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Dave's Take: Cigar Product Review Compendium Follow the links below to the various cigar accessories that I have reviewed. Feel free to ask any questions about the products in this thread, or in the original product threads. Xikar VX-2 V-Cut Cutter Xikar Tactical Triple Torch Lighter Xikar XFlame Electronic Cigar Lighter Palio Triple Torch Lighter and Cutter Xikar HP4 Quad Jet Lighter Xikar Turrin Single Torch Lighter Xikar XO Double Guillotine Cutter Xikar Travel Humidor Xikar 19th Hole Gift Set The Cigar Minder Clip Bettinardi Milled Cigar Tray Mantello Catador Torch Lighter Alaska Bear Antique Copper Cigar Cutter Stay tuned for more great cigar products, and if you find something worthy of taking a look at, shoot me a PM. -Dave
Dave's Take: Xikar's XO Double Guillotine Cutter Review http://www.xikar.com/products/cutters/xo/ Ritualistic Cutting As i've said before, part of the cigar smoking experience for me is the ritual. Not just during the smoke, but before as well. It really starts at the cigar shop, where selecting the perfect cigar adds to my anticipation for the smoking to come. The ritual then continues through the unwrapping of the cigar, the cutting of the end, the smelling of the fresh cut end (you should try this), the lighting of the cigar, and then finally the smoking. I suppose I see cigar smoking as a luxury activity with a luxury item, and I want to enjoy as much of the process as possible. A Thousand Ways to Cut a Cohiba That's not really a saying, but it is definitely a point of discussion when it comes to the â€œcorrectâ€� way to cut a cigar. About the only consensus that I have found among cigar smokers is that the cigar wrapper from the mouth end must be removed before smoking. Beyond that, the methods abound. If you are not sure of the possible options, then feel free to watch this video that I came across from Neptune Cigars showing the various cutting methods. How to Cut Cigars : Neptune Cigars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzBQSBUmjN0 Golfers would likely also add the poke with a tee and slice with divot tool methods to the list. Like everything else that we humans do, we likely going to discover that we have a favorite cigar opening method. For me, that's cutting. The Xikar XO Cutter Today, I bring you my take on the Xikar XO Double Guillotine cigar cutter. As soon as I saw the XO cutter, I knew that I had to try one out. As I said, I'm a cutter guy, and the Xikar Xi1 cutter is the welcomed workhorse in my cigar toolbox. At first glance, the Xikar XO seemed to push the already awesome double-bladed cutting of the Xi1 to a whole new level of fun. Yep, I just said fun. That's why I smoke cigars, for fun. Anything that can add to the enjoyment of the process will get a look from me. What could not be fun about a spring-loaded double guillotine cutter? Just typing that sentence was fun. How could using the cutter not be fun too? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-9ofK2901A Specifications: Xikar XO Double Guillotine Cutter Double Guillotine style cutter Aluminum body Stainless steel blades Planetary geared cutting system with five internal gears Spring-loaded blade release button 2.38" diameter 64 RG (cuts the cap of 70RG cigars) Colors: 8 (Gunmetal Honeycomb tested) MSRP: $99.99-$119.99 The XO is a cutting machine, inspired by timeless design principles. The dual stainless steel blades operate on a patent pending planetary gear system, ensuring the blades open and close in perfect harmony, providing a guided and clean cut every time. The distinct, round aluminum body of the XO is built for relentless durability and exceptional performance. Engineered to simplify the standard double guillotine style cut. Using the XO is definitely not like using your teeth. According to the Neptune video, you are never without a cutter because you can always go Eastwood and bite the end off of your gran panetela. Cutting with the Xikar XO cutter lives at the opposite end of the cigar-cutting spectrum. The only thing that you'll be doing with your teeth when you cut with the XO is showing them between your retracted lips when you smile. Those Gears are Planetary Raise your hands if you know what a planetary gear system is? My hand is not up, but thanks to Google, I was able to find out a bit about them. Basically, think about the solar system. You have the sun, and then the planets moving around it. That's a huge oversimplification about how these gear systems work, but you get the idea. There are multiple gears all connected together in system, and the turning of one gear is influenced by, and dependent upon the movement of the other gears. You can get really smart if you follow this link to a YouTube explanation of the planetary gear system. While I can't really hope to understand how the gears in the Xikar XO cutter all work together, I do understand the overall result. The blades always move together, even if you only press from one side. What this means for you is that you should be able to get an even cut with minimal effort. As a brilliant bonus, Xikar included openings in the body of the XO, allowing you to see the gears turn while you use it. Dinner and a show. Sometimes getting an even cut can be a challenge with the cheap, single blade cutters. Think cutting a tomato with a knife. Unless that knife is really sharp, and your pressure just right, the initial tomato penetration could involve squishing rather than cutting. Nobody enjoys squishing the tomato, or the cigar. The gear-driven double blades in the XO will not squish your tomato cigar. Cutting to the Chase Cutting cigars with the Xikar XO cutter is as fun as I expected. Glee generates immediately when you press the button on the top that releases the spring-loaded blades. It reminds me of the first time I popped open a switchblade knife. You hit the button, and the blades extend, ready for business. Probably did this twenty times in a row when I opened up the XO box that first time. After that, maybe only five times each time I used the cutter. Full disclosure: I also had delusions of Batman when using the XO. At some point I may have equated popping open the blades with extending the wings on a spring-loaded Batarang. I'm not in charge of where the brain takes me, and for a second, I WAS BATMAN! As for the cutting, the XO is exactly what I expected from the company that brought me my beloved Xi1. The blades are sharp, and with the gearing, they deliver the honed steel with precision. Time and time again, you can deliver the cigar-opening cut exactly where you want it, with wrapper-shearing precision. Even on a probably too dry to smoke cigar, the cut was clean. I actually cut up that dry cigar from stem to stern with the XO, just to be able to make more cuts with the cutter. Again, it's fun to use. From a practical side, if you smoke big ring cigars, the XO is definitely worth checking out. 64 ring gauges can fit inside, and you can take the cap off of a 70 RG stick. I don't know if I've ever had a 70 RG cigar before. That seems huge, and yet the XO can handle it. For reference, the cigar in the photo above is 54 RG. I feel like the XO could take just about anything you throw at it. This cutter could even help you dice carrots for dinner! Not that I cut a carrot with it. Who would do that? Smaller gauges are also a breeze to cut with the XO because of the synced blades. You can easily bring the blades to the edges of the smaller cigar with just a bit of a press, then once in contact, press more firmly to sever. Since the blades move together, it really takes effort to cut incorrectly. As a size reference, you can see how the overall size profile, and the cutting diameter of the XO compares to the Xi1 above. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the two were as far as space usage in the travel humidor. Both snug into the corner quite nicely. I'd give both the full portability nod, and the fact that they both have spring-loaded blades made the gamer selection very challenging. The XO is XtraOrdinary! I don't think that it's a stretch to say that the Xikar XO double guillotine cutter is the coolest cigar cutter on the market. It is just so interesting to look at, and fun to use. Right now, I'm not currently smoking a cigar at all, yet I keep taking breaks from typing to click the XO open and closed. As for the Xi1 vs XO battle, the XO is in the travel humidor. The XO definitely adds to my cigar while golfing enjoyment, and it always draws interested attention when I pop it open, allowing me to share it's coolness with others. I think that there may also be some golf crosstraining potential in the XO. It's definitely an awesome ball marker, and I think that there may be a way to use it to draw a line on my ball. Regardless, I'm totally geared up to use the XO to cut my next stick.
Dave's Take: Xikar's HP4 Quad Flame Lighter http://www.xikar.com/products/lighters/hp4/ The High Performance supercar-inspired HP4 Lighter was engineered to deliver optimum performance and output. The dominant appearance of the HP4 embodies a newly designed chassis. An in-line fuel adjustment wheel, oversized double EZ-Viewâ„¢ red fuel windows and four angled jets create an apex of precision engineered flames to concentrate heat and efficiently light any cigar with confidence. The manual flip-top lid not only protects the quad jets, but also retracts more than 90 degrees ensuring plenty of room to light small or large ring gauge cigars. Last week, I shared with you my take on the Xikar Turrim Single Jet Lighter. If you didn't get a chance to read that review yet, just click that link in the previous sentence. If that's too much effort, I'll summarize it for you. The Xikar Turrim Single Jet Lighter is my runaway-favorite lighter to take to the golf course. It's ergonomically excellent, lights reliably, fits perfectly in the travel humidor, and has enough butane capacity to light sticks for a scramble worth of golfers. Nothing but aces with the Turrim. Today, I have another Xikar lighter to share with you, the HP4 Quad Flame lighter. Yep, you read that correctly: QUAD FLAME. The HP4 has four butane jets. I've used three-jet lighters before, but never four. My inner pyromaniac says that more fiery jets should be nothing but good, but could that much fire cause unforeseen cigar lighting issues? Features Diamond Quad Jet Flames Outer Jets are angled 8 degrees creating a quad flame apex Flip-top lid retracts over 90 degrees Pull-Down ignition sports Xikar badge styling Metal body with debossed stripes Louvered rear-end accents Oversized, ratcheting fuel adjustment system EZ-Viewâ„¢ Red Fuel Window to easily detect remaining butane levels Five available colors (Black, Gunmetal, Red, Blue, and Orange) MSRP: $119.99 Ergonomics and Functionality Though not as streamlined as the Turrim Single, the HP4 Quad Flame lighter continues a theme of solid ergonomics. The HP4 is a bit stockier and shorter than the Turrim Single, fitting more into the contours of your palm as opposed to across them like the Turrim. The HP4 lighter has a little more heft to it than the Turrim Single, which will be a good or bad thing depending upon your personal preference. For me, I found the weight to be significant, yet comforting. When I first held the lighter, I was a bit surprised by the heft, but the more I used it, the more I realized that I liked the weight, that it felt like I was holding something that means business. These subjective things are hard to explain in words, but maybe think of the difference between holding a paring knife and a cleaver. Both knives cut, but when you hold the cleaver, you know that you are handling something powerful. That's my feeling about the HP4 Quad Flame lighter. Ergonomics is not a trivial metric for lighter use, as the position of the lighter in the hand determines how easy the lighter is to operate. For the HP4, the shape allows you to grip it in such a way that you can easily access the operational parts with your thumb. Flicking the cover open, and sliding the ignition switch are accomplished with ease. One of the features that Xikar promotes about the HP4 is the fact that the cover retracts to beyond 90 degrees, allowing for easy interaction between the cigar and the flame. I couldn't agree more with this assessment. I've got other flip top lighters where the lid stays too close to the jets, reducing access and also causing the lid to get hot, and burnt finger dangerous (yep, that's from personal experience). This lid gets out of the way, yet still covers the jets completely and snugly when retracted. Style-wise, Xikar has again done a solid job merging aesthetics and functionality. The louvers across the back not only add an interesting visual to the lighter, but they also add texture, enhancing the snugness of the lighter in your hand during operation. The available colors are pretty broad in appeal as well. You can choose from conservative black and gunmetal choices, or bolder red, blue, and orange options. Dave's 10 Click Challenge My new measurable metric for lighter performance is Dave's Ten Click Challenge. Basically, I will fill the lighter, and see how many ignitions occur with ten consecutive lighting attempts. I know that I want the torch to light more often than it doesn't, and so this seemed a valuable bit of data. For the HP4 Quad Flame lighter, the score was 10/10. I actually went to 15 straight ignitions without a miss. Quad fire every single time. Golfability I've previously gone on record as saying that the Xikar Turrim Single is the best take-to-the-golf-course cigar lighter, and after a few rounds with the HP4 Quad Flame lighter, the Turrim will retain that title, but it was close. The HP4 is pretty damn amazing, but the main thing that lowers its golfability for me is shape. The Turrim Single has the ideal cylindrical shape, allowing it to fit perfectly into a cigar slot in the travel humidor. The HP4 fits in the humidor, but it is a bit too wide for a single cigar slot, and it thus requires more manipulation to get it to fit with the cigars and a cutter. Shorter cigars will give it room at the top of the humidor, but you are likely dropping a stick from the box to get the cutter in there. Because of this, I'm giving the decision to the Turrim Single. It's kind of disappointing for me actually, because outside of the shape issue, this lighter brings nothing but joy when used. First, I think that it holds about a gallon of butane. Not really, bit there is a lot in there, with the current levels easily viewed by checking the EZ-Viewâ„¢ Red Fuel Windows. Of course, you'd need that capacity with four jets to fuel, but even so, I was not prepared for the longevity of the burn. Once filled, the raging flames just sip the butane reservoir. My expectation of frequent refilling was not met. The lighting of a cigar is also magnificent with the HP4. Having extra jets actually resulted in a feeling of improved heat control during lighting. It does seem counterintuitive, but having the pyramid of fire allowed me to control how much flame contacted the cigar at any given time. You can gently roast the tip from a distance, cultivating a great starting burn. having four jets is definitely not about lighting the cigar as fast as possible. It was cool to discover that the HP4 allows precise lighting, when I expected blunt-object burning. I love the way this lighter lights. Also, feel free not to worry much about wind ever again either. Now you could suggest that the HP4 could go to the course, just not in the travel humidor. I thought of that too, but I'd hate to have it get scratched or disfigured after just dropping it into a bag pocket filled with other junk. It would be like getting a ding on a favorite putter, and I am not down with that risk. The HP4 is going to sit nicely next to my fancy Bettinardi cigar tray; lighting backyard sticks with four-flame delight. Overall: It's Rad, but Burning at Home The HP4 Quad Flame lighter is a phenominal cigar lighter, falling just short in golf portability for me. If you are not as hung up as I am on getting it in the travel humidor, then I'd say bring it to the links. If not, it's a great lighter for all other cigar situations. It's got some heft to it, but it'll still fit in your pocket. The HP4 Quad Flame lighter would also make a great tabletop lighter. It has a great wide base, allowing it to easily stand when placed on the table. Take it with you, or leave it in your cigar area. The HP4 has you covered. Retail on the HP4 is a not-insignificant $119.99. That's no small investment for a torch, but remember that this one too is backed by Xikar's lifetime warranty. You are not investing in a cheap lighter, and should there be an issue with it, Xikar will take care of you. This lighter will also make an excellent significant-event gift. One of my foursome turns fifty next month, and a HP4 Quad may very well be the gift of choice to mark the event. Next week, we will check out the mechanical wonder that is the Xikar XO dual-guillotine cutter. Stay tuned.