What’s your vintage gun worth? These OC readers find out

This German Erma-Erfurt flare pistol (above) was given to me several years ago, but I do not know the history of it. The serial number is 9597b, which matches both the barrel and receiver. What type of flares does it take, and can you still find them? Is the pistol worth anything, and is it even legal to own such a firearm? I always enjoy looking at some of the old guns that you review. Keep up the good work.

Dave Bolton

Sudbury, Ontario

This appears to be a Second World War-era German military-issue flare pistol. With these pistols, the date is stamped on the left side under the trade name, but I can’t make out the numbers on your gun. Judging from the “b” suffix on the serial number, I think the date is most likely 1938. The markings on the right side are Nazi-era proof and acceptance marks.

For military use, these pistols were issued with a supply of red, green and white flares. I don’t know whether the guns were general issue for all Wehrmacht troops; some sources indicate just one or two were issued to each platoon. During the same era, German police used similar flare pistols, sometimes with tear-gas grenades intended for riot control.

Such old flare pistols are of interest to military collectors, especially those who collect Second World War items. I found several pistols listed for sale or recently sold on U.S. websites, with values in the range of C$500 to C$1,000. I don’t know of a source of currently made flares, however.

As to whether this pistol is legal to own, the RCMP website has this to say: “Flare guns and other devices designed exclusively for signalling or notifying of distress, and intended to be used exclusively for that purpose by the person in possession of it, are not classified as firearms for purposes of the Firearms Act. A licence is not required to possess one, and it does not have to be registered.” It would be best to consult with your local firearms registrar about this particular pistol just to be sure.

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