Very gun signal cartridges (flares) 10 GA

Most of the 10 GA Very Gun cartridges I have seen have been the Mark II variety. Often they are packed in 10 round cans (similar to what nuts are sold in, but with the old fashioned twist key to peel off a sealing strip.) SOme have been packed in cardboard 10 round boxes and then wax coated.

There is a great variation in makers, headstamps, use of high or low brass cases. Usually the color of the cardboard case corresponds to the color of the signal, but not always. The closing wad is usually marked with some or all of this: “VERY MK II [color]”. However they do seem to be consistent in having a roll type crimp to seal the mouth, and all use the tactile (touch or feel) coding on the closing wad:

GREEN- smooth surface (“smooth as green grass”);
RED- Raised ridges usually 3 but sometimes one or two running the width of the closing wad (“Rough Ridges- red”)
WHITE- a single raised bump or teat.

Recently I saw some Very signals which have similar tactile features on the wads, but the cases are left straight with no rolled crimp, and the closing wads are at least 1/2" below the mouth of the case. The high brass has REMINGTON UMC embossed around the brass just back from the front. Both the red and green signals have red cases. (No white ones to compare).

I am wondering if the latter style without any roll crimp are Very Signals Mark I?

Geeze… I spent 15 minutes working on a reply and it was lost! Never posted!

We carried these pyrotechnic devices on submarines when I was on them and as small arms PO I handled many. Later I taught a course on pyrotechnics that included these 10ga sized pyros. Alas, my memory of things 30 yrs ago and beyond is a bit foggy but they indeed came to us in the little metal cans that had a key fastened to the lid. This key was used to peel a band of metal the fastened the cap to the can, like the old-time nut cans. We were not allowed to open them unless we were about to use them but I did open some that were fired for various purposes. I recall we used some red and some yellow ones. There was one color that had a corrugated like closing wad and another had little bumps on it, 3 I believe. The white, I think, was smooth. They came in red, green, white and yellow. The pistol I recall was the MK5 Very pistol and a very flimsy looking thing. All I ever saw were free falling stars with about a 10sec burn time. I remember some having 10ga on the heads and when we tried to load them they were to swollen and would not fit. The seal on the can had been broken for some time.

Man, I can see those silly cans and even hear them clanking together when you moved them about but I cannot remember much more detail, sorry.


I just tried posting a lengthy bit on a new thread. Very wordy with a half dozen pics. Same result. Put me in a huff. Somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do!

On point, these flare and flare gun threads are right up my alley. Sadly, I have yet to acquire a Very pistol or the flares for one. I’d shoot 'em if I had 'em. Well, at least one of them. Fun guns if ever there was. Sure wish JohnS had included some sample pics. Maybe in a Reply.

Did the pistol look like this?

Old Swiss flair pistol !!!

Looks like I am NOT the only one having troubles posting some answers. It has happened to me at least eight or nine times, and twice it was caused by an interceding notice of some sort - one telling me someone had posted while I was “computing” as if I cared, and another that the thread “didn’t have time” to show some sort of page and try again later, or words to that effect.
The other times, I hit submit and it simply did not, even though it said it did. I am not saying it only does, but it seems like it loves to do this with a long, comprehensive answer.

John Moss

John I have NO troubles posting …


Gyroject - it is clear that not everyone is having this problem. I seemed to be the Lone Ranger in this respect, as noted by Ray, but now both Shotmeister and Slickrick report problems that sound precisely like those I have been having for the last couple of weeks.

Who knows, maybe I am some sort of human computer virus.

John Moss


You can add me to the list. Doing a rather long posting w/ photos and when I went to send it got an error message saying server was too busy. I think I was one of about 2 or 3 folks on the forum at the time when I checked to see how many hundreds of cartridge collectors had clogged the internet to cause this.

The other feature that tells you someone else has posted since you started a new post is more to give you a chance to change anything you’ve written in light of that most recent post. Reduces the multiple responses to the same thing that invariably occur as well as the comments on something wrong or mis-posted that has already just been corrected. Value it for what it’s worth, but I think that is why it is there as a feature.

Bottom line is, John, you’re not alone or going crazy thinking the cyber demons are out to get just you!


DaveE–Checking to see how many are on the Forum when you get a “Server is Busy” message means nothing. We are on a Shared Server with some other clients (I don’t know how many), so you could be the only one on the Forum and get the message if there are too many people from the other clients on the server.

sksvlad, yes that appears to be the pistol and the cartridges appear right. The ones we had were all made in the war years as I recall.

It occurred to me last night that when I was a QA inspector on a tender we had several occassions where subs turned in opened cans and we had to send them back to Crane, Indiana. I wonder if these were repacked in the cardboard boxes?

Regarding the lost post, the excuse I got was a busy server. I’m sure the techies will get the bugs out of this before long. I have FAITH!

Believe Sksvlad’s pistol is a U.S. Navy model.
As to the MK I vs MK II ?
I too spent some time trying to answer last night & it got lost, so not going through that long answer again, John I think you are on the right track that the MK I had no crimp. I have a MK I box of the FA black steel 25mm size & no crimp (dated Dec. 22, 1919). All my all brass 10 ga (all are Winchester headstamped in different variations) do not have a mouth crimp. Paper yes, but all are marked MK II. Looked in Gaynor’s, Flare Pistol book & nothing about MK I flares.
Also the MK II touch recognition is the same in the 25mm MK I plus the 10 bore all brass. I do have a white MK II showing instead of a bump, a dish with a definite edge in the center of the topwad.

Here are photos of the two types.

This is the unknown type. Can one of our shotshell experts help ID the date for this type case?

This is the standard Mark II type. These are examples showing a few of the many different headstamps found on these.

I have the ARROW’s in my collection, however they are the rolled crimp MK II variety.
Iverson doesn’t show dates for ARROW in either book, other than to show the Made in USA variation as being made for export.
The ARROW brand was used as late as 1944 for military shotgun shells, but can’t find a start date. Perhaps Ron M. might know when that brand came into the market? The headstamp you show is also known with a dished base.
I’ve no idea which came first, but if I had to guess I think the flat head came before the dished.

PS John if you have extras please save a green one for me as I have a red, same as yours.

Pete–“ARROW” shells were first offered in 1901.

Thanks Ron
That the ARROW brand was ca 1901 would fit into the MK I era. As noted above the 25mm FA was dated Dec. 22, 1919 & my empty green box titled “12 GREEN VERY’S NIGHT SIGNALS” is ca Dec. 1917. As the box doesn’t list a mark so I’d think MK I.