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Father of the Luger

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Sixteen-year-old Hugo Borchardt came to America seeking employment and soon earned a reputation as a skilled engineer, working with popular models of both Sharps and Winchester rifles. But Borchardt's return to Germany provided him the opportunity to move on to the development of semi-automatic firearms, especially handguns. Built by Loewe in Berlin, the first Borchardts were offered to the market in 1894, and utilized a toggle locking system that would later be used in two world wars with the famous Luger pistol.

A unique self-loader that employed a delicate clock-type wound spring in the recoil housing, Borchardt's creation could be fitted with a wooden shoulder stock to become a convenient carbine. This cased example, on loan to the National Firearms Museum, bears serial number 22 and was reportedly brought to the United States by a German delegation hoping to sway American naval acceptance of the Borchardt.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, September 2004.