Cigar Punch or Cutter – What is the difference and which is better?

Punch vs. Cutter

Cigar Cutters

I recently took a stab at the age old question of leaving cigar cellophanes on vs. taking them off during storage.  I figure that since I am on a roll, I might as well attempt tackling the next big debate: Punch vs. Cutter.  Before you get up in arms, I want to remind everyone that just like the cellophane debate, there is no perfect answer.

The cigar punch is a cigar tool used to cut a small circular hole in a cigar’s “cap” which allows the cigar to be smoked.  Some people find the draw to be too tight when using a punch (less air comes through when sucking, causes less smoke to be produced and often leads to the cigar going out periodically).  Using a punch on a cigar is a less intrusive way of opening up the cigar.  The small hole it makes leaves the cap of the cigar mostly intact which prevents the wrapper from unraveling during smoking.  While smoking, a punched cigar allows fewer tobacco flakes in your mouth than cutting does.  Some people say that cigar punches make cigars seem fuller bodied than cutters do.  They say this is due to the higher buildup of the tar at the cigars cap, the smaller hole causes this.  I have not noticed that trend at all.  IF punched cigars become fuller bodied, it is a very subtle change.  Cigar punches cannot be used on all types of cigars.  They only work on cigars with rounded caps over the ring gauge size of 40.  The punch will not work well on torpedo or figurado shaped cigars, amongst some others.

The cigar cutter acts like a guillotine.  It cuts the cap end off of a cigar to allow air to pass through for smoking.  Care must be taken when using a cutter not to cut too deep into the cigar.  Cutting too much of the cigar will leave the draw much too loose (too much air comes through when sucking, causes cigar to overheat and turn bitter).  Sometimes cutting a cigar causes loose tobacco flakes to end up in the smoker’s mouth.  This can be prevented by using a very sharp, high quality, cutter.  The advantage of the cutter is its versatility.  A cutter can be used on virtually any shape, size, and type of cigar.  This versatility has led to the cutter become the tool used by the large majority of cigar smokers.  There are many different styles of cutters, v-cut, guillotine, scissor, etc.  Above all, be careful with those cutters, they are sharp!
The punch is a very underutilized tool, maybe rightly so.  The one true advantage of the punch is that it is less destructive.  Other cutters can be used on any and all cigars, while the punch can only be used on certain vitolas of cigars.  I personally use a punch on all non-torpedo or figurado shaped cigars over ring gauge size 40.  The punch does not always do the trick, sometimes the draw is still too tight (difficult to suck air through).  If the draw is too tight, I will then also use my cutter.  If the punch does not work at first, then you can easily use a cutter to open the cigar up further.  You cannot use a cutter and then decide you would rather use a punch, as the whole cap has already been cut off.  If you have fallen into the habit of always using a cutter, I recommend giving the punch a try!

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