XM42 flamethrower
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Flamethrowers. For the vast majority of Americans, these fire-slingers aren’t illegal, or even regulated in any degree. Maybe you’ve got a real need for these, like burning farm debris. Maybe you wanna have fun. Most likely, you’ve decided “I want that stuff over there to be on fire, but I wanna stand over here.” Your reason really isn’t important, these things are just too cool. Let’s take a look at the XM42, one of the least expensive options on the market.

XM42 Flamethrower

But what is a flamethrower?

Flamethrowers are mechanically very simple devices. They have an ignitor, usually a secondary pilot light focused like a blowtorch near the nozzle, so sprayed fuel ignites after it’s left the nozzle. Some flamethrowers use pressurized cannisters of primary fuel (gasoline, or napalm are common, with inert gases like nitrogen or CO2 as propellant), while others like the XM42 use an electric pump to spray the spicy juice past the pilot light.  A one-way check valve is necessary to make sure flame doesn’t travel back up the nozzle and ignite the fuel in the tank. I’m still alive, so I’m assuming it’s working as intended.

XM42 Flamethrower
Pictured: One way check valve working, and me not dying.

I’ve had the XM42 for years now, but lets go back to the beginning. I charged up the battery, installed it and used an allen key to snug the four bolts holding the bottom plate on. The gas tank is gravity fed, so thicker fuels (cough napalm cough) will run in the XM42. A small butane canister (230 gram) of the kind commonly used for small camping stoves powers the pilot light.

XM42 Flamethrower

A little button runs the piezo-electric ignitor, firing up the pilot. A power button engages the battery to the motor, and a thumb button on the grip makes the fire spray. Easy!

XM42 Flamethrower

My first time firing off the XM42 was awesome. A continuous whoosh noise announces the flame, but what really surprised me was how much heat I felt behind the XM42. Whether you go with a continuous spray or pulsing shots, I keep feeling like I’m getting more than 24 seconds per tank. I’ve timed it, and I’m not, but man this is fun.

Besides the obvious recreational use, I’ve also used the XM42 for quick agricultural burns, lighting off large piles of burnable debris that piles up on a homestead. I could start a fire the old fashioned way, or I could pour out some gas and try to light it from a distance.  This is by far safer and more enjoyable.

Pilot light assembly
XM42 Flamethrower
All you need for an afternoon of fun, or work.

Running different fuels will definitely give you different results.  If you want the burn to last a bit longer, mixing in 50% diesel will do the trick. Straight ethanol will give you a cool, blue flame. I haven’t found ethanol for sale nearby sadly.

XM42 Flamethrower

XM42 Tech Specs

  • Capacity: .3 Gallons (the XM42-M is expandable to 3 gallons with a backpack)
  • Fuel: Gas, Diesel, Ethanol
  • Battery:  2200 mAh li-poly rechargeable battery.  Charger included.
  • Weight:  5.5 lbs
  • Throw Distance:  25 feet
  • Burn Time:  24 seconds continuous spray

MSRP: $599

Ratings (out of Five Stars)

Accuracy * * * * *

If it’s under 30 feet away, you can burn it!

Ergonomics * * * 
Clunky to carry, but you aren’t going far. The XM42 is easy to set up and use.

Reliability * * * *
The battery lasts a shockingly long time. Despite regular use, the charger is dusty most of the year. Running straight diesel is underwhelming, mix in some more flammable dino juice.

Overall * * * * *
The XM42 does exactly what it intends to. While it’s not as powerful as more advanced commercial versions, nor WWII military Nazi fryers, the XM42 is a strong entry-level option.

For more reviews and articles from the author click on -Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer or to follow him on Instagram visit @Rexnanorum .


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  1. Can’t imagine anything being much cooler than a flamethrower. Well i guess its not cool but you know what im saying

  2. I’m a firefighter/paramedic. I don’t know how often farmers would use something like this but I’d rather not mess with this. If you’ve ever been badly burned or know someone who has you would probably treat equipment like this with a great deal of respect and caution. You don’t really ever heal from a full thickness burn

    • Preach it, I know of such a fellow with burns like that.

      Come to think of it, TTAG’s own Marsupial One, the Possum, not long back got such burns… 🙁

    • Whenever I do a controlled burn, I always have at least 3, 5 gallon buckets of water, a steel rake and a shovel on hand.

    • The activation switch looks like a button that needs continuous pressure to operate, so that’s at least some consolation. Also that Elon Musk fella sold tons of a similar device and nobody has come after him for that yet.

      But there are better choices for home defense.

      • Musk’s was a pressurized gas system, this one pumps flammable liquids at pressure, a lot nastier…

  3. Personally, I can’t come up with one really good justification for having one.

    For example, one of the pics shows a guy setting a pile of brush on fire – but that is just as easily accomplished by other means so is that justification for getting one of these? Maybe if you were a company that cleared land and had lots of piles to do over time and wanted to save some time and man power, but individually as a land owner how often do people clear land that they would really need this?

    Now in the “Hey, that’s cool” aspect some people might get one, and I guess that’s a justification. But really, some sort of playing around burning up a specific thing like in the video to say ‘hey, that’s cool’ is even going to get old soon.

    Plus, if I wanted to spend $599.00 I can get some gun stuff, or car stuff, or boat stuff, or something else that going to be more useful for a long time.

    • This absolutely falls under the “hey that’s cool” category. Sure I’ve burned some blackberry patches that would have taken me all day otherwise, but I’ve burned a lot more gas having fun than I have during productive work, and I live on a farmstead that needs a lot of upkeep.

      I’ve also spent more than $599 on a gun I didn’t “need”, and car parts that weren’t “necessary”. It’s fun.

      • sure, you can spend money on things that are not necessary but are fun or you just want. Not saying that’s not a justification, because one is free to spend their money on anything they want. I’m looking at it in more of a practical useful aspect to achieve something that one absolutely needs for specific purposes other than ‘I want cause its cool’ or ‘just cause I can’.

        • In the case of practical uses, a flamethrower really adds an element of safety and expediency. It’s a lot safer to be 20 feet away instead of dumping gas on a pile and lighting it using a bubba method (common in my life). You can direct the flames for a more efficient burn, and you can cover areas that would be more challenging if done on foot (like blackberry brambles growing down a bank to a creek.)

          It’s useful, just not enough to be a good deal for absolutely everyone

  4. Wow, a bit of tear gas and this, why I bet you could take out a whole religious compound.
    Wonder how this would work for burning off the brush on some Ridge?
    Or maybe threatening a father with the torching of his child.
    It needs to be bigger and put on the front of a tank.

    • Now now jr the corpulent creep has already outlived it’s lifespan😀🙄 Oh & my wife wants something like this flamethrower…

      • “…my wife wants something like this flamethrower…”

        The Wise man says “Yes, dear!”, and doesn’t anger her… 😉

  5. METHANOL……can be readily found at your nearest racing fuel supplier. It’s wood alcohol (undrinkable) vs ETHANOL (drinkable grain alcohol……otherwise known as moonshine). Still gives you same bluish flame.

  6. Speaking of flamethrowing, Brownells is not charging the normal HAZMAT fee for powder and primers this weekend. Good time to stock up, for those who don’t have a local supplier and don’t have commie restrictions on ordering these things.

    • Strangely unrestricted past sales tax in NY. Possibly because it could trigger some interesting commerce issues.

  7. I don’t have practical use for one, I have no justification to add it to what I own. But I am a free person who can afford it and I want it. It would likely piss off some no good do gooder leftists, so there is something to justify it.

  8. AAAAHHHH FIRE BAD!!! Other than the monster, I’m not real keen on letting any idiot get one and starting a wildfire here out west! That shit’ll get away from you real quick.


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