There doesn’t seem to be much talk about a holy grail of accessories, but when the discussion does arise, one suggestion that always seems to come up is the perfect all-in-one device. Borrowing from the Swiss Army knife model, I’ve often heard requests for the all-in-one lighter and cutter unit, with some even requesting a bottle opener and draw poker thrown in for good measure.
While the last two have yet to take hold, the combo lighter/cutter idea is certainly nothing new, though most of those devices come with punch cutters and not guillotines, mainly due to the difference in size between the two styles of cutter. Yet with the seeming majority of cigar smokers preferring the straight cut of a guillotine cutter, there would certainly appear to be a desire to have that style of cutter integrated into a powerful lighter, and in recent years, the industry has begun responding, and one manufacturer in particular has been stepping to the forefront to fulfill this request: Colibri.
If it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that you were reading about a Colibri triple jet lighter with a built-in cutter, you’d be correct. In June 2015, I reviewed the Colibri Astoria, which was released at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, and when it was released it was hailed as the world’s first triple-jet flame lighter with fold-out cigar cutter. It was and is a pretty decent device; its single blade folding out from the bottom of the unit and offering a decent cut, but one that still felt sort of compromised when compared to what a separate cutter had to offer.
The Colibri Boss II ($150) builds on the design of the Colibri Boss. The original model was introduced over a decade ago, our own Charlie Minato has been using one on and off since 2009. It was a single flame lighter with a curved body and a fold out guillotine cutter in the back.
For the Boss II, Colibri seems to have merged much of the original Boss with the Astoria lighter from a few years ago and the brand’s current design language. The Boss II is billed as the world’s first triple-jet flame lighter that includes a double-guillotine cigar cutter. While the Astoria had one moving blade and one fixed, the Boss offers two, bringing a familiar feeling to the cutting motion.
To achieve this, Colibri had to change the axis upon which the cutter folds out, moving it from the bottom of the device to the side. The resulting change allows the handles of both blades to slide out easily, and while you have to acknowledge that the cutter is still attached to the lighter, the cutting motion will feel immediately familiar. The only complaint I could even think of registering is that the finger holes may be a bit smaller than what you’d find on a standalone cutter, simply to accommodate having to fit into place on a lighter that still qualified for the portable category.
In the hand, the Colibri Boss does qualify for the portable category, achieving a good balance of bulk and function. It weighs in at 4.1 ounces while measuring just under 3 1/2 inches long, just under 1 1/2 inches in width and three quarters of an inch in thickness. As I have found in some other Colibri lighters, there is a certain hollowness to the feel of this particular lighter, meaning that it almost feels just a bit light for its size. Much like in the watch world there is a heft expected with a level of quality, I almost want the Colibri Boss to weigh just a bit more, to feel a bit more solid and substantial.
As far as usage, it’s a familiar routine: flip the hinged lid and then pull down on the slider to begin the flow of fuel and spark the ignition to get the flames firing. It’s a very easy and relatively foolproof process, and in my several weeks of usage, as long as there was an adequate amount of fuel in the tank, there was no problem getting the Boss lit. Colibri claims that the lighter will work at elevations up to 9,000 feet (2,743 meters), so you’re in luck should you find yourself at that elevation with a cigar and this lighter.
Speaking of fuel, like many other Colibri lighters, the Boss features the company’s signature blue fuel level window that is positioned just underneath the ignition slide on the front of the lighter. To fill the lighter, simply invert the lighter to reveal the fuel tank’s valve, which sits separately from the flame adjustment wheel. To adjust the height of the flames you will likely need some sort of tool, though your finger or thumbnail will work in most circumstances. It’s an easy adjustment; turn left for more flame and turn right for less. All the way to either side is of no use in my experience; the sweet spot tends to be about a 90 degree turn from the absolute minimum. On the unit I tested, a complete turn to the right left the slot pointed nearly straight up and down; turning it horizontal resulted in a nearly ideal flame height for my liking. Cranking the flame height requires a 180 degree rotation back to nearly straight up and down and results in a flame that is much too long for my preference, but is surprisingly focused and stable for being fully open.
The fuel capacity on the Colibri Boss is respectable but not a standout. A full tank will easily get you through a couple of cigars, though lend this to a couple of friends to light their cigars and you will likely want to have some extra butane on hand. For whatever reason, I tend to find that the fuel level goes down fairly rapidly when looking at it through the blue-hued window, though that could just be my own perception.
One thing that consistently impressed me about the Colibri Boss was its ability to stay relatively cool to the touch while lighting a cigar. In almost two months of usage, I can’t recall a single time when I found the lighter getting so hot that it became unusable. In fact, it was only when running the lighter for more than a minute straight to test fuel consumption that I found it getting to a point of being slightly uncomfortable, and that was only when I let my index finger slide up under the lid and near the jets. Avoiding that, my fingers never felt even the slightest bit warm from this powerful lighter, something that can’t go overlooked given the incredible heat that these small devices can put out. I’ve seen some very promising lighters rendered almost unusable due to their inability to dissipate heat, so whenever a lighter can do it well, it warrants praise.
As for the cutter, it’s a double guillotine with 440 stainless steel blades which can cut through pretty much any cigar you challenge it with, but the body of the cutter leaves bit to be desired. The handles and frame are a lightweight plastic and remind me more of the lighters you get for free or a couple bucks at the register rather than what would be attached to a lighter with a $150 price tag. It’s an interesting duality between this works pretty well and it’s attached to my lighter and this feels like it would be a $3 cutter were it not attached to this lighter. One way this gets manifested is that after a few weeks of use the cutter didn’t slide quite as easily as it had when brand new, with one side seeming to gum up more than the other, even after some compressed air was used to clean out the tracks and the blades were wiped clean. It didn’t render the cutter useless, but again, it does make it a bit incongruent with what one would expect from a $150 accessory.
Editor’s Note: This is something I can attest to on my original Colibri Boss. Having a small screw driver and opening up the cutter portion completely easily can fix this, as well as the issue of the blades wobbling over time. — CM.
That said, for someone wanting a lighter/cutter combo with a double guillotine style cutter, it’s hard to think the Colibri Boss wouldn’t address nearly every want on their list. While the cutter may leave some lacking a bit, the lighter certainly shouldn’t, and the combination of the two offers a utility that has yet to be seen in a device offering a straight cut for your cigar. While it might not separate me from my beloved cigar scissors and torch combo, it is certainly an accessory that won’t end up in the back of the drawer, getting a fair amount of use when I might not want to bring both scissors and lighter.
The Colibri Boss is currently available in four colors: metallic black, metallic silver & black, red & black and blue & black. Each color has an MSRP of $150 and is available via Colibri’s website or premium cigar retailers throughout the country. Each lighter comes with a two-year warranty.
The lighter for this review was sent to halfwheel by Colibri.