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Rigor, Discipline, and Excellence: Christian Prouteau on GIGN Training and the MR-73

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I am honored today to be able to bring you an interview with Christian Prouteau, the founder and original leader of GIGN. This is France’s premier elite counter-terrorism force, who have been at the forefront of developing modern special operations techniques and standards. Prouteau led more than 60 operation during his tenure leading the unit, including the hostage rescue simultaneous shot at Loyada.

Today, we are speaking specifically about the Manurhin MR-73 revolver, which was developed specifically for GIGN at Prouteau’s direction. The use of a six-shot revolver seems quite out of place in special operations units, but there were a couple very specific reasons behind the choice. Most interesting to me is Prouteau’s philosophy of training and shooting skill, and his interpretation of a intervention unit’s core mission.

00:00 – Introduction
00:45 – Why a revolver instead of a semiautomatic pistol?
03:40 – Did GIGN consider cartridges other than .357 Magnum?
06:25 – Was GIGN involved in development of the MR-73?
11:14 – What range did GIGN practice revolver shooting at?
12:55 – Reactions times and training habits
17:34 – The “Confidence Shot”
19:06 – How often was the revolver actually used in field operations?
21:51 – So not just a ceremonial sidearm? Prouteau’s revolver philosophy
22:23 – The scoped sniper MR-73 revolvers
24:59 – Why didn’t more agencies use something like the sniper revolver?
27:18 – The goal is the minimum of shooting – elite unit training
29:13 – Revolver ammunition
30:53 – Conclusions

* Cartridge energy note: Prouteau referenced cartridge power in kilograms, and I’m not sure exactly what measurement he meant. I have substituted muzzle energy in Joules, as he was making a point about relative power between cartridges and barrel lengths and the specific unit were not really important to his comments.

Many thanks do my anonymous friend who arranged this interview and acted as live translator, and to my friend Edouard for providing the translated captions! Any error in their timing and details are my own fault.

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