The men from the French counterterrorist unit, Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale (a.k.a. GIGN), raced toward the hijacked Air France flight 8969. They carried a variety of weapons and specialized equipment. Captain Thierry Prungnaud took point in the assault ending with the rescue of all the passengers and crew still onboard the aircraft.

The front-side door was forced open by the GIGN team and Captain Prungnaud moved into the airliner and into the sights of the four members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. Within a matter of seconds he killed two of the terrorists and seriously injured a third.

But, unlike what might be assumed, the firearm that went through the door first, and into the hail of terrorist rifle bullets, wasn’t an automatic rifle or a semiautomatic pistol. Instead, the three terrorists succumbed to wounds inflicted by a .357 Magnum revolver.

The weapon used by the GIGN point-man to, in his own words, ‘neutralize three of [the four terrorists]’ was the French-manufactured Manurhin MR73. This firearm was designed specifically to stand up to the incredibly punishing training regimen employed by this elite force.

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