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The 1901 Swiss Military Report


The 20 pistols that had been ordered with their ammunition, were delivered in the months of October and November of 1899, by the German Weapons and Ammunition factory of Berlin. The modifications requested by the commission were correctly executed by the manufacturer, especially the addition of a security mechanism in a simple, practical and well-crafted manner.

Conforming to the commission’s wish, these weapons were used in service from November 1899 to March 1900, both in military training activities and several shooting clubs in Switzerland (listed below). The first two on the list took place in 1899, while all the others in 1900.

Machine-gunners training session II, in Bern (1899).

Artillery 1b training session, in Thoune (1899).

Artillery training session 1a and 1b, in Thoune (1990).

Central school 1a, in Thoune.

Officer shooting school, in Wallenstadt.

Revolver shooting club in Bern.

The Military club in Basel.

Cavalry Officer club in Basel.

Revolver shooting club of Lausanne.

All the reports, which came out of all those tests, were very much in favour of the new pistol, going so far as to suggest that the revolver would be consigned to history.

On Sunday the 11th of February in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Shooting Society committee organized a shooting session, to which it invited several weapon clubs and officers of the army. After a brief introduction, four of the best shooters of Lausanne, Mr F. Perrin, Mr A. Mercier, Mr C. Secretan, and Mr C. Troyon, each performed a series of three shoots at a range of 50 metres. The first series on a paperboard target « a mouche », the second on a dotted target, and the third series on the same second target, but time-restricted (speed shooting).

The results were excellent in respect of the functioning and accuracy of the pistol. The four who shot with the Borchardt-Luger, performed the same tests afterwards with their own pistols which they knew extremely well, and were unable to beat the results obtained with the Borchardt-Luger, let alone getting close to matching its performance!

This was all extremely impressive and encouraging, especially as it had been with a weapon they had never encountered before. The shooting was thus followed-up by an interesting group discussion, everyone giving his personal views on the matter. The general conclusion was that the Borchardt-Luger was a very good pistol for hitting targets and for the demands of military activities.

The committee reconvened

On the 2nd and 3rd of April, 1900, the selection committee gathered once again in Bern to attend to the last details concerning the manufacturing and to address its final requests to the manufacturer.

The following principal decisions were taken: Following the tests, it was decided that an extra loader with ammunition could not be carried by the person equipped with that weapon, all the tools being part of the regular equipment being already enough. The two extra loaders would then be carried in pockets or in the accompanying bags. The pistol must be set to shoot at a target 50 metres away. At that distance, the hit point must be 20 centimetres higher than the targeted point, in such a way to allow shots on a black target bull’s eye having a 40 centimetres diameter. From that setting, the front sight must be set 0.4mm higher. The shape of the trigger would be improved, following the specifications of the Federal weapon factory. On top of this, special tests were performed.

As remarked below, in the inner working of the pistol, as long as the weapon stayed loaded, the firing pin stayed loaded as well. With guns having been in service for about 15 days, it was noticed that continuing compression on the percussion spring showed no problem, and that swelling the cartridge occurred on a regular basis. The designers claimed the same would happen with any other pistol armed for a full year.

  • Following a prior wish expressed by the commission, in its last gathering, the Federal weapon factory hung a Borchardt-Luger pistol and an 82-revolver model out in the open, to see how it would stand natural weather conditions. Every other day, shots were fired with both guns without either cleaning them or greasing them. The revolver kept working correctly, even though it was heavily rotting. The loading gate seized up quite a lot. On the other hand, the pistol was much less subject to rust problems. Only the inside of the cannon showed some erosion, originating from the particular fulminate composition used.
  • A 20-bullet shooting showed that the pistol worked remarkably well, even though the hits were a little spread out, which was considered as normal. To complete those tests, the two weapons are left in an stable and used every eight days to shoot until a visible decrease in precision was noticed.

Since the Commission had been last convened, complete tests had been conducted in Thoune, Switzerland, with special bullets fully built in the Swiss federal factory. The director and chief of the ammunition factory who lead the tests, produced a report showing it was possible to completely build the needed bullets in Switzerland only, filling all the requested characteristics.

Before settling on the final requirements, the Commission made sure that all of its members agreed on all the design details.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7 & Concluding: Advantages of the Luger over the Revolver

Arme à Feu Echallens Swiss