Paul Markel with thanks to Ben Lee © 2013
LUVERNE, AL --(Ammoland.com)- Cigar lit, tall glass of iced-tea within reach, black lab snoring at my feet, it’s time for some wordsmith magic.
If you’ve been following my written works for any length you might know that I enjoy a quality hand-rolled cigar on occasion. As a matter of fact, much of my editorial content these past twenty years or so has been completed as aromatic smoke from a variety of ‘sticks’ drifts above my head.
During the occasion of the SHOT Show, last month, the good AmmoLand editor and I had the opportunity to break bread, consume aged steak, and partake in a quality Merlot. Dinner conversation naturally turned toward editorial pursuits and I admitted I was rolling an idea around in my head to combine two of my passions; firearms and cigars. “Write it, we’ll print it” was the answer I was looking for and the one I received.
While I am compensated for my thoughts and ideas vis-à-vis guns and ammunition, my opinions regarding hand-rolled cigars are proletarian in nature. With this understood, I enlisted the aid of my friend Ben Lee. Ben is an official cigar reviewer for StogieReview.com.
The layout is straightforward; we will discuss five firearms near and dear to the hearts of the American shooter. My gun-writer outlook will come first and then Ben will add his thoughts and opinion of the perfect cigar to accompany said hardware. Guns and the cigars to go with them; who could ask for more?
S&W J-frame .38 Spl.
Paul Markel (PM): Throughout the last fifty to sixty years, the Smith&Wesson “J” framed double-action revolvers have gone through myriad model numbers and cosmetic changes with the Model 36 likely the quintessential J-frame. These compact ‘wheelguns’ have been chambered in .22, .32, and .357 Magnum, but the .38 S&W Special models are most prevalent.
In a world dominated by polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols you might think that the S&W J-frame would have gone the way of the dodo, but it still survives. I believe the continued popularity of this snub-nosed revolver has everything to do with its ease operation and carry. The S&W J-frame provides a level of comfort for those who have for decades dropped one in a pocket “just in case”. It is that little bit of extra insurance prudent citizens crave.
Ben Lee (BL): I still carry my .38 Chief’s Special today when I’m in clothing for hotter weather like a t-shirt and shorts. Keeping that in mind, I chose the Room 101 Namakubi Papi Chulo. It’s a great petit corona cigar with medium firepower, like the .38 Special. Also, while good on its own, the small cigar is great for when you want to enjoy a good cigar, but don’t have a lot of time. Its Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is one of my favorites and it has a lighter color than most which reminds me of stainless steel. Probably because my Chief’s Special is stainless steel.
M1911A1 .45 acp
PM: No conversion of handguns in the United States of America can be had legitimately without deference to the Model 1911A1 pistol. I’m long enough in the tooth to have actually been issued an M1911A1 as a duty pistol while serving as a United States Marine. During my first active duty tour, the long change over from the M1911A1 to the M9 was taking place. Even though it’s been more than two decades since the switch to the 9x19mm M9, the argument still continues, although not as heated as it once was.
What was extremely significant about John Browning’s most famous pistol is that it was the first semi-automatic handgun to be universally adopted by the U.S. Army. The importance of such a seminal event does not give way easily. As a machine made by the hands of man, the 1911 is not perfect, no machine is. But, when you consider that we still had mounted cavalry units when the 1911A1 came into service and jet airplanes when it retired, the tour of duty for the pistol was undeniably impressive.
BL: The 1911 has been around for over 100 years and is still considered by many to be the greatest handgun ever made. Hard to disagree with that when it’s been around that long and still being used by our elite forces today in combat. Keeping that in mind, I thought the best cigar to pair up with the 1911 is one that I’ve smoked since I first started smoking cigars 15 years ago and still smoke today. That cigar is the Hoyo De Monterrey Excalibur No. 1 natural. The Excalibur No. 1 is a large double corona sized cigar that has been around quite a long time. I don’t know many people that haven’t smoked a lot of these cigars, especially during the cigar boom of the late 90s. It’s an old reliable like the 1911 that I always have on hand. Like the cigar’s name, many people consider their 1911 to be their personal Excalibur as well.
GLOCK 17 9mm
PM: Just as the M1911A1 is significant as the first semi-auto service pistol, the GLOCK 17, love it or hate it, is most significant because it broke the ‘plastic-barrier’. I can recall in my formative years reading Op-Ed pieces from the gunwriters of the time. While some approached the new GLOCK 17 with a noncommittal wait and see attitude, others were openly hostile. It was attacked on appearance alone and for its construction. I can remember one gunscribe at the time noting that while the GLOCK might provide amusement for its unusual look and design, he declared “Americans will never buy plastic pistols”.
Despite having a face that only mother could love, the GLOCK 17 landed on our shores and within a decade of its arrival had supplanted one of the largest and most historical firearms makers as the number one pistol carried by U.S. law enforcement. No small feat indeed.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the GLOCK 17 is that it changed the face of firearms, particularly handguns, forever. In 1986 the polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol was an anomaly. Today, every major manufacturer of handguns has at least one, if not several, polymer framed guns in their catalog.
Why is so? It is really not that difficult to decipher. The GLOCK 17 is economical and simple to learn to use. The gun runs like a tank, it is nearly unstoppable. Right out of the box the GLOCK 17 is ready to go, no break in period or $200 action job. Buy it, load it shoot it.
BL: I love Glocks and I’ve had my G17 for almost two decades now. It is the gun that started the polymer pistol crazy and really turned the gun world upside down. Considering that, I thought it only fitting to pair it with a cigar that did that same thing in the cigar industry: Tatuaje Cabinet Tainos. Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje, really started the boutique cigar crazy that we still see today. Also, Pete brought in a rock and roll swagger to the industry that was complete new at the time. The Taino is a double corona that is big, full flavored and full power. Just like a 17 round magazine loaded with 9mm +P. Amazing cigar for an amazing gun.
Remington 870 12 gauge
PM: We’ll stray from the handgun section now and consider one of the most prevalent long guns in the history of the United States. On September 24th, 2009 Remington proudly announced the production of their 10 millionth Model 870 pump-action shotgun. That’s a lot of guns folks.
Why is the 870 such an icon? Again, it’s not terribly difficult to understand. The Remington Model 870 shotgun is simple to operate, it is robust in design, and it can be modified and upgraded to suit numerous missions.
My first exposure to the 870 pump gun was in the police academy. As a youth of lesser means most of my hunting was conducted with a single-shot shotgun or a .22 rifle. However, I can only imagine the tens of thousands of Americans first introduced to the 870 as a slug-gun for deer hunting or a fowling piece for take quail, doves, pheasants, etc.
Therein lays the beauty of the 870 and by extension many 12 gauge shotguns. You can protect your home, patrol the streets of the city, stock the freezer with venison, or down the feathered creature of your choice all with the same basic model. Swapping from a vent-ribbed barrel to a slug barrel is accomplished in mere moments without tools. The Remington 870 pump-action shotgun is really the “Mr. Potatohead” of scatter guns. It can be most anything you want it to be.
BL: The Remington 870 has been around what seems like forever. It’s rare the time that you don’t see one of these in a duck blind or in a dove field. I can’t imagine how much small game has been harvested with this shotgun. There is nothing special about the 870 and it’s boringly reliable. For the 870, I decided to pair it with the Oliva Serie V Belicoso. The Serie V has been around for quite a while and is one of the most popular cigars on the market. Its modest price point, like the 870’s, helped it reach its popularity. The Serie V is a strong cigar and is loaded with flavor. These two are a perfect match.
AR-15 .223 Remington
PM: If you listen to the mainstream media, you’d think that the Armalite Rifle Model 15 is some new creation foisted on the American public by evil gun makers seeking to turn them into vicious killers. However, the creation of Gene Stoner is older than at least half of the readers in this audience I would venture to say. My beard is gray and the AR-15 predates my birth by four years.
Rather than some new fangled man-killer, the AR-15 could be considered the great evolving rifle of this century. It morphed from an Armalite product into the M-16 and then its numerous variations over the last fifty years.
The original design patent having long-since expired, every major rifle manufacturer in the United States has some form of Stoner-based semi-automatic rifle in their stable. When both Ruger and S&W introduced their own versions of these rifles, the die was cast. These rifles truly have become, as my friend Richard Mann likes to say, the American Rifle.
Not unlike the 870 mentioned earlier, the AR-15, or the American Rifle if you will, has seen rock star like success because of its ability to be all things to all people. The AR is at home in the field taking all manner of four-legged game. I have personally taken prairie dogs, marmots, fox, coyote, wild hogs, and white-tail deer with AR rifles in various calibers and configurations.
The AR is equally up to the task of home defense, long range marksmanship, action-shooting competitions, and, of course in the hands of the American military and law enforcement. Free from the blinders of the big media, it is clear to see the AR-15 is America’s Rifle of choice.
BL: The AR-15 is one of the most ground breaking weapon systems ever devised. This rifle has been in continuous service longer than any other rifle in our country’s glorious history. The modularity of this rifle makes it easily adaptable to any mission a solider might face guarantying its use by the military for years to come.
Recently, many companies have been releasing hunting versions of this rifle because of its action and inherit accuracy. This is toughest gun to pair with a cigar. After long thought, the best cigar I could pair with the AR-15 is the Liga Privada No. 9 torpedo. Made by Drew Estates, this cigar is highly sought after and hard to find, just like the AR-15 is right now. The cigar also has an almost pitch black Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, just like the infamous “black rifle”, which gives the cigar a naturally sweet flavor. The No. 9 has also spawned off other flankers like the T52 and Undercrown like the AR weapon system has done. These two are a great match.
- Paul’s thoughts can be found weekly at www.Studentofthegun.com
- Ben’s cigar choices can be found at www.StogieReview.com
Lead Image: Dan Zimmerman www.danzphotography.com