Military flare pen?


A friend sent me this pic…I can find no info on this type ?? any info ??


Is this the package for the Gyrojet flare pen?


I did think it could be a gyro of some type… but the number does not mach up with one I have had in the past ??? I think I might get it just to look inside.


Gyroject items were products of MBAssociates, of San Ramon, California, located in the greater San Francisco Bay Area Region (West-Central California). Dela Enterprises Inc. was a firm located in Southern California, in Escondido. I know them from various flare and smoke cartridges they made in calibers .38 Special, 9mm Parabellum, and .45 A.C.P. The company was not, to my knowledge, formed to make these particular items, and I would think that anyone making the items with which I am familiar would have been a producer of distress-signal items already.

I seriously doubt that the kit pictured, from Dela Enterprises Inc., would have anything to do with Gyrojet or their cartridges. Just my opinion based on some personal knowledge of MBAssociates and their products and personnel. I have never seen one of these Dela kits before, either in a sealed packet form as shown, or the contents thereof, so I have no personal knowledge of what the kit includes.


(Edit: after posting the below, I noticed the above picture is of a “-1” kit, while the below info pertains to the “-5” kits; how much they may have changed from the -1 to the -5, I have no idea.)

Here’s a description of the item found at … 637854.htm , apparently as part of a request for bids to supply the air force with these kits:

The purpose of this Sources Sought/Market Survey is to identify production sources for the Personnel Distress Kit, Red, A/P25S-5A NSN 1370 00-490-7362. The technical data package is distribution D. The Personnel Distress Kit, Red, A/P25S-5A is used by downed airmen or others exposed to emergency escape and evasion situations. The kit includes a hand fired launcher and a bandoleer assembly. The bandoleer assembly contains a plastic molded bandoleer holding seven red signals. The signals consist of small solid propellant rocket motors actuated by a percussion primer, a delay element, and a pyrotechnic candle in a metal case. The surface of the metal case is dyed red to match the color of the candle. The launcher is black anodized aluminum, it has a retaining device and a firing mechanism. The retaining device precludes the signal from falling out of the launcher when the loaded launcher is aimed vertically at the ground. The firing mechanism consis ts of a free traveling firing pin with an actuation knob and spring. The launcher is connected to the bandoleer by a lanyard. Physical dimensions for the launcher are Length 5.5 in.; Diameter 0.8 in. Signals are loaded individually into the launcher with nozzle down into the launcher until the signal bottoms out. The firing pin inside the launcher upon firing, strikes the primer in the signal which ignites the propellant. Exhaust gases are expelled thr ough nozzle holes in the signal and propel the flare out of the launcher in a spin stabilized flight. The signal should be able to completely penetrate moderately dense jungle or forest foliage. After traveling approximately 600 feet, the payload ignites c ausing separation from the rocket motor. Burning time is approximately 9 seconds and provides an average candle power value of 2,500 lumens for the first 7 seconds. Physical dimensions for the signal are Length 2 in.; Diameter 0.5 in. Request interested parties provide list of currently or previously produced items that are representative of the Personnel Distress Kit, Red, A/P25S-5A. Include information on pyrotechnic formulations/handling, pressing, and assembly. All pertinent informa tion provided will be evaluated. Request interested parties provide an approximation of minimum kit quantities required for order to sustain production capacity for the Personnel Distress Kit, Red, A/P25S-5A. Include the approximate shift times to meet this minimum value, and any significant assumptions made. Request interested parties provide an approximation of minimum kit quantities required to be ordered by the government to consider bidding for the Personnel Distress Kit, Red, A/P25S-5A. Include required minimum reorder quantity in option years of a contra ct to sustain contractor participation.

Along with a picture of what is purported to be inside the kit, found at: … tion2.html (right at the bottom).


Are you sure that this is the descrition for the kit pictured? The product number, or Model, or whatever one would call it, on the kit pictured is A/P 25S-1 firing signal cartridges type SDK-15/P25S-1. The kit in the description is AP255-5A. Sounds like a different kit to me. I realize, by the way, that you leave that possiblity open at the beginning of the posting.

I am perfectly willing to be wrong, as most of you know, but I still can’t see a pyrotechnics manufacturer like Dela Enterprises supplying a kit for ammunition from a competitor, unless they made Gyrojets under license from MBAssociates, doubtful at best.

If I am wrong about them being different kits because the product numbers seem different, someone please explain why they have different numbers. I am NOT “throwing down a challenge” here, I really want to learn, since this would be contrary to much of what I have seen on military items as to product identification.

Mel - being a former military pilot, and probably the foremost authority on Gyroject items - can you shed more light on this? Lord knows that except for a general background knowledge of MBAssociates due to direct dealings between our store and Bob Mainhardt, I don’t know squat about this stuff.

John Moss


OK, guys, here’s the deal. The A/P25S-1 is not a gyrojet kit. It’s the pengun screw-in flare kit that the Navy uses. The A/P25S-5A is the gyrojet version.

If you look at eBay lot 250180102157, closed 28 October, you can see the back side of this kit, with instructions to “screw in” the flare. the “-1” and the “-5A” make all the difference.

MBA developed the 13mm gyrojet in 1964 and introduced it to the public in the summer of 1965 with the 13mm pistol. Robert Mainhardt told me he also began work on other applications for the gyrojet, including pyrotechnic flares, smoke flares, radar chaff, etc. about the same time. This is easily confirmed by looking at patent 3,378,944 of 23 April, 1968 (filed on 15 November, 1966). This patent covers the first type of production gyrojet flare launcher, which was sort of an adapter that screwed onto a pengun launcher already in military inventory. The patent also shows the first production flare with the cannelure on its base to secure its nozzle, and its sharp, conical point. This type of launcher is pretty scarce. It was named: Signal Kit, Personnel, Distress, Foilage Penetrating, MBA-201, later 201-G.

In August, 1970, MBA filed a patent application for an improved version, and patent 3,717,068 was issued on 20 February, 1973. By this time, MBA had US Military contracts (mainly Air Force and Army; not Navy) and was producing tons of these. By this time, with military type certification, the name was changed to Signal Kit, Personnel, Distress, A/P25S-5A. The “-5A” is important. It’s still the nomenclature used today.

Patent 3,717,069 (filed 28 September, 1970) is also very interesting because it depicts an early experimental launcher adapter with a gyrojet cartridge, not flare. It could be used as a hand-weapon. In fact, they all could.

MBA was acquired by Tracor, Inc. in 1980, so any gyrojet flare dated after 1980 is Tracor/MBA, even though many were still marked “MBA.”. Other contractors also make the gyro-flare, including SGK, whoever that is, in 1996.

Hope that helps. BTW, I realy like FreePatentsOnline. You have to register, but you get sharp .pdf files of the patents, free.


you guys are OUTSTANDING ! THANK YOU !


Were they intended to be used as weapons with the flare gyrojet rounds or another type of gyrojet round? How accurate/effective would they have been in a real-life situation?

Someone recently narrowly escaped a


I remember these pens being used by the British Army and they left them behind in the countryside after their maneuvers.
All that of course was before the security hype and the artificial terrorist threat they want us to make bellieve we are living in.
Till a few years ago these things were sold freely here in Germany. Then that particular type got forbidden I think because it is very easy to make a .22lr “shooting pen” out of it. Now we still have these on sale but they are different and have the threaded part outside instead of inside.


None of the MBA 13mm gyro-flare launchers or the flares themselves were ever designed to be used as weapons, and they would have been very poor in that role, for several reasons.

First, gyrojet pistol ammunition was pretty inaccurate at best, even from a five-inch pistol barrel designed for it. It would be interesting to see where a round went when fired from a


@EOD: Even the launchers with the screw thread on the outside are illegal here. I can see how easy it would be to make one capable of firing a .22LR round with the internally threaded one.

@ Mel: Thanks for the comprehensive answer Mel. Re-Reading your original answer I see that it mentioned an adapter for use with a regular Gyroject cartridge to use a flare pen as a weapon.

The story about use of flare pens as weapons in Vietnam is an interesting one, obviously not much fun for the guy who was hit by it!


This type of flare exists in France in a different caliber : 14,3 mm X 62,7 mm