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Old 23-11-2013, 17:23   #1
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25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

looking at the specs it seems the 25mm shells are brighter than 12 gauge but the 12 gauge versions go higher at up to 500ft compared to 375ft. so which is best overall?

Related question - if we get a 25mm pistol with an adapter to fire 12 gauge shells would that also then fire 12 gauge shotgun cartridges for use as a protective firearm if ever needed?

I'm trying to optimize our inventory of on board rescue signals to bring our new to us boat up to required USCG equipment levels, whilst if possible retaining some flexibility for use when out exploring or fishing in the RIB we use as a tender if we also had a bear or even an intruder scarer then it would be an extra bonus.
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Old 23-11-2013, 18:05   #2
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

Not sure about the size flares but I would get the one that has a better parachute flare. From research I have read the longer hang time makes a very big difference in being spotted.

I recommend caution with trying shotgun shells in a flare pistol. Subject has been covered a few times in the past and from all I read you risk blowing your hand off doing this.

Even if you get a steel insert that can handle the pressure of a shotgun shell the frame and body of the flare gun might not handle it.
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Old 23-11-2013, 18:17   #3
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

I agree with Skipmac, parachute flares are much more effective.
Parachute flares are not available in 12 gauge.
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Old 23-11-2013, 18:55   #4
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

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I agree with Skipmac, parachute flares are much more effective.
Parachute flares are not available in 12 gauge.
Didn't know there are no 12g parachutes. To me that would make the choice easy. Go with the 25mm.
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Old 23-11-2013, 19:02   #5
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

robin3, i've got both - a 12 guage and a 25mm. i also have a 12 guage insert for the 25mm.

the 25mm is definitely superior to the 12 guage, particularly because there are parachute flares available for it. neither, however, is as valuable as an epirb for offshore work.

as far as using standard shotgun shells in the 12, you can't. the chamber of the 12 guage flare pistol is shorter than the standard shotgun shell (2 3/4" is standard length). the flare cartridge is 2", if i recall, so you thankfully won't be able to insert a standard 12 guage shotgun shell into a 12 guage flare pistol, which will probably save your life.

at one time you could buy a 12 guage insert that fit the 25 mm flare pistol and was chambered for the standard 12 guage shotgun shell. i never owned one and don't think they're available any longer. they would probably work well with low powered shotgun shells, although i would be loathe to try a 2 3/4" magnum shell. the insert that i have only permits 12 guage flares to be used in a 25mm flare pistol.

all of the above notwithstanding, if you were a reloader you could easily come up with a 12 guage shell that would fit the flare pistol chamber. but you'd better be an experienced reloader with knowledge of the various powders available and the chamber pressures that they develop, as well as types of wads, crimps, and weight of projectile(s). i spent a large part of my youth as a competetive skeet shooter and probably reloaded a couple of thousand boxes of shotgun shells to defray expenses, but have never attempted to reload for a flare pistol, although i do think it would be possible to come up with some kind of 'anti-personnel' load that would be reasonably safe for the shooter (but not for the target).

i would guess that just pointing a loaded flare gun at someone would send them packing, but having seen a demonstration on you tube i wonder how effective a weapon it would really be. for that you need a real gun.

robin3, i know we once traded emails with the intent of visiting each others boats. i'm now at halifax harbor, dock C25. if you're up to it perhaps we can get together soon...
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Old 23-11-2013, 19:35   #6
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

A .410 guage steel insert is available for either a 12 gauge or 25 mm flare gun on the internet. Winchester makes a very effective and deadly (at close range) personal defense load, the .410 PDX-1. I have fired this load using a Polish surplus all metal 25mm flare gun and still have all my fingers. It has adequate penetration and consistent pattern at 15 feet with little recoil.
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Old 23-11-2013, 20:26   #7
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

[Quote]robin3, i know we once traded emails with the intent of visiting each others boats. i'm now at halifax harbor, dock C25. if you're up to it perhaps we can get together soon...[/QUOTE]

OK but after the upcoming hols as we are away visiting family. We are still having lots of work done on our boat so still slip bound but we are on E14, in the south dock, although we are not liveaboards any more since we have a dirtside condo just north of Seabreeze bridge overlooking the ICW

I didn't think the dual use of 12 gauge pistol was really a possibility but had to ask, just in case it was. I wasn't aware that the 25mm shells were parchutes either. Coming from the Uk we are used to carrying proper SOLAS parachute flares which I cannot envisage being fired from a pistol my question about visible range really related to a 12 gauge meteor apparently reaching up to 500ft but burning less brightly or for a shorter time than a 25mm that only reaches up to 375ft so brighter but lower down so potentially a shorter visible range due to that lower height??

Epirbs are another possible consideration along with smaller and cheaper plbs, but my current research is to discover the optimum signals package(s) to carry as we have to purchase same for USCG compliance and as I understand it even IF we bought an EPIRB immediately, it would not remove the USCG requirement to carry the minimum day/night signals etc, strange logic perhaps, but that is how I read it...
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Old 23-11-2013, 20:35   #8
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

robin, if you want to meet USCG specs, one of the cheap Olin 12-gauge kits or handheld kits does it.

But if you want to be seen, screw 'em all and buy the pricey SOLAS flares. Yes, they are damned expensive, but you can find comparison charts and pictures online, and if you have ever used the 12-g shells or handhelds...I can buy roman candles for the 4th of july that are cheaper and brighter and shoot higher every time.

The pistols are all pretty much obsoleted by the SOLAS handhelds. Which are pricey, but you're buying a seriously superior performance level.

Another option might be a handheld red laser pointer (some are sold as "flares" with special beams) which won't meet any regulation spec, but certainly is an interesting alternative with a much longer range and duration, if you can see and aim at what you're trying to get attention from.
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Old 23-11-2013, 20:53   #9
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I agree with hellosailor on the solas flares and would suggest reading Steve Calahan's "Adrift" for some reality on flares effectiveness not that I'd consider doing without. A handheld VHF and SART would be way more effective.
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Old 23-11-2013, 21:29   #10
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

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I agree with hellosailor on the solas flares and would suggest reading Steve Calahan's "Adrift" for some reality on flares effectiveness not that I'd consider doing without. A handheld VHF and SART would be way more effective.
We have a waterproof handheld VHF and spare battery pack in our ditch bag already.

As I said earlier we are well used to the SOLAS flares as we sailed for many years in the UK and they are a requirement for offshore racing although we stopped racing years back, but they are pretty well standard on seagoing cruisers too, however technology moves on and an EPIRB has to be a better device for catastrophic needs, especially one that transmits a GPS position.

We have a DSC VHF on board, linked to GPS so it can transmit our position automatically at the press of a button in the event of distress, plus we have an AIS transceiver so again our position is out there to see

What I'm trying to do now is simply to rationalize what flare pack to buy that is going to meet the USCG requirements for a US documented vessel, be reasonably affordable/cost effective and be easily taken with us in the RIB which also doubles as our liferaft, if we ever had to abandon ship, (we are not crossing oceans and our cruising area now is reduced to the US east coast, the ICW and the Bahamas, so never very far from land and therefore mostly always in VHF range of a shore station somewhere

I don't want to re-open discussions about liferafts either.
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Old 23-11-2013, 22:28   #11
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
r[...]
Another option might be a handheld red laser pointer (some are sold as "flares" with special beams) which won't meet any regulation spec, but certainly is an interesting alternative with a much longer range and duration, if you can see and aim at what you're trying to get attention from.
Don't bother trying a standard laser pointer. The beam is so tight that even at a range of several miles you will have a hard time aiming it so you will be seen. I once tested one over a six mile distance. It was *extremely* difficult to aim it, and I was standing on solid ground. I was talking with the spotter via cellphone. This would be completely unusable.

The "laser flares" use a special lens that spreads the beam into a vertical stripe many degrees tall. There are pretty easy to point, and they can be seen quite well at a good distance.

I have heard that apparently for safety reasons the Coast Guard has instructed their pilots to turn around and go home for an eye test if they are hit by a laser. This is the only USCG document I can find on this issue, and it isn't clear if a proper laser flare would trigger the mission-abort: Coast Guard helicopter crew targeted with laser pointers


And please register my vote for the SOLAS flares. If flare performance is important to you, these are the best.
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Old 24-11-2013, 07:33   #12
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

THanks to all, but I'm not going for anything that is not going to meet USCG requirement since as I said initially we have to equip our new to us boat to thei r'rules'. WE Could buy a full SOLAS pack like we used to carry in the UK (6 parachutes, 4red smokes, 4 red handheld flares, 4 white flares) but these would be very expensive and maybe a bit overkill for coastal/Bahamas and anyway we do plan to buy a EPIRB and/or PLBs as well, but even if we do we are 'required' still to have the day/night visible signals the rules state. We will probably go with a 12 gauge pistol kit in a watertight floatingcase, but with extra shells, handheld flares and smokes added, these will meet USCG requirements and we can then add to that later other options like the EPIRB/PLBs. Bearing in mind we will mostly be sailing coastal inshore or at most out to the Bahamas our first weapon to use to summon assistance wiould be to use one of our VHF radios whereby we can state our what our problem is and we can alsogive our exact GPS position, Inshore/ICW we can even add cellphones to the list.
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Old 24-11-2013, 08:00   #13
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

robin3, i think you're going in the right direction. i'm also florida/bahamas/icw and have never felt that i would be out of range of u.s. coast guard or bdf (bahamas defence force) or another source of emergency help. my epirb may actually be overkill but it makes the wife feel safer and it was easy to explain to her how to use it if things got really bad....

we're also going away for the holidays, up to the frozen north, so maybe we can get together in the new year...
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Old 24-11-2013, 08:09   #14
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

No lasers. Pilots need their night vision too.
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Old 24-11-2013, 08:24   #15
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Re: 25mm ignal pistol versus 12 gauge version

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A .410 guage steel insert is available for either a 12 gauge or 25 mm flare gun on the internet. Winchester makes a very effective and deadly (at close range) personal defense load, the .410 PDX-1. I have fired this load using a Polish surplus all metal 25mm flare gun and still have all my fingers. It has adequate penetration and consistent pattern at 15 feet with little recoil.

i was so intrigued by your post i immediately did a google search. i think i detected a small problem.

the polish flare gun you used is actually 26.5 mm, which is apparently some european standard. it is slightly larger than the 25mm we use in the states and maybe other places. 1.5mm doesn't sound like much but when it comes to guns it might as well be a mile.

they do sell those flare guns on the internet but then i would have to buy all new flares to fit it, if they are even available.

but i'm still intrigued. i remember these insert devices from many many years ago when most hunters had double barreled shotguns and it was easy to insert them in your breech. i'll keep looking and would appreciate it if you come across a 25mm conversion to let me know.

i also encountered this interesting tidbit from the atf -

http://www.atf.gov/press/releases/20...e-inserts.html

just keep in mind that the 25mm pistols are plastic and the polish 26.5mm is metal.
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