Everything You Need To Know About Flamethrowers

If you asked me to name 10 new products that I thought GunMagWarehouse would carry, flamethrowers wouldn’t even make the list. Imagine my surprise when they popped up in the catalog. I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s a great idea with the rising popularity of the recreational flamethrower. Get in on the market while it’s hot! (I do intend my puns.) With that in mind, there has to be some confusion about flamethrowers.

Today we decided to decipher the world of the flamethrower for you. We wanted to do a deep dive and hopefully answer any burning questions you might have. If we don’t catch them all, remember the comment section is open below. 

What is a flamethrower?

Elon Musk introduced a little confusion about what a flamethrower is, but it really wasn’t his fault. In some odd fundraising effort, he sold something that he described as not a flamethrower. He was right, and he was selling what’s essentially a torch. However, most people didn’t know the difference between a torch and a flamethrower. 

A torch uses pressurized gas, like butane. A flamethrower utilizes ignited gasoline (or other liquid fuels) to propel a burning flame forward. It sprays burning fuel, whereas a torch just propels fire. Historically, flamethrowers have been used in warfare, but the modern military flamethrower has been used for clearing brush rather than trenches. 

woman operating a flamethrower
Flamethrowers are a ton of fun.

The official definition of a flamethrower is a ranged incendiary device designed to project a controllable jet of fire. Your modern civilian-owned flamethrower is often small and quite portable. They are much lighter than the 43-pound M2 flamethrower from World War 2. 

Most are self-contained units that can be handled with a hand or two. There are some much larger backpack-mounted systems that most certainly exist, but most are handheld and fairly compact. 

Are flamethrowers legal? 

In the United States? Yes. Federally, there is no regulation preventing you and me from owning a flamethrower. Of course, we are fifty states, and different states have different laws. California requires a permit because, of course, they do. Maryland has outright banned flamethrowers. Other than that, you can own a recreational or professional flamethrower. 

Most modern flamethrowers designed for civilian consumption, like the Exothermic Pulsefire, are compact with a fairly limited range. However, you can purchase a military flamethrower as well. There is a whole group of collectors who own military flamethrowers from various military forces. There are even businesses dedicated to repairing and training people on how to use these old military flamethrowers. 

Pulsefire flame thrower
Who doesn’t want a flamethrower?

Flamethrowers are largely unregulated, and there aren’t historically any problems. If one was used illegally, it would be considered a weapon for sure. With that said, the BATF does not define flamethrowers as weapons or firearms. The National Park Service has stated that using or displaying a flamethrower in a national park is not allowed. 

Do they have to ship to an FFL? 

Nope! Again, the BATF doesn’t define them as weapons or firearms, and they cannot regulate them. That’s a fairly odd statement from the ATF because the ATF loves to overregulate. There is no FFL needed to transfer a flamethrower. You can just purchase it, from GunMag Warehouse, of course, and have it shipped directly to your door. 

What can they be used for? 

According to ThrowFlame, a company that produces these tools, about 75% of the models they sell are used for agricultural purposes. Flamethrowers are very powerful tools for controlled burns. Prescribed fire, when used intelligently, is a powerful tool for ensuring forest health. Even grass fields that are burned off often come back faster and healthier. Controlled burns can be used to remove brush and fuels, which can reduce or prevent wildfires. 

Igniting a controlled burn isn’t always easy and burning fuel helps. Plus, it creates a standoff distance which increases safety for the burners. I’ve also heard they are used to melt ice and snow, but I’m in Florida, so I can’t relate. 

flamethrowers have changed
Marines with a flamethrower taking out a Japanese pill box that was thought to have been cleared, but wasn’t. (Photo courtesy of IMFDB)

It’s a tool for sure, and while most investors likely use it as a tool, there is so much room for fun. There are most certainly users who invest in these devices just because they are fun. Have you ever ignited a campfire with a flamethrower? If not, you are totally missing out. It’s an absolute blast. These micro, recreational flamethrowers can just be a fun distraction and a new experience. 

Are flamethrowers dangerous? 

A flamethrower by itself hurts no one. It’s only when we involve the stupidity of people do problems arise. When used properly and responsibly, they are plenty safe, but when used irresponsibly, they can create a dangerous situation.  

They are throwing a liquid jet of flame. Idiots need not apply to own one. If you can’t safely make a fire, then you should not play with a flamethrower. You are downright silly if you think that is not a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. Just because it’s dangerous doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means you need to be smart. The embracement of dangerous activities ensures you are a free woman or man. 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, they had had no reports of flamethrower injuries. Even so, they did publish a few common sense guidelines I’ll repost here. 

Can you really attach one to a rifle?

This is America, right? Hell yeah, you can attach a flamethrower to a rifle. Much to the chagrin of USA Today and their potential accessories list, you can attach a flamethrower to your rifle. The Exothermic Pulsefire brand makes a very specific model that can mount onto the handguard and rail of an AR-15. 

flamethrower on fake ar15
Who doesn’t want to put a flamethrower on their AR?

Why would you need to do such a thing? Because of the potential alien invasion via the bugs. Eventually, they’ll leave Klendathu, and we’ll deal with them on Earth. They’ll quickly learn that behind every blade of grass sits an American with an AR-15 and flamethrower to deal with them. 

Flame On 

The modern flamethrower offered to the average civilian is a hand-portable tool with a burn range of around twenty-five feet for roughly 30 or so seconds. These flamethrowers often use common fuels like gasoline and diesel to create a long-lasting, sticky, burning fuel source. That’s what the average model looks like, but obviously, there are exceptions. 

They are legal almost everywhere, and while dangerous, when used properly, they can be completely safe. While the majority of their use seems to be as tools, there is certainly room for some recreational flamethrowing. Hopefully, we’ve answered all your potential questions, and if you have more, drop them below. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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