The Borchardt C-93 was possibly the first mass-produced semi-automatic pistol. It was designed in 1893 by Hugo Borchardt, reportedly with help from Georg Luger. It was based upon the Maxim toggle lock design which meant that when the gun fired, a two-piece arm rose and flexed as the gun recoiled allowing the breech to unlock and release the empty 7.65×25mm Borchardt case and automatically chamber a new cartridge.
The Borchardt C-93 was produced by Ludwig Loewe & Company of Berlin, a machine tool manufacturer who produced just over 1000 C-93’s and almost 2,000 more were produced (between 1893 & 1902) by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) in anticipation of military contracts. Georg Luger was employed to promote the C-93 around the world to both military and civilian markets, but although it was accurate and had an impressive rate of fire it was poorly balanced and didn’t point well due to the almost vertical grip, neither of which was helped by the reportedly savage recoil.
When Borchardt refused to make improvements to the design DWM appointed Georg Luger to redesign the pistol. Luger used the shorter 7.65×21mm Parabellum cartridge, allowing him to incorporate a shorter stroke of the toggle mechanism and a narrower, angular grip, the result of which became the much better known Luger Parabellum pistol.