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Thread: WW1 Flare Gun

  1. #11


    Thanks for the reply Mike,

    What is strange is that I have not been able to find another example of this flare pistol. All of the Mark II flare guns I have found are only stamped with the Naval Yard stamping. Why is this one stamped SMITH & WESSON?

    Roy Jinks, the noted authority of S&W and probably has the most extensive collection of antique S&Ws and accessories, does not have an example of this flare gun. He did, however, state that there are drawings of this flare gun in the S&W collection.

    This all leads me to believe there is some value to the one I have, but how does one value something that no other example can be found anywhere? I am considering selling it because I like to shoot all guns in my collection and black powder 10 gauge flares are hard to come by, plus I do not want to start any fires!

  2. #12


    Hello, Some Mark II's are found with Navy Yard Markings, and some are not.

    I have heard of this flare pistol.

    but without the factory records, and considering the relatively high serial number ( at the end of the first quarter of production based on no serial number known above 1,000 ), and all other examples lacking the Smith & Wesson Name, and no Smith & Wesson Address on your example, I would be inclined to believe this was an example acquired by the Company for their collection, or testing.

    If manufactured by Smith & Wesson why are other examples unmarked ?? Including earlier manufactured examples ( lower serial numbers ). No Pat. date or Pat. Pend marks, No Inspector marks.

    Also No Address, Smith & Wesson almost always would have their address with their name. Why only after some 250 pistols were made would they put their name on one, and then immediately stop.

    This is a scarce pistol with an unusual history. I hope someone like Jinks can find more information on this pistol.

    The nickel finish on flare pistols was actually a common occurrence. Some were factory, others redone, and resold.

  3. #13


    This flare pistol is lettered from Roy Jinks. He states that factory records indicate that there were to be 3000 of these made by S&W. He also stated that S&W has drawings for this flare pistol in their factory collection. Also, the stamping of SMITH & WESSON matches the all Capitalized barrel stamping on other Smithrevolvers around the turn of the century.

    Unfortunately, Roy can not find evidence that all or any of these pistols were delivered to the Navy. He does feel, however, that this one was probably made in their factory.

    As for the address and patent dates, Mike stated, there were none on any of the 1896's of Mark II's he has seen.

    The mystery continues.

  4. #14


    I would love to see the Jinks letter - can you show a photo of it, and a copy of the Drawings that the factory has for this flare pistol. I have 18 examples of this model in my collection from 2 digit serial numbers to the 900's.

  5. #15


    Signalman - Do any of your Mark IIs have S&W identification?

    Attached is the content of the factory letter from Jinks. I also added an email from Roy commenting that he has only lettered 3 of these over the years.

    This information may only confuse the already confusing history of these flare pistols - but that is what makes the journey exciting.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #16


    Hello, None of my Mark II's ever had Smith & Wesson markings.

    Thank you for the file. Is that the way it was sent to you, as a PDF file, or was it an actual Factory Letter with the S&W letterhead.

    If they were manufactured in ~ 1912, that would be very late, as some of my Mark II's have much earlier dates, including one dated 1896.

    Just thrown out as a possibility, your gun might have been a factory purchase to study, and then they became involved with the Mark III along with Remington, which began production during WWI.

    I think the Factory Photo's, and drawings ( and hopefully some written information on them would indicate whether or not S&W was involved with producing the Mark II or III. ) If involved with the mark II, were they the only manufacturer, or was there another ??

    I will get some photo's of my Mark II's together to discuss.

  7. #17


    I extracted the content of the official factory letter from Roy Jinks at the top of the PDF, and added an email from Roy to me, discussing the pictures he wanted me to send him at the bottom of the PDF.

    I also thought about the possibility that it was a pattern pistol, but it does not explain why the serial number is above 250??

    Roy does state that it "appears" that the pistol was made in 1912 - 1913, but I don't know if he had supporting evidence. Jim Supica's Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 3rd Edition, has one paragraph on the topic. There was an article in the 1899 Springfield, MA Republican newspaper that reported S&W had completed 2 large orders for a large number of signal pistols for the Navy a noted that these pistols were hand made with special lines. They were described as resembling other pistols generally, except that they haveve a large barrel like a shotgun.

    I have browsed through the Records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, 1784-1963 (Bulk 1842-1942), but was not able to make the search work. So the question still remains, can a value be estimated for this one?

    That is about all the information that I have been able to obtain, but makes me believe that S&W did make flare guns. Don't know where they all went?

  8. #18

    Default Signal Pistol Mark II

    Very interesting material is being shared. The Mark II does not predate 1903.

  9. #19


    I believe Fladermann is wrong, First, What Flaydermann calls The Model 1894 is merely the conversion of the 1882 Model Flare pistol to the Caliber of the the model 1894. Even the Government called these pistols " CONVERSIONS.

    I own a true Model 1894, and it resembles a Model 1896 except for the markings. This 1894 Model can probably be considered the mark I, but was not called that because there was no mark II at that time.

    Then there was the Model 1896, which is what it was first called, and later in production became the Mark II. I come to that conclusion because there are a number of Model 1896's which also have the Mark II marking. Finally the later Model '96's are just marked with the Mark II marking. Technically you are probably correct in that I do not believe the Mark II was used on the Model 1896 before 1903, but I do believe they are the one and same model pistol.

    Flaydermanns explanation of the differences in the thickness and step in the frame to determine M-1896 and Mark II is not correct. Both 1896 marked guns and Mark II marked guns can be found with both styles of frame.

  10. #20



    In the first picture there is a label on a US Government storage box, the 6th instruction says " In Loading the Converted Pistol hold the muzzle down to allow the extractor to go into place. " The extractor would bend and break on the converted 1882 pistols if you tried to close the pistol with the muzzle pointed up.

    There is no mention of Model 1894 Pistol, because it had not been invented yet.

    The 2nd and 3rd photos are of a True Model 1894. Note the similarity to the Model 1896 / Mark II
    Last edited by signalman; 28th October 2011 at 06:13 PM.

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