After trying a number of demo boats this summer, including a Current Designs Solstice, Necky Looksha, Wilderness Systems Tempest, a P&H Capella, some Eddylines, an Explorer and a number of other kayaks, I got a great deal on a closeout Artisan Millenium this summer, and I have taken it out a quite a few times. I think that it is the best boat for me out of all of the kayaks that I have tried.
I was looking for a lightweight kayak that would be comfortable for me (I'm 6'2" 174lbs with size 12 shoes) that was fast, handled well, with plenty of storage space.
The Artisan Millenium is a very efficient boat and it doesn't seem to have the "wall" that many boats have near hull speed. It seems faster than anything else I have paddled. (I haven't tried a QCC yet, but the waterline and beam is similar to the QCC 700, though the Artisan has a bit more rocker I think). If you paddle harder it will go faster, and it is definitely fun to do that. There are definitely faster paddlers than me, but I was able to travel 9.5 miles on a lake in about an hour and 40 minutes, with a few minutes rest mixed in there without too much effort.
I have noticed that the pushrod that the artisan has instead of a cable connected the skeg allows one to choose exactly how much skeg to drop. It really helps to balance out wave and wind forces on the boat. It's literally possible to make precision adjustments to the skeg with changing wind & wave conditions if you feel like it, but it tracks straight without the skeg as well, with only a slight wave cocking in quartering waves. The Artisan seems to be very wind neutral.
The boat also handles 1'-2' waves and chop well, slicing through it like butter, and I can't wait to try it out in rougher water.
The Artisan's primary stability is good, but the secondary stability is excellent and it responds well to leaned turns, which is good considering its 18'3" length.
The fit and finish is very good. There aren't many Artisans in Minnesota and I've been complemented on its nice lines. My only complaint is the rather plain knob on the skeg control.
The fiberglass frame only weighs 51lbs, which is rather light considering the kayak's length. The hull does seem solid, however, and I usually try to avoid rocks, so I should be fine.
I was worried about the molded plastic seat at first sight, but it is very comfortable for me, even on paddles lasting several hours. The foot pedals are mounted on springs, and they give a nice solid feel, while supporting your whole foot. I haven't had any trouble with leaking and the bulkhead covers definitely do a good job. The fourth hatch cover just behind the skeg box is a nice touch so that the extra space back there isn't wasted. The biggest problem that I have had is that the rear main hatch is difficult to open and close because of its tight fitting seal.
I hope I'm not gushing too much, but I think that I have found a great boat, and I can't wait to take it out on the water again!