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No one’s ever accused Zippo of making flimsy, insubstantial products — quite the opposite. They make heavy, mechanical, downright bad-ass devices which also happen to be bloody practical. Since the flame burns without holding down a button, you can set these on your workbench and use both hands to maneuver your work in the fire, so everyone from mafiosos to mechanics uses them. But Armor Zippos add something worthwhile to a product lineup worryingly populated with gothic crosses and opal inlays.

Armor cases are about 50% thicker than normal Zippos, so the lovely comic-book sound effects drop an octave, and the lighters become even tougher. Probably unnecessary, since I have a perfectly functional, flawless-looking Zippo engraved with “H. Dodson” from my grandfather; that one spent most of its life in the silky pocket of a bomber jacket. For shop use, the Armor case is a sensible idea.

Armor prices range from $22 to (this isn’t a typo) $269 from Zippo themselves. Fortunately, none of the simple models list for more than $29, so there’s a good selection in the lower end of the price range. Amazon has one model (brushed chrome) for just over $14 before shipping, and many others as well. If you go to your local smoker’s store, become visibly smitten with one, and gripe about the price a bit, they’ll probably cut you a deal.

(Thanks to Flickr user liber for this great CC-licensed photo).

Armor Zippos [Zippo]
Armor Zippos Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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20 Responses to Zippo Armor

  1. Toolhearty says:

    The weak point, for me anyway, has always been the hinges rather than the case metal. The hinges get wonky after a mere decade or so of daily use. I hope they beefed those up, too.

  2. Blatz says:

    Those lousy hinges. Bingo. Same here. My problem with the hinges has been that they wear at the corners, ultimately letting the hinge pin slip out. And the hinges aren’t formed from the case; they’re a separate piece of metal. So a beefed-up case is a waste of time; the cases never wear out anyhow. They’ll come apart like wet paper if you twist the cap, too. Beef up the hinges and we’re getting somewhere.

    Once you’ve got that out of the way, the next thing to go is the spring under the cam/toggle/sear/doohickey that holds the lid open or closed. But that failure mode is a very distant second.

    Even with the weak hinges, the Zippo is an indispensible classic. I quit smoking a year ago and still can’t live without it. The current hinge pin is a segment of… looks like a G, probably from a set of D’Addario .011s. It’s worthy of thereifixedit.com. But it’s outlast the original by ten years, easy.

  3. Blatz says:

    Clarification: The hinge will come apart if you twist the cap.

    And yeah, that’s a wicked cool picture.

  4. Eeyore says:

    Don’t leave that Zippo burning on the bench for too long, though. First, the metal case will get really hot as it conducts the heat of the flame very well. Eventually, the case will heat the fuel inside until it begins to boil and spurt out the top, where it catches fire.

    I love Zippos as much as anyone, but for a steady flame on the bench, get yourself a small alcohol lamp.

  5. russ says:

    You can send your zippo back to the manufacturer and have it repaired for free. See the instructions at the link below. You must remove the inside for 2 to 3 days before shipping. There is no charge for the repair except for shipping. By the time your bic runs out you will probably have the Zippo back. I have heard they come back looking a helluva lot better than what it did when you sent it to them. You can even call them and talk to a REAL person or go to their facility in Bradford, PA and watch them repair it in person.

    http://www.zippo.com/repairs/index.aspx

  6. Lex Dodson says:

    Russ, you raise a good point about Zippo’s excellent warranties, but as Eeyore points out, Zippo can’t replace your burnt-off eyebrows.

  7. Toolhearty says:

    Regarding Zippo’s service… I read somewhere that, because many Zippo’s are of great personal and/or sentimental value, they’ll actually take great pains to repair yours rather than just replace it with a new, similar model. They’ll even address specific concerns if expressed in an note accompanying the returned lighter.

    How many companies do THAT anymore?

  8. Toolhearty says:

    Blatz Says:
    I quit smoking a year ago and still can’t live without it.

    I still smoke, but if I ever quit, I’m quite sure I’ll still be filling my Zippo once a week and carrying with me always.

  9. russ says:

    LEX: A zippo lighter was not made to be a bunsen burner but to light one. Metal conducts heat – welcome to thermo conductivity.

    As to burned out eyebrows you have a better chance with a cheap butane lighter of burning yours or someone elses eyebrows than you do with a Zippo. I am sure some of us have seen the instant flame change from low to high in a split second on those cheap butanes.

    Again, go to the Zippo website. It even states you can direct any concerns or problems you have with your lighter like TOOLHEARTY mentioned. A friend of mine sent his in over a year ago because he hadn’t used it in over a decade because he quit smoking. They put in a new wick, flint, and polished it up. He didn’t even recognize it. One more thing, don’t forget to give them your email address so they can get back to your questions if needed when they have your lighter.

  10. NickC says:

    Original image is here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/liberato/2526007720/sizes/l/
    it has a 4408×2863 high res image. (My new desktop background)
    That Liber guy has some really cool photos (including some really hot women).
    His Macro set has 12 or so more zippo photos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/liberato/sets/72057594106664925/

  11. NickC says:

    I have no idea why TM spaced out my second to last line in that last message.

  12. Adam says:

    My father sent a Zippo lighter in to the company once, around 2000-2001. It was a commemorative zippo given out at the decomissioning ceremony of a WWII battleship. I don’t remember exactly what damage it had that caused him to send it in, but it came back looking better then new.

    What really made me laugh was, there was a card with a string attached to it. On the other end of the string was a penny. On the card it read- “This is the penny that you will never spend to have a Zippo lighter repaired”

    Awesome. Just awesome.

  13. Shopmonger says:

    I use these all the time as a Bunsen burner. Never had a problem, they are great for shrink wrap. Yes metal conducts heat, all tool mongers know that from one form or another. but these are fantastic, and actually conduct a lot less heat that what could be because of the the general construction..

    ShopMonger

  14. Kieran says:

    I have a brushed brush armour cased Zippo ( http://www.zippo.com/Products/Classics_09/168-000001.aspx?RowStart=&ZippoProductNumber=168-000001&section=Classics_09 ) which I got for around £24 ($38). Comparing it with my ’97 brushed chrome Zippo the case thickness difference is easily noticeable and it flexes a whole lot less. I don’t regularly sit on my Zippo but now I know that if I do I won’t crush it. I’ll also echo the earlier commenters and say that the hinge is still as delicate as always. Trying out a few tricks I dropped my Zippo while it was open and badly bent the hinge, I managed to bend it back which took a little while and it now functions properly although there is now a slightly bigger gap. Luckily Zippo offer a free lifetime warranty so if anything more serious happens I can send the lighter back and the hinger will also get straightened out.

  15. Jim K. says:

    Maybe I’m just lucky, or maybe I’m too delicate with my gear but I’ve got a zippo from 1942 that I picked up at an estate sale some years back for the princely sum of $1 and never had a day of trouble with it. Don’t know the history prior to my acquiring, but it’s been a daily carry for 10 years now. Oh, and no I don’t smoke anymore, but guess I got used to having it around.

  16. DCLXVI says:

    if you don’t do the pointless dumb looking tricks, in most cases that hinge will outlive the owner..

    I can’t believe people press down the lid real hard then slip off to the side so it pops open from the pressure and then complain the hinge isn’t strong enough.. I think that hinge holds up quit long for that kind of abuse..

    And what about “Trying out a few tricks I dropped my Zippo while it was open and badly bent the hinge”?? Sounds the same to me as “I backed up my car with the door open and the door hit another car. Now it won’t close anymore..”.

  17. Jon says:

    G Shock lighters!
    Even thought I’ve killed about a dozen of them.(watches n lighters)
    But, that’s how I know what their true limits are.
    (you can never trust what they say..)

  18. Antonio says:

    The Zippo is a cool and dependable lighter with a warranty that simply can’t be beat. My one and only complaint is how weak the hinges are. Zippo should know that whether or not the lighter is meant for it, people are going to try and do tricks and wear out the hinges by doing so. If Zippo could make the hinges about 3 times stronger than they are now, then there would be no need to spend so much time at the factory repairing the Zippos.

  19. ArtsyFartsy says:

    I’m a luthier (guitar builder). Never once thought about using a guitar string for a broken hinge pin on a zippo. I’ve had 3 sent in to be fixed, which were quickly lost by me afterwards, but their warranty is outta sight. That fix was staring me in the face all this time. Nice thing about guitar strings, even if you don’t play, you can go buy one for about a buck, and you only need about an inch of it. Plus the metal alloy they are made of is made for bending, so they have some give. That’s just a brilliant idea. I thought painting one Eddie Van Halen style in engine paint was smart. You topped me.

    But the one I’m babying now is armored brass with an almost steampunk patina, and I was afraid to send it in for loose hinges. Now I don’t have to. Brilliant.

  20. Eric says:

    A cut down posterboard push pin worked great for an 01 brass model a friend gave me . Slightly larger diameter than the one that kept falling out. Cut it slightly smaller than hinge span and ever so slightly crimp the outer sides. May sound goofy but it works.

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