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Flare Gun
aka: Flare Pistol

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All's flare in love and war.

An emergency tool used to signal rescuers to your location, the Flare Gun is a must should you get lost or in need of assistance. Otherwise, it can be used to signal something else.

In fiction, the Flare Gun also serves as a weapon, though probably Awesome, but Impractical against anything but enemies explicitly weak to light or fire, as it can be very inaccurate. For some reason, they tend to be treated like single-handed Grenade Launchers in many works. It should be noted that real-life flares don't fly fast enough to enter the human body, if you got shot with one, you would mostly get hurt by the impact as the flare bounced off.

If this is provided as an FPS weapon, it may have two or more uses. One is the above, where it's used to light up enemies on fire and two be used as a Puppet Gun used to call down artillery or airstrikes and the like. Although some games (especially ones that have prevalent dark areas) are willing to use the flares as a way to light up said dark areas.


There is some overlap with the Pocket Rocket Launcher trope, as flares are rocket propelled, and are fired from a modified 12-gauge shell. This is more for practical reasons than Rule of Cool, since signal flares are usually fired from a dinky plastic launcher that can't hold any pressure itself. Since they aren't actual weapons, they don't have to be at all accurate (all they need to hit is the sky), and actually need to be as flashy as possible to achieve their true goal of attracting the attention of Search-and-Rescue personnel. As a good rule-of-thumb, all flare guns (barring specific outliers that shall not be counted) are Pocket Rocket Launchers, but not all Pocket Rocket Launchers are flare guns.

See also Rescue Equipment Attack.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: an important part of the Trost counteroffensive plan, Brzenska fires colored flares to let command know if they succeeded in having Titan!Eren seal off the wall or not. Also comes up later on in Erwin's travel formation: soldiers that encounter Titans fire flares and everyone that sees the flare subsequently fires, creating a chain reaction that lets everyone know where they are. This acts like a crude "radar" system that lets Erwin maneuver the formation around clusters of Titans and minimize casualties. One soldier uses it offensively on the Female Titan to draw her attention as his allies attack it.

    Board Games 
  • The Flare Gun is actually one of the better weapons in Last Night on Earth, especially since you can pick it up from the discard pile at the Airplane Hangar.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of The Batman Adventures, a kid who thinks that Batman is looking for a new sidekick fires a flare gun to signal him in the middle of a city street. The flare hits a sign, which falls down, nearly hitting someone. The would-be Robin is promptly arrested for reckless endangerment.
  • Three members of the Fantastic Four regularly use flare guns to inform each other of their position and to call them for help. The flame burns in the shape of a huge 4 in a circle; being designed by Reed Richards, it's not that atypical. The Human Torch doesn't need to carry one, since his power to create and shape flames allows him to create the flaming logo without such a device.
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #26, Indy fires a flare gun at a military launch that is in the process of robbing him. Hoping to hit the engine, he instead hits the ammo store and the entire boat blows up.
  • In the first Gargoyles series, Hudson shot Demona with a flare gun while she was making her escape. Amusingly enough, he credits From Russia with Love for the inspiration to do that. Seems he's a Sean Connery fan.

    Films — Animated 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: a Chekhov's Gun. Helga fires a flaregun to illuminate the dormant volcano the expedition landed in, revealing the plug blocking their way to the surface, and later on uses it to blow up Rourke's escape balloon after he throws her out of it, a Last Breath Bullet as well.
  • In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl uses one as a weapon to shoot Evelyn's oxygen-tank backpack, causing it to rupture and propelling her out of the plane.
  • Madagascar: As part of the penguins' plan to save the Zoo Crew from the fossa, Skipper fires a flare gun to distract the fossa, who react as if it were a fireworks display.
  • Tarzan: Clayton's group of poachers uses flare guns to scare several gorillas into submission for ease of capture.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Abandon Ship: A deranged passenger produces a revolver and tries to take control of the lifeboat. The ship's purser takes the flare pistol from the survival kit and shoots him in the stomach.
  • In The Breakfast Club, Brian is in detention because he brought a gun to school to kill himself with since he got an "F" on an assignment, but it was a flare gun that goes off in his locker, thus getting him caught and sent to detention. Cue laughter from the rest of the kids.
  • During the climax of The Bunker (2001), Heydrich shoots Schenke with his flare pistol, turning him into a Man on Fire.
  • The Cat from Outer Space has some minor troublemaker attempt to shoot down a helicopter with a flare gun.
  • The protagonists of Congo use them to stop heat-seeking missiles hitting their plane. Fortunately the missiles are being fired from the same side as the airplane's cargo door.
  • In the 1989 thriller Dead Calm the psycho is finally killed by being shot in the mouth with a hand-launched flare, avoiding the penetration issue.
  • One figures into the defeating the rampaging dragon clone in Dragon Fighter. The hero sets the beast on fire by shooting it with a flare gun, which gives enough heat to provide a target for his allies' heat-seeking missiles.
  • During the escape scene of The Expendables, Lee, from the cockpit of a plane, uses a flare gun to blow up a pier drenched with gasoline to take out an entire platoon of mooks shooting at him in seconds.
  • At the end of the execrable Joe Don Baker movie Final Justice, the police escort finally stops being a Neutral Female and uses one to dispatch The Mole.
  • Great White: When they battle the shark underwater, Charlie gets Kaz to fire the flare gun from the life raft into the shark's mouth to distract it while he comes at it from behind and attempts to stab it between the eyes.
  • The Guns of Navarone: while Andrea is sniping at the German soldiers on the mountain, a German officer uses one to mark his position and direct his troops' fire.
  • Harbinger Down: The Russian chick shoots a Zombie Infectee, who goes up like a torch (maybe she soaked him in petrol first; it's not clear, but he was certainly freaking out). She then lampshades the Kill It with Fire trope.
  • Hard Target: During the chase scene of the second movie, protagonist Wes Baylor, getting into a Convenient Escape Boat, uses the flare he found in it to blow up a stack of oil drums, incinerating the entire waterfront and killing a few pursuing mooks in the process.
  • Into the Grizzly Maze: During the climax, Kaley shoots the bear with the flare gun from Sully's boat to little effect. Beckett them uses the flare gun to ignite the circle of gasoline he has poured around the bear.
  • In The Island (1980), after killing most of the pirates with a machinegun, the main character goes to claim his son back from their captain. Short confrontation ensues, which ends with the captain getting shot in the chest with a flare gun.
  • James Bond
    • Bond uses a flare gun in From Russia with Love to ignite spilled fuel and incinerate several enemy speedboats pursuing him at the end of a boat chase.
    • Bond also uses one in Thunderball, to signal for help after the final battle.
    • In the Action Prologue of A View to a Kill, Bond takes down a patrolling Soviet helicopter by shooting a flare through its side doors, causing it to veer out of control and crash into a cliff.
    • The World Is Not Enough has Bond using a flare gun during the oil refinery battle to light up a pipe leaking gas, resulting in a vertical pillar of flames taking out an enemy helicopter.
  • A hysterical female victim in Jaws 2 tries to shoot the shark with a flare gun, accidentally blowing herself up as well due to the spilled petrol from a can whose cap had come off.
  • Judge Dredd: The Lawgiver pistol can fire flare rounds. At the end of the movie, after Rico's pistol runs out of lethal rounds, Dredd uses it to fire off a flare to distract Rico.
  • Used to drive off the Spinosaurus the final time they bump into it in Jurassic Park III. The Spinosaurus had ruptured the fuel tank when it attacked their boat, so the flare gun set it on fire, at which point it retreated in pain.
  • The climax of Kong: Skull Island sees Mason assisting Kong during the big fight against the lead Skullcrawler by firing a flare into the Skullcrawler's right eye.
  • The Last Stand: Lewis Dinkum shoots a fleeing bad guy with it. The flare ends up igniting his Badass Bandolier (which sets off grenades just under said bandolier), which explodes and results in a gory mess.
  • In Let Him Have It, a schoolteacher asks his entire class to hand in their guns. One student places a Webley flare pistol on the teacher's desk. The teacher identifies it as a "Wolseley" and comments he hadn't seen one in quite some time.
  • During the fight against the dirt bikers in Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa shoots a biker in the face with one, causing him to lose his balance and fall under the wheels of the rig. The flare in question is a variant that bursts into brightly coloured powder designed to be visible in bright daylight—Immortan Joe's war party are shown using them for signaling.
  • During the Aerial Canyon Chase of Magnificent Warriors between the heroine Ming-ming and a Japanese Zero-type plane, Ming-ming managed to ascend her plane until it is above the enemy's, at which point she whips a flare gun and fires it into the Zero's cockpit. Cue the Zero crashing into a cliffside.
  • Memphis Belle: Bombers carrying wounded airmen launch flares as they approach their airfield, to alert emergency response personnel. Early in the film a disheartening number of the bombers are launching flares due to heavy casualties on a recent raid.
  • Likewise in Mission: Impossible III against a pursuing Cobra gunship firing heat-seeking missiles. It also helps that they're flying through a wind turbine farm whose spinning blades also intercept some of the missiles.
  • Pacific Rim. After two Jaegers are destroyed and a third immobilised, the two surviving pilots climb out onto its hull and take potshots at the kaiju's eyes with flare guns because it's the only weapon they've got left. The creature has six eyes though, and getting hit in one only pisses it off. Luckily another Jaeger arrives in time to kill the kaiju and save their lives.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in Raw Deal (1986) fakes his death by opening the valves on a refinery storage tank, then firing a flare gun into the spilt fuel. He then rides a motorcycle Out of the Inferno. Ironically he only uses a single flare despite this particular model (a Heckler & Koch EFL) having a five shot magazine.
  • The Red Baron: a German pilot machine-guns a British observation balloon, then fires his flare pistol at it to ignite the hydrogen gas spilling out through the bullet holes.
  • Viggo Mortenson's character in The Road uses a flare gun on people he thinks are following him with malicious intent.
  • Sahara (2005): One of the characters, not having any other weapons on hand, uses one to take out an enemy truck. His boss (hearing the play-by-play over their walkie-talkies) is less than amused.
  • Screamers. Having lost his weapon, the protagonist retrieves one from the escape rocket's cockpit and shoots the killer robot in the chest, but to little effect. Fortunately at that moment the rocket fires up its pre-launch burn, which provides a much more effective means to Kill It with Fire.
  • In Seven (1979), Cowboy uses a flare gun to blow up Kimo's limo after first dousing it in gasoline.
  • Charlie is carrying one on him when he arrives near the end of Seven Psychopaths. The guy who shoots him is pissed to realize he didn't bring a real gun (he was hoping for a Hollywood-style shootout ending to all of this), but then he catches onto its real use: it's to call Charlie's goons in should things go wrong. He promptly fires it off and gets the ending he wanted.
  • In Six Days, Seven Nights, while stranded on an island, Robin tries to signal a plane with a flare gun, but trips and blows up a tree instead. Quinn berates her for wasting their only flare and points out the plane is a commercial airliner. There was no way the pilots could have seen the flare, and even if they did, there was no way such a huge plane would land on such a small island.
  • Used in a Chase Scene in Striking Distance to blow up the local Serial Killer's car.
  • In Tobruk, the British Colonel uses a flare gun to clear out a pillbox.
  • In Tremors, a flare gun is one of the many weapons used by Burt and Heather Gummer on the Graboid that smashes into their underground "rec room."
  • The Widow (2020): The rescue team have a flare gun among their equipment. Zoya uses it to make Nika kill her.
  • Zeppelin (1971): A Very pistol is used for a demonstration that with German zeppelins you have to Kill It with Fire, though the recently invented (but still not yet perfected) incendiary bullet is what is actually being demonstrated.

  • Able Team: In Amazon Slaughter, a mercenary leader is ordered to mark Able Team's position with flares so Deadly Gas can be used on them. Knowing his boss doesn't care about collateral damage to his own men, he increases the distance between himself and the target by having his mercenaries remove the nosecaps of their rifle grenade-flares and cut off the tiny parachute inside, so they won't deploy and slow down its flight.
  • Carver uses one (actually two due to him being prepared for the poor accuracy of the flare gun) to kill Trench in The Accident Man.
  • One of these causes the death of Fredrich Müller in All Quiet on the Western Front. He was described as being "quite conscious and in terrible pain," after he was hit, allowing him time to say goodbye to his friend and pass his boots along to Paul.
  • Flare Guns were routinely carried in the Biggles books set in WW1 and were occasionally used as a makeshift weapon to set enemy planes on fire.
  • Anna Kelso uses one against assassin Yelena Federova in Deus Ex: Icarus Effect.
  • A variation: in The Fifth Elephant, Sam Vimes used a modified Clacks flare (no gun involved) as a weapon against a werewolf. Said werewolf's over-confidence and instincts made him catch the flare rocket in his mouth, which promptly exploded and killed him. Later the story was greatly exaggerated, leaving the flare out, and making Vimes Shrouded in Myth: the man who killed a werewolf barehanded.
  • The Harry Potter "red sparks" spell (called Periculum in the films) functions as a magical version.
  • In the Matt Helm novel The Intriguers, one character uses a flare gun as an improvised weapon to incapacitate the Big Bad. Afterward, Matt uses it to signal for help.
  • Presumed Dead by Rick Kennett. After being stranded on an alien world, Cy De Gerch has to resort to one after she uses up the power in her laser pistol, then discovers that one of the Starfish Aliens humanity is fighting is stranded on the planet with her. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs as the weapon is of limited use except for distracting or inflicting minor injuries on the alien during their battles. However in the final battle, the flare bounces off the alien's skin and rolls beneath its body, where it detonates just as Cy De Gerch is about to be smothered to death by the alien.
  • "Terrible Hard Says Alice" by Christopher Wood, set in Cyprus during the late 1950s State of Emergency. The Royal Artillery battery's MO has to treat a soldier shot in the forehead by another soldier with a Verey Pistol (a military flare gun); the culprit says that "they don't seem to come out that fast" as his excuse. (The injured man is permanently scarred and blinded.)
  • In Time Blender, a novel by Michael Dorn, the protagonist at one point attempts to frighten off an attacker with a flare gun. He'd meant to fire the flare over his opponent's shoulder but the inaccuracy of the flare gun resulted in it hitting his opponent in the chest instead. While it ended up bouncy off the target without inflicting any real damage, it landed in a puddle of gasoline at the target's feet.

    Live Action TV 
  • 24: Jack Bauer once shot a guy with a flare gun.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The Initiative", Xander gives Buffy a flare pistol to signal for help if she needs it when she goes to fight Spike. It turns out to be just what she needs when a team of Initiative soldiers attack Willow in a dorm corridor; Buffy fires the flare, overloading their night vision goggles.
  • Doctor Who: Not a flare gun, but the Doctor uses the flare gun's bigger brother the signal rocket (taken from the lighthouse stores) against the Rutan in "Horror of Fang Rock".
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: The 3rd season episode Dangerous Waters not only has Frank Hardy firing a flare gun to signal the rescue boat to come in, but also fires it directly at the mooks to drive them off.
  • Hawaii Five-O episode "Death's Name Is SAM": A terrorist group tries to use a heat-seeking missile to shoot down a jetliner. McGarret has police officers fire off flares at the landing field to distract the missile and save the jet.
  • iCarly has Spencer fire a flare gun at a door and Lewbert fire two flare guns at the ceiling when he saw his ex for no apparent reason
    • iStart A Fan War had a character catch a flare that had been shot at him but didn't go off, only for it to explode in his hands.
  • JAG: In the episode "Full Engagement", Harm and Mac crash land his Boeing-Stearman biplane in the woods and fall afoul of a group of poachers who have recently shot and killed a park ranger. The heroes end up shooting one of the poachers with a flare gun (at very close range) because they don't have any real weapons on them.
  • Desmond shoots Mikhail with one on Lost.
  • NCIS episode "Being Bad" had a cornered suspect kill himself with a flare gun; as noted, it didn't penetrate his skull but killed him via the impact off his head. Seen It All coroner Ducky said a flare gun suicide was a first, even for him.
  • On an episode of Night Court, Dan had to remove someone's appendix due to his incompetence with a flare gun. (Loooooong story there.)
  • Supernatural: after his Molotov Cocktail shatters when hunting a wendigo that can only be killed by fire, Dean is happy to find a couple of flare pistols in a backpack which he puts to good effect.
  • In The Sweeney episode "Hard Men", a Glasgow gangster punishes another gangster who tried to kidnap his daughter by shooting him in the back with a flare gun; he goes up in flames, screaming, and burns to death. Another gangster who witnesses the incident tells a policeman, "Dud ye see that? Dud ye see whut they dud? That was DIABOLICAL!"
  • On Wings, after the gang crash lands in the water on the way to Boston for Helen's Big Break as a professional cellist, when the cello bobs up from underwater, Helen uses the flare gun's one charge to shoot and sink her cello.

  • Deep Purple's famous song "Smoke on the Water":
    But some stupid with a flare gun
    Burned the place to the ground.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek. The flare gun can fire signal and illumination flares and in an emergency can be used as a weapon doing burn damage.
  • Dead Reign has these, though they aren't really intended to be used as a weapon. About their only combat-related advantage is their ability to set zombies on fire.
  • The Shadowrun supplement Street Samurai Catalog had the Micro Flare, a penlight sized flare gun that could be used as a weapon.

  • The Nerf MEGA Bigshock is an up-scaled Jolt which fires Mega Darts, which whistles in a high velocity. Point it to the sky and fire it when you want to call for help.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: the Flare unit has the unique ability to fire Flares which illuminate squares in Fog of War.
  • Alan Wake has a flare gun as an available weapon for fighting your light-hating enemies. It's the most powerful weapon in the game, easily capable of instantly destroying most weaker enemies and producing light for a few seconds afterwards to drive away any surviving others. Naturally, you don't find a lot of ammo for them, but they're very handy for emergencies. The Flare Gun is also the only way to defeat the final boss, so you get infinite ammo for it.
  • Scouts and Pilots in Battlefield 1 can wield one of two flare guns, one that functions as Enemy-Detecting Radar (presumably due to outside observers scanning for activity in the area), and another that makes your screen glow. Both types can also burn nearby infantry, and often follow a quick Sniper Rifle hit. An elite kit carries a third variety that calls in the more typical Death from Above.
  • Blood has a flare gun for the standard FPS pistol slot. Shots stick to enemies and deal constant fire damage, and it's powerful enough to turn most enemies into flailing humanoid fireballs in less than three shots. They also return for the sequel with a more futuristic construction, appearing almost like a revolver, and still as useful as ever, as certain Cabal enemies teleport when they take damage and a type of miniboss is intangible unless it's attacking, but the burning flare stays on them in both cases. Secondary Fire is a starburst pattern of eight flares that explode on contact and set everything in the contact area alightnote .
  • Inverted in Bloodborne: the Silencing Blank is a flare gun which, rather than calling someone in, drives away co-operators or returns you to your own world if you're in the other's world.
  • Borderlands
    • The first Borderlands has an Eridian weapon literally called The Flaregun. It fires slow, low-arcing projectiles that almost always set enemies on fire. While not a literal flare gun, it behaves exactly like one.
    • Borderlands 2 also has a weapon that functions in a near-identical way: Flynt's Tinderbox. It further acts like the video game interpretation of a flare gun by dealing very little impact damage, but near-always setting targets on fire for massive Incendiary damage. It also produces a distinctive 'whump' sound when fired.
  • Bulletstorm: The Screamer's special rounds are flares. They set people on fire and send them flying with a direct hit.
  • The Arbalest in Darkest Dungeon can use her crossbow to fire flares with the Rally Flare move. This slightly increases torchlight, clears marks and stuns from your party, and with the Shieldbreaker DLC, deals Scratch Damage and breaks stealth on enemies.
  • Deep Rock Galactic has a profoundly weird one that, rather than the blazing sort of flares, shoots out the more electric sort with large, sharpened stakes like some manner of harpoon gun, so as to embed them in the cavern walls to provide prolonged illumination. It's not a particularly good weapon, but it's vital for seeing where the hell you're going.
  • Descent features the chin-mounted flare gun, great for lighting up the numerous dark hallways or for the occasional Cherry Tapping (as the flare did 1% damage at all times).
  • Dino Crisis 2 briefly features one as a Puppet Gun of sorts. Dylan and Regina take turns using it in a dino-infested base to signal to one another where they should direct fire from heavy artillery cannons dotted around the area.
  • Fallout 4 has a flare gun that can be used to summon Minuteman reinforcements. There are also grenade-type signal flares for calling in artillery strikes from the Minutemen or a Chinese submarine.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a DLC, Lonesome Road, which introduces a flare gun. It isn't all that powerful, but it is quite useful in spooking the various monsters listed as 'abominations' in the game.
  • Far Cry
    • Enemies in the first games sometimes use them to summon chopper support.
    • Far Cry 2 has a flare gun as a pistol-slot item. It can torch an enemy to death with one flare (if you hit), but its real use is as a very large supplement to your Molotov Cocktail supplies for starting brushfires. NPCs under attack will also fire them into the air on occasion to try (and fail) to summon reinforcements.
    • It also makes an appearance in Far Cry 3, now slightly less useful for starting bonfires but capable of torching a heavy or a flamer in one hit - extremely useful early on. It also can take out a vehicle in one hit.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The Torch item illuminates spaces beyond the user's vision in Fog of War.
    • The Torch staff, usable by only staff wielders, functions like the Torch item except the user can illuminate spaces a distance away.
  • Fortnite has a Flare Gun as a weapon. It deals 60 damage and sets anything flammable on fire, but has a slow reload time so it can't make successive shots. Its most useful function is the ability to mark the location of nearby enemies when fired into air.
  • A flare gun can be purchased from the gun stores in the online version of Grand Theft Auto V. It's extremely difficult to hit other people with it, but a direct hit will set the player or NPC on fire for a few seconds. One of the possible missions for your bunker will have you stealing supplies from a group of cultists and most of them attack by shooting flare guns at you.
  • Half-Life 2.
    • In the vanilla game, Civil Protection officers will shoot flare guns up in the air when they spot Gordon to call in reinforcements. In the beta, the player was meant to get their hands on one (which would light people on fire, naturally), but it was cut before release. In Episode 1, though, one of the many objects the Gravity Gun can turn into Improvised Weapons are standard road flares.
    • This is one of the available weapons in SMOD, an add-on mod.
  • Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades features a few:
    • The Orion Flare Gun can not only fire 12 gauge flares, but also 12 gauge shotgun shells, although doing so with any sort of high-pressure shell (i.e. anything other than flares, "Cannonball" rounds, Dragon's Breath shells, or "Freedomfetti" shells) will destroy the Orion, rendering it useless. Update #17 added a fictitious "HP" steel-framed version of the Orion, capable of handling the high-pressure loads.
    • Update #102 added a Team Fortress 2-styled flare gun called The Signaler, which can fire an assortment of projectiles: a classic incendiary shell, a "Conflagration" Spread Shot shell, a "Sunburn" flashbang shell, and a "Danger Close" shell that drops a mortar shell where the flare lands.
  • In Identity V, the Coordinator begins matches with a single-use flare gun that stuns the Hunter for a short time. Flare guns can also be found by other characters in the chests scattered around the maps.
  • The first Killing Floor has its own version of a flare gun called the "Flare Revolver", a modified Colt 1851 Navy. As with the other handguns in the game it can be dual-wielded, but unlike the rest it is meant for the Firebug Perk, and as such it is modified to launch .36-caliber flares rather than bullets. The Flare Revolver's an interesting weapon as its flares actually act as actual flares and can light up dark areas. It returns in Killing Floor 2 with a slightly new look and is now dubbed the "Spitfire Revolver" now a cross-perk weapon with The Gunslinger Perk.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, there is a combat item called the Flare Gun. When used it "Calls down an 'Arrr Strike'", and a pirate ship fires a cannonball at your enemy. To get the best reward in the Mysterious Island War quest, you need to use it in "The Last Stand" adventure.
  • Loch Ness: You can pack a flare gun before heading out on Loch Ness. You can shoot it at Nessie should she get close.
  • The distress pistol in The Long Dark is a surprisingly strong self-defense weapon. The flare it fires provides considerable light for a short time, and it'll scare away any animals that hear the shot or see the flare – even bears. If you manage to hit something living with it, the flare will stick to your target and deal considerable Damage Over Time from the embedded flare's fire plus regular bleeding, and adding to that, it'll be very easy to track down the animal thanks to the luminosity of the flare and the blood trail on the ground. However, it's not all bright red roses: the distress pistol is a very rare item in sandbox mode (getting one is a plot point in the Wintermute campaign), flare shells are only slightly more common than the gun, it's slow to operatenote , and the projectiles fly slowly and arc as they go, so it's very difficult to pull off long distance shots.
  • In Manhunt 2, the Flare Gun is a Hand Cannon with One-Hit Kill ammunition. It can only be looted from Michael Grant, and there's no ammo supply for it.
  • MechWarrior 4's first game, Vengeance, featured the Flare Launcher for missile slots, allowing players to light up terrain or tag opponents in multiplayer. However, they ended up having to remove the Flare Launcher from all subsequent games in the series as players were using massed Flare Launchers to blast players with dozens of light and particle emitting sources, lagging even the best computers of the time to a standstill and causing the affected players' games to crash.
  • In the ruins of La-Mulana, the Flare Gun is one of the weapons available, which fires a projectile straight upwards. It usually becomes useful for solving puzzles by killing monsters in tricky places, or as another source of ammunition, but is probably not Lemeza's preferred weapon.
  • Overwatch: McCree's Lifeguard skin has his revolver in the appearance of a flare gun, although it still functions like his normal revolver.
  • Strix's pistol from Paladins can shoot flares that reveal enemies to him in the area where they land. The flares can also set enemies on fire, but hitting an enemy consumes the flare and its reveal effect.
  • PlanetSide 2 has several flavors of flareguns available as event weapons which are only sold on New Year's Day and the 4th of July. They do pathetic amounts of damage, travel slowly and have huge amounts of projectile drop as a result, and can only fire one bullet before needing to reload. Their chief use is to spam fireworks. A reskinned flaregun called the "Deep Freeze" available on Christmas, functions pretty much identically except for firing a snowball instead of fireworks.
  • Raptor Valley: The Player Character has a flare gun that they can shoot into the sky. It can reveal dinosaurs hiding in the darkness.
  • Flare guns are equippable items in Rebuild 3. They give a large bonus to Leadership and a small bonus to Defense.
  • The Ship: Murder Party: a Source engine game that features passengers on a cruise ship trying to sneakily off their targets without getting killed themselves, has flare guns as a potential projectile weapon, typically found in glass cases or life vest boxes on the exterior of the ship. As there's no reloading in the game, it only holds one shot and you have to carry multiple guns for multiple shots, but it's very powerful with a one-hit kill (unless, of course, the enemy jumps in a pool).
  • Snake's Revenge: Flares are fired off in the first area to completely light some of the screens. You'll be able to do this yourself once you find the flare gun later on in the game.
  • Spotters in Sniper Elite 4 use flare guns to call down artillery strikes. After killing one, you can loot his gun from his corpse and use it to call in your own strikes, either directed at a single location or spread around an area. Unfortunately, while enemies have unlimited flares, you only get one - make it count.
  • The Flare Gun is the starting weapon of the Salesman class in Survival Crisis Z, and can be obtained by everyone else relatively early on. It's a one hit kill on basic zombies, but it's inaccurate and has a very short range.
  • Team Fortress 2's Pyro can get not just one, but three different flare pistols. Four, if you count the laser firing Manmelter.
    • The first one is the Flare Gun. While hard to aim and easy to dodge, flares will do a small amount of damage to a target and set him on fire, causing afterburn damage (the afterburn adds up to twice the flare's impact damage). The bonus comes if you hit an already-burning opponent with a flare, which causes a Critical Hit for triple damage; being hit by two flares in a row is a guaranteed kill against 4 of the 9 classes. Needless to say, being killed by failing to dodge a flare at long range while on fire can be quite embarrassing.
    • A later unlock is the Detonator: a modified flare gun whose flares cause a small explosion as Secondary Fire (or a smaller one when it hits an object); this explosion can be used by the Pyro to do a mini Rocket Jump about as high as a Scout's double jump. In exchange, it deals increased self-damage and only deals a mini-crit on burning enemies instead of full critical.
    • The Pyromania update introduced the Scorch Shot, a flare gun that's weaker in damage than the normal Flare Gun, but has a significant amount of knockback upon the flare impacting a target, that increases with distance and does Splash Damage when hitting a surface; a good shot can deal damage twice to a target and knock him off a cliff or into a hazard. The mini Rocket Jump is smaller than the Detonator's, though, and like the latter, Scorch Shot flares only deal mini-crits to burning targets.
    • The Manmelter, while not quite a flare gun, functions in much the same way as the other three. However, it requires no ammunition, automatically recharging after a short time, and instead of getting bonuses from hitting burning players like the other flare guns, the Manmelter can extinguish teammates with alt fire, which stores a crit for later use. This gives it good synergy with the Phlogistinator, which sacrifices the airblast and thus the extinguishing ability of other flamethrowers. The "flare" the Manmelter fires is also the fastest of all of Pyro's non-hitscan secondaries.
  • Terraria: Flare guns can be found in underground chests, which fire flares that are obtained from the same chest and sold by the Merchant. Flares emit a small amount of light and stick to surfaces, making them great for exploring caves in the early game. They also pierce through enemies and light them on fire, which doesn't deal very good damage but can add up if you're facing a huge group. Their usefulness tapers off very quickly however, as you'll get better light sources and much better weapons fairly early on.
  • One of the WWII-era weapons in TimeSplitters Future Perfect. It appears in story mode when Cortez uses it to shoot a guard (and accidentally give a signal to start a bombardment of the island he needs to be on). Like most other examples, it's not very accurate but sets enemies on fire.
  • Late in Until Dawn Emily can find a flare gun with one flare in the ranger fire tower. The player is given the option of giving it to Matt. If the player made a completely innocuous decision earlier in the game, he'll waste it by firing it right there, despite having radioed the forest rangers from the tower and being informed the storm has grounded their rescue chopper until dawn. If the player chooses to attempt to save Emily when the tower collapses (she survives regardless of your choice here), Matt will be attacked by a wendigo and need the flare for defense.
  • Urban Dead: Humans can obtain flare guns from certain locations. They do 15 points of damage, but have very low accuracy. As in real life, players can use flare guns to signal their location to humans and zombies alike.
  • A flare gun can be used as an item (and an ability of the human faction's Mortar Team) in Warcraft III, but its only use is to reveal terrain and invisible units within the flare's luminous radius. The flare can hit any location you target, even across the whole map.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Jonny Quest episode "The Sea Haunt": Dr. Quest and Race Bannon use Very pistols against the title monster. The writer apparently thought that because they were "pistols" they could fire multiple times without reloading like a revolver: they're actually single shot.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons Homer, Bart, Ned Flanders and his sons get lost at sea when a Boy Scout trip goes wrong. They see a plane fly by and Flanders produces a flare gun, which Homer snatches and fires...and shoots down the plane by accident. D'oh!
    • Worse, he rationalized it by saying that once people figure out the pilot is gone, they'll send another plane to save him and them. Just as he says this, another plane flies under the falling pilot and catches him mid-flight, leaving Homer and the others. D'oh!

    Real Life 
  • Flares are commonly used as Improvised Weapons by ship crews when they are attacked by pirates.
    • A Danish cargo ship used a flare to to set an enemy pirate boat on fire.
    • Though, accuracy goes out the window, as when firing a flare gun it is advised to close your eyes and look away, as looking directly at a lit flare is akin to staring directly at the sun.
    • Something rarely addressed in fiction is the fact that some modern distress flares are actually a kind of highly specialised 12-gauge shotgun shell. Substitute the flare with ordinary buckshot (shotshells won't fit) and you have a very short Sawed-Off Shotgun, and they're legally classified as firearms in many jurisdictions.
      • Albeit one with no real barrel to speak of, and a chamber made of plastic, making it a (nearly) literal example of a Glass Cannon (and as this video shows, it's not a good idea to try this for yourself). Military surplus flare guns are usually made of steel and robust enough to handle live ammunition (with a rifled adapter to fit it into the bore); separately, neither is a firearm but together, they become a handgun and — in the US — fall under all applicable federal, state and municipal firearm laws. It's still a single-shot pistol with no ejector, so usability is mostly for plinking and wilderness survival. Adapters for conventional 12 gauge flares are also available. note 
      • Many military grenade launchers similarly can also fire flares designed for those weapons. There are flare guns designed to resemble these grenade launchers, including under-barrel attached ones, for those who need their flare guns to be just a bit more Tacti-cool.
      • As 12 gauge flares are shorter than 2 3/4" shells, they will function in a real shotgun, though it must be rated for steel shot (industry standard for the past two decades) and have a fixed Cylinder Bore, otherwise the choke can trap the flare and burn through the barrel. Even Improved Cylinder can potentially cause a flare to hang up.
  • Know the classic Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water?" 'Course you do, but you might not know it's based on a real incident where some idiot with a flare gun did, in fact, burn the venue Deep Purple was performing in to the ground.
  • Many Anti-Air missiles are heat-seekers, as most aircraft keep themselves aloft with high-powered engines which produce a great deal of heat (even helicopters are typically powered by a jet turbine). A common countermeasure used by military aircraft is the Flare Dispenser, which is basically a multi-barreled flare gun which allows the aircraft to fire one or multiple flares to try and draw off the incoming missile while they escape.
  • Certain artillery pieces, such as mortars, often have flares (termed star shells) designed for them. Unlike their smaller cousins, these flares are designed for illumination rather than signalling; each one contains a small parachute to allow the flare to descend slowly while lighting up the area below it. A desolate nighttime battlefield lit by dozens of flares is one of the iconic scenes of World War I.
  • In brief, flare guns are not toys. Don't play with flare guns, kids.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Flare Pistol


Not Good at Flares

The Tobins are not good at flares, especially Ham.

How well does it match the trope?

3.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlareGun

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