Leuchtpistole M/1894

Leuchtpistole M/1894

The use of purpose built handguns to fire light- and signaling pyrotechnics didn’t really catch on until the Russian-Japanese war in 1904-05, and it became a standard “tool of the trade” during the Great War. In the early days the use of the flare gun was limited to shooting flares to illuminate the battlefield at nighttime. The guards in the trenches could fire a single flare to light up the terrain in front of him to see if imminent danger was present. The advantages of this was that the light was emitted on the spot the guard needed it, exactly when he needed it. The disadvantage was that the firer’s position would be revealed, and that the light emitted would be short-lived, normally around 7 seconds. In adition to white flares being used to illuminate the battlefield, it was soon used as a tactical tool. A variety of different combinations of colored lights, number of stars, colored smoke, and sound was manufactured. The flare gun was also used as a practical tool to conduct land survey, to make weather forecasts and as distress-signals on land, water or in the air.

The standard flare gun used by the Central powers during the Great War is today called “Hebel” or “Model Hebel”. This designation does not relate to any manufacturer, but is the German word for the lever in front of the trigger guard that was used to release the lock between the barrel and the frame. The official name of the flare gun was “Leuchtpistole Model 1894”, and it was designed by the “Ingenieurkomitee des Heerespionier-Corps”, as the use of flare guns was initially linked to trenches and fortifications that sorted under the engineering corps. Flare gun M/1894 was manufactured in large numbers by many manufacturers. Until now, 28 different makers have been identified in 4 countries.

The specifications on this model are weight 4.0 lbs (1.8 kg) using a flare calibre equivalent of 1.04 inches (26.5 mm) and an overall length of 13 inches (33.02 cm).

Associated place
Associated event
Associated name(s)
1914 – 1919 (WW 1)
Location of artifact
Case 13/14 WWI


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30 July 2023 9:15 pm

The photo shows a German WW1 Hebel flare pistol 🙂

1 August 2023 3:53 pm

Great write-up!