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The Borchardt C93 ("Construktion 1893") was a German pistol designed by Hugo Borchardt. It was one of the first practical self-loading pistols in history.

Although not commercially successful in its time, the Borchardt design led directly to the development of the hugely popular Luger pistol.


Taking inspiration from the mechanism of the Maxim machine gun, Hugo Borchardt developed an automatic pistol using the same action; in which case operating upwards rather than downwards as with the Maxim.

The Ludwig Loewe factory based in Germany took notice of Borchardt’s work and eventually hired him to put his design into production as the C93. Loewe was interested in selling the gun to foreign nations, that even the United States had tested it. It also had the distinction of being the very first semi-automatic pistol to be described by the American press. During that time, Loewe reorganized into DWM, which had asked its top salesman, Georg Luger, to promote the C93 in both civilian and military channels.

Luger took the C93 to the Swiss military for testing. The Swiss were impressed by the gun, as it had performed well during testing. While they were sold on the idea of an automatic pistol that was just as reliable as a revolver, the Swiss provided constructive criticism, that the pistol was expensive to produce and was unwieldy to handle, due to its almost vertical grip and weight distribution. Furthermore, its recoil was unexpectedly powerful. The Swiss asked DWM to redesign the pistol into a more compact package.

Hugo Borchardt refused to incorporate the feedback into a new design, claiming that the current design could not be further refined as it is, effectively distancing himself from future pistol development. DWM instead turned to Luger to redesign the weapon, leading to the creation of the iconic Luger pistol.

Design Details[]

The C93 used a toggle lock, based on the mechanism used in the Maxim gun that had been recently developed at the time. When the weapon is fired, a two-piece arm rose and flexed as the gun recoiled, allowing the breech to unlock and the release the spent casing.

The weapon is fed ammunition from a detachable eight-round box magazine that is inserted into the grip from below.

The C93 was produced and sold primarily in its proprietary caliber, the 7.65×25mm Borchardt.

Some test models of the weapon were chambered in 9×18mm Borchardt.

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