The story of the Bergmann also has an interesting element of credit to it, as Theodore Bergmann was never a gun designer. Instead, Bergmann was a businessman and industrialist. Born in Spessartdorf Germany in 1850, Bergmann left his family’s innkeeping business to follow a calling in the metalworking industry.
By the age of 19, Bergmann was a managing partner of the Gaggenau Ironworks, which built a wide variety of products, from structural girders to household stoves and also bicycles and airguns. Under Bergmann’s administration, the firm expanded its production of airguns and also moved into rifles and gun barrels. This put him in a position to be approached by inventors looking for a company to produce new designs – which is exactly what happened.
In 1892, a Hungarian watchmaker by the name of Otto Brauwetter was granted a patent, in conjunction with the Gaggenau company (later to become Bergmanns Industriewerke GmbH), for a self loading firearm mechanism. The assignment of the Gaggenau company to the patent suggests that Bergmann saw potential in the design, and had been willing to invest company time and resources into Brauwetter’s work. The fate of Brauwetter himself with the design is unclear – he seems to disappear from records after that first patent. Instead, the man whom Bergmann finds to refine the patent into a viable production pistol is none other than Louis Schmeisser, who would become a household name in European arms design.
Schmeisser took Brauwetter’s patent and produced the 1893 model pistol from it. The design was a delayed blowback mechanism, using an inclined wedge alongside the barrel.The loading system consisted of a 5-round clip that was inserted in the right side of the pistol after opening a swinging magazine cover plate (this system would feature in several following Bergmann iterations). This would evolve into the 1896 model, with several variants seeing reasonable commercial sales, and then to the 1897 locked-breech system. Taking a break to work on machine gun development, Schmeisser and Bergmann would return to pistols with the much-improved Bergmann Mars 1903, which would be adopted by Spain and refined into the 1908 deign. The 1908 would be adopted by the Danes in 1910, and further modified into the 1910/21 for domestic production in Denmark. The Bergmann Simplex would also arrive on the market around 1901 as a civilian pocket pistol companion to the Mars.
Major Bergmann Variants: