German WWII Flare Pistols

          By LTC Joel Johnston (Ret), US Army Ordnance Corps      

Editor's warning to the aspiring flare shooter:  Setting a field on fire is a less than optimal method for clearing it of Americans at night.  These flares shoot 100-250 meters into the air and burn for up to seven seconds and an additional 5 seconds on the ground.  Speaking from hard learned experience, make sure you have a firefighting plan of action or just wait until it is raining heavily.

A WWII Fallschirmjaeger launches a daylight smoke flare from his Heeres Model 1928 Flare Pistol

Home Up Glock No.1 MkIII SMLE Polish AK-74 US M1911A1 Pistol M-1 Carbine M-1 Garand P-38 Pistol Browning 1922 German Flare Pistols MP-40 BFONG T2 MK5 Kell Tec PF9


    The German military used flare guns extensively in both World Wars. Uses included light signal, light parachute signal, star cluster signal, whistling shell signal, smoke signal, and eventually an explosive projectile.  The ones you are most likely to encounter at US gun shows are the M1894, the M1928 Heeres Model, and the Leuchtpistole 1942.  There are also Luftwaffe specific pistols that have double barrels, but these are much less common.

    The Hebel Model 1894 was used by Germany from the 1890's right through WWII, although it was a standard issue during WWI. These are not dated and have a variety of proof and acceptance marks.  There were 3 barrel lengths, came in blued or plated finish and were standard 26.5 mm.  These were made of heavy steel and have a high degree of craftsmanship.  Depending on condition, these fetch prices of $200-$450.

M-1894 Hebel Flare Pistol

Inspection marks on the M1894

Fine wood grips on the M1894

M-1894 Hebel Flare Pistol

Serial number and manufacturer code


    The Heeres Model 1928 was adopted after the M1894.  Initially, it was made of steel and then of aluminum alloy prior to the start of the second world war.  No mechanical changes were made.  Pre-war guns will have a commercial Walther Banner stamp and wooden grips.   War time models will be marked "ac" with the date code and bakalite grips  Eventually, "ayf" Erfurter Machinenfabrik and "duv" Berlin Lubecker Maschinenfabrik also made these pistols.  A rifled, grenade throwing version was developed when the Germans met the Soviet T-34 battle tank.  These pistols were known as the Gezogene Leuchtpistole or Kampfpistole Z.  This pistol looks similar to the standard Heeres Model with the exception of a luminous "Z" stamped on the left side of the breech and the steel lined rifled 26.5mm barrel.  Accessories for this "tank pisser offer" included a shoulder stock and an detachable grenade launcher site.  The "Z" model is much more desirable and will bring a premium of $600-$800.  I have only seen one shoulder stock for sale and $1000 was the asking price.  The more common Heeres Model brings $200 to $450, depending on condition.  The aluminum alloy does not hold up to abrasion and I have even seen them with crushed barrels.  Also, some of the flares were corrosive, so make sure the barrel is not excessively pitted. 

M1928 Flare Pistol known as Heeres Leuchtpistole. Made of steel in 1930s, changed to Aluminum during the war.

Heeres Pistol Marked "AC 42", made by Walther.

Ordnance acceptance marks on left side of pistol.


    The final and most common variant is the LP42.  Made to save precious war materials and production effort, the LP42 is made out of stamped steel or zinc in the white.  There were two manufacturers for this pistol.  Schneide AG, Leipzig pistols are marked "wa" and the poorer quality C&W Meinel-Scholer of Sachsen are marked "eug."  This was a simpler design that was not prone to breakage like the Heeres Model.  This pistol too had brown to black bakalite grips and there will be waffenamts on the rear of the breach.  There are both rifled and smooth bore barrels but it is not clear if the LP42 was also designated a "Z" pistol.  As previous stated, these are more common and can be found for $100-$200.  IMA sometimes has an assortment of flare gun accessories including the LP42 pistol.  Their website is located at:

Late War LP42 Model.

Marked "wa" for Hugo Schneider, Leipzig.

Single Waffenampt on left side of chamber, WaA10

Assortment of post war 26.5mm Czech flares currently on the surplus market. Single Green Star, Single White Star, 3 Star Red, Blue Smoke.

Adapter for12 gauge Marine Flares. Has shoulder to keep from loading a 12 gauge shotgun shell (illegal/stupid to convert a flare pistol to a shotgun)

Original Flare Canisters currently available from IMA.

Flare Canister Label, Original, WWII German.

Interior of Flare Canister. Will hold 6 with one in the middle.

Post-war Flare Carrier.

Interior of Flare Carrier.

Left is a unknown flare holster, right is the IMA copy of the WWII model with cleaning rod.

Flare Gun lanyard.

German wartime diagram of flare composition.

British 1943 diagram of the "Z" pistol grenade.


    Home Up Glock No.1 MkIII SMLE Polish AK-74 US M1911A1 Pistol M-1 Carbine M-1 Garand P-38 Pistol Browning 1922 German Flare Pistols MP-40 BFONG T2 MK5 Kell Tec PF9

Disclaimer:  Ol' Army Joel accepts no responsibility for accidents involving improper handling of firearms.  Virtual Arms Room is no substitute for expertise and gun competence.