I've been toying with the whole Maxxis line of XC tires this year. OEM Ignitor, then Ardent, Ikon, Rekon, Rekon Race.
SoCal hardpack, loose over hard, minimal sandmud.
I really liked the RekonIkon setup, but killed the rear Ikon sidewall on a sharp rock. Rekon Race replaced it and I love it. Even more grip when climbing and braking. Feels similar in cornering.