The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

What was the first automatic pistol?

Most people consider the first commercially successful semi-auto pistol 1893 C93 Borchardtbut there are other standards by which to judge the “First Automatic Pistol.”

Ian McCollum has addressed the question, What was the first automatic pistol? using the following criterion:

1. Not necessarily commercially successful, but not one-off handmade prototypes.

2. Minimum of 5 or more in series, with serial numbers on them.

3. Does not have to have passed any military trials or acceptance.

4. Must function.

5. Will not consider manual ring-trigger activated repeating pistols.

6. Patent application date will be used rather than the date it was actually granted.

This leaves him, he says, with just two options: the Schonberger-Laumann and the Salvator-Dormus; except in the former case, he's talking about the actual Laumann pistol, which preceded the Schnoberger-Laumann by a couple of years.

What's the answer? It actually comes down to just a very small margin. Watch the video to learn more.

Says Ian,

“Before there were self-loading pistols, there were manually operated repeating pistols with magazines – like the 1850s Volcanics. A surprising number of this type of pistol were developed in Austria in the 1880s, and they led directly to some of the first blowback automatic pistols.”

You can find the book he references right here. It's only a few tens of thousands of Euro, so pick up an extra copy for me.  The original Forgotten Weapons post can be found here.

Now we'll kick back and await the outraged comments from pedantic window-lickers declaiming the difference between automatic and semi-automatic pistols without wondering why someone with McCollum's background would use such terms as he did…of if the distinction is important enough in this context to throw a fit about in the first place.


About Forgotten Weapons.

If you have an interest in militaria and historical weapons, you really ought to be following Forgotten Weapons. I don't read it every day, but I don't miss a post unless I have to. To call a resource like this just a blog is to damn it with faint praise. Ian McCollum is an extremely knowledgeable and affable man who is passionate about he does, and it shows. FR is a great resource, and one worth supporting. You can do that, if you are so inclined, right here on Patreon (which I do personally, and encourage you to do as well).

You can follow Forgotten Weapons on Facebook (/ForgottenWeapons/). They're online here.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter