Theodor Bergmann was one of the first to produce a practical automatic pistol, the actual inventor of which was Louis Schmeisser, however. In the period 1892 to 1905 many designs were produced and the pistols were manufactured at Bergmann's Industriewerke at Gaggenau (Baden ), Germany. These early Bergmann pistols are now collectors' items of very considerable value because only a few guns were made in many of the designs produced (some even being practically prototypes) and because by 1907 the firm had either discontinued manufacture of all of these or had licensed their manufacture to others.
There are two classes of designs for this period:
(1) the blowback type which originated in 1892 and
(2) the recoil-operated type which originated in 1896.
The activities for this period are, concisely, as follows:
1892, 1893, 1894-Three distinct, experimental blowback designs were evolved. The designs were characterized by the frontal magazine packet loading and the „enclosed" trigger guard. It would seem that all three pistols fired a necked, grooveless, 8 mm. cartridge; later reduced in all proportions to the 6.5 mm. grooveless type, and still later to a grooved type.
1896-2, 1896-2*, 1896-2's-A total of five different forms of the 5 mm. commercial blowback exist. All are known as the 1896-2 with suffix designations. The figure 2 represents the 5 mm. cartridge. Variants are distinguished by absence of extractor (earliest type for the grooveless cartridge), addition of extractor, increased barrel length, hair trigger, etc. This was the first commercial Bergmann pistol (Figs. 117, 118).
1896-3, 1896-3's-This is the commercial blowback design in 6.5 mm. Bergmann caliber. Many variants of this exist, including the extractorless early type, long-barrel type, etc.
1896-4-A military-size blowback, this follows the same pattern as the other 1896 commercial pistols. It is chambered for an 8 mm. cartridge with straight case. Only one form is known.
1897-5-This was the first recoil-operated, lockedbolt design. Mod. 1896 had a removable barrel and no rigid bolting; the closure cylinder of the 1897 model is bolted rigidly into a movable barrel while discharging the pistol, and directly afterwards the barrel retracts with the cylinder a few (6) millimeters until the unbolting takes place. It had been found that the loose bolting in the 1896 model was unsatisfactory for the higher velocities desired. The 1897 Mod. was a military size, chambering a 7.65 mm. necked cartridge of the Mauser style (Figs. 119 to 122). The designation „7.8 mm. Bergmann" sometimes seen is a misnomer, being merely a nomenclature given by the ammunition manufacturer (D.W.M.) for this cartridge. At least three variant forms are known for the 1897 model, differing principally in grip contour, grip piece style, pressure venting, etc. While they enjoyed a fairly wide commercial sale, they were not adopted for military use. An 1897-5 „Karabiner" existed. This was merely a longer-barrel version with an accompanying wooden butt-stock. The holster could be attached for carbine use. The figure 5 following the date of the model (Mod. 1897-5) refers to the cartridge, as do all other such figure suffixes to the date nomenclatures designating the models of these Bergmann pistols. The rifling specifications for the 7.65 mm. Bergmann Mod. 1897-5, as shown by original Bergmann records, are as follows: bore diameter, 0.301 inch; groove diameter, 0.309 inch; depth of grooves, 0.0045 inch; number of grooves, 6; direction of twist, Right; width of grooves, 0.158 inch; width of lands, 0.079 inch; and one turn of rifling in 9.45 inches. Rifling specifications for the other models are not available.
99/203, 99/507-These are two experimental, locked-bolt, recoil-operated types that marked the transition from the 1897-5 design to the 1903 Mars design. They may have chambered the 9 mm. cartridge, later known as the 9 mm. Bergmann. A discrepancy exists within the cartridge numbers in that No. 6 became the 9 mm. Bergmann cartridge, whereas it was originally assigned to a 7.5 mm. cartridge.
1903-This series is officially known as „Die Bergmann Selbstlade Pistole Mars Modell 1903." This is the locked-bolt, recoil-operated weapon ultimately sold by license to the Belgian firm of A.E.P. (Pieper) (Figs. 123, 124). The Mars pistol was evolved over a period of five years, beginning in 1899. It was commercially manufactured in 7.63 mm. Mauser and 9 mm. Bergmann from about 1903 to the end of 1906. Two other cartridges were offered commercially but not widely sold. A 10 mm. type has never even been seen but is listed in Bergmann literature. An 11 mm. type was originally specially developed for trial by the British Government in 1903 and was later offered commercially, but was not popular. A very few (possibly less than ten) samples were made in .45 caliber for the experimental U.S. auto pistol cartridge of 1906. In this .45 caliber, the weapon was tested in the U.S. in 1907. This last pistol was never offered commercially. Its factory designation was „11.6 mm." The 7.63 mm. and 9 mm. Mars types were available in 6-round, as well as the popular 10round, type. The 9 mm. Mars type was adopted into Spanish service in September 1905. It was advertised for sale as late as 1911 (ALFA Catalog, published by Adolf Frank, Hamburg, Germany).
Bergmann literature shows that the 1896-2, 3, 4, and 1900-5 were being marketed as late as 1901. The 1900-5 was replaced by the Mars 1903, but the 1896-2, 3, and 4 types were undoubtedly sold as late as 1906. The 1897 and 1899 types do not appear in sales literature after 1900.
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