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Old 05-06-2020, 09:30   #1
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Military surplus parachute flares

I've learned that one can get surplus Czech military 26.5 mm flare guns and parachute flares. These would have some obvious advantages over the little Orion 12-gauge flares; particularly, they will hang in the sky and burn a lot longer. I'm mainly just asking out of curiosity at this point, but my questions are: (a) if I can get recently-manufactured 26.5 mm flares and shoot them out of a surplus military flare gun, would that be a legal signalling device for USCG purposes; and (b) if I reload an empty flare cartridge, would that be legally a new flare?
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Old 05-06-2020, 10:57   #2
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

I suspect the answer to a would be yes. I am quite certain that the answer to b would be a hard NO! The USCG requires you to carry signaling devices that are approved by them. Home made flare reloads would obviously not qualify.
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Old 05-06-2020, 18:23   #3
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

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Originally Posted by Water Dragon View Post
I've learned that one can get surplus Czech military 26.5 mm flare guns and parachute flares. These would have some obvious advantages over the little Orion 12-gauge flares; particularly, they will hang in the sky and burn a lot longer. I'm mainly just asking out of curiosity at this point, but my questions are: (a) if I can get recently-manufactured 26.5 mm flares and shoot them out of a surplus military flare gun, would that be a legal signalling device for USCG purposes; and (b) if I reload an empty flare cartridge, would that be legally a new flare?
If they're USCG approved, which would mean they had a USCG approval stamped on them, they'd meet the flare requirement. I doubt the flares you're mentioning meet that requirement.

I can also tell you that I'd have been pretty pissed at you if you fired one of those bad boys off and fried our entire crew's night vision as we were about to pull into a hover to snatch you out of the water. So pissed I'd execute an immediate instrument takeoff to a safe altitude to regain our night vision, at which point we'd be bingo fuel and head home, and you'd delay your rescue by probably an hour or two. All because... heck I don't even know why in the world one would want to use surplus Czech 26.5mm flares to replace the tried, true, and legal flare set you can get for $50?
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Old 05-06-2020, 18:28   #4
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

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Originally Posted by Water Dragon View Post
I've learned that one can get surplus Czech military 26.5 mm flare guns and parachute flares. These would have some obvious advantages over the little Orion 12-gauge flares; particularly, they will hang in the sky and burn a lot longer. I'm mainly just asking out of curiosity at this point, but my questions are: (a) if I can get recently-manufactured 26.5 mm flares and shoot them out of a surplus military flare gun, would that be a legal signalling device for USCG purposes; and (b) if I reload an empty flare cartridge, would that be legally a new flare?
A). NO, unless they are USCG approved, and are within the label expiration date. Both highly unlikely.

B). Just plain NO.

There are an awful lot of false economy questions posted here, but this one has to take the cake.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:32   #5
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Yeah, well... more of an untrained sailor question, perhaps. Sometimes people think bigger is better and extremely relevant points such as those pointed out by redneckrob (quoted below) don't even enter into their equation.

Side issue - and really no way to find out - but would the Czech flares even work in a marine environment? What I mean is: I've seen old, expired flares that we've used for teaching tutorials and they sort of crumble after years of being stored (dry) but just around the salty ocean air. One wonders whether something not specifically manufactured for a marine environment would degrade even more quickly and you'd get no big bang for your buck when really needed...

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
If they're USCG approved, which would mean they had a USCG approval stamped on them, they'd meet the flare requirement. I doubt the flares you're mentioning meet that requirement.

I can also tell you that I'd have been pretty pissed at you if you fired one of those bad boys off and fried our entire crew's night vision as we were about to pull into a hover to snatch you out of the water. So pissed I'd execute an immediate instrument takeoff to a safe altitude to regain our night vision, at which point we'd be bingo fuel and head home, and you'd delay your rescue by probably an hour or two. All because... heck I don't even know why in the world one would want to use surplus Czech 26.5mm flares to replace the tried, true, and legal flare set you can get for $50?
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Old 06-06-2020, 08:24   #6
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

I’ve had one of the surplus Polish 26.5mm flare guns for about 7 years, and they are great. Built of steel so I don’t have to worry about it breaking like the cheap plastic ones. To address all of the concerns above, you can buy a 12 gauge insert to shoot regular 12 gauge flares, satisfying the coast guard requirements, but then still allowing yourself to shoot the large 26.5mm flares or whatever else you would like.
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Old 06-06-2020, 08:49   #7
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Wait. Is that a boat in distress or is it the Czech Army and the Polish Army in a firefight?
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Old 06-06-2020, 09:09   #8
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Assuming these flares even work, I feel sure they won’t be as bright or last as long as a SOLAS flare.
Redneckrob, you guys have hover hold maybe by another name, but you do don’t you?
A friend that flies them told me the little Dauphin would shoot an automated approach to a hover, it won’t?

On edit, you have never seen the sky light up until you have flown by an MLRS unit firing at night
This is single shot, but when they ripple fire it’s really a sight.
https://youtu.be/lzCWeCJMxFU
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Old 06-06-2020, 09:10   #9
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Military para flares are reliable, and bright.
They will not replace CG approved flares, but can certainly suppliment them if you really need assistance.

If you are in trouble, you will not care if they are legal.
And....The more, the merrier.
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Old 06-06-2020, 09:35   #10
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

I carry a Czech flare gun plus a 12G insert, with flares for both. Height and burn times are very different. I also carry a USCG approved plastic flare gun. Frankly, I feel safer with metal separating me from an explosive flare. I also carry many more than the required number of flares. A couple of flares fired at 3:00 am 12 miles off the coast, GOOD LUCK.
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Old 06-06-2020, 10:14   #11
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

We have a an electronic distress light that doesnt expire. Ana all the expired shells. Hopefulley never need them. Dont think the CG will mind.
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Old 06-06-2020, 10:55   #12
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Get the legal in date flares and keep these for actual use.

As long as you don't shoot at a rescue helicopter as it's hovering over your boat (why would you do that anyway), it won't scare off the rescue forces. Shooting 12ga or solas flares as a copter is hovering over your boat is likely not a good idea either.
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Old 06-06-2020, 11:26   #13
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
If they're USCG approved, which would mean they had a USCG approval stamped on them, they'd meet the flare requirement. I doubt the flares you're mentioning meet that requirement.

I can also tell you that I'd have been pretty pissed at you if you fired one of those bad boys off and fried our entire crew's night vision as we were about to pull into a hover to snatch you out of the water. So pissed I'd execute an immediate instrument takeoff to a safe altitude to regain our night vision, at which point we'd be bingo fuel and head home, and you'd delay your rescue by probably an hour or two. All because... heck I don't even know why in the world one would want to use surplus Czech 26.5mm flares to replace the tried, true, and legal flare set you can get for $50?
Maybe I missed something but didn't see where the OP wanted to shoot anything at SAR. I assume that, like most people, he would better sense than to fire any of the above once he was located by rescue.
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Old 06-06-2020, 11:33   #14
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

Let's be clear. That USCG approved set for $50 is intended for 16ft and over boats--it is an affordable minimum and may be okay for the ICW and a few miles offshore. It is in the same category as USCG approved life jackets. A common standard for all boating types tends to be set very low.



Any serious cruising/offshore sailing you are better off with SOLAS flares, in fact, crazy not to have them onboard. Here is why:


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Old 06-06-2020, 13:27   #15
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Re: Military surplus parachute flares

I would like to state that the even the idea of firing a 12gauge distress flare from a plastic toy gun has made me too afraid for the safety of my hand to ever attempt it. However using an old single barrel 12 gauge shot gun was not successful either. Since I did not know before hand about the little metal canister inside that could not exit the full choke. Has anyone tested for higher altitude with a full open barrel?



I got a message mailed to me by the Royal Canadian Mounted police last week stating that Mr Justin Trudeau ensconced in the belief that gun control is effective..:''':... Thus has banned all guns with a bore greater than 20mm.



So now in CANADA to even own a nice flare gun constructed from steel with a removable 12 gauge insert is not allowed? So we would have to sell it back to him. (at what price..yet TBA.) The way the rules are written I do not see gaining any exceptions; even if it can be scientifically proven the the flare leaves the muzzle at less than 10.000 joules.


From a few of the mid ocean rescue reports I have read. flares fired upon sightings of cargo vessels went totally ignored. Until final rescue was achieved by signaling mirror redirecting the suns rays at it. So perhaps every ditch bag should have one?
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