A nice handheld flamethrower? How handy

Technically Incorrect: Monday sees the launch of the XM42, which claims to be the first ever legally available portable flamethrower.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Surely you can find a use for this. XM42/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Every time I'm sipping wine with tortured tech types, they always explain to me that this is a mobile world.

Some things, though, are still a touch cumbersome. Flamethrowers, for example.

How delightful then that Monday sees the launch of the XM42. This nifty little thing claims to be the "the world's first commercially available handheld flamethrower."

You've always wanted one of those, haven't you? To attack those pesky garden weeds, for example. And to generally feel a little better about yourself.

The Indiegogo launch is accompanied by a stirring YouTube video, in which several Chicago gangsters are immolated alive.

I'm sorry, that's not quite right. The video is very tasteful. It describes the XM42 as "elegant," which is the first word that would come to my mind about a flamethrower -- if it was designed by Stella McCartney.

This flamethrower is, allegedly, "powerful" and "precision crafted." I wondered, though, if it's also legal.

Chris Byars, CEO of Ion Productions, the company behind the XM42, told me: "It is legal where there are no laws or codes written against such a device. Surplus military flamethrowers have been available for many years."

Essentially, then, you have to check you local laws, just in case your neighbors know them better than you do. For example, WTOP reports that in Maryland the XM42 is illegal. The fire code does not allow anyone to have possession of a flamethrower.

The XM42's FAQ confirms this. It says: "There are generally no restrictions on flamethrower ownership in the United States. However, we are currently aware that California and Maryland have legislation regarding flamethrowers."

But what about the unhinged who might buy one of these things? Byers told me: "It is not made to be used as a weapon. Much like how a hammer is not made to be used as a weapon. Punish the offender, not the tool."

Ah, yes. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Especially when they have a gun, it seems.

Byars told me that there's no great technological breakthrough in the XM42. He explained: "It is unique in its internal operation compared to most flamethrowers through history, however, and it is the only one available that does not require an external pressurized fuel tank that needs to be carried around."

His team, he told me, "comes primarily from an engineering and technical design/production background, with its members working at automotive OEM suppliers and a long-time small business dedicated to producing high quality products. We're doing everything we can to make sure that the XM42 is done right."

Getting things done right is never easy. But the Web site describes the XM42 as "easy and fun." I'm amazed Apple hasn't made one yet.

You'll already be wondering whether you can afford one for your kid's next birthday. So let me tell you that it costs a mere $699 for the brushed aluminum version and $799 for a slightly fancier polished aluminum or color-coated look.

You see, it won't even burn a hole in your pocket.