I just made the decision, based solely on this thread, that I am going to stop on my briar PAD for a couple months, and start up on some cobs, I have a country gent, a SD cob, and two freehands. I think I need to add a few more, also a few forever stem, I think I may order a 7 day set of cobs or something.
+1 to everyone who has suggested a MM as the way to go. Quality pipes and great customer service to boot. If you're looking for a fun light and little pipe, I'd recommend the Eaton. It's quite small and when I got it I thought it was too small, but now one resides in my truck permanently because it's such a good and convenient smoke. It's durable, doesn't mind heat or cold and always smokes wonderfully. Plus it fits in with my short commute to work and sometimes abbreviated lunch breaks.
Also, +1 to grafikchaos. I usually smoke an english in my cobs. It works as well for english blends as it does for aromatics.
The MM Bulldog had to be delayed a year, since their last crop didn't produce enough extra large ears of corn/cobs. Phil is sure that they now have the correct vintage seed and that the upcoming crop should result in plenty of huge cobs to work with.
I didnt understand the whole cob thing either. One day I won a lot of estates pipes on eBay. Well two of them were cobs. It took a few weeks but I ended up packing a bowl of one of them and it was love at first light. All of the points listed above were right on. I still like my briars as well but I always use the cob when working in the yard, hunting and fishing trips, and when ever the urge just hits. Im going to Branson Mo in two weeks and Im trying to figure out how to talk my wife into swinging up towards Washington Mo where the MM plant is located. I would love to see it and buy a few new pipes from them first hand.
I wasn't sure if I wanted one at first, either. In fact, I wasn't terribly interested in briar at first, just Meerschaum! It's easy to see why someone would really love their briars, but a cob? In the end I decided it was only $5 to take the gamble. Now I would never be caught without a couple of cobs in my rotation!