AUSTIN, Texas — It's a product that promises to work in windy and wet conditions and claims to be practically indestructible.
The Tactical Lighter from Bell + Howell doesn't use any lighter fluid; instead it has a USB-powered battery inside. That battery provides an electrical charge to create a small plasma arc.
After charging for two hours, take off the protective cover, flip up the safety switch and press the button to light it up.
On the windy KVUE loading dock, we try to light a candle, paper and wood on fire. The space between the plasma arc tips is too small to even allow a cigarette between them. And it takes a little while to actually get anything to burn. Using an actual lighter would be easier.
We drop the Tactical Lighter in water and let it soak for a while to see if it will still work, and it does. After running it over with a car, the power button is squashed in, but the lighter will still work.
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Even though this withstood water and being run over, it doesn't seem to hold a charge for long and the tiny plasma arc can make lighting things time-consuming.
Tactical Lighter gets a thumb in the middle.
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