It seems that not all that long ago, flat flame cigar lighters were seen as a bit of a novelty way of lighting your cigar. Instead of the well-established pointed flame of a jet torch lighter, these lighters offered a wide flame that was a bit softer, spreading the flame out so it will cover more area but without needing to add more flames. But in thinking about the lighter being reviewed here, it dawned on me that not only are they no longer a novelty, we are on to the second and third generations of these unique designs from several cigar accessory companies.
This means a few things: more options in the marketplace, new body designs as well as new flame designs, and some pretty impressive decreases in pricing. There was a time when the cost of entry into the flat flame segment was around $100; now it is closer to $20. Between those two marks, there have been a handful of new releases that give customers options in several categories, and with those new options come less need to compromise on which features you want when making your decision.
Case in point, in 2018, Vector-KGM released the Spade, a compact flat flame lighter priced at $39.95. Three years later, the company released the Defiance, which added a punch cutter and fuel window, modified the ignition mechanism from a side squeeze to a pull-down, and tweaked the body design a bit, giving consumers two choices about how to possibly spend about $40 on a lighter.
WHAT IS IT?
The Vector Defiance is a pocket-friendly flat flame—or pyramid flame, in the company’s terms—lighter that offers a built-in punch cutter and visible fuel window. Additionally, the company says it will work at elevations up to 12,000 feet. It measures approximately 2.6 x 1.375 x 0.375 inches, and weighs about 2.6 ounces.
It is offered in six colors: black crackle matte, gunmetal satin, black matte, red lacquer, chrome black two-tone, and this option, copper gold and black.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Each lighter comes with Vector-KGM’s “No Proof Warranty,” meaning that you don’t need to provide proof of purchase in order to receive warranty service. All that needs to be paid is the shipping fee.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Vector Defiance is a single-action lighter, meaning that all you need to do is place your thumb—or another finger of choice—on the ignition slide on the side of the lighter and pull it down. The butane will start flowing and the ignition will spark, giving you a flat flame lighter. When you’re done lighting your cigar, release your finger from the bottom and the ignition slide back up and the butane will stop flowing, extinguishing the flame.
As for the punch cutter, simply fold it out and you’ll be able to get a clean punch cut. When you’ve done that, fold it back towards the body and a small stem will eject the cut piece of tobacco from the cutter.
- It’s a Well-Functioning Lighter — In terms of lighting a cigar, the Vector Defiance is more than up to the task. As with most flat-flame lighters, this is fairly versatile when it comes to handling ring gauges of all sizes. The only note I’d add here is to give the ignition a slow pull to ensure that there is enough butane reaching the jet before the ignition’s spark. Misfires are pretty rare, but if you want to be extra certain, this is a pretty easy way to mitigate the occasional one.
- The Weight and Hand Feel Are Great — The Vector Defiance is no lightweight in the hand. If you like to have a lighter that has some weight to it, this one will deliver.
- It Has A Fuel Window! — At TPE Expo 2022, a cigar accessory company executive made sure to point out the fuel windows on the company’s new products, a nod to my often mentioned preference for the feature.
- The Built-In Punch Cutter Works Well — I’m not a fan of the punch cut, but I tried it out a few times and this one works well. The cut is clean and straightforward, and the peg in the body of the lighter ejects the remnant tobacco easily.
- The Design Leaves Something to be Desired — This will largely be a matter of personal preference, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the design. The two sets of four stripes just doesn’t do much for me. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it wouldn’t be the first design I’d select.
- The Flame Adjuster Requires a Tool — Since I’ve harped on fuel windows long enough, I now want companies to abandon any flame adjuster that requires a tool to adjust. Between the larger design and the flip-out tab, there are better ways to do this. Thankfully once you find a flame height that works, you won’t likely need to adjust it.
- The Fuel Tank is Still on the Small End — I was debating whether the fuel tank’s size should be a pro or con, and I think it depends on what it’s being compared to. On the bigger landscape of lighters, there’s definitely a trade-off in fuel tank size in order to get this fairly compact body style. But against other flat flames and ultra-compact lighters, it feels a bit bigger. The refills didn’t feel needed quite as often as with other lighters I’ve used, though I still don’t think I’d pick this lighter if I needed to get through an evening out with friends where it might be the only lighter.
A year or so ago, the competition for flat flames would have involved a number of higher-priced lighters, such as the Porsche Design Heber, the S.T.Dupont Slim 7 and XIKAR Verano. Now, there are a number of options under $50 in this growing segment to consider.
- Vector Spade ($39.95) — Sometimes the closest competitor to a new product comes from the company making the new product, and that seems to somewhat be the case here. The Spade, which came out in 2018, offers a flat flame but without the punch cutter or fuel window, which means it’s a bit closer to another favorite flat flame, the Vertigo Zephyr. It’s a bit thinner than the Defiance and has a body design I like a bit better. Had the company not announced several new colors for the Spade in September 2021, I would have thought the lighter would be pushed out of the portfolio, but it seems that Vector-KGM will keep it around and give consumers a choice between the two.
- Vertigo Zephyr ($19.99) — If you don’t need or want a punch cutter and/or fuel window, this is my pick for the most budget-friendly flat flame lighter on the market. It’s pocket-friendly and very portable, though that comes at the expense of having a large fuel tank, but in terms of being a solid, reliable lighter, the Zephyr definitely checks that box. I also like the clean, straightforward design of the Zephyr.
- Thunderbird FT Flat Flame Insert ($20) — If you have a Zippo body that you really like and you don’t need a punch cutter, the Thunderbird FT Flat Flame Insert—which is also from Vector—is certainly an option to consider. The fuel tank isn’t huge but it is translucent, and you can swap it out with a number of flame options and configurations.
- Z-Plus Wide ($14.99) — I haven’t had a chance to use this lighter yet, but it is The Lotus Group’s brand of inserts for your Zippo. I’ve used the single and dual flame options and found them very easy and reliable to use, so would expect the same from this fairly new flat flame option.
- Lotus Chroma ($39.95) — If you’re looking at the $40 price point as your primary deciding factor than the flat flame design, you have several options to pick from, if not dozens depending how wide a net you cast. But for a slender lighter with a punch cutter and a visible fuel window, as well as an angled dual-flame, larger flame adjuster and a comparable body size, this is an option I’d consider.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes. It is a well-built, flat flame lighter that offers some upgrades over its predecessors, namely a punch cutter and fuel window, and does so for under $50. An impressive lighter and one that makes for a richer landscape in the growing flat flame lighter segment.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.