It’s pretty rare to use the term game changing when it comes to cigar accessories, but those are exactly the words that Derrick Hinnendael used to describe the two new lighters that Bugatti released at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the Vulcan and Mirage.
Both are dual flame torch lighters, with the Mirage being a more pocket-friendly design using a flip-top lid, while the Vulcan is much longer, doesn’t have a lid, and offers a flame that can be angled a bit. But what makes them unique are two features, one with the fuel tank and the other with the burner.
Instead of using a large canister of butane to refill an internal tank, a small tank of fuel gets inserted into the base of the lighter, and then swapped out for a new one when empty. As for the replaceable burner component, while the two models require different designs, but both allow the user to replace the part that is commonly the source of problems: clogged jets and faulty ignitions.
WHAT IS IT?
The Bugatti Vulcan ($99.99) is a dual flame torch lighter that features an adjustable neck design, and is available in six color choices: gun metal with black, green or red accents, or chrome with, blue, purple or yellow accents. It measures just under 5 1/4 inches long, 1 1/4 inches wide and just over an inch thick, and weighs a hefty 5.8 ounces (166g) due in large part to its solid metal case. It also offers a flame adjustment lever on the side opposite of the push-button ignition, and comes with a two-year warranty.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Both the Bugatti Vulcan and Mirage were released with the note that the swappable burner piece would allow customers to replace one of the more commonly serviced parts of a lighter without having to send it in for repair and thus be without the lighter for a few weeks. These pieces are not seemingly not on sale, so I would have to assume that they are covered by the warranty, though have not received final confirmation on that, nor have I been through the warranty process. As for the fuel cylinder, it’s a different approach to an issue that all butane-fueled lighters face: having to be refilled. Hinnendael said that a fresh cylinder would last 30 days, though that is highly dependent on how frequently the lighter is used. In my case, that a pretty big overstatement, as I went through a cylinder in about two weeks, and more than two in the month or so that I’ve been using the Vulcan on a daily basis.
- The Flame — It’s both powerful and accurate, packing enough punch to quickly torch any cigar but rarely resulting in any scorched sides. The two torches produce flames that meet at a single point, making this a handy tool for precise touch-ups.
- It’s Sturdy — If you like a heftier lighter, the Bugatti Vulcan should satisfy. It’s a beefy, substantial lighter in the hand but that remains easy to use.
- It Won’t Slip — It also offers plenty of tactile sensation with its many ridges, making it feel very secure in the hand.
- An Easy to Adjust Lighter — The adjustable head of the Vulcan is a small but appreciated feature, making it possible to point the flame in the direction you find most helpful. Similarly, the flame adjustment level requires no tools to use.
- Large Fuel Capacity — When you have a fresh butane tank, you’ve likely got the most butane of anyone in the room, save for the guy using the Alec Bradley Mega Burner, except he can’t share that butane like you can.
- An Interesting Possibility — This isn’t an available option now, but the possibility could seemingly exist that you could swap the dual torch insert for a single or triple, which would really add to the versatility of this lighter.
- The Butane is Expensive — The cost of butane for the Bugatti Vulcan—and Mirage, for that matter—is appreciably more than the typical lighter. A 12-pack of 18 mL cans has an MSRP of $36, though is often found a few bucks cheaper, about $32.50. Regardless, for 216 mL—a 12 pack of 18 mL cans—it works out to 16.6 cents per mL at full MSRP. Meanwhile, a 400 mL can of XIKAR’s High Performance butane has an MSRP of $9.99, about 2.5 cents per mL. That’s a pretty significant premium to pay to have fuel for this lighter.
- The Butane is Also Annoying — You have to use Bugatti’s butane cylinders for this lighter, so you will need to make sure you have a fresh can in, or have a backup available. Once that cylinder gets empty, there is no other way to fill up the Vulcan, rendering it useless. Bugatti’s distribution isn’t that of XIKAR, so there’s also a chance that your local shop might not carry it.
- No Fuel Window — There is also no way to tell how much fuel remains in the cylinder, setting up a constant guessing game.
- Waste — Similar to K-cups for coffee makers, all those butane cans could add up to a lot of waste.
- The Flame is Powerful, Maybe Too Powerful — With a reasonably full fuel can in the cylinder, even at its lowest flame setting, the Vulcan puts out enough flame that you need to be six inches away from the foot of the cigar to avoid scorching it. The lowest setting on this lighter feels like fully open on most pocket lighters, which leads me to wonder how fast it is going through fuel. The fuel flow improves as the fuel tank depletes a bit, but those first lights are definitely overkill.
- Not Good Around Kids — There is no safety mechanism whatsoever, something that will be of varying concerns based on your situation. If you have kids around, I could see this being a concern. For me, I noticed it when I needed to put it in my backpack and wondered if something might be able to depress the ignition and fire it up unintentionally.
- It’s Big — While it’s fine for table top use, it is a bit big for portability. It will chew up a spot in your travel humidor and would definitely be noticeable in a pocket.
The Bugatti Vulcan occupies a unique spot that makes it a bit more challenging to find direct competition, as it depends on which aspect matters most, the double flame, the physical shape, or the hardest to compare, the swappable fuel tank system and user-replaceable burner.
- JetLine R-200 ($49.99) — Released in January 2019, this long, slender lighter offers dual jet torch flames if that is the priority. It also features a push-up ignition and a fuel window, though lacks the adjustable head. A single flame version, the R-100, was added over the summer.
- Vector EPEAK ($35) — One of the first lighters that came to mind is this one, mainly due to its shape, though there are a number of differences. It’s a single flame and doesn’t offer the adjustable head, let alone the fuel cylinder and burner aspects.
- XIKAR 5×64 Turrim ($84.99) — A 2015 release, this dual-flame lighter offers a cylindrical shape and all the standard features of a premium lighter, but not the replaceable burner or cylindrical fuel tank option. It does come with a lifetime warranty, however.
- JetLine Pocket Torch Dual Flame ($12.99) — This particular model and numerous ones just like it are the standby of many a cigar smoker, and they offer much of what the Vulcan does—a big fuel tank and dual flame torch—for a fraction of the price, plus it resolves my issue with refilling the lighter and a fuel window. It’s also available in single and triple flame models, and there are some manufacturers that even offer them with angled heads.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
No. As much as I want to like the Bugatti Vulcan, I just couldn’t come to a place where it really made sense, at least not given how everything stands at the moment. The premium on butane, the lack of a fuel window or other way to see how much fuel remains, and some sporadic issues with the ignition all led me to a point where I’d keep my credit card in my pocket. The size is a matter of personal preference, but I don’t see it delivering any additional benefit; rather it is simply needed to accommodate the fuel canister, an aspect I’m not crazy about. The Bugatti Vulcan is certainly innovative, and I commend those involved with its development as possibly a subsequent version will bring all the best aspects together. But for now, it’s a pass for me.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.