The Borchardt C-93 Semi-Automatic Pistol,
An invention of a designer named Hugo Borchardt, the C-93 was the first mass produced semi-automatic pistol in history. In an age when revolvers ruled the world, the C-93 was truly the most advance pistol at the time. The action of the C-93 used a toggle lock system inspired by the Maxim machine gun. This meant that when the gun fired, a two-piece arm rose and flexed as the gun recoiled, thus allowing the breech to unlock and release the empty cartridge case. In Borchardt’s design the toggle action makes up the entirety of the odd bulge towards the rear of the pistol. Today this same system is famous for being used by the legendary Luger pistol, which I shall mention later.
The C-93 also used a detachable magazine which held 8 rounds. This was revolutionary since at the time, most revolvers had to be loaded a cartridge at a time via a six shot cylinder. Originally the C-93 was chambered for a high velocity bottlenecked cartridge called the 7.65x25mm Borchardt. Later a limited number were produced in 9mm Para.
Two primary nations expressed interest in the C-93, the United States and Switzerland. Thus the C-93 underwent testing by the US Army, US Navy, and the Swiss Army. While the C-93 was certainly accurate and rapid firing, it had some serious problems. The action mechanism was very complicated and as a result the pistol itself was expensive to produce. Worse yet the C-93 was unwieldy and not very ergonomic. The vertical grip, combined with the toggle lock action which unbalanced the pistol caused the weapon to be uncomfortable to hold, aim, and fire. Since most of the weight was behind the users hand, the pistol was greatly unbalanced, giving it a pronounced recoil when combined with the powerful 7.65X25mm cartridge.
One of the primary manufacturers of the C-93, Deutsche Waffen Maschinfabriken, requested that Borshardt modify his design. Unfortunately Hugo Borchardt refused to make any changes to his invention. One of his assistants, however, a man named Georg Luger to up DWM’s offer and later designed an improved, streamlined version of the C-93 called the the Luger Pistol (P.08).
Today the C-93 is high sought by collectors, with surviving models selling for thousands of dollars depending on condition. The example pictured above sold for over $20,000 at auction.
One of the prototypes of the C-93 Borchardt was found in Lima, Perú.