Flare Guns

Guest Post by James Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket:

Admiral Edward Wilson Very was a US ordnance expert who invented one of the most useful emergency signaling devices in the world: a hand held flare gun.

Oddly enough, the British usually refer to devices of this kind, and the ammo they use, by the name of the inventor. (“Pass me the Very pistol, dear. Oh, and the white Very flare, as well.”) Here in the United States we don’t bother to give the man his due, even though he devoted his life to the country. Oh, well. On with the essay.

The Germans during WWII decided to modify it a bit. They turned a simple signalling device into an anti-armor weapon called the Sturmpistole.


To be completely accurate, the Sturmpistole was just not very effective. It certainly looked mean, though.

I was in the gun store today, and I saw yet another effort to weaponize the lowly Very pistol.

I like the pink color. Obviously, this is not something the German military in the bad old days of the 3rd Reich came up with.


  1. When I started to do my dissertation back in grad school on the British in Mesopotamia, the documents and some of the letters kept referring to a lack of “Very lights”. Being an American, this confused the hell out of me until finally I was able to track down what they meant. Since I was over there at the time, none of the glossaries explained what a Very was, since it was, I assume, common knowledge.

  2. I particularly like the use of the company name “Mace Security International” so they can conflate pepper spray with mace and make their product sound better. Note top of package which says “mace pepper gun” if read without accounting for the graphics and the graphics if anything highlight the word “mace”. Lots of psychology in advertising, I get a kick out of it!

  3. Sturmpistole? Storm pistol = assault pistol……..the anti gunners are right!!!! AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!! LOL!

  4. Lieutenant Edward Wilson Very resigned the U.S. Navy in 1885.

    His rank at retirement was lieutenant.
    Yes he was the inventor of the Very Signal Lights.

    No he was never an admiral.

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