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Cigar 101

What Does Ring Gauge Mean for Cigars?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

What does ring gauge mean for cigars? Cigar ring gauge refers to the thickness of a cigar. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch, the same way your finger is measured to fit a wedding ring. One sixty-fourth of an inch equals one ring of a cigar’s ring gauge or 1/64, while fifty sixty-fourths of an inch equal fifty rings of a cigar’s ring gauge or 50/64. The dimensions for a standard Robusto are 5 x 50, or 5 inches long by 50/64 of an inch thick, for example.

Holt's Cigar Ring Gauge

 

Cigar ring gauge is expressed as a single number without the fraction (i.e., 46, 50, 52, 60). Ring gauge affects a cigar’s intensity and how long it will burn. Thinner cigars burn hotter and faster than thicker cigars, which deliver a cooler less-concentrated draw.

Ring Gauge and Tobacco Ratios

The ratio between the wrapper leaf, binder, and filler tobaccos changes when the ring gauge changes. In a thicker cigar, the wrapper leaf is spread over a greater amount of interior tobaccos. The influence of the wrapper leaf is reduced while the binder and filler tobaccos possess more influence in a thicker cigar. Ring gauges of 50, 52, 54, or greater are considered thick by traditional standards, but much has changed over the past decade as cigar ring gauges have swelled to 60 and up.

Thinner shapes like Coronas, Lonsdales, Panetelas, and Lanceros deliver a greater intensity of flavor because the wrapper is more pronounced in the blend. A cigar’s wrapper naturally accounts for much of its flavor, but in ring gauges between 36 and 44, or thinner, it’s even more noticeable. Cigar-makers frequently blend new cigars in a standard Corona (5.5 x 44) first. When the ideal flavor is achieved in a Corona, the binder, filler, and wrapper ratios are then adjusted to accommodate bigger or smaller sizes.   

How Does It Feel?

In addition to intensity and taste, many cigar lovers prefer certain ring gauges because of how comfortable a cigar feels in the mouth and in the hand. Fans of fat cigars feel like they’re holding a toothpick if they smoke a Corona. Connoisseurs who prefer Coronas think they’re sucking on a tailpipe if they smoke a 60 ring gauge cigar. It boils down to personal preference.

If you want to find your favorite ring gauge, smoke one blend in multiple sizes. An Ashton Classic in a Corona (5.5 x 44) delivers the same tasting notes as a Double Magnum (6 x 50) or a Majesty (6 x 56), but each shape will finish with a distinct intensity.

The Explosion of Cigar Ring Gauges

Cigar ring gauges have literally exploded over the past two decades. Old school cigar-makers who adhere to Cuban tradition once viewed a standard 5 x 50 Robusto as a thick cigar. Today, ring gauges of 54, 58, and 60 are commonplace. Few cigar-makers release new blends without providing at least one shape in the vicinity of a 60 ring gauge due to the demand for fat cigars.

A handful of brands encouraged the big ring gauge trend beginning in the late 1990s. The debut of La Gloria Cubana Serie R established a market for fat cigars with 54, 56, and 58 ring gauges. Today, La Gloria Cubana Serie R #6 is the brand’s 60 ring option.

Nick Perdomo capitalized on the popularity of big rings. Nearly every blend in the Perdomo portfolio includes a 54, 56, and 60 ring gauge shape. When Nub cigars debuted in 2007, their short fat formats caught everyone’s attention. Many who assumed Nub was simply a fad were wrong. The brand boasts a loyal audience with its Connecticut, Cameroon, Maduro, and Habano wrapper options. The most popular Nub shape is 4 x 60.

Even Cuban brands have embraced the big ring trend. In 2010, the Cuban Cohiba Behike debuted a trio of thick shapes with a 52, 54, and a 56 ring gauge.

If you’re looking for cigars that are freakishly fat, checkout the Argyle A-Bomb (9 x 95) or a Rocky Patel Mulligans Snowman (6 x 80). You can spend half a day smoking one cigar.

Lengths & Ring Gauges for Common Cigar Shapes

Here are the ranges of dimensions for the most common cigar shapes. The exact dimensions of traditional cigar shapes can vary from one brand to the other.

Cigar Size Length Ring Gauge
Corona 5.25 - 6.5 inches 42 - 44 ring
Churchill 6.5 - 7 inches 47 - 50 ring
Robusto 4.75 - 5.75 inches 48 - 52 ring
Torpedo 6 - 7 inches 52 - 54 ring
Toro 6 - 6.5 inches 50 - 54 ring
Lancero 7 - 7.5 inches 38 ring
Belicoso 5 - 6.5 inches 48 - 54 ring
Panetela 5 - 7.5 inches 34 - 38 ring
Lonsdale 6 - 7 inches 42 - 44 ring
Gordo 6 - 7 inches 60 ring
Double Corona 6.5 - 8.5 inches 49 - 52 ring
Petit Corona 4.5 - 5 inches 38 - 42 ring

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