Say hello to my little friend: M203 and Joya de Nicragua

“Say hello to my little friend!” You’ve almost certainly heard Tony Montana’s phrase and probably recall the M203 it heralded. What does it have to do with “Jewel of Nicaragua”, i.e. Joya de Nicaragua cigars? Stand by, we’ll explain.

Tony Montana was a hard-working, cigar-smoking, refugee from Cuba who came to the United States during the Castro era and made it big in the Land of Opportunity. He “made it big” murdering people and setting up a drug empire in Miami. Granted, he was a villain (or maybe anti-hero) but come here he did. He showed up with just the shirt on his back and died in a mansion surrounded by mountains of cocaine.

Ah, ya gotta love Hollywood. Or not. Incidentally, Hollywood is where most of Scarface was filmed after the residents of Miami protested the movie and its depiction of Cuban-Americans.

Tony Montana with a cigar in his mansion in the movie Scarface.
Tony with a cigar in his mansion. It’s probably not a Cuban cigar, as we’ll explain. It’s far more likely to be (or supposed to be) a Joya de Nicaragua.
M203 40mm grenade launcher Tony Montana Scarface. Say Hello to my little friend.
The M203 40mm grenade launcher used by Tony Montana in Scarface was originally mounted to an M16A1 for filming but was later moved to a converted AR-15 after the film’s cinematographer figured out he could synchronize the firing with the cameras they were using–thus producing a longer-lasting muzzle flash for the movie.

Tony loads up a grenade and stuffs a couple of old-school steel magazines (no Magpul in1983!) in his suit pockets.

After delivering his classic line, the shooting and grenade launching starts.

Tony Montana, "Say Hello to my little friend!"
Say hello to my little friend!”

During the movie, Tony smokes a lot of cigars. What cigar he is smoking is anyone’s guess. I just recently watched Scarface and I couldn’t see a band on any of the cigars he lit up.

So what cigar was he smoking?

Here is my theory. Tony was Cuban. But he was a refuge from Castro and his Communist regime. So I am going to rule out any Cuban cigars for that reason alone. So what was it?

One of the most popular cigar brands in the US in the late 1970s and early 80s was Joya de Nicaragua. The current production joy de Nicaragua No. 6 looks to be about the same size as the cigars Al Pacino lights up in Scarface. That doesn’t make it 100% certain, but it’s a reasonable deduction based on what we know.

The Joya de Nicaragua Classíco. This was the first cigar made in Nicaragua and sold in the USA.
The Joya de Nicaragua Classíco. This was the first cigar made in Nicaragua and sold in the USA.

And, these cigars are still in production today. That’s why the Joya de Nicaragua is my recommended pairing for the next time you take out an M16 (or an M4, as you prefer) with an M203 grenade launcher.

Otherwise known as your little friend.

Joya De Nicaragua Clásico Señorita.
A more modern version of the Joya de Nicaragua: the Joya De Nicaragua Clásico Señorita, from this review on Fine Tobacco NYC.
The M203 used by Tony Montana in Scarface
The M203 used by Tony Montana in Scarface is actually the exact same weapon used by Alan “Dutch” Schaefer in Predator. Learn more on IMFDB.

Shooting Notes: Just like your AR-15 but with full auto and old-school hardware. Oh, and you are gonna need a tax stamp for the grenade launcher.

Tasting Notes: The Joya de Nicaragua Clasico No. 6 is a full-bodied, but smooth cigar with flavors of wood, spice, and cocoa.

An M203 deployed to Iraq.
An M203 deployed to Iraq. Unknown photo credit.
M203 Grenade Launcher.
Practicing the phrase “Say hello to my little friend!” Staff Sgt. Nehemiah E Taylor, of the Mississippi National Guard’s298th Support Battalion, fires the M203 grenade launcher during the individual weapons qualification weekend at Camp McCain Miss. in January 2014. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Andy Thaggard.
Arthur Fuerte is a professional tobacconist with a penchant for mid-century militaria. He knows his way around the cigar parings, single-malts, and classic American firearms.

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