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Early Automatic Pistols


Hi, I’m Ian Thanks for tuning into another video episode on Forgotten Weapons.com We have today a couple of early semi-automatic pistols. The 1890’s and the first decade of the 1900’s were really the heyday of automatic pistol invention and manufacture. There were a lot of new ideas floating around, the first really practical automatic pistols were developed during this time. We have three of them here to take a look at. Just to do some overview and some comparisons. We have a Bergman model 1910 21 we have a C96 “Broom-Handle” Mauser and we have an Astra 900 which is to some extent a copy of the Mauser. These pistols were first designed in the 1890s. The first version of the Bergman here was designed in 1894, the Mauser in 1896. These guns are a bit clunky by today’s standards they hadn’t really developed or figured out the best ways to do automatic pistols, but these were the front runners of their day. All three of these particular guns are recoil-operated mechanisms. They all have a bolt carrier or slide that actually recoils slightly. The recoil action unlocks the bolt and allows inertia to do the rest of the work. It is the same type of mechanism on the Mauser. You can see the whole upper assembly slides back a little under a quarter of an inch. There are a number of calibers used during this time. There wasn’t a standard handgun cartridge hadn’t been developed yet, or hadn’t been agreed upon by general consensus. So the original Mausers’ were in 30 Mauser, which is dimensionally very similar to 7.62 by 25 millimeter. The nine millimeter parabellum or nine millimeter Luger was developed during this time And that was used in some of these. This particular model Bergman was developed for the nine-Millimeter Bergman which is a 23 millimeter long casing. A little more powerful than today’s standard 9 millimeter Luger. Bergman also developed pistols in calibers ranging from six and a half a millimeter up to eight millimeter There was a 45 caliber version of the Bergman made for the US pistol trials in the early 1900’s So at this time early in the development of automatic pistols the detachable magazine was not universal standard that it is today. There were some pistols that had entirely blind magazines like the “Broom-Handle” Mauser. You can see it has a removable floor plate, but all loading is done from the top via stripper clip. There were some full auto variants of the Mauser that were built that did actually use detachable magazines 10 and 20 rounders. As you can see the full auto magazines, there is no way to adapt a existing gun to use them. However some guns up the era like this Bergman did use detachable magazines as standard. In this case this one held six rounds there were some experimental longer ones, but the standard was a fairly small magazine by today’s standards. Another element at the time that was popular that has dropped out a favor since was the use of shoulder stocks. Detachable shoulder stocks with side arms. All three of these guns could be had with shoulder stocks or variants of them could be. You can see that there’s a groove cut in the back of the grip and you would have a shoulder stock with a metal tab that would slide up and lock in place here. This allows you to use the gun at longer ranges, the sight is rather optimistically set out to a thousand yards. And while that wasn’t actually practically feasible you could get much better accuracy shooting use with the shoulder stock at somewhat longer ranges. The Astra is a little bit of a different character. The Astra 900 was actually developed and marketed in the late 1920’s . There’s an interesting complex reason for this. The “Broom-Handle” Mauser had developed quite a bit of popularity in China during the Chinese Civil war. Import restrictions prevented other countries from sending rifles into China but handguns were a different matter; you could put shoulder stock on a “Broom-Handle” Mauser and make a decently effective little carbine out of it. So the Astra company redesigned the Mauser pistol a bit you can see that there is a removable side plate here, if you look on the opposite side you can see a whole bunch of pins. The Mauser has a much more complex action to it a whole lot of interlocking components. The Spanish simplify that and use cross pins for a lot of things accessed by this side plate. So they put this together shoulder stock and were able to export these into China where they were quite popular. Semi-Auto versions, full auto versions, and a couple different calibers the Astras’ could be had in 30 Mauser or in Nine millimeter Luger So these handguns are a little dated by today’s standards actually they’re a lot dated by today’s standards. But there’s still blast to shoot. We’ll be doing some shooting with some of these and we’ll be posting the video on Forgotten Weapons.com Check back and take a look. And while these guns were expensive and complex to manufacture they show a real interesting look into the state of firearms development in the 1890’s in the early 1900’s. And were fun to take a look at. Thanks for watching.

42 thoughts on “Early Automatic Pistols

  1. could you do a video showing the proper way to dissasemle and re assemble the astra 900..?? thanks.. nice collection btw.

  2. The only reason detachable shoulder stock have fallen out of fashion is because of the threat of violence from people calling themselves the BATF.

  3. Ian hello great videos. Came across a 1908 Baynard any videos as to how to field strip one down for cleaning. Would you happen to know as to what the serial numbers associate to? As the weapon we have ends in "40" that would not be the year of mfg?

  4. Sorry, I don't have a reference for the Baynard serial numbers. You can find a history and disassembly instructions at unblinkingeye (sorry, Youtube doesn't allow links in comments).

  5. It was a time of great change and countries tried to keep up. They investigated what was available even if they didn't adopt one. There was potential for a slim, quick-firing sidearm that was largely sealed from dirt. Power wasn't always a major concern, as the pistol was often a badge of rank or back up weapon. Larger calibers were possible but still being worked on in the early days. Eventually you could get a C96 clone holding 10 round of .45 ACP.

  6. How does the ballistics of the 30 calibre M1 carbine round compare with the 7.92 kurtz?? (sorry for spelling errors) It seemed to me the Americans were trying to find a carbine bullet by powering up a pistol round(or finding a 30 cal magnum pistol bullet), and the Germans by powering down a rifle round, for their Assault rifle…??

  7. The Carbine fires a 110gr bullet at 2000fps, while the Kurz uses a 125gr bullet at 2250fps. The Kurz was developed from 8mm Mauser, while the Carbine round came form the Winchester 1905 and its .32 WSL round, which in turn was very similar to the rimmed lever-action and revolver .32-20 round. In short, you're correct.

  8. nice video..I have two questions though. (Forgive my English, it's my second language)
    I own a Bergmann-Bayard M1910 that it has finger cutouts on the magazine well, grooved gripping surfaces on the magazine but HAS NO enlarged wooden grips.How is this possible?
    It has stamped on the left side barrel the follow:
    ANCIENS ETABLISSEMENTS PIEPER.
    HERSTAL-LIEGE.
    BERGMANN’S PATENT. The serial number (7824) is on the bottom of the frame just below the chamber of the barrel.

  9. The second question is how did a WWI pistol get to Greece? I got it as gift from my gradfather who passed away without having explained fully how he had obtained it.The only that I am sure of is that it belonged to a German Officer that was killed by resistance during WWII in Crete (island at the south of Greece) and his handgun was taken by resistance fighters.Were the German Officers given such an old weapon, when they had their own Lugers?

  10. It is possible that a German officer decided to carry it – I have an even older gun (a 1910 Frommer) that was captured in WWII. Also, the Bergmann was in production after the end of WWI, so it may not be quite as old as you think. Could you send me photos of the pistol? Maybe I can tell you more after seeing it – my email address is admin at forgottenweapons.

  11. is the lugers action not practical for full auto? the only thing i don't really like about the C96 is that long metal slide (i think) and kinda the long exposed hammer, but i think it would bee cool if a 96 had a luger action

  12. The toggle locking system can run in full auto without any problem. The Swiss did a bunch of work with toggle-action machine guns, and you can find info on them at Forgotten Weapons. The Luger as a pistol isn't practical for full-auto fire just because of its size and magazine capacity.

  13. So if you have a Broom handle and you put the shoulder stock does that than make it Short barreled rifle and thus subject to the tax you have to pay to own a SBR in the states?

  14. If it's an original (1930s or earlier, IIRC) stock, it is exempted from the NFA, but putting a reproduction stock on the same pistol does legally create an SBR.

  15. The Nagantman would be very frim about calling them SELF-LOADING pistols, they WERE not called automatics, LOL, until I sent him an advertisement for the Borchardt that said Automatic.

  16. Mounting a shoulder stock on a pistol hasn't so much "fallen out of favor" as it has been made illegal without first going through the expense and trouble of registering it as a SBR.

  17. The Mauser C-96 is the weapon used to make the DL-44 Blaster from Star Wars (Han Solo's weapon), the exact weapon was used in an earlier Frank Sinatra film The Naked Runner, and was in Oliver Reed's Sitting Target.

  18. 4:30: C96 are (even more optimistically) set in meters, not yards!.

    BTW thanks for the wonderful vids 🙂

  19. Too bad you couldnt get your hands on a borshart (spelling?)  It was pretty forward thinking, and was invented before the mauser, or the luger, which of course perfected the borshart design.  Or so I heard on tales of the gun.  LOL

  20. Do you have a video that touches on the steps between something like these in configuration/mechanism to the nearest common ancestor of the 1911?

  21. it bothers me to hear the Broomhandle's cartridge called ".30 Mauser" when I am used to calling it 7.63x25mm Mauser, also it's not "similar" to the 7.62x25mm Tokarev, but an original on which the latter was based on (as you know, Tokarev is much hotter cartridge, that's about it as far as differences go)

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