1899 Presentation of Luger, Mauser, Borchardt, Bergmann & Mannlicher
As the larger 1878 pistol was no longer being manufactured, a question now had to be answered: should officers now be armed with the smaller calibre 1882 version, or with an automatic model?
For the mounted officer, an automatic pistol certainly had the major advantage that it could be handled with only one hand, the extraction and loading of the bullets being automated. A commission was thus formed to study the weapons available at the time. It was formed in the guise of colonel Von Orelli, chief of the technical administration section for federal war equipment, Colonel Von Mechel, professor Amsler-Laffon, Colonel Rubin director of the federal weapons factory, Mr Schenker chief of the federal control of ammunitions and Captain Korrodi, adjoint of the technical section.
This commission led a test phase in June 1897 in Thoune, Switzerland, with four different makes of pistol: the Mauser, the Borchardt, the Bergmann, and the Mannlicher. The first three being German pistols, and the last from Vienna.
A very detailed and interesting report was produced in October by Colonel Von Mechel and Professor Amsler. That paper, which had an important value because of the knowledge of its authors, precisely pointed out the advantages and problems of each of the weapons presented.
Bearing in mind the criticisms aimed at their respective pistols, the inventors started to look for ways to improve their guns. Some stuck with minor corrections, while others built completely new models. Their work lasted almost a full year, and all the participants were invited to show off the improvements in Thoune, Switzerland on November 23rd, 1898.
The federal military department aware of the importance of the choice, decided to add new persons representing different sections to the selection jury. To that end, Colonel Wildbolz, Lieutenant-Colonel Brunner and Major Meuron were selected; respectively representing the cavalry, the infantry and that of the Joint Staff Committee.
Five models being presented, were:
- The Mauser, built by the Mauser company in Oberdorf, Switzerland, and presented by Mr Paul Mauser.
- The Bergmann, built in Suhl, presented by Mr Gressly.
- The Borchardt-Luger, built by a German weapon and ammunition factory in Berlin, Germany, presented by Mr Luger.
- A Mannlicher model, built by a Swiss industrial factory in Neuhausen and presented by Mr Frei. A second Mannlicher model, built and presented by its designer, Mr Mannlicher
- The Roth, built by the Roth Company in Vienna, Austria, presented Mr Roth’s son.