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Need to branch out in the pipe world.

I enjoy a pipe every once and a while. I have recently quit smoking cigarettes, and want to branch out in the pipe tobacco world a little bit. I currently own 3 MM Cobs (all the same CVS "Washington" style), and smoke Captain Black White and Gold. I used to freak out if a store sold Dunhill cigs, and would pay top dollar for them. I have found out they also make pipe tobacco, which has made me extremely excited. I would like a briar at some point, but I tend to be frugal with hobbies. With shaving I spend more on the creams and soaps, and I feel if I find a pipe or 4 that work for me and don't break my wallet I would rather spend the money on the tobacco. First off, what would be the Merkur 34C (my razor) equivalent of a pipe? Second, what are some good blends that are inexpensive? Like I said, I've only smoked the two aromatics above and would like to try an English blend of some sort (hopefully the Dunhill, if its as good as their cigs were). Third, do I need to do an alcohol/salt cleaning of my cobs before I stick an English blend in them?

Thank you,

Hi Davin, I'm one of the newer guys to pipes, so my input will be short. I did a quick Google search for "Largo, Florida pipe tobacco" and found quite a few shops. By recommendation is to visit a few of them a pick one that you like. I am blessed to have a B&M that has taken me under their wing and have gone out of their way to teach me a lot about pipes and tobacco. I don't know about other shops, but mine let's me sample anything that is not sealed and I also bought a pipe from one of the guys at an incredible price.
I've been to a couple shops close to here and they tend to cater to cigar smokers more. I am planning on making a trip over to Tampa (right across the bridge) to visit Edwards. Apparently they are the pipe dudes. I think they make their own pipes as well, the Smitty I think.
There are many GREAT reasonably priced pipe brands...

Butz Choquin

Just to name a few. The most important factor is to choose one you like and will want to smoke instead of the brand name. If you like it, you will smoke it.

Pipe tobacco is a different matter. Like wine, beer, or cigars, different strokes for different folks. Dunhill does make some great tobaccos, so does Solani, G&H, McClelland, and about 40 other companies. Perhaps a sampler pack might help you decide what you like and would like to expand upon.
I have been extremely happy smoking my $29 briar basket pipe. The tobacconist really stressed the importance of the comfort when holding the pipe, and I am now inclined to agree... he had me pick up and hold every pipe, and I found one I wouldn't have picked based on how it looks... the bowl is almost golf-ball shaped. I would have gone with a more iconic looking style, but this one just sits in my hand like it was made for me. It's really nice.

I mix it up with a couple MM pipes I have... a cob and a couple hardwoods (that were super cheap at $6.99 for a regular size one and $2.99 for a little nose-warmer) that I found at a little old-time country store in NH that had a wall-display. The MM pipes seem to have a more open/easy pull than my briar. But when I go back to the basket pipe, it's like I am home again. I went to another tobacconist and they sold the same style pipe by another maker, so I will be able to get more like this someday soon.

I have never done the alcohol/salt treatment but I have been curious about it as my briar is getting a bit of a funk about it.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I ordered a forever stem for my cobs (they will always get smoked the most I fear, they're too damned practical), and have my eye on a Peterson army briar for when I really want to relax and treat myself. I haven't made a final decision on which tobacco sampler I'm going to get, there are just way too many choices.
Cobs are great, and they're really easy on the budget while providing a good smoking experience. Like others suggest, if you have a local B&M, check out a bunch of different ones. Look to see how the bowl is drilled, ideally you don't want the draft hole right at the bottom of the bowl, but rather just above the "floor" of the bowl so you don't get embers or gurgling out of it. There are many fine pipes under $50 to be had, and don't write off the basket pipes as inferior smokers. They may have a couple fill spots or blemishes that prevent them from being "top shelf" but they may smoke wonderfully.
The MM cobs are to pipes what the Lord L6 or Yuma are to DE razors. They are inexpensive, do the job well enough, but aren't prestige pieces.

Basket pipes and about anything else under $50 are probably equivelant to your Merkur 34C or a DE 89. Although you may get a bad one from time to time, or it may not be the ultimate cool pipe you are looking for, they are often good, utilitarian smokers.


The Lather Maestro
I am doing some cobs, also, but I have a few briars that I really like that did not break the bank. The good pipe makers usually have an 'economy line' which includes well-made pipes that are a lot less than their signature line. As an example, I got this Nording Eriksen #09 the other day in a local B&M tobacco shop

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Don't overlook B&M shops! This pipe was $7 less than I saw at online dealers. But add shipping and you have close to or the same price! Plus, this tobacconist had 6 tins of Esoterica Penzance which is often impossible to get online. I bought the pipe and a tin of Penzance flake and had a nice bowl in a big leather chair, chatting with the proprietor.

I like supporting my local shops, they are nice to have around, and they are getting scarce as hen's teeth. So consider this when shopping.

Most of the brands named above have economy lines, as well. Good luck!

P.S. That was a $50 pipe purchase. Frugal? I don't know, but it's a decent quality pipe that smokes well, and I like it a lot. It will likely last two lifetimes. I think that's frugal for briar. I'm not the type of guy who would buy a $300-500 pipe, I'm just not. Even if I was loaded, which I'm not.
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J.M. Boswell tobacco's are outstanding quality and an ounce or two can be ordered to try.

Tsuge and Nording make some nice inexpensive briars. I own one of each. The Tsuge stinger in the stem may not be for everyone.
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