There is not much controversy over the identity of the first commercially successful – or at least the first serially produced – automatic pistol. Hugo Borchardt takes the prize with his 1893 design.
Shown here with the detachable buttstock, the Borchardt held a seven-round magazine of 7.65 caliber rounds. It functioned well enough, but was bulky and had unexpectedly fierce recoil. The mainspring and lock workings were housed in the bulge behind the grip. A worthy design for its time, the Borchardt was quickly rendered obsolete by a torrent of better automatic pistol designs, most notably the C96 “Broomhandle” Mauser and the Luger Parabellum.
Despite its short life, it is still a fascinating piece of history. You can see all our photos on the Borchardt automatic pistol page in the Vault.