U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- We've all been in a situation where a flamethrower could have been handy, right? Maybe someone needs a huge brush pile roasted, but it's pouring rain. Perhaps your guitar riffing friend is putting on a concert, but the lack of pyrotechnics really shows how little he's been practicing. Or maybe you just want to celebrate freedom and the American way by slinging flammable dino juice out to “first down” territory. Let's not get bogged down in the why of a flamethrower, rather we should dive into the how of a flamethrower. Introducing the XM42 Lite Flamethrower.
Flamethrowers are in essence, pretty simple machines. They're similar to the fuel system in a car really. A fuel tank, fuel pump, pilot light, power source and go button make up the 5.5 lb package (sans fuel). The XM42 Lite is really just a (massively flammable) squirt gun for (safety conscious) adults.
Let's break down the construction just a little more. The pilot light is fueled by a < 230-gram butane canister, commonly used for camping cookstoves. The pilot is sparked by a piezo-electric igniter, which similarly shares a common lineage with camp gear and propane barbecue grills.
The XM42 Lite has a .3 gallon fuel tank, good for around 25 seconds of burn time unless a smaller diameter nozzle is used. The larger XM42-M (modular) has a bigger tank, expandable from .4 gallons to a 3-gallon backpack. Acceptable fuel types (or mixes thereof) are unleaded gas, diesel, and ethanol. The XM42 Lite with it's top-mounted, gravity-fed tank can also utilize jellied fuels for increased throw distance and better burn on target. For wet agricultural piles, indeed. The whole package is run by a 2200 mAh rechargeable battery, of lithium polymer construct.
Setup is easy. Once you've opened the box and unloaded the contents, you're looking at the flamethrower and the battery charger… that's it. My friendly local salesman tossed in a butane canister as well, one of those small extras that turn a gun shop into a favorite gun shop. Use an allen key to remove the 4 allen head bolts on the bottom of the housing and pull out the battery. Plug it into the charger and a couple of hours later it'll be all juiced up. Return it back to the housing from whence it came, plug it in and tighten those 4 bolts back up. Screw the butane canister into the pilot light assembly, fill the fuel tank and you're ready to go.
Open the gas valve for the pilot light and spark the piezoelectric igniter. You now have an expensive blowtorch. Press the power button (left side of the receiver) and once the light is on, you're cleared hot!
I prepared myself for the XM42-Lite. By that I mean I told myself to lower expectations, based in part on this being the least expensive commercially available flamethrower, and partly on a couple of videos, I watched where this was tested in bright desert daylight. There wasn't anything wrong with that video review per se, but the visual effect is lost in translation when filmed in such an environment as that. I was expecting a squirt of flaming gas, fun yet not massively so. I was not ready.
The whoosh of the first fireball caught me off guard. It wasn't supposed to be that big! Likewise, the flames shot out a good bit farther than I'd anticipated. I didn't measure with a tape, but pacing off the distance showed closer to 30 feet than the estimated 25 feet. I felt the blast of radiant heat, which I had figured on. It was more potent than estimated, but it was only when everyone standing behind me started backing further up that I realized really how potent it was.
The XM42-Lite has an estimated “cyclic” burn time of around 24 seconds for a full tank. 24 seconds behind a flamethrower is a lot like 24 seconds behind a machine gun. You experience time dilation during the blissful joyride, then the abrupt stop back into reality when it's over. It does not feel like less than a minute's worth of fun. Check out this quick vid:
Anything worth having is worth tinkering with, right? Given that the XM42 Lite takes three different fuels, it can be expected to perform differently with various mixtures. Above I'm showing straight 87 octane unleaded gasoline, but as the dry season ends and the fall rains commence I'll be testing diesel and ethanol mixtures, and possibly jellying mix for those stubborn, wet burn piles.
While few may find themselves with a practical problem to which only a flamethrower is a solution, that shouldn't stop the rest of us from checking these fantastic devices out! The XM42 Lite is far more fun than I expected. I don't remember the last time I got this much enjoyment out of a sub-$500 gun, nor one that runs only $2/minute on its maximum rate of expenditure. The XM42 Lite is an absolute blast. Now I'm wondering how the XM42-modular runs…
Author's note: If you buy one of these, please take extra safety precautions. Bring a fire extinguisher. While we're all good folk here with the best of intentions, it's only going to take one major incident before these things are featured on the nightly news with the usual anti's calling for a ban.
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”