Dela Enterprises Inc 9mm Flare Loads-Red-Green-Yellow

Every time I go digging through the collection I come up with questions. I was recently rearranging my boxes and looked at my Dela Signal and Flare boxes. I have a 50rd box for the red Signals and a box for the red Flares. In addition. I have a 50rd box with the label modified to read “25 EACH 9M/M Luger GREEN Flare and YELLOW Flare Signals” I understand this box contained probably the only green and yellow Flare rounds they made. I believe John Moss has the equivalent box for the Signal loads.

As I was handling the boxes, I noticed that the back of both Flare boxes are marked “MADE IN FINLAND”!!!

The Red & Green flares are in R-P cases and the Yellow is in a WRA case.

My box for red signal loads has no marking on the back but the side is stamped in large letters “SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION”

These rounds date from the early 1970s I think, and I thought they were all made in California.

Strange that only the flares indicate they were made in Finland.

I know others have these boxes. Are they marked the same as my three?

Does anyone have an explanation for the “MADE IN FINLAND” marking???


Lew - I don’t have much information on Dela Enterprises Inc. I typed the better part of my answer earlier, but then all of a sudden, all of it just disappeared from the screen while I was finishing it, and I could not recover it.
About that time, I got a UPS Package with some good stuff in it, that I was expecting :-) and that interrupted my timely submission of an answer here.

I have only two things in my files about Dela - a factory drawing of a .38 Special Flare round and a blurb from the “American Rifleman’s” Dope Bag column, written by C. E. Harris using information he got from Woodin Lab. The issue is from March 1979, pages 76 and 77. I will report what it says in just a minute.

Regarding my Dela Enterprises box, it has no “country of origin” markings anywhere on it. It has only a glue-on top label. The box is a 50-round package with dividers in the insert accomodating that amount. However, the label was changed at some time, in pen and ink, to show 24 rounds.

It does give an address for the company: 1234 Industrial Avenue, Escondido, California 92025, which is in Southern California. It indicates the contents are “9 m/m Luger Red Flare Signals, DELA #9RF-2100B, Lot No. 901.” That is the total information on the box.

As for the blurb in the “American Rifleman” magazine, it says:

"The technical Staff contacted William H. Woodin of Tucson, Ariz., who furnished some of the following information:

“During the late 1960s Dela Enterprises, of Escondido, Calif. produced signal cartridge of various types and colors in .38 Spl and .45 ACP. Some of these cartridges were tested by the U.S. Army Infantry Board at Ft. Benning, Ga. The .38 Spl signal cartridges typcially have red anodized or red-lacquered aluminum bullets. The cases predominantly used were nickel plated and made by Sako in Finland, headstamped with the Dela Signal name. Early cartridges were loaded in standard commercial caseswith various headstamps. Many Dela Signal headstamped cases were also sold on the open market to handloaders. These Cartridges were intended for signaling use in .38 Spl. revolvers, as a substitute for or supplement to the Mk 79 pen-type flare projectors carred by combat air crews.- C.E.H.”

The article doesn’t mention that they were also made in 9 mm Parabellum, and that the colors available were red, green and yellow, nor does it address the fact that they were made in both flare and smoke form, with a small, very sharp projection at the tip of the projectile identifying flares. It is absent on the projectiles of the smoke cartridges, which otherwise look the same.

It does establish the Finnish connection. I suspect that the empty cases were sent in the boxes you have, and that the “Made in Finland” referred to the cases only. To my knowledge, they were loaded by Dela Industries, although I cannot find a reference for that information. The first to bring forth specimens of these, fairly contemporary with their production, was S. Fuller, and it may be he that told me they were loaded in California. Some of the 9 mm cartridges were loaded in Sako-headstamped cases as I recall, so if your box is sized for 9 mm cases or rounds specifically, that would not interfere with the theory that the cases alone were shipped from Finland. I cannot check mine, as they are part of the section of my ammunition that became of questionable legality in my state where the State pastime is passing stupid laws that affect nothing but honest citizens, while crime runs rampant in the State. All those cartridges were removed from the State once I surrendered my license, along with rounds that were specifically made illegal, like tracers, incendiaries, and the like.

I am sorry that I cannot provide any more information right now on this. I am told that Mel Carpenter is quite expert on the Dela Rounds, and I would suspect Pepper would know plenty about them also. Are you two out there?

When I was doing research for my headstamp guide I did come across information on these cartridges. I am sorry I can not seem to locate it right now but the summary was that cases were supplied by Sako Finland with cartridges loaded in the USA. After this company was closing,The Company sold their remaining stock to the REMCO Corp., who loaded some ammunition with these same headstamps to use up the stock. I will try an locate the source but that is the summary I still have in my notes.

Thanks for the confidence John, but that is way more fine detail than I can help with. I dont think I have any gems in the paper file either. (I was wondering if Lew’s boxes had multiple rounds in them ) :)

John, The boxes came from Steve Fuller and are empty. I think you nailed it. I checked Otto Witt’s 38 Special book and he pictures the Remco shot round that CartridgeCorner mentions along with the box. This also explains the shape of my two 9mm boxes. They are clearly the 38 Special boxes that the cases were delivered in. The red flares and signal are both lot 732 and the box of green and yellow flares are 728.

Many thanks!


Here are visuals of .38 Spl with a headstamp “SAKO 38 Special”

In one of the posts above is mentioned that when the tiny point on the tip of the bullet is absent the cartridge is a smoke-signal cartridge and not a flare-signal cartridge.

Can someone confirm me that the .38 Spl cartridges as shown in the picture are smoke-signal cartridges and not flare-signal cartridges.



Thanks in advance.

The one on the far left is a Navy signal (flare) cartridge, not a smoke cartridge.

Thanks Lew. Still 2 to go. All info is welcome.


I don’t want to hijack the thread but does anyone have pics of the cartridges and boxes of these in .45ACP an would be kind enough to post?


The 38 Spl on the right looks like the Dela smoke round illustrated in Otto’s 38s but his had a SAKO headstamp. I leafed through Otto’s book and couldn’t find anything that looked similar to the middle 38.


Lew thanks for the additional information. The documentation about these kind of flare and smoke cartridges seems hard to find.