Courtesy of the French Ministry of the Interior, we have a chance to take a look at an authentic GIGN sniper model MR73 revolver today. GIGN is the elite intervention element of the French Gendarmerie, akin to GSG9 in Germany or the FBI Hostage Rescue Team in the US. Back in the 1970s, the service was looking for a standard sidearm, and wanted something capable of significant stopping power, immediate use from the holster, maximum accuracy, and an exceptionally long lifespan. The .357 Magnum cartridge was chosen, and the Manurhin company designed the MR-73 revolver specifically to provide the desired accuracy and the durability to maintain that accuracy through years of daily training use.
The MR73 was purchased and used mostly with 4″ and 5″ barrels, but a small number were also purchased by GIGN with 8″ barrels, to be made into scoped sniper models. These were fitted with a Harris bipod on custom mount, and a Bushnell 2.5x pistol scope. Outfitted this way, they were capable of pinpoint precise shots in very tight quarters where a rifle would not be a practical option. They were not meant to replace rifles in all situations; GIGN is one of those elite agencies with great latitude in arms procurement. This scoped revolver was one of many options available in their arsenal, for particular situations calling for it.
That said, GIGN have deliberately cultivated the image of being first-tier operators who deliberately choose to use the revolver as a powerful and classy old-school weapon – although this is mostly done for ceremonial duties today.