cigar on a black humidor next to a cigar punch torch

Micheal Laffey

Cigar Punches: What Are They and How to Use Them

Cigar punches are a common cigar accessory that smokers will carry around with them or keep stored along with their cigars. If you don’t know what a cigar punch is or how to use one, you’re in the right place.

This article will be your complete guide to using a cigar punch. These tiny tools are a cigar smoker’s best friend. So you need to know how to use one if you plan on enjoying a cigar.

What Is a Cigar Punch?

A cigar punch is a small metal device that you use to punch a hole in your cigar before smoking it. It is small, about the size of a bullet, and is super easy to carry around in your pocket or store with your cigars.

There are types of punches with retractable blades that you twist to expose. There are also punches with blades that have covers on them that you can remove before using. The blade is the part you use to punch the cigar, creating a hole to smoke it.

The term punch can be misleading as you do not use much force or a sudden pushing motion to create the hole in the cigar. Instead, it’s more of a gentle twisting motion, which we will detail a little later.

How To Use a Cigar Punch in 5 Steps

Using a cigar punch is much easier than it may seem. You can accomplish this in five simple steps, and you’ll get better each time you do it! Follow the five steps below to punch your cigar and enjoy a smooth puff.

  1. Open the punch and twist it so that the blade comes out. Some cigar punches have a cover that you can remove.
  2. Place the punch blade squarely centered over the cap on your cigar.
  3. Apply gentle pressure to the cigar cap while making a back and forth twisting motion. This motion will slice through the cigar wrapper, exposing the tobacco leaves on the inside.
  4. Once you have completed a few rotations, you can pull the punch away and see the tobacco inside.
  5. There should be a small circle of the wrapper left in the punch that you can discard. And then you’re ready to enjoy your smoke!
cigar punches

Cigar Punch Vs. Cigar Cutter

There are cigar punches, and then there are cigar cutters. These cigar cutting tools are similar but have some differences worth mentioning and will slightly affect your smoking experience.

A cigar cutter is a small metal ring with a blade hidden in it. When you use it, the blade pops out to quickly and smoothly cut the entire cap off of the cigar. When you do this, you get a cleaner cut that results in a stronger burn for larger pulls on the cigar. Cigar cutters are more traditional but not necessarily the best option for every cigar lover.

A cigar punch only takes away the center of the cigar cap, leaving the cap shoulder behind. Leaving the shoulder creates a different burn, making you pull harder, but many people think it’s smoother.

If you aren’t sure which option you prefer, test them out. Smoke the same two cigars, but remove the cap of each of them with a different method so that you can easily compare the two smoking experiences. Most cigar smokers know right away which method is best for them.

Neither the cutter nor the punch is better. It depends on how you like to smoke your cigars. A cigar aficionado who wants large, flavorful pulls will cut their cigars. But cigar smokers that want a more gentle experience will leave the shoulder for a slower burn and more distinct flavor.

Reasons to Use a Cigar Punch

If you’re wondering why to use a cigar punch over a cigar cutter, here are some reasons to consider. They are based on personal preferences, so there is no wrong choice.

Smoother Smoke

When you cut the entire cap off, you get a fuller, billowing puff, which many people love. However, if you want a smoother pull on the smoke that brings less into your mouth at once, you should use the punch over the cutter.

It can be harder to pull the smoke through the punch hold, but many people enjoy the bolder drag they take on a cigar for a different experience.

Slower Burn

When you punch a cigar, you leave the shoulder of the wrapper intact. Because of the shoulder, the punched cigar will burn slower around the edges, making it burn slower overall. So while a cut cigar may burn for 45 minutes, a punched cigar could burn for over an hour, creating a longer experience that you may desire.


Don’t be intimidated by cigar punches. They are easy to use. And if you are a die-hard cigar cutter, consider using a punch, just once, to see how the experiences differ. You may wind up liking the punch better, who knows?

Cigar punches are one of the simplest cigar accessories you can own but also one of the most important. They are a small item but crucial to your enjoyment of your cigars. Buying one to try out is definitely worth the effort.


To help you in your cigar cutting and punching endeavors, here are some frequently asked questions that may be in your head.

Can I smoke a cigar without cutting or punching it?

No, you have to cut or punch the end of the cigar to smoke it. If you try to light the wrapper at the end, it may catch, but you won’t be able to inhale air through the cigar because there is no opening.

Why don’t cigars come cut or punched?

Cigars are not cut or punched until just before smoking for two reasons. The first is that it helps keep the cigar held together perfectly until you’re ready to smoke it. If not, tobacco could loosen or fall out, tainting the smoking experience.

The other reason is that it will allow more air to penetrate the cigar, and dry it out faster. Even when stored in a humidor, a cut cigar will lose moisture and flavor a little bit faster than an uncut one.

What if I don’t have a cigar cutter or cigar punch?

That is okay! If you find yourself out and about with a lovely cigar in your hand but no way to cut or punch it, you can use your fingernails or just a knife! Make sure you do not use a serrated knife that could damage the shape and wrapping of the cigar.

If you use your fingernail, take your time and work from the outside in a circular motion to cut off the cap.

How much does a cigar punch cost?

Cigar punches are not expensive. They can cost anywhere between $1 and $30, and they should last you years and years. You shouldn’t have to use them too often, and you only use them for a few seconds, so they don’t go through much wear and tear.