I've just noticed Ropp pipes, and I really like the look of some of them. Given their price point, that's impressive, and it seems like an inexpensive way to stretch the rotation. Are they good smokers or hit or miss?
I have a small Ropp Cutty with a horn stem. I like it. Not to sound like a dick, but I decided a while ago not to buy an "inexpensive pipe ever again. But this shape kept catching my eye every time I went to SPC. I finally pulled the trigger. The bit is thicker than I'd prefer but the pipe is so light, it's not a big deal.
Is it as good as my new BST Cutty?...no. But it's a damn fine pipe and for 70.00 it's a damn good buy.
I've been thinking about getting one for a while but haven't pulled the trigger yet.
Also take a look at the Chacom USA pipes. They are roughly the same price. I bought a Chacom USA Dublin that smokes well. I think the french pipes don't have a draw as open as I like but they still seem to be great smokers. I think the problem really resides in the stems having pretty narrow draught holes. I can feel a regular pipe stem is a bit tight in the stem.
Embers, that's a nice one but, uh, you're way off on my budget, I'm laughing at myself. I need to find one that's beat to hell for 20 or less, doesn't have to be clapped out but when getting the pipes I want at that price it's common.
Fitzy, French pipes seem notoriously restrictive but smoke fine in my experience, just not fine enough for me. I've had a few that were quite open but they were Maitre Pipier from BC, the other lines they have tend to be narrow in the draught. If need be I'll open stems up a little and funnel the tenon, usually a 5/32 through the bowls draught helps. Prefer a fairly open draw though personally.
I have two of the Vintage Series. One identical to the cutty chasingembers posted and a "footless" as well. I like them a lot, however the shanks and stems are a bit cock-eyed (really bad on the footed cutty, not so bad on the footless). You can't tell from the side angle shots SmokingPipes provides, but from looking at many of them, I can tell it would be the case with others besides mine. I don't mind this though because I appreciate the rustic vibe that it presents.
Also, the draw on these pipes was pretty tight initially but I'm comfortable with drill bits and abrasive cord to open up the draft holes in the shank and stem, and now they're more or less similar to my "open draw" pipes (modern Savinelli, etc.). The bit and button aren't exactly comfortable but the pipes are so light and the horn stem soft, I don't mind at all.
To add to what jefff said, the mortise drilling wasn't really the issue with the draw on these pipes, it was the stems. I use Mitchell's Abrasive Cord along with a drill bit where necessary to open up the stems and it works wonders.
As Mr Fitzy just told us I was recently facing similar narrow draught hole issues and the draw was somewhat restricted with my two Chacom pipes(both were lightweight with small bowls)I was stupid to sell them on, other than they performed well enough,
Their Vintage series pipes are made from briar turned a long time ago but only recently fitted with stems and put up for sale. These have a historical look, small bowls but fine for flake/plug/coin/rope. My Ropp isn't a Vintage. It's a Tonic shape 2427-4 straight apple, red stained with a deep raspberry stem. It's a narrow drilling but nicely focused, not constricted to me. It's a good clencher and a smooth smoker, a good pipe, distinctly French in look. Ropp may not be for the big bowl, wide-open draw pipe smokers.