The U.S. military decided flamethrowers were not a good idea, but civilians feel otherwise and have bought 20,000 of them from one of Elon Musk’s firms.
Musk’s The Boring Company began selling its “Not a Flamethrower” device for $500 with a cap of 20,000 earlier this year. In a matter of days, the devices sold out, bringing in $10 million for The Boring Company.
Cue plenty of people searching the internet trying to find spare flamethrowers. No doubt some headed over to eBay where one Musk flamethrower was reportedly posted with a $25,000 pricetag.
But Musk is the new kid on the flamethrower block. The Boring Company may have sold out of flamethrowers, but there are other vendors out there touting the devices for heavy-duty work such as clearing vegetation. The military has been using flame throwers since World War II and still uses them for non-combat purposes.
In fact, the truck-mounted, powerful, flame shooting beast they use is available to civilians too.
Who Can Buy Them?
Flamethrowers are not regulated like other weapons such as guns.
To purchase the Musk flamethrowers there were no age qualifications. There were no background checks to identify potential risks such as a history of criminal activity.
So How Will 20,000 Civilians Use The Musk Flamethrowers?
Fun seems to be the primary purpose. Musk marketed them as big boys’ toys. The Boring Company’s device is set to deliver this Spring. They will no doubt be the star attraction at BBQs in every state this summer. However, the flamethrower has its critics. Citing safety concerns, particularly in areas at risk of wildfire, one California lawmaker has already voiced his opposition to the technology.
Flamethrowers are used for practical purposes. On farms and ranches, for example, folks use them to clear fields by burning unwanted brush. Fire departments also use them for controlled burns to help prevent forest fires or to stop fires from spreading.
In some scenarios like clearing a field, drip torches may be far more effective and cheaper – but arguably far less fun.
Here are some of the important things to know about flamethrowers.
How Does The Military Use Flamethrowers?
The U.S. Military voluntarily stopped using flamethrowers for combat purposes in 1978.
Flamethrowers were, and remain, controversial military weapons – the wounds they inflict are horrific.
Flamethrower weapons were used for combat purposes in the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam for purposes like destroying bunkers and vehicles. The fear of being burned alive made them a potent psychological weapon too, capable of instilling terror in enemy combatants.
The M1 and the enhanced M1A1 flamethrower weapons were used back in World War II.
These days, some flamethrowers can shoot fire more than twice as far and incinerate targets in just seconds.
Modern flamethrowers can be vehicle mounted or carried like a backpack. And instead of combat, the military uses flamethrowers these days for crucial force protection and other tasks.
Military’s Ground Torch System
Gelfire Systems Terra Torch is a monster flamethrower. The Army uses it and has dubbed it the “Ground Torch System.”
The Ground Torch System is truck-mounted flame throwing system designed to deliver a controlled burn. In addition to pickup trucks, it can be mounted on things like trailers, boats and more.
Flaming gel shoots out of the Ground Torch System and blankets the area with flames.
At a designated target, the GFS Terra Torch shoots ignited gelled fuel as far as 75 feet.
Similar to its practical uses on the homeland, it can be used to remove potentially obstructive vegetation along key and alternate supply routes and even canals.
But it can be very handy to reduce security risks for American forces too.
Flamethrowers Help Keep Soldiers Safe
The military uses flamethrowers to destroy concealed dangerous improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by enemy combatants – making travel much safer. Hidden trip wires are another threat that the flames can be used to eliminate.
Clearing brush around forward operating bases so that enemy combatants can’t use vegetation to conceal themselves and approach to attack is another key use. If flamethrowers incinerate the vegetation, then enemy snipers also can’t use it to hide.
The same concept applies to convoy routes. By clearing the vegetation, it removes places where enemy combatants can hide and launch an ambush.
The Army uses them to reduce the threat from wildfires as well. In Alaska, for example, the Army uses flamethrowers to help protect communities from wildfires that could ignite from the use of military weapon ranges and training areas.
ThrowFlame is another player in the flamethrower market. Their X15 can shoot flames about 50 feet and retails from $1,599.
How does it work? In simplest terms, there is a backpack with a tank of fuel. According to the company, it can hold about 3 gallons of fuel. The backpack has a hose connected to it. The user wields the hose to shoot and direct fire.
One option is to use a napalm mix and it can yield “wow factor” results. Yes, this is the same napalm that looks cool in video games, but in real life is a horrid weapon of war with cruel, gruesome impact – so be very careful with it if you go that route.
Keep It Fun by Using Your Noggin
Hoisting a tank filled with fuel on your back, strapping in and igniting fire is not exactly danger free for you or anyone around you. In fact, the military provides thorough training before soldiers wield their flamethrowers.
Factors like atmospheric conditions, fuel and fuel mixtures are just a few things that professionals know can impact how the flamethrower operates.
No one ever sets out to light themselves on fire, but it does happen even to professionals. And burns are a horrible injuries. They can be tough to treat and can leave you scarred for life.
Whether you are planning to use a heavy-duty flamethrower to clear brush or astound your friends with the Boring Company’s offering, call your local fire department for advice and they can help you keep it safe – therefore keeping it fun. They can recommend simple steps you can take to prevent burns – like wearing thick wool socks up to your knees and fire resistant clothes.
So if you are determined to use a flamethrower, it can be a blast. Just keep it fun by doing it in a smart, cautious way.