Borchardt C-93

The Borchardt C-93 is a fascinating firearm. It is said to be the first semi-automatic pistol that was mass produced. Different sources give different numbers for how many were produced, but none that I have seen give a number greater than 3,000. A reader emailed us photos of one he had come across …

Bradley wrote …

This weapon was brought back from Germany many years ago after the war. I have always been wanting to handle this weapon since I first started my research into firearms, and to my surprise I did not have to look very far.

This particular model was the 103rd pistol produced out of only a handful. Whilst the 7.65x25mm Borchardt was typically the chambering of this weapon, this pistol was chambered for an unknown .32 caliber cartridge that is no longer produced. The pistol was approximately a foot in length, and 5 1/2 inches from the base of the grip to the top of the frame. Though the magazine has long been lost, the magazine would have held 5-7 cartridges. The weapon weights approximately 3 pounds. The grip angle was almost 90 degrees, and the grip was almost 3/4ths of an inch thick.

The weapon pointed very well despite its grip angle. The weapon sported a very large sight radius and very fine sights. The sights were adjustable only for windage. The rear of the weapon sported a rail for mounting a carbine stock. From my understanding this was a proposed military model that had a holster/stock that when holstered, the pistol could be aimed and fired but not reloaded. This pistol was of very high quality and had very good build quality.

We are looking into having custom cartridges made to fire weapon.

The big bulge at the rear of the gun houses the recoil spring. The Luger was inspired by this design, but moved the recoil spring into pistol grip, removing the unwieldy bulge. This video demonstrates how the C93 works …

[ Many thanks to Bradley for emailing us the photos & info. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • 15yroldgunman

    Looks simple like something that could be copied easily but without the quality

  • Darkness

    Was it designed to be fired one-handed? Or is the young man in the photo just holding it really akwardly?

    • JonMac

      Yes, designed for a one-handed grip as were all pistols at the time. The two-handed grip pretty much didn’t exist prior to Fairbairn & Sykes in the 1930s.

      Re the actual piece above;

      “From my understanding this was a proposed military model that had a holster/stock that when holstered, the pistol could be aimed and fired but not reloaded.”

      Any book will tell you that the Borchardt, again as with many pistols of the era, was designed to take a shoulder stock/holster to either steady one-handed firing from horseback or to enable a shouldered two-hand grip (which was employed with stocks). Plenty of examples exist with the stock holster intact. I can tell you from experience that it certainly doesn’t prevent you from reloading.

  • Netforce

    It looks a bit weird and unbalanced but yet very intriguing.

  • Smee

    The grip angel seems steep and trigger in the video would be too small for my sausage fingers but I dig the charging handle and for the first mass produced semi auto it still looks like its from the not too distant future. I’d like to see it with a stock

  • Lees

    By the way, here is rather detailed 3d animation of operation and diassembly of this pistol:

    Not to be considered as an add, but i think many readers of this blog might also be interested in this application for Iphone:

    It shows operation and internals of a whole bunch of different firearms in nice 3D.

  • Chris B

    One handed ! its not a 2 handed weapon !

  • Jason

    There is one here up in Anchorage Alaska with a stock. At Gun Runners gun store. Nice gun.

    • Reverend Clint

      kind of a random place to find one

  • Beefalo

    Id like to shoot one and see how my sight picture looks with a toggle lock rocketing up after every shot.

    • Foetus

      If I’m not mistaken, it’s too fast for you to see.

      • Beefalo

        That would make sense…I was trying to remember something Ian Hogg wrote about an SMG (can’t remember which, it was in the 20th Century Small Arms book he cowrote) which had a reciprocating piece on the shooter end of the reciever–he said the movement in front of the shooter’s eye was enough to prevent it from being used with several armies.
        This would apply to the Borchardt, but the Luger was similar and no one seemed to mind the toggle on it :p

      • Strongarm

        Nearly equal trying to see the flight of bullet after shot.

  • Mike Knox

    If only it had a full auto version with snail-drum magazines, it’d be the first Machine Pistol ever and firearms design history woud be somewhat wonky..

  • matt

    What is up with the crescent shaped trigger?

  • Reverend Clint

    the good ol days when putting a stock on a .32 pistol seemed like a grand idea

    • Tinkerer

      Yes, quite optimistic of them. Of course, we’re talking about a bottlenecked cartridge with a long case, not a .32ACP.

  • Gene

    Could this one have fired the 8mm Roth/Steyr round?

  • John Doe

    This makes AK-47 ergonomics look good. Cool design, but did the Germans have any concept of how the human hand works back then?

    • Tinkerer

      Did anyone 120 years ago?

      • John Doe

        Fencing foils, sabres and epees seemed to be a good match for the human hand.

      • Tinkerer

        Back then, the design of bladed weaponry handles had evolved during several centuries. This, on the other hand, is quite literally the very first time that someone put a box magazine inside a pistol grip, and a lot of things weren’t know back then. For example, if you look at this pistol and other contemporary designs -like the Mauser C96 with it’s stripper-fed, integrated magazine, or the Bergmann-Bayard-, you’ll notice that all of them have straight-shaped magazines that form a 90 degrees angle with the bore axis, because back then that was how they knew it would work. Slanted magazines -that would provide a more natural pistol grip angle- were still to come.

  • EthanP

    About 30 years ago, at a gun show, I had the opportunity to handle a Borchardt (fondle?). The feel and balance were unusual to say the least. The fit and finish were as a work of art. I was unable to cycle the action for undestandable reasons. But knowing I was holding a real piece of history was a real pleasure.

  • إبليس

    This was the coolest gun from Red Dead Revolver, ironically.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    Thanks for the look and the detailed information. To date I have only seen these in photographs.


    Looks unwieldy as all hell to shoot.

  • Les