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During my internet wanderings yesterday, I stumbled across what I felt was an interesting video. Along with a bit of comedy, the clip tries to answer the question “Can a flare gun be used effectively for self defense?” I have to say that I was surprised at the outcome. Surprised because some friends of ours tried a similar experiment of their own which we were present for, and if I recall correctly, their results were no where near as dramatic!

Coincidentally, just prior to heading to Trinidad, I gave our flare gun to our friends to hold on to because, to my knowledge, they are not permitted here. I can’t say that I am positive what would happen if you bring one into the country and declare it but my assumption is that it would be confiscated, at least until you clear out to leave Trinidadian waters. Frost actually came with one of the 26mm flare guns that you see in the video and as it’s so nice, I was not interested in giving it up for fear of not getting it back.

Not a flare gun!

Note: You may have heard the saying “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” Well, in spite of what you may gather from that video, I wouldn’t bring a flare gun to one either!


  1. I don’t know anything about this device personally but it might be helpful and it sort of looks like a flashlight so it might look inconspicuous in a catch all drawer.

  2. It seemed to work for Nicole Kidman in “Dead Calm”. Well, along with administering drugs and a speargun…

  3. 1. If the perp is armed and sees you point a flare gun at him, he is going to unload on you first with real bullets.
    2. If you fire on him when he is on deck and the flare bounces off him, then you have a burning flare on your deck.
    Hard to imagine using a flare gun for self defense unless you buy a conversion kit and load it with buckshot. Better not let the authorities find the ammo on board.

  4. We have two plastic Orion flare guns. Both times we checked in at Chaguaramas, we declared and surrendered these guns (requiring a second visit to Customs). When checking out, the Customs Officer produced our guns and we took them back to our boat. When passing through Venezuelan waters (with a vigilant watch for pirates), we have always had both of these guns up and ready in our cockpit. My hope is that they can be a deterrent and dissuade someone from boarding the boat while on the high seas. Yes, I realize that when holding one, and aiming it at a perp – it may be viewed as a pistol. But, we have a very deep, centre cockpit and also plan to withdraw into the safety of the cabin next. We are not EXPOSED like the “entertainment central” cockpit of a typical catamaran. If a pirate did manage to board, and did think I was holding a pistol, is he then brave enough to try and crash through a locked cockpit door (while we’re on the radio out of view)? I don’t think so. At the end of the day, its your choice and it depends greatly on the circumstances.

    • I forgot to mention …… I think that the age and storage condition of the flares will impact on the results you obtain. Older ammunition will probably have less “punch”. Also, if the flare have been stored in a waterproof container, keeping them dry – this is different than in a bag where they are subject to daily humidity changes. I regularly cycle out my “out of date flares” replacing them with new ones – and I store all my pyrotechnics in a very good plastic waterproof container.

      What I’m looking for is flash, and bang – and not necessarily accuracy or impact strength. If used for defence

    • Thanks for confirming that they would be confiscated. I had assumed that but not verified it.

  5. At a range close enough to actually hit anything with a flare gun, bear spray would be incapacitating. I’d be surprised if any country would prohibit the possession of bear spray.

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