Hampshire Cultural Trust

Borchardt Automatic Pistol

By Ludwig Loewe of Berlin. Serial No. 220. Calibre 7.63mm, c1895.
Cased, with Accessories.

Borchardt pistol with accessories

The Borchardt was one of the first really effective automatic pistols to be made. It was the work of Hugo Borchardt, a German, who emigrated to the U.S.A and worked for a while at the Winchester factory. In 1880 he returned to Europe and in 1890 moved to Berlin to join the firm of Ludwig Loewe and in September 1893 was granted a patent for a self loading pistol.

This is a very fine example of his pistol complete with all its accessories. The magazine holds eight cartridges and fits inside the butt. When a shot is fired the barrel and breech recoil and an extractor arm pulls the empty case from the breech and throws it out of the gun. The pistol has a toggle action, locked breech mechanism. As the mechanism recoils, it compresses a coiled spring housed in the large projection at the rear of the pistol. The spring then pushes the block back and it picks up a cartridge from the magazine and places it in the breech and is locked in place ready for the next shot. Each time that the trigger is pressed the action is repeated until the magazine is empty.

The pistol was sold cased, with spare magazines, cleaning tools and a holster fitted to a shoulder stock. The stock could be attached to the butt of the pistol and so convert the pistol into a carbine for more accurate shooting.

Borchardt’s Patent
Borchardt’s Patent of 1893

Despite its efficient performance the Borchardt pistol was not appreciated by the military as it was considered rather cumbersome. Also, the 7.63mm bullet was felt to be too light for military use. It was tested by the U.S.A and Switzerland but neither country adopted it for their forces. Only small numbers of the pistols were manufactured and relatively few survive in good condition.  

A notable user of the Borchardt pistol was ‘Colonel’ Samuel F Cody (1861-1913) who used the pistols in his Wild West shows.

Accession no HMCMS:DA1983.183