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  • Ken Kraushaar

Did you know...? (#2) sub caliber flare inserts (a warning)

(picture courtesy of

Did you know there are kits sold for the plastic flare guns readily available at walmart and other stores which sell fishing / boating safety supplies which allow them to be converted to fire conventional rounds? one such device is sold by Orion.

Did you also know that installing one would cause the insert/flaregun combo to be reclassified under the GCA? Did you also know, that, because a lot of these inserts are smooth bore, they cause them to then be classified as "Any Other Weapon" and subject to the National Firearms aAct, because it is now a smooth bore handgun? it is extremely important to make sure your insert, if you buy it, has a rifled bore, because of this above fact. If yours has a rifled bore, it merely becomes a GCA firearm.

You cannot, of course, sell it as you'd be selling an unserialized GCA firearm but you can possess it, just like you can any home made firearm which falls under the purview of the GCA, such as your milled out 80% lowers, etc. (where not prohibited under state law.)

but beware:

Orion contacted the ATF, indicating that plastic flare guns were not designed to accept standard ammunition, and that the use of an adapter in conjunction with conventional ammunition would likely cause a catastrophic failure of the flare launcher (ATF Bulletin, May 4 2006.) Needless to say, using Orion's own products together could be hazardous to your health.

In addition to the physical health hazard, there are of course the following penalties should you get caught with an AOW (smooth bore pistol in this case.):

- Making of an unregistered AOW is a 10 year federal felony

- possession of an unregistered AOW is another 10 years

- The fact that the AOW is not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) which tracks NFA firearms is another 10 years

- if the AOW doesn't have a serial number, it's another 10 years

- if the possessor is a prohibited person (felon, etc, etc.) it's another 10 years under title 18, 922(g)

So assuming you're not a felon, or otherwise prohibited from having a firearm, you're looking at 40 years in jail on federal charges. 50 years if you're a felon and you think you're skirting the law.

The best advice is to not bother with these inserts. buy a pistol, or a breakdown shotgun if you want something portable, these plastic flare guns were not meant to deal with the pressures. even with a metal flare gun, if the insert is a smooth bore, as most are, don't bother: you'd probably enjoy the 40 years fishing rather than sitting behind bars.

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