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  • Writer's pictureLonnie Dahm

The Ultimate Guide to Cigar Shapes and Sizes.

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

For the novice smoker, the barriers to entry into the world of cigars are vast and daunting, but of all these knowledge hurdles perhaps the most critical is understanding cigar shape and sizing. Cigars come in just as many shapes and sizes as we do, but instead of simplistic terms like fat, skinny, tall, and short, cigars have a library of sophisticated terms to describe their spatial features. These terms create confusion for the beginner, but add to the elegance and refinement of the smoking experience. The memories of my childhood playground experiences would certainly be more elegant, had the other children called me Robusto instead of short fatty.

In this article we will break down the terminology and explain what effect, if any, it has on your smoking experience.


The size of a cigar is determined by the measurements of its ring gauge and length. The ring gauge is simply the diameter of the cigar measured in sixty-fourths of an inch, and the length is measured in inches from end to end. The typical cigar has a diameter ranging from 46 to 60/64ths of an inch, or a ring gauge ranging from 46 to 60. The length of the typical cigar is anywhere between 4 and 6 1⁄2 inches.

Perhaps contrary to your natural instinct, the length of a cigar has nothing to do with how powerful or potent the taste of cigar will be, but has everything to do with how cool you look while smoking it! Cigar length really only affects two parameters of your smoking experience: how long that experience will be (longer cigar = longer smoking experience), and, at least initially, how hot the smoke is as it reaches your mouth and its gustatory cells.

As for the thickness or ring gauge of a cigar, the temperature at which the cigar burns and the wrapper to filler ratios both vary from one ring gauge to another. Thinner cigars tend to burn hotter than thicker cigars which will burn cooler. This alone may not have much effect on the temperature of the smoke as it reaches your mouth, but potentially a thin and short cigar will have an additive effect on smoke temperature at the mouth. More important to understand, as it pertains to ring gauge, is the wrapper to filler ratio. As a cigar ring gauge increases, if we take a horizontal cross section of that cigar at each interval increase, the percent composition of wrapper will decrease as the percent composition of filler increases. This is important because the majority of the perceived flavor comes from the wrapper. A particular source estimates it at 80% of the total perceived flavor. Interestingly, this does not mean that a 30 ring gauge cigar will be better than a 52 ring gauge cigar, because just as all good things in life, goodness lies in the balance. What this does mean, is that those novelty cigars with the ring gauge of a Pringle's can, will probably smoke about as good as a Pringles can.


The typical cigar can be categorized into one of two shapes: the Parejo or the Figurado. The most common shape is the parejo or sometimes simply called a Corona. A Parejo has straight sides from foot (open end that you light) to cap (closed end requiring a cut). In contrast, the Figurado is simply any cigar that does not have straight sides. The Parejo is the traditional cigar shape, but the popularity of Figurados is increasing as more manufacturers try to offer distinct products. As for flavor or strength, shape has very little, if any, effect on the cigar smoking experience. There may be variability in taste among one cigar and the same series of cigar made in a different shape, but this is due to the tobacco and ratios of filler and wrapper; these variations in taste are not inherent to any one cigar shape. Other than the subjective preference of how the cigar feels between the lips or in the hand, there really is no solid reason to choose one over the other. Although, there is one advantage a Figurado cigar has over a Parejo. That is the ability of the smoker to easily adjust the draw or how easily the air passes through the body of the cigar. The head of a Figurado will taper to a point, thus it has varying diameters at which the cap can be cut. The smoker can slice the cap incrementally until the perfect diameter has been created to achieve their preferred draw.

Now, the astute reader may be thinking why not simply define a Parejo as a strictly cylindrical cigar and a Figurado as anything other than strictly cylindrical? There is actually a very good reason to not make this distinction and that is box-pressing. Box-pressing or square-pressing is a technique used prior to packing where cigars are gently pressed to become slightly squarer. This can actually increase the draw of the cigar. Additionally, it makes for more efficient packaging. This is important because both Parejos (Oliva Serie V Melanio Churchill) and Figurados (Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado) can be box pressed. Therefore, not all Parejos will be cylindrical, but all Parejos will have straight sides!


Hopefully everything has made sense up until now, because this is where everything gets slightly more complicated. But if you can understand the following you will be able to pick up any cigar in the smoke shop and identify it like a true cigar connoisseur!

If you were to go into your local smoke shop right now, grab one of every cigar and categorize them by their shape, by Parejo and Figurado, you would have two piles of cigars, each containing many cigars that do not look like the next. In the Parejo pile there will be many cigars varying in length and thickness, and in the Figurado pile there will be cigars with different dimensions, but also cigars that taper at various points along the body of the cigar. It would seem to follow that we must categorize cigars by shape and size, to uniquely identify cigars! This is exactly what we do! Now let's say you are about to enjoy your first cigar with a friend. Your friend is very generous and offers you a cigar from their humidor. They ask what you are interested in smoking. That's when you remember your significant other is expecting you to go shopping at the mall later that day. One-hundred percent of your neural processing power is now dedicated to finding any excuse to delay or completely avoid this near occasion of torment. You remember that a longer cigar will burn longer, so you ask for an 8 inch Parejo with a 50 ring gauge. This upsets your friend; he is generous, but he is also an elitist. He throws you out, for being so ignorant and offensive! Not only are you unable to enjoy a cigar, but you have to endure those uncomfortable contemporary seating accommodations outside every woman's dressing room for even longer, while your significant other tries on the seemingly same pair of jeans 6 times. What went wrong? You knew the cigar size and shape! We know that shape alone is not sufficient to uniquely categorize cigars, but having to say the shape and dimensions with units is not efficient and sounds silly. Therefore, cigars are categorically identifiable by their vitola! A vitola is a name for an associated size and shape of a cigar. It is almost like a cigar format or template. Examples of common vitolas are Churchill, Torpedo, and Robusto! We will now break down the most common vitola.


The recipe for a vitola is shape plus a size, so it makes sense to keep the Parejos separated from the Figurados. So let us start with the Parejos!


Starting at the shortest end of the spectrum, Robustos are a straight sided cigar typically ranging from 4 3⁄4 to 5 1⁄2 inches with a ring gauge between 48 and 52.


Coronas are the traditional Parejo cigar. Coronas are typically 5 1⁄2 to 6 inches in length and come in a 42 to 44 ring gauge. Corona in Spanish means crown, and it is the standard size to which all other cigars are compared. This has also led to many variations of the corona including:

  • Petit Corona - 4 1⁄2 to 5 1⁄8th inches by 40 to 42 ring gauge

  • Corona Gorda - 5 5⁄8ths inches by 46 ring gauge

  • Corona Grande - 6 1⁄8th inches by 42 ring gauge

  • Double Corona - 7 1⁄2 to 8 1⁄2 inches by 49 to 52 ring gauge

  • Gran Corona - 9 1⁄4 inches by 47 ring gauge


If you were waiting for a joke in that last section, the humor was actually the deliberate absence of any reference to the family of viruses bearing the same name. Come on that would have been too easy! ...I have some self-discipline...

Synonymous with the Corona Gorda, the Toro is simply a more modernized vitola. It is typically 6 inches in length with a 50 ring gauge, which is slightly larger than the traditional Corona Gorda. The Toro offers a similar smoking experience to the Robusto, but the extra length allows you to enjoy it for a while longer!


The Gordo is simply a long, thick boy; usually 6 inches long and girthing a 60 ring gauge. If you have ever smoked a Toro and thought, "I am satisfied with the duration of this smoke, but desired a smokier, cooler burning cigar that provides my jaw muscles with intense isometric exercise," then maybe the Gordo is right for you! Or if you don't have the time for a full jaw workout, you can try the Gordo's little brother, the Gordito (4 1⁄2 inches by 60 ring gauge). The Gordo has become so synonymous with girth that some manufacturers have labeled any cigar with a ring gauge greater than 60, Gordos.


If the Gordo, or maybe even the Toro, is causing you jaw pain after an hour of clinching your lips and teeth around the body of the cigar, then the Panatella is probably what a prudent medical professional would recommend to alleviate such a pain. Note, I did not say licensed medical professional; this is not medical advice. A Panatella, like the Gordo and Toro, is 6 inches long with a slimmer ring gauge, typically 34 - 38. If the Panatella is not quite long enough, its less common cousin, the Lancero, offers an extra 11⁄2 inches with the same ring gauge.


The Lonsdale is named after Hugh Cecil Lo... you guessed it Lowther! the 5th Earl of Lonsdale. It is a 6 1⁄2 inch cigar with a 42 ring gauge, no exceptions. Supposedly, Lonsdale had ordered cigars of this specification to be made and labeled after his name.


The Churchill is one of the most iconic vitola as it is named after a man who is always depicted in very close proximity to a cigar, Sir Winston Churchill. The Churchill is a 7 inch cigar with a classic ring gauge of 47 but can range up to a 50.


Finally, we have arrived at the Presidente, it's big. The Presidente is typically an 8 inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, but can be as long as 10 inches with larger ring gauges.


If you haven't caught on by now, cigars are all about options. There is a cigar for everyone out there; the only trouble is that it may take you a lifetime to find it! The list of options is only going to get longer as we begin to discuss the Figurado vitolas, but these options should be welcomed as some of the best cigars are of these vitola.

Pyramid or Pirámide

We will start with the Pyramid because it is the archetype for most Figurado vitolas. Pyramids have open feet just as Parejos, however the heads taper to a point on the caps. A Pyramid is typically 6 to 7 inches long, and it has a 40 ring gauge at the head with a 52 to 54 gauge at its widest horizontal cross section, which is at the foot.


The Belicoso is a shorter Pyramid, with a typical length of 5 to 5 1⁄2 inches and a ring gauge of 50. The Belicoso also tends to have a more rounded head at the point when compared to a Pyramid.


The Torpedo is really just a Pyramid with a more gradual taper that comes to greater point. Sizes across manufactures vary considerably, but a Torpedo is typically around 6 inches in length with a 48 ring gauge. Similar to the Torpedo, is the Chisel, which in place of a point, tapers to a broad edge like the tip of a chisel. The Chisel vitola is actually a patented design exclusively sold by La Flor Dominicana. What is unique about the Chisel is that no cutter is required to smoke it. Simply place a thumb and index finger at either end of the tip of the cigar and pinch. The cap splits open and you are ready to light up your cigar!


When you think of a torpedo, as in that of the naval ordnance variety, do not think of the Torpedo vitola. Instead, burn the image of a torpedo into your mind when you think Perfecto, propellors and all, the whole thing, it does not matter! This is the most infuriating aspect of the cigar nomenclature. Look at any picture of a real torpedo, and then look at the Torpedo in your humidor and then a Perfecto, and tell me which one it looks more like! Anyway, a Perfecto has both a tapered head like a Pyramid, but also has a tapered foot and a prominent body... like a legitimate torpedo. They can vary greatly in both length and ring gauge.

Finally! If you made it this far and have understood all that has been presented, you are in the best shape of your life to argue with anyone that wants to tell you that a torpedo looks more like a Torpedo than a Perfecto. Well maybe not that, but certainly you will know your way around the smoke shop a little better next time!


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