In 1942, Zippo released an advertisement that said, “The world over, wherever there are fighting men, the demand for Zippos is terrific. The genuine demand for Zippos by G.I. Joes is the one reason why there are no civilian sales at this time.” Jump ahead forty plus years later and I can recall my excitement on getting this essential piece of gear during my principal days at the School of Infantry and hitting the PX; I bought my first ZIPPO Windproof Lighter and carried it through many combat excursions, gave them as engraved gifts to other warriors and still carry one today.
The ZIPPO is not for smokers, Harley riders, or military personnel; it is a needed piece of gear for survivalist, backpackers, or expeditions. It is the tool that has stood the test of time to create life-giving fire, illumination, and warmth during times when hope is needed. ZIPPO has also been in many controversial photos, from the news journalists in Vietnam to arson investigators in the United States. The ZIPPO like many other tools; I will not mention the “black rifle,” has both a saint or sinner complex, and it is the intent of the individual what to do with it.
ZIPPO has been made since the 1930s in Pennsylvania. The metal at that time was made of Brass and grade-one steel, but as WWII approach and the government needed all metals for the war effort, the ZIPPO was made with lesser quality steel that degraded the metals, and thus was born the legendary “Black Crackle.” The iconic design was simply made with a heavy black pain and baked on to the surface; most likely the predecessor to our cerakote today. These are extremely rare, but reproductions can sometimes still be found. With all the Armed Services carrying the ZIPPO into war, it became an icon of America. After WWII, the ZIPPO returned to the commercial market and in the 1960s was the ZIPPO Moment where concert-goers raised up the lighter and was still done in the 1980s. It has been in over 2,000 Hollywood movies, album covers, tattoos, and various other pop-icon locations. It is still backed by a lifetime warranty. For the millennium generation and video gamers, Far Cry 5 has a bunch of hidden Vietnam Vintage ZIPPO lighters hidden in the game, when you have a product that reaches a status in video games, you should be lucky enough to own one for yourself and own a piece of Americana.
For those serving in the military, the ZIPPO is one of those pieces of gear that should have been part of your 782 issued pieces of equipment and with the modernization of inserts, you can still use the old-fashioned fluid or go straight to butane. My most harried experience with my ZIPPO was in the 1990s during the battle of Khafji. As we cleared the city, it was the job of the Assaultman (0351s) to explode “in place” all the unexploded DPICMs (or Dual Purpose Improvised Conventional Munitions) also known as bomblets. These bomblets were about the size of a D-Cell batter and were used for anti-personnel. The only way to explode this ordnance correctly and ensure its non-effectiveness was through the improvised approach of using a small slice of a C4 brick, a blasting cap, a time fuse and a match. Why a match? Well due to the sensitivity of these, you could not risk the chance of using a pull-type starter and having it roll the sub-munition and explode while you were watching it and swearing to yourself. So you needed to splice the time fuse, insert a wooden match and light the match. The lighting had to be timed correctly with any others within the area; there were so many in one area that was unexploded, and the only way to ensure everyone made it to cover, and consistent lighting was trusting everyone was using a windproof ZIPPO. After detonating over 100 of these in the city using this technique repeatedly, I trust my life with the ZIPPO. It has never failed to light and gave everyone enough time to obtain cover, not one 0351 was injured during this technique.
For the adventurists and survivalist, consider if you are using the fuel method to get yourself the ZIPPO aluminum fuel canister. The canister is reusable and personal-sized that holds enough fuel to fill one Zippo windproof lighter or a 6-hour fill on a Zippo Hand Warmer. It includes swivel snap fastener, split ring for keys, disk to tighten and loosen flint screw, and rubber storage sleeve for one extra flint. Additionally, check out their paracord pouch that is made from 5mm twenty-six feet of four hundred fifty pounds break strength cord. That is a great package for your go bag, camping box, or in a vehicle emergency kit.