You can have a ton of great cigars in your humidor, but before you enjoy them you have to have a way to get the cap off and set the end on fire. For years now, I’ve carried a cutter and lighter in my left hip pocket, so I’ll always be ready for a smoke when the opportunity arises. The cutter has changed a few times, and the lighter has changed even more often. Whichever cutter and lighter pair I’ve carried, they all add bulk. It’s still two items I have to carry. Add in my car keys, some gum, and a small Leatherman, and pretty soon it takes me 3 minutes just to get something out of my pocket. The folks at Xikar have found a way to reduce some of that bulk you carry, and introduced the Ultra Cutter and Lighter combo.
The Ultra combo is a single-flame butane lighter with two magnetic sides to hold the thin guillotine cutter to it. The cutter was introduced first a couple of years ago. It’s thin enough that it can fit in your wallet. Back in the fall, I was at Mt. Washington Cigar Co. in Baltimore, and saw a customer with the new cutter and lighter combo. The lighter is thicker than the cutter of course, but still pretty thin, and when you attach the cutter to the lighter, you still end up with a piece that is only 5/8″ thick. I’ve been using the combo for about 2 months now, and I’m ready to give my thoughts on it.
Name: Xikar Ultra Gunmetal Cutter/Lighter Combo
Made by: Xikar, Inc.
|Click photos to enlarge|
The cutter is ridiculously thin. A mere 1/8 of an inch. And only 2 1/2″ long. But don’t mistake thin for flimsy. Two layers of gunmetal gray metal are wrapped around the stainless steel blades, and are held together with rivets at the corners in a slightly rounded rectangle shape. Two notches are carved out at the ends to resemble the traditional guillotine cutter handles, but are too narrow to use in that way (more on that in the next section). One of the handles is wrapped in a lighter colored steel, and held in place by three more rivets. The Xikar logo adorns one of the blades. The cutter has a great feel to it. Incredibly sturdy but smooth and stylish as well.
The lighter matches the cutter in style and craftsmanship. It measures in at a half inch thick and 2 1/2″ across, and matches the cutter’s rounded rectangular shape. For such a thin lighter, it has a definite heft to it. Perhaps a bit more than I’d like, but I’ll take sturdy over weak. Like the cutter, two gunmetal gray pieces are held onto the steel center section with 4 rivets. The sides each have a raised oval in the center that gives the cutter a place to get fit when they are attached. Both sides are magnetic, and have the Xikar logo stamped near the bottom. The ignition button is large with grooves on the top. The flame hole is covered, and it is revealed when pulling back on the ignition. A good sized fuel indicator window adorns one of the sides. The bottom of the lighter has the combination fill valve and flame height adjustment dial common to most quality butane lighters.
Separately, the cutter and lighter look very nice. When placed together, they look seamless. The cutter molds nicely to the lighter, and holds firm. The handles in the cutter reveal the Xikar logo stamped on the sides in a very subtle, attractive way.
Since the cutter is short, the handles really aren’t usable. Opening the cutter requires holding one of the handles between your fingertips and pulling it open. It slides open smoothly, but not too loosely. After that, you nestle one end of the cutter into your fingers and the other end against your thumb. Pressing your thumb down clips the cigar in a smooth, clean motion. The blades are incredibly sharp. Quite possibly the sharpest blades I’ve used. The thin blades make for a very clean cut, and I’ve never cut too much off the end of a cigar, and had it unravel. On the other hand, I had one cigar where I didn’t take off quite enough, and needed to go back with the cutter again to get the draw to be even workable. I’m not blaming that on the cutter, but you do need to think about taking off enough when you are cutting a stogie. It can handle a 60 ring gauge cigar with no problem, and is rated for up to a 64 ring.
The lighter is great to use. The grooves on the ignition make it easy to get a good grip, even when wearing gloves or sweating a bit in an overcrowded shop. The ignition button provides just the right resistance. The lid over the jet slides out of the way when you ignite, and hides inside the lighter so you’re not bumping the end of your cigar against a protrusion like some lighters. The flame height is very nice, even when set to the middle setting. I like a long flame, and the Ultra delivers without having to crank up the setting. The flame adjustment requires a small screwdriver or knife to adjust it. I’d prefer a thumb adjustment like on some of the other Xikar lighters, but adding that in a way that would keep the style of the lighter intact would probably be difficult. Alas, it’s easy to use for the type that it is.
When attached to each other, the magnet does a great job of keep the cutter attached. Not once have I reached into my pocket for them, and had to go back into my pocket because the cutter came off. I’m not sure why you’d really want to, but both sides are magnetic, and you could keep two cutters attached if you wanted. When placed together, the weight is a bit heavy, but not obnoxious. It can handle up to about a 52 ring gauge cigar with minimal effort, and up to a 60 with a little bit of focus.
Xikar is well known for their lifetime warranties. If the finish or function aren’t living up to what you want, mail it to the company, and they will fix it or replace it. I haven’t had any issues with the Ultra combo, and I haven’t had to send it back. In the past when I’ve sent cutters off for sharpening or lighters for ignition problems, most of the time I get a replacement rather than a repair. So if for some reason you want the same item back (example: a lot of people like the style of their old Xikar MTX over the new one) be sure to mention that when sending off it off. Return time is usually pretty good. I’ve had most of my repairs sent back in around 2-3 weeks.
This combo is really tough to beat. It has great style and great craftsmanship. The materials are high quality, and have withstood 2 months of heavy use with almost no blemishes. The cutter requires a bit more effort than most guillotines because of its small size, but more than makes up for it with it’s super sharpness and precision. The lighter is the best single flame lighter I’ve ever used. The ignition is just perfect, butane isn’t used up at an obnoxious rate, and it looks great too. I highly recommend the Ultra lighter and cutter combo. At an MSRP of $80, it is well worth the money, and you can find it for less if you look around. If you’re just in the market for a cutter or lighter, the Ultra lighter or cutter can be had for $50 each. At that price though, I say spend the extra $30 and get the combination. There’s more value to the combo than just than either by itself.
Recommendation: Must Buy