There is no shortage of options when it comes to addressing your top want or need from a lighter, whether it be the number of style of flame, the color, or even its durability. Case in point, the Tactical line from XIKAR.
The original XIKAR Tactical ($99.99) debuted in March 2019, a linear triple flame lighter that borrowed from the company’s Trezo model and angled the two outside flames in by 8 degrees in order to create a more powerful flame that also offered precision for touch-ups. But beyond that was the durability aspect of the lighter, specifically a textured metal body. It also came with something not generally seen on a cigar lighter: a pocket clip that would allow the lighter to be fairly well secured to a pocket, waistband or other place.
Nearly three months later, the company would expand the Tactical collection to include a high-powered single flame version, the aptly named XIKAR Tactical 1 ($69.99). This version comes in a cylindrical shape with a single 10mm jet element, which the company said is bigger than the average single flame jet and, according to the company, results in a flame between 25-50 percent wider, offering more firepower but without a huge loss of accuracy.
It would also get a crenelated cap that would serve as a cigar rest for when you’re smoking somewhere without a typical ashtray in which to rest your cigar. Additionally, the lighter would get a much bigger fuel window—two, actually six of them, in fact—as well as retaining the removable pocket clip and making the entire base of the lighter the fuel adjustment knob.
The XIKAR Tactical 1 began shipping to retailers in mid-December, and is offered in four colors: black lacquer, gunmetal, gunmetal/black, and this option, FDE tan/black. FDE stands for flat dark earth, a term used to describe a tan color but that isn’t an official color in the sense of having a defined shade. It’s often found on military equipment and firearms.
WHAT IS IT?
At its most basic, the XIKAR Tactical 1 is a single flame lighter, but it is sold on two main features: its durable all-metal body and that it packs more firepower than your typical single flame. As noted above, the jet element measures 10mm, which to my eye delivers a noticeably bigger flame than some of its competitors. This means it lights cigars faster, particularly cigars with thicker ring gauges. However, it can still handle precise touch-ups with ease and grace, something that can’t always be said for triple torch lighters. Tack on a pocket clip and you’ve got a distinctive lighter geared towards those who are likely to put it through its share of adventures.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
While the lighter is named for its durability, the most notable technical aspect is the 10mm diameter jet torch, which increases size and power of the flame while only minimally—if at all—compromising the accuracy of a traditional single flame torch.
- The Larger Single Flame — If you’ve shied away from single flame lighters because it feels like it is underpowered or it takes to long to light a thicker cigar, the Tactical 1 should dash away those thoughts pretty quickly. Especially when combined with XIKAR’s High Performance Butane, this single flame can hold its own with lighters offering multiple flames.
- The Texture — There are tons of ridges and other textures that help give the lighter a steady grip when using it.
- The Sound — If S.T.Dupont lighters are known for their egalitarian ping when opening the lid, the XIKAR Tactical 1 emits a satisfying workman’s snap of solid construction.
- The Flame Adjuster — About as easy as you can make it to adjust the flame height on a lighter.
- The Clip — If you have the need to secure your lighter somewhere, this is one of the few models that offers such a feature. Additionally, it can come off simply by unscrewing a pair of small screws, should you not like or need it.
- The Air Vents — Eight fairly large fuel vents make sure there is plenty of airflow to start and maintain a solid flame. Easily one of the best I’ve seen.
- The Ignition — Pretty much flawless. As long as you have fuel in the tank, this will light without fail.
- The Heat Resistance — It takes a long time for your fingers to notice any heat being passed through the body. In fact, I can’t say I noticed any until I shot the accompanying video and was leaving the lighter burning for much longer than I would need to light a cigar so that I could compare it to other single flames on the market.
- The Lifetime Warranty — There have been complaints about XIKAR’s warranty in recent years, but the company seems to have gotten better by streamlining the company’s processes. It’s still one of the few out there.
- The Clip — This is a personal dislike of mine as I can’t really see a time where I would want to clip my lighter onto my pants, belt or other item, so it’s an add-on to the design that distracts from the otherwise cylindrical, almost mechanic-like aesthetic of the body. Thankfully, it’s easily removable.
- The Fuel Windows — There aren’t a lot of things I don’t like about the XIKAR Tactical 1, and I don’t want to make too much of a deal about this, but in a way this feels like a bit of a disappointment. XIKAR had jumped on the tinted fuel window wagon a while back and it was a small but notable improvement. With the Tactical 1, it’s back to a clear window, and while there are six of them—three triangles on two sides—I’m not in love with it. The top triangle doesn’t show much, and it seems I’d get different fuel readings depending on how recently I’d inverted or otherwise shaken the lighter. It’s a cool idea, but in this case, I’m all for simple and straightforward.
- The Size and Weight — I’m hesitant to put this as a negative, but the lighter is just a tick bigger and heavier than some of its competitors, which could make it more noticeable in a pocket. It also takes up a bit more space in a travel humidor.
- No Built-In Punch — Again, not an issue for me since I don’t use a punch cutter. But I do know some people who absolutely require that on any lighter, so this won’t be an option.
If you’re just talking about single flame lighters, there is literally no shortage of competitors to the XIKAR Tactical 1, with options available in every design, color, and price you could probably imagine. However, when looking at single jet torches that offer a bigger flame, the list gets drastically shorter. Here are a few that stand out:
- JetLine Bugle ($49.99) — JetLine has a couple of options that feature the larger single flame torch, including the wallet-friendly Jetmaster ($12.99) but with its curved lid that doubles as a cigar rest, the original Bugle is the company’s closest competitor to the Tactical 1. With a visible fuel tank and oversized flame adjustment wheel, it offers some of the same key features as the Tactical 1.
- Vector Maxtech ($35) — Featuring a larger single flame torch than standard models, the company says this produces the power of a dual flame torch. It features a flip top lid and shares a similar body design as the XIKAR Tactical 1.
- Colibri Daytona ($59) — This remains one of my favorite single flame lighters because of the large side squeeze ignition and huge fuel window, and one that I like to consider when comparing other lighters in that $50-75 price range. While it doesn’t offer the same size jet torch, and certainly has different selling points than the Tactical 1, it is one with abundant grip and tactile surfaces, as well as for its more than capable flame.
- Vertigo Javelin ($24.99) —If you like the design of the XIKAR Tactical 1 but want a stripped down version, the Javelin is worth a look. It has an all-metal housing, built-in punch cutter, plus a good sized fuel window and flame adjuster, and the flame is respectable if not billed as being bigger than average.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Absolutely. As you should be able to tell from the long list of pros, there is a lot I like about the XIKAR Tactical 1. If you’ve ever wanted more oomph from your single flame but didn’t want to give up the accuracy, this is a solid option. If you’ve shied away from single flames because they didn’t offer enough flame, this will change your perception. If you want a lighter that is big on durability, this certainly deserves your consideration. In fact, it would take some work for me to tell you why you shouldn’t buy or at least consider this lighter, even though it’s priced in the higher end of the mid-level range, and certainly more than a number of very good single flame options. Even though I’ll be moving onto another lighter to review, I have a feeling the Tactical 1 won’t be too far away from my collection of go-to lighters.
The lighter primarily used for this review was purchased by halfwheel. XIKAR also provided one as well, with experiences from both included in the review. Site sponsors Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carry the XIKAR Tactical 1.