Briars: A Soldier's Story

Servicemen and Women at

Contrary to the stereotype held by the general nonsmoking populace, when it comes to the largest age bracket presently shopping online for fine pipes and tobacco, there is, to quote the title of The Eagles classic, a ”New Kid in Town” — and we’re speaking literally. For the first time since we have had the ability to accurately track such things, the 18-34 age group has numerically edged out their 55+ brethren in the US.

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comFor a few years now, many of us have taken note of the upswing in interest in the younger community, and, serving as a type of evidence that we’re hardly immune to stereotypes ourselves, assumed that the overwhelming majority of new adopters were collegians, young folks of highly individualistic personalities who were seeking a means of enjoying tobacco that would stand out a bit from the crowd — or (ok) perhaps both. The one place we didn’t look, though in 20/20 hindsight utterly logical, (stereotypes make for fine blinders), were the young men and women serving in our armed forces.

In my poor defense (pun somewhat intended), whenever I conjured a mental image of a troop smoking, I pictured Sgt. Rock of comic book fame. With a half-smoked, thoroughly chewed stogie clenched between his determined jaws, throwing a (yeah) pineapple-shaped grenade, while single handedly assaulting a crowded enemy fortification, surely this must have remained the primary combat military method of enjoying a non-cigarette smoke. Not exactly.

Servicemen and Women at

While cigars still enjoy a solid popularity amongst the troops, in many pieces of correspondence between forward operation soldiers (and their generous benefactor Alex Kummel, who routinely sends care packages of cigars, as well as pipes from, the general consensus seems to be: “While the number of daily cigar fans tends to rise and fall depending on the unit, and they are a joy for all smokers when we can arrange a herf night, everyone loves their pipes — they are a HUGE hit!”

Servicemen and Women at

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comWhy have pipes become so popular with those who serve in the field over (say) a cigar? Some of the reasons we have seen cited include their high degree of portability, when broken down and secured in the side pocket of BDU pants, as well as the continuing serviceability of a briar, compared to a stogie, after a few dozen body contacts with the hard desert. Time is still another factor. The availability of “admin” time in the field can be tough to predict and, often, even tougher to accurately gauge its length (nothing says “going tactical” quite like an unanticipated contact on a perimeter). With a pipe, time allowing, a troop can enjoy a long smoke. Should their temporary downtime be suddenly interrupted, a few taps of the bowl against a palm, followed by a quick stow, is far less onerous than having to stub out and abandon a freshly lit $12 cigar. Then there is the consideration of how many smokes can be safely stowed in a ruck, when out on longer treks (think of a pound of bulk blends in a sealable bag, against the logistics involved in hucking the same amount of smokes in the form of premium cigars).

Servicemen and Women at

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comWhile speculation on the precise reasons that pipe enjoyment is on the upswing with our serving men and women can be fun and interesting, when all is said and done, it’s pretty trivial compared to the simple fact that it is. More brothers and sisters have begun to share our passion, and that love is quite likely to continue as they take their individual places into civilian society. In the meantime, actually for many years now, has offered free shipping (no minimum purchase required) to any APO, and will continue to do so. (More than once happily surprised service members have contacted us mentioning they hadn't noticed they were getting free shipping until after their order was squared away — it’s kind of buried a quarter of the way down our F.A.Q. page.)

In parting, for our pride and your enjoyment, we have included a few photos of the lucky recipients of Alex Kummel’s generosity, along with their goodies purchased from You might want to bookmark this blog, even if only for the photos. Can you think of a better response when a well meaning friend or co-worker remarks on how your pipe reminds them of their grandpa?

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comServicemen and Women at

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comServicemen and Women at

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comServicemen and Women at

Servicemen and Women at Smokingpipes.comServicemen and Women at

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Customers Military Pipe Culture


    • John fordham on September 25, 2014
    • We can't do enough for them!!

    • Robert on September 25, 2014
    • Good on you, SPC, for sending these excellent care packages. And you're right about the ultimate practicality of a pipe for enjoying a smoke in a combat zone. The balloon goes up five minutes after you have torched up that Fuente Opus X, well that's too bad -- there's $20 bucks you'll never smoke. But having to sacrifice a bowl full of even Penzance is hardly so bad a fate. Not for nothing is the army mount so named. Bugler calls the charge and you knock the dottle out against your stirrup, pop the stem from the pipe, drop the pieces into your haversack and ride off to victory. Pipes have been serving fighting

    • Robert on September 25, 2014
    • men well since cavalry meant horses.

    • Richard Munoz on September 26, 2014
    • Fantastic write up! Too bad they didn't mention the accessories that my Tio Alex sends as well. A good book (or 50), lighters, tamps, and enough pipe cleaners to supplement for cleaning supplies for their firearms would have been a good mention. Not to mention the cigars and accessories as well. Thank you Smoking Pipes for your support as well. You are my favorite retailer for my pipe smoking' enjoyment.

    • Adrian on September 26, 2014
    • Nicely done SPC. Knew you guys were my favorite supplier for a reason. :)

    • Bear Graves on September 26, 2014
    • @Robert Unless I am greatly mistaken, all of these packages were as a direct result of Alex Kummel's generosity. Sure, we provide free shipping to all APO, but Alex is the hero here (along with our heroes serving in the military).

    • Robert on January 2, 2019
    • Great article. I’m a 28 year Navy veteran and remember several cigar smokes- one at Baghdad palace. Great memories. I’m just trying the pipe now and really enjoy it.
      Glad to see our troops getting a little down time to enjoy.
      Finally a big shoutout to the USO who was with us at every major operational base even in combat zones. Thanks.

    • Rob on June 6, 2019
    • Roger that. Great comments that I totally agree with. I am a Navy vet and had smoked a pipe since age 14 off & on mostly on ha ha. Couldn’t help feeling like one of the old salty sailors of days old every time we were out on the water and we had plenty of downtime so my pipe was absolutely essential. I enjoy cigars as well so they were there when available. You guys should be commended for this kind of support and I would have certainly been very thankful Had I’d been one of the recipients out there during my active years. Rock on SPC. We love you

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