ready to accept the premise that the Manurhin73 is the best fighting revolver ever made. In certain theaters of combat, their tight tolerances caused malfunctions. Arid, sandy battlefields created binding problems with them. Everything starts from a specific point of view and encompasses a general framework of opinion. I understand yours and can agree with a majority of it. But in the purview of combat arenas from 1973, when the gun was first made, until current conflicts, other revolvers and, indeed, high capacity autos, have enjoyed tremendous success. Good read, thanks for your thoughts and ideas. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
A very thorough and thoughtful dissertation Michael! Not one I'd expect to see on the Colt Forum. While I bow to your obvious expertise with these two revolvers, I can say that I've shot and handled both. I'm not ready to accept the premise that the Manurhin73 is the best fighting revolver ever made. In certain theaters of combat, their tight tolerances caused malfunctions. Arid, sandy battlefields created binding problems with them. Everything starts from a specific point of view and encompasses a general framework of opinion. I understand yours and can agree with a majority of it. But in the purview of combat arenas from 1973, when the gun was first made, until current conflicts, other revolvers and, indeed, high capacity autos, have enjoyed tremendous success. Good read, thanks for your thoughts and ideas. :eek:
Tolerance is the amount by which the actual size of the part varies from its nominal size. This variation depends on the precision of the manufacturing process. Tight tolerances are advantageous in all applications. Clearance is the dimensional difference in size between the bearing surfaces of a moving part and the part that supports it. Positive manufacturing tolerances determine the maximum and minimum size for both parts, and thereby the range of clearances. Some clearance is required to avoid binding the moving part in operation through contamination by dirt or differential thermal expansion. That said, the clearances I measured on my Manurhin revolvers are comparable to those of their vintage S&W and Colt counterparts. A typical gap between the barrel and the cylinder might measure 0.004" to 0.006", which Kuhnhausen considers appropriate for American double action revolvers. The Match and Silhouette guns are built with tighter chambers and narrower clearances, but they are not meant for defensive applications.
 

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White flag specials

You can get a good deal on most French military surplus arms.The majority have never been fired in battle and only dropped once.....
 

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"Quality"...


My own appreciation, regarding DA Revolvers, is that COLT and S&W, in the first several decades of the 20th Century, had attained a Zenith which can never be surpassed.

If we are given to understand that other Companys presently produce Revolvers with comparable tolerances, and, that they also Harden internal Parts which we may gather were not Hardened by Colt or S&W back when, then, this certainy seems a nice gesture on the part of these present Manufacturers, but, to my mind, does not categorically elevate the Revolvers to any greater status.


Nor is it that the Target Versions or even many regular versions, of the off-the-shelf Colt and S&W DA Revolvers, could not hold remarkable patterning on Targets when shot with a Ransom Rest for the utmost assurance of eliminating operator vagueries...or even when fired in one Hand, as the old Matches used to be, and, we can regard those Targets of the various formal Matches in the early 1900s with the admiration they have earned.

While in their day, certainly, a Colt or S&W Revolver was moderately expensive, they were still within the reach of many Working people everywhere, as evidenced by their sales and use at the time.

This to me is part of their supreme accomlishment - to have offered the highest quality, and, to have done so where a regular Joe could afford one.

If wishing to contemplate the attributes of what one might call a 'Modern Combat Revolver', I do not see how being able to hold a one inch group at 50 yards would be of any merit whatever.

And, as far as I can imagine, no such Shots would ever be called for, nor does 'Combat' tend to resemble Olympic Slow Fire in situation.

Far as my own thinking goes, anyway...
 

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If I had my druthers, any citation of the AK47 as a winning battle arm would be made in the historical context of Russian wartime casualty rates ranging from 2:1 to 10:1 in favor of the eventually vanquished adversary. Since I have but one life to live, it is best safeguarded by more precise weapons.

To be fair to French accomplishments in firearms design, we need only two words: smokeless powder. The rest is commentary.
So what you're saying is that since a Frenchman inventend smokless powder, all French guns are superior to any others? If that's the case, Chinese firearms MUST be the best ever made, even better than the Russian one's they're all knock-offs of!

After going back through the Forum archives, it seems to me that you like "beating a dead horse". Yes, Michael, we are aware of your love of these "super-sniper-assualt revolvers" that can shoot half-inch groups at 100 yards and fire 1 million hot-rod rounds with no wear. Actually, I'm surprised that these guns shoot .357, since the French have a habit of chambering their weapons for arcane, oddball rounds that NO ONE else in the entire world ever adopts.

What's next. You lecturing us on the superiority of the Lebel revolver vs. the SAA or the New Army/Navy? The "genius of design" that was the MAS 36 compared to the Garand (or any other battle rifle of WW2)? Perhaps how the Citeron has much tighter tolerances than a Crown Vic. I've already mentioned the Chauchat earlier. The BAR just can't compete, right?

I can't speak for others, but I look forward to NOT reading any more of your posts.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
This is an early Gendarmerie Manurhin MR73 revolver, characterized by a ramp front sight and slightly rounded corners of the rear sight blade.

K19XXa.jpg K19XXb.jpg K19XXc.jpg K19XXd.jpg


I recently won this revolver on eGun.de and expect to receive it in my next shipment around four months from now. The serial number is K19XX, where the K prefix indicates revolvers with adjustable sights, originally fitted with a 4" barrel. According to Manurhin, adjusting the rear sight by a click (⅛ of a full turn) on the MR73 is equivalent to the following correction of the point of aim at 25 meters, according to the model and barrel length.

Sport model in .357 Magnum / .38 Special:
  • 4" barrel, correction 7.7 mm
  • 5¼" barrel, correction 6.3 mm
  • 6" barrel, correction 5.7 mm
  • 8" barrel, correction 4.4 mm
Match model in .22 l.r. / .32 S&W Long / .38 Special:

  • 6" and 5¾" barrel, correction 5.2 mm
If I weren't told the serial number range that places it in the mid-Seventies, this revolver's vintage could be inferred from the top sideplate screw, deleted on subsequent variants. Later on, the rear sight tang would be widened from 8mm to 10mm. Much later, the ejector ratchet would be changed from this "insular" configuration corresponding to a pointy-nosed hand, to the current "star" pattern corresponding to a blade-nosed hand, and the solid front sight retainer pin would be replaced by a rolled pin.

One variation that cannot be distinguished without removing the sideplate is the changeover from the "safety pin" music wire spring tensioning the hand in an early model of the MR73, to a flat spring that performs that function in the later models.

American-style handgun shooting reached Europe in the Sixties with Raymond Sasia, a judo instructor employed as a bodyguard by Charles de Gaulle, who was sent to study the shooting techniques of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He returned to France with an FBI certification and founded
CNT, a shooting school in Paris that taught range officers, French nationals at first, then foreigners. The latter, upon returning home, taught new range officers. Thus the method "Sasia" promulgated FBI's revolver shooting techniques throughout the Western world.

One of the drills was the 7 meter fast response. It goes as follows: the gun is loaded with five .357 Magnum rounds and carried in a belt holster; in the pocket the shooter has 5 more loose .357 Magnum rounds. At the sound of a whistle, the range officers are given 25 seconds to fire the ten cartridges at the target located 7 meters away; the instructors have only 20 seconds. It turns out that i
n order to have the time to reload and fire the other five rounds in the allotted time, the first 5 rounds must be fired in less than 5 seconds to satisfy the requirements; no more than 3 to 4 seconds can be allowed for top placements.

At this rate of fire, in the original MR73 design that tensioned the hand with a "safety pin" spring, the hand did not have enough time to return to the ratchet and rotate the cylinder, and consequently it slipped over the ratchet, causing the firing pin to strike the primer of the last expended shell. Owing to the i
nertia of the hand thrown backward by Magnum recoil forces, the music wire spring was not strong enough to return it forward in time to engage the teeth of the ratchet of the ejector and ensure the rotation of the cylinder. Manurhin's engineers were slow to understand why this happened to some police shooters, because the factory testers never managed to replicate the malfunction. Shooters training with S&W M10, M13, or M19 under similar conditions never experienced this malfunction. My 3" MR73 Defense & Police revolver numbered B1254 has the music wire spring. I never managed to replicate the malfunction, either.

001qw4ys.jpg

Subsequently, the MR 73 design was modified with the new, stronger flat spring that required a milled relief cut inside the sideplate, and was not suitable for retrofitting without this difficult and costly modification.




 
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