Cigar Review: Warfighter Tobacco .50 Cal Garrison Churchill

Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, this past weekend wasn’t conducive to the shooting sports in Austin. I’d planned to review the SIG SAUER 1911 Super Target I received last week. Alas, it remains unfired in my safe. Instead, I took the opportunity to do some indoors product testing, specifically cracking open the sampler package of cigars from Warfighter Tobacco.

With the explosion in gun ownership over the last decade a number of companies have been trying to market tangentially related products to that growing population. One notable success: the Black Rifle Coffee Company. To make their caffeinated product stand out, the market their product straight to the “gun culture.”

Ditto the folks at Warfighter Tobacco. They’re using the trappings of the military to make their cigars stand out, marketing effectively to both veterans and gun owners.

U.S. military veterans founded the company; Owner Chris served two tours in Iraq with the National Guard. Some variants of their cigars include donations to organizations supporting the military and law enforcement.

The band features a drawing of a bearded “operator,” complete with NVG capable helmet smoking a cigar. The “garrison” version sports a more elaborate cut and design with a gold background and black lettering, the word “GARRISON” prominently at the top. The “field” version is still a nifty design but definitely much more subdued with desert tan and dark brown colors.

There’s another wrapper near the foot of the cigar with “.50 Cal” branding. This is a pretty popular affectation, but I’m not a fan. It’s one more thing to remove and one more way the wrapper could be torn and damaged.

Their branding is slick. But are their cigars any good?

Warfighter Tobacco offers three styles of cigars (“5.56,” “7.62,” and “.50 Cal”) in two different versions (“Field” and “Garrison”), which can be a little confusing. There’s no clear description on the website about the difference between Field and Garrison grade cigars, for example. A chart showing the differences between all their various offerings would definitely be appreciated.

The sample pack offers one cigar of each style, optionally packaged in a reusable cedar box with an engraved Plexiglas sliding cover.

I’d ordered the “field” grade sampler pack but apparently they had run out of those cigars, so “garrison” grade cigars were substituted instead. They were also out of the advertised torpedo size .50 Cal cigar. So a larger and rounded cap Churchill size stick arrived in my mailbox instead. That’s where we will start.

I’m usually more of a fan of the robusto form factor in cigars, possibly extending to a corona if I’m feeling like a longer smoke. Those sizes top out at 5 1/2 inches. The Churchill we have here is a full seven inches in length. That will make for a longer smoke, but for those of us who designed their humidor layout around the smaller varieties it makes for a bit of a headache.

Anyway, the rounded cap design is something I prefer to the tapered torpedo design so I’m happy to see that instead of the promised torpedo.

The wrapper in this garrison version of the .50 Cal is a Dominican Maduro. That mature “Maduro” style wrapper gives the cigar its darker color and typically a richer flavor as well.

Before lighting the cigar smells mainly of leather, a typical smell associated with the Maduro wrappers. Inside that wrapper is a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-filler tobacco filler bound with a Dominican binder, a combination that should make for a medium to full bodied cigar.

Cigars from Warfighter Tobacco are not shipped with a Boveda humidifier packet by default (that’s a $1 add-on item) so they arrived at my doorstep a little on the dry side. For those ordering online, take note and pay the extra buck.

Even so slicing through the cap with my double guillotine cutter was clean and easy, resulting in no stray strands of wrapper or unfurling of the cap. Once snipped the cigar draws well, slightly on the “loose” side probably due to the lack of humidification on its trip from the factory. The pre-light taste of this cigar was somewhat surprising: oatmeal. That’s a new one for me.

While you’d expect a cigar with a name like “.50 Cal” to be hard hitting from the start, like The Boss’ favorite Liga Privada T52. In reality the first third of the cigar starts surprisingly mild and smooth.

My immediate comparison: the Padron 1964 Maduro line of cigars in terms of flavor profile for this stick. Which is great, because that’s my current go-to cigar (whenever Robert is paying). Initially the cigar has tones of chocolate. As the first third melts away that filler starts kicking in and adding some spice into the mix, possibly nutmeg.

For those who believe that a good cigar is one where the ash doesn’t fall off until there’s four inches hanging fire, this isn’t your cigar. Every time I placed the cigar down in the tray any ash that may have collected fell straight off. I’d advise ashing early and often to avoid getting any on your pants or clothes.

As the cigar progresses so does the taste, just like you’d expect from a good cigar. That initial light flavor gets progressively thicker and heavier. The second third of the cigar takes on a much richer taste, more like coffee than chocolate and with a definite spiciness that wasn’t present when I first lit the foot.

As the cigar dwindles down that flavor changes again, moving to an oak-y darker taste with less of the spice that was present in the middle third. It’s an enjoyable progression to experience over the roughly hour and a half of smoking time.

I was genuinely surprised by this cigar. Having had my fair share of crappy cigars that used gimmicky marketing to make their name I was fully prepared to have the same experience with Warfighter Tobacco. What I found instead was a delicious cigar, competently designed and well manufactured that provided me with a fine companion on a rainy afternoon.

The only complaint I have is about the length. A Churchill is something you almost need to plan your day around. If they made a run of these in something closer to a robusto size I’d be getting a full box and making them a staple in my humidor, but as-is they are still definitely worth picking up a stick or two.

SPECIFICATIONS

Brand: Warfighter Tobacco
Product: .50 Cal Garrison
Strength: Full
Size: Churchill
Shape: Parejo
Wrapper: Dominican Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-filler tobacco
Price: $9.99 each / $149 for 25 (on website)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Visual Appeal * * * *
The branding is good, but I’m not a fan of the second band around the foot. Then again that could just be me being a crotchety old man. I’d also appreciate if the website had the differences between the various cigars more plainly spelled out.

Taste * * * * *
Delicious and complex, the subtle changes over the course of the cigar are definitely appreciated.

Overall * * * *
It’s a damn fine cigar at a damn reasonable price. Make them a little smaller and you’ve got a customer for life. I’d also love to see a small donation from each cigar sale to the NRA or another pro-2A or pro-military organization.

comments

  1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    Maybe sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but not usually. I’ll stick with fudgesicles, thank you very much;-)

  2. avatar Renner says:

    You could always get the drop testing of the Sig out of the way while you’re waiting for the rain to clear.

  3. avatar Boba Fett says:

    Now I want a cigar.

  4. avatar samuraichatter says:

    Wow, I guess I am truly a cheap SOB. I shoot com bloc guns and occasionally smoke black & milds.

    Now I know what all those guys who can afford Scars smoke 🙂

  5. avatar pwrserge says:

    $10 per stick is a bit much, even for a Churchill. $6 is far more reasonable, but I’m a Ghurka / Crux guy. Nothing about this cigar seems as anything other than a cheap attempt to “tacticool” up something that doesn’t need it.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      Second the Ghurkas, Ninja and Evil, but also Oliva and Alec Bradley.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        We’ll see. These things are definitely in the upper end of the cost bracket (not counting special unicorn blood infused absurdities) and it would take some convincing to make me cough up the cash for something that makes a poor first impression with silly branding. I may be wrong, and these may be primo cigars. I’m quite open to the idea of a veteran owned business applying some common sense to the business model and providing a premium product at a reasonable price point. It’s just that the marketing did them no favors. (The pelican humidor is more than a bit silly.) I’ll see how I feel once I get my hands on a sampler of my own.

        Full disclosure, I’m a heavy (2-3 per day) cigar smoker and have been known to try odd brands just for the novelty.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “(The pelican humidor is more than a bit silly.)”

          Yeah, but they will probable sell a few.

          I’m still kicking myself for not picking up an ammo can converted into a cedar-lined humidor for 35 bucks I saw about 15 years back on a ‘C-Note’ burger run.

          Agree on the price. I hate spending more than about 7 bucks per stick.

          (@ samuraichatter – I just so happen to like those sweet Black & Mild’s while salt-water fishing…)

    2. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      Considering the cigar that I’d compare this to (the Padron Maduro 1964) retails closer to $10 to $15 it’s on par in terms of cost, I’d say.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        Ah, but that is an established brand with a solid reputation. We both know that the band brings in a $2-$5 premium on what’s actually in the stick. (And my quick comparison shopping puts them in the $8-$10 range.) I ordered myself a quick sampler, hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised. My sole problem is the same initial skepticism you had. The gimmicky marketing does them no favors. As I said, the pricing is not outrageous for a quality product. I just have too much experience with people trying to pawn off dollar store crap on others by sticking a fancy “tactical” label on it. In my experience, knives are some of the worst offenders.

        1. Gimmick? ‘Dems fightin’ words!

          Seriously, one thing we are not is a gimmick. We are in this to stay because the established brands don’t understand our community. While a Pelican Case Humidor may seem silly, there is a reason the military hauls those things all over the world with the most sensitive equipment. My sticks survived “crazy hot” stuck in a connex shipping across the ocean and then who knows how long baking in the Kuwaiti heat.

          It may be overkill, but when you aren’t protecting cigars, you still have a Pelican case for all your other stuff. They are also air tight, so a 69% Boveda pack stays perfect at 69%.

          So to us, that isn’t silly, it’s value added.

          That being said, I get that we have to earn your business. We aren’t afraid of that, which is why we guarantee every cigar we send. If you get a bad one for any reason other than mere preference, we will replace it.

          That being said, we are humbled by the support our community has given us and we will work everyday to keep making this thing better. While we think our first round has gone well (as evidenced by this review), we aren’t resting. Things are going to get crazy good!

          Thanks for the opportunity to banter….

        2. avatar pwrserge says:

          Chris, you have to remember what else exists in your market space. 90% of companies who try to sell “tactical” shit are basically 21st century snake oil salesmen. By using the marketing approach you are, you’re basically associating yourselves with purveyors of fine “tactical” fire retardant paper headgear. I really hope that your venture does well because it’s always good to have a new player come in to shake up an established market and based on Nick’s review you’re offering a very high quality product that your competitors will have to take notice of.

          On a side note… Who the hell hauls around a portable humidor on deployment?

        3. avatar Jeremiah Martin says:

          “On a side note… Who the hell hauls around a portable humidor on deployment?”

          How else am I supposed to keep my cigars fresh? I just bought a Pelican case from Warfighter a couple months ago and it is currently keeping about 40 of my favorite cigars at a cool 69% humidity even in this Middle Eastern heat.

        4. avatar pwrserge says:

          I swear, kids these days. In my day, I got shit for packing a PDA with reading material on it. Yes kids, before iPads were a thing, you had little LCD screen PDAs that you could read off of.

        5. You actually prove my point. We are part of the community we are dedicated to serving, so no snake oil from us. We are Veterans and cigar smokers, and we saw the need for something real for our community. Again, we are laser focused on our community, so we won’t be a brand for everyone. As for hauling around a humidor in the battlefield, every cigar smoker in the Military that I knew. It’s the last vice the Military allows (no more whiskey rations).

        6. avatar RocketScientist says:

          Chris – might wanna check your science. Unless your pelican box is also temperature controlled, if you seal it up with a 69% relative humidity, it is NOT going to stay at 69%. Even without adding any additional water vapor to the control volume, raising the air’s temperature changes the amount of water vapor that can be held in solution. As a result, the relative humidity will fluctuate with changes in temperature. As an example. If you sealed your pelican humidor at 69%RH, on a nice brisk day of 60*F, then put it in your car or shipped it to a desert where it was heated to a temperature of 105*F, even though the amount of water dissolved in the enclosed air has not changed (at 4 gr/ft^3), the relative humidity will have dropped to about 17%, and your cigars will be rapidly drying. Even using more moderate example, if your packaging facility is controlled to be “room temp” (~73*F) at 69% humidity, this correlates to about 6.12 gr/ft^3 vapor concentration. Sealing that volume of air and raising its temp to the same 105*F lowers your relative humidity to 29%.

        7. Hey, not arguing with a Rocket Scientist, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but we use the Boveda 2-way humidity pack in our Pelicans. They have a patented two-way system that keeps relative humidity constant. In your example, when the relative humidity drops, the Boveda acts as a humidifier and adds humidity. When relative humidity rises above the level of their pack (we recommend 69% in airtight boxes and 72-74% in standard wood humidors because of leakage, but every humidor is different, so this is a starting point), the Boveda acts as a dehumidifier to reduce to the preferred level. Granted, with anything, there is a margin of error, but having tested with a calibrated hygrometer, the darned thing stayed right at 69% unless I was opening and closing more frequently. My experience, of course, is practical and was not scientific, but the Boveda is the easy button for cigars and kept them good despite the crazy bad conditions. So hopefully that articulates what appeared to be unscientifically articulated?

  6. avatar Mr.Savage says:

    I have a cigar once every three years or so, may go get one, just cause it’s been almost four years. still remember the occasion, my first daughter was born.

  7. Nick,
    Thanks for the shout out, glad you enjoyed it. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    As one of the co-founders of WFT, I had to jump on and answer some of your questions.

    The Halfwheel article is great but it showcases the cigars that will be coming out of our new factory in September. Those are going to dealers we are signing up as we speak, and will replace our current offerings online. Those will be manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua and will turn this thing up to “11” as I like to say.

    The Maduro you were smoking is the same as our Field (different banding for more of a formal appearance–we started this thing with the “duty” and “dress” uniform analogy in mind). As such, it isn’t the Oscuro Maduro–that will be a very dark and potent Maduro.

    The Field line will stay the same, but the Garrison line will be more distinct in their blends and use more unique wrappers (like the Oscuro).

    You’ll also be glad to know we are dropping the footer band on all but our “Blue Line” and “Red Line” offerings.

    Our current cigars are Dominican manufactured, and thanks to the awesome support of our community (the Sheepdogs who put their lives on the line and those who love and support us) we have outgrown our current manufacturing–which explains the substitutions. Those issues will hopefully go away in the next month or so.

    Finally, contrary to what has been suggested by another fine reader, we are not trying merely to be “tacticool.” We are all Veteran owned and operated, and our goal is to provide a quality cigar for our community by our community. Other brands that advertise to us don’t get us. That’s what makes us different.

    If others like us, great. If not, we don’t care.

    As for charity, we have given early and often, but do a horrible job right now of publicizing that. After all, if we aren’t supporting our community, we are failing it. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and you’ll see.

    Again, thanks for the review, stay dangerous and be safe!

    1. avatar samuraichatter says:

      Major props for the comment but where would a normal dude on the east coast of these united states find your cigars?

      1. avatar Bryan Bettey says:

        Right now just at http://www.warfightertobacco.com. After this year’s IPCPR though, we have a network of shops and dealers coming on line in late September, so keep your eyes and ears open!

      2. Thanks Brother. We will be announcing our dealers in the next couple weeks once we verify when we we are shipping. If you are in the NYC area, you may want to familiarize yourself with a Veteran friendly shop called the Tobacco Corner in Huntington Beach.

        In VA we’ve got Old Virginia who will be carrying our whole line. Working PA and others as well. If you know of a good match, let them know about us, and vice versa. Buying local is good and we want to get them to you. For those cigar hating states, online works well!

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    At $10 a pop, I’m glad I quite smoking two decades ago…I heard today that DeBlasio has raised taxes on tobacco by 24%, making the cost of a pack of cigs $14 in NYC. Since they’ve almost banned guns, tried to ban sugary drinks in large sizes, are working on making cigs too expensive to smoke, I’d bet if they could just get rid of the hookers and the alcohol, it’d be the healthiest city in the country.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      That’s what online ordering is for. It’s my own personal middle finger to the revenuers.

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    Which factory makes these cigars for the brand owner?

    1. Ralph,
      Our new manufacturing will be out of Plasencia.

  10. avatar CCDWGUY says:

    I’m expecting a new website “The Truth About Cigars” to suddenly appear TTACG. How about “EveryDay Cigar Dump”, or what cigar tools I carry in my pocket. Or, how about “How to light a cigar with a 9mm”, just don’t use a Glock.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      ” Or, how about “How to light a cigar with a 9mm”, just don’t use a Glock.”

      9mm?

      To properly toast the foot you need a ‘Dragon’s Breath’ shotshell in 12 gauge… 😉

      (If you use 9mm, it needs to be a tracer round, 2 magazines worth should do it…)

  11. se what I like about this site, it mentions one of my favorite passtimes (coffee) and then talks about two of my others ( guns and cigars). got to love this site.

  12. and to Chris Frederico, since I love cigars , and live on Long Island NY, I would like to know where I can get some of these to try, and to give to my veteran brother who served as a Green Beret. and by the way, I wish you good luck with the business.

    1. Tobacco Corner in Huntington Station should have some of our sticks by the end of September. Until then, http://www.warfightertobacco.com. We are working more sources in NYC and on Long Island. I’m a former Malverne kid!

  13. avatar PWinKY says:

    I know this isn’t technically “guns” but I loved the review. If I see any of these popping up in Kentucky I’ll be sure to grab one. TTAG has a good reputation for unbiased reviews so that extends to this as well I believe. Great thought!

  14. avatar Accur81 says:

    This was a cool review! I smoke up a few cigars a month, and will take a look at these. I like top shelf Macanudo, Cohibas, Man O War, and such from Cigars International.

  15. avatar P320 says:

    You didn’t mention what happens to the cigar if you hit the back of it with a hammer?

  16. avatar Derek M says:

    First off these are some awesome cigars made by a great set of guys. The price point is not bad at all. Those complaining must be tight wads. $10 a stick take my money. Thats less than a box of 9mm and will last me way longer.I will Always support a Veteran businesses over any other and will continue to smoke some Warfighters. I’m glad to know some of these guys not just great men but Great Americans!

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