It's going to be very similar(because of the open draw/same design) to the cob. I have both and much prefer the cob. The hardwood is still a good smoker once the cake is built up, but those first few smokes are funky. For not much more money just get a used briar pipe from somewhere and try that out.
good advice here. I too would go for a cheap briar over a MM hardwood.Everyone will have a different recommendation here. Mine would be to get a Dr. Grabow Royalton, a briar pipe. It will get you used to smoking a briar, which is the most used pipe material for good reasons. The Royalton has an acrylic stem which is durable and the best quality stem Dr. Grabow has. And the best part is this will cost you forty bucks and shipping, or less used. I think the Royalton bulldog is the best designed shape in the Royalton series, but that's my taste. For literally a few dollars more, you could get a Rossi, made-by-Savinelli, Vittoria, in a variety of shapes. None of these would be a risk for travel in terms of losing something expensive. Whatever you choose, good luck and good smoking. You can smoke the Dr. Grabow without a filter if you choose; just take it out and leave it out. Maybe try it once just to see what it is, how it smokes. If you want a tighter draw, just buy a regular 6 mm adaptor for a buck or two.
Agreed. You could even smoke most of them as they are if you didn’t care about finish.