Introduced at the 2010 IPCPR trade show, the XIKAR VX V-Cut Cutter was the company’s take on reinventing the cat’s eye cut.
Jerry Dear, former executive vice-president of sales, named it a “reverse v-cut.” On a traditional v-cutter, the triangular shaped blade will have its tip break the cap, from the center of the cigar, and then continue to penetrate the cigar. XIKAR’s cutter uses a v-like blade where the side of the v are the first to touch the cigar, on the outside areas, and the middle is the final part to come in contact with the blade.
The end result is to reduce tearing and prevent the risk of cutting too deeply. Because the cap is left enact, the company also claims a smoother cut and less risk of tobacco shard being left over.
The cutter has featured a hard finish and the ability to cut cigars up to 64 ring gauge, which at the time the cutter was introduced, probably wouldn’t seem inadequate. It is now offered in five of the company’s signature finishes:
- Silver ($54.99)
- Gunmetal ($54.99)
- Black ($54.99)
- Cut Mesh ($64.99)
- Carbon Fiber ($64.99)
For many beginners, the way to cut a cigar is to place the guillotine cutter on a flat surface, place the cigar in the cutter at a 90 degree angle with the flat surface and cut. That sort of works, at least in a world where all of the caps are made the same and the cutter has a relatively thin profile.
But it works better with a v-cutter. As long as you get the cutter and cigar at a 90 degree angle it does not matter if you are cutting pigtails, or even torpedoes, the XIKAR XV delivers a clean cut and a slightly tighter draw, which I like.
In addition to the shaper and reversed blade, the other thing that separates the XV cutter from your standard plastic model is the weight. Not just the metal that’s used to encase the blade, but also the resistance the blade itself has. On most cheap cutters, if you turn it upside down the blade will fall out, not with the XV, at least not until after heavy use. That resistance can produce a steadier and cleaner cut, all reducing tears.
The cutter can accommodate ring gauges as large as 64, and probably bigger, as well as cigars as small as 32 ring gauge, at least in my experience. My colleague Charlie Minato used it a lot when he was on his lancero binge in 2011. When cutting the smaller ring gauges, you might need to lower the cap within the blade, so it’s not a full cut, as otherwise you could risk taking off way too much.
- One interesting feature is that the concave design allows for you to store your cigar on the cutter. This means the next time you are on vacation and there’s not a proper ash tray, your cigar won’t have to sit hanging off a table.
- Like all XIKAR products, it comes with a lifetime warranty. If the product is no longer working to your desired performance, bring it to a local XIKAR retailer and they should swap it out with a new one if it’s in stock. Alternatively, you can send it to the company who usually returns the products in less than two weeks. And yes, dull blades is a perfectly good reason for a return.
- They can be custom engraved if you so desire.
The Not So Good:
- If you like your cigar to draw abnormally loose, v-cuts in general are probably not your best method. In addition to producing a naturally tighter draw, you cannot clip off more in the effective manner that you can with a straight cut. You can recut, or do an x-cut, two v-cuts forming an x, but not like you can with a straight cut.
- It’s a thicker cutter, particularly compared to the company’s traditional straight cutters.
- While they are by no means the most expensive v-cutter on the market, it’s still around ten times the cost of a cheap plastic cutter.
- After heavy use, the cutters can show all signs of wear. The exterior finishes begin to fade, the resistance in the blade becomes loose and the blade itself will eventually dull. XIKAR’s warranty helps.
- While you can cut a belicoso with a v-cutter, it produces a very interesting feel and one that many probably won’t like. As such, if belicosos are part of your regular rotation, this might be excessive.
- If you smoke a lot of cigars over 64 ring gauge, this probably will not be for you. There’s really no chance of successfully cutting a 70 ring gauge cigar.
Recently, XIKAR has stopped distributing the Wolf V-Cutter. It was a plastic version of the XV, that featured a reserve v-cut blade at around $15. For many considering the XV, the Wolf was its strongest competitor. The plastic opening was not as large, so the Wolf could not handle anything beyond a 60 ring gauge cigar and the blade action was not as firm, but it was a great alternative. The Wolf carried a limited warranty, but for the price of one XIKAR, you could purchase three Wolfs, which was probably a better choice in a lot of people’s minds.
Currently, Colibri makes a v-cutter similar to XIKAR’s reverse cut and is priced at $39. The feel of the cutters and the cuts are slightly different and given the price point, it’s likely just a personal preference. Alternative, Prometheus makes its version of a traditional v-cutter priced at $100.
Many places will sell you a cheap plastic v-cutter for $5. Is the XIKAR really worth 11 times it? I say yes. If this becomes your every day cutter, it’s worth the investment, particularly with the life time warranty. But, if you are just trying to try a v-cut or have a penchant for losing cutters, this may not be the best of options.
Although I have used v-cutters before, I always gravitated towards a straight cut for most cigars. For this review, I used the Xikar VX for every cigar I smoked (other than torpedoes) for over a month, and I must say, at the end of that time I am a convert not only of the v-cut in general, but also the XIKAR XV. The ease of use along with the fact that there is never any problems with loose tobacco getting in my mouth and a consistent cut every time means I will continue using XIKAR exclusively for the foreseeable future. If you have not tried it, you really should, as I think you will be very pleased – and perhaps a bit surprised – at the results. Highly recommended.
The cutter for this review was given to halfwheel by a local representative from XIKAR.
(Ed. note: an earlier version of this review identified Jerry Dear as still being with XIKAR. He is no longer with the company and the review has been updated. We apologize for the error and any confusion.)