- The Boring Company started selling flamethrowers in 2018 – and sold out in just days.
- It sold 20,000 of the $500 “Not-A-Flamethrower” machines, which it said would “liven up any party.”
- It’s been featured in a Travis Scott music video and been used to light cigarettes.
Elon Musk’s Boring Company sold 20,000 flamethrowers in just the space of five days back in 2018.
Though it’s been off the market for years, the company’s “Not-A-Flamethrower” has acquired something of a cult status among the tech mogul’s fans and some people have been paying hundreds of dollars to snap them up on eBay.
Musk set up the Boring Company in 2016 to build underground transit tunnels and ease traffic congestion in major cities. Musk teased the idea of selling flamethrowers in December 2017, and people were surprised when his company actually started selling the product as a piece of limited edition merchandise in February 2018 for $500 each.
On its website, the Boring Company described the product as “guaranteed to liven up any party” and the “world’s safest flamethrower.” It added that the flamethrower “may not be used on Boring Company decorative lacquered hay bales or Boring Company dockside munitions warehouses.”
But Musk changed the name shortly afterwards to Not-A-Flamethrower. Shipping and customs regulations restrict the transport of anything termed a flamethrower.
The first thousand were distributed at an event at the Boring Company’s headquarters in Los Angeles in June 2018, where people were also treated to a performance by a mariachi band and got to test out the machines on marshmallows.
As the name suggests, the machine appears to not actually be a proper flamethrower. It appears to be powered by a propane tank and simply propels fire, rather than spraying burning liquid fuel such as diesel or gasoline, as is the case for military flamethrowers. The Not-A-Flamethrower has a range of under 10 feet, Musk said.
“Our design is max fun for least danger,” Musk tweeted at the time. “I’d be way more scared of a steak knife.”
“The Boring Company flamethrower is safer than what you can buy right now off-the-shelf on Amazon to destroy weeds,” a company spokesperson told CNET when sales launched. “Much like a rollercoaster, this is designed to be thrilling without danger.”
Maryland is the only US state with an outright ban on owning a flamethrower. In California, you need to have a permit from the state fire authority to own a flamethrower which can propel its burning stream 10 feet or more. Some cities have set their own restrictions, too.
The Boring Company started selling $30 fire extinguishers, too, which it admitted were “overpriced” but came with “a cool sticker.”
Customers showed off their Not-A-Flamethrowers on Twitter and Instagram, with photos and videos of them using the machines to light cigarettes, toast marshmallows, and melt snow.
Musk has since said that selling the Boring flamethrowers was a “terrible idea” and that people were “wrong” for buying them, but he couldn’t stop them.
A resale market has since sprung up online for the product, with some eBay users listing Not-A-Flamethrowers for under $1,000 and attracting numerous bids. Others are listed for much higher prices, but it’s unclear whether they’re actually selling.
At the time of writing, one listing for a Not-A-Flamethrower was going for $800, with one bid and two days left to go, while another was at $700, with four bids and three days left.
Some eBay users are selling the Boring Company’s fire extinguishers, too.