The Borchardt C-93 (Construktion 93)
semi-automatic pistol was designed by Hugo Borchardt (1844–1921) in 1893 based
upon the Maxim toggle-bolt design. Borchardt also developed the high-velocity
bottlenecked 7.65×25mm Borchardt cartridge for the C-93. Borchardt's assistant
at the time, Georg Luger, also claimed to have influenced its design. Machine
tool manufacturer Ludwig Loewe & Company of Berlin, Germany, produced the C-93
in anticipation of military orders. With about 1,100 manufactured by Loewe and
nearly 2,000 more produced by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken, the
Borchardt C-93 was the first mass-produced semi-automatic pistol.
Design and history
The pistol used a toggle lock system, which 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.
DWM employed Georg Luger to promote the Borchardt pistol in military and
commercial channels. The pistol was tested by the U.S. Navy as early as 1894 and
later by the U.S. Army. Although it was accurate and its rate of fire was rapid,
the Borchardt pistol was expensive to produce and unwieldy to handle due to its
almost vertical grip and distribution of weight. Furthermore, its recoil was
unexpectedly powerful. These criticisms were noted in the Swiss Army field
tests. However, Borchardt refused to make any changes to his original design.
DWM then appointed Georg Luger to make the requested improvements to the pistol.
Luger took the Borchardt design, using the shorter 7.65×21mm Parabellum
cartridge, which allowed him to incorporate a shorter stroke of the toggle
mechanism and a narrower, angular grip. Luger's design eventually became the
Luger Parabellum pistol
The cartridge used in the Borchardt C-93 Pistol was the basis for the primary
cartridge used in the Mauser C96 pistol (7.63×25mm Mauser); they have the same
dimensions, but the 7.63 mm Mauser generally had a more powerful powder charge
(contemporary loading data indicated it took approximately 20% more powder than
the Borchardt) and is considered to be too strong to be used in a Borchardt
C-93. Nonetheless, cartridge boxes from some manufacturers were marked "For
Borchardt and Mauser Automatic Pistols."
The Borchardt C-93 was manufactured and sold solely in its proprietary caliber,
the 7.65×25mm Borchardt. Some test models were made in 7.65×21mm Parabellum and
9×18mm Borchardt, an experimental bottlenecked cartridge developed in 1902.