Friday Flame Out: Reviewing the XM42 Flamethrower

by Tommy Grant
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.

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 FlamethrowerXM42 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 FlamethrowerXM42 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.

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 FlamethrowerXM42 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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