Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

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IngloriousBriskets
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Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby IngloriousBriskets » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:48 am

Good morning! I'm new to BBQ and enjoying my "experiments"! So far I've been using by Brinkman 8440 grill (four burner) as an indirect smoker with wood chunks, but temperature control is a PITA. So I'm at the point I'd like to improve my tools to try more experiments! But price is an issue, and I don't want to drop a lot of money on something that would be a waste.

I'm looking at three different smokers:

Masterbuilt GS40 propane. The advantage here is that I've always grilled on propane, and it is easier to control the temperature. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004EB ... d_i=507846" target="_blank

Masterbuilt Charcoal Smoker. This moves me forward into "real" wood-fired BBQ. http://www.sears.com/masterbuilt-charco ... ockType=G1" target="_blank

Old Country BBQ Pits. These seem to be made with higher quality than the Masterbuilt charcoal smoker. Two different sizes: http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/store ... =578824977" target="_blank and http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/store ... =578824977" target="_blank

As far as what I'm smoking... last night's dinner was:
  • A variation of Myron Mixon's cupcake chicken (I smoked chicken breasts instead, using mini-loaf pans)
  • Smoke veggies: zuccini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, Vidalia onion with EVOO and Italian seasonings
  • "Smoked" (baked) potatoes. I wrapped in foil because my wife doesn't like the smoke flavor on potatoes :D

Upcoming projects:
  • Pork loin
  • Ribs (beef and pork)
  • Chuck roast (I'm practicing on chuck before trying any more briskets. Much cheaper!)

I have a family and three kids, grandbaby on the way. My goal is to be the pitmaster at the future family reunions!

So... what are everybody's opinions? Thanks!!!!!
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby DATsBBQ » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:17 pm

Have you looked at the Weber Smokey Mtn smoker? Quality unit within the price range you're contemplating already.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby tex_toby » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:23 pm

First off, welcome to the board. Glad you found us! :) For the price range you are in, almost anything you buy isn't going to last more than 5, 6 or 7 years - and that's with good care. Don't get me wrong, I started off with a Char-Griller Smoking Pro with side fire box and it produced some excellent grilled meals and is where my bbq'n obsession began. It just wasn't going to last forever. You get what you pay for - really. I do understand though the need to stay within a lower budget. My suggestion would be to go with the biggest Weber kettle style grill you can afford. Great for grilling and you can smoke on them too. A Weber will outlast any other unit in the same price range and you can buy any kind of replacement part you can think of for them.

I still own a smaller Char-Griller Wrangler that I take along camping with me. It's a great grill, but when it finally deteriorates enough to where I don't want to use it, I'll replace it with a Weber.

Just my $0.02

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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby tex_toby » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:26 pm

I guess I just assumed you wanted to grill and smoke. I agree with Dats - if you are looking for a smoker only, go with the Weber Smokey Mountain. If you are looking to use it for both, go with a kettle. You can grill with a WSM, just not real easily. The problem is that you can buy a great smoker that doesn't grill very well, or a great grill that's not as good for smoking, but when you blend the two needs you end up compromising somewhere along the lines. I'm guilty of that too - I LOVE my Gator Pit, but I try to use it for both grilling and smoking. It should really just be a dedicated smoker, but I do use it for both.

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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby IngloriousBriskets » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:41 pm

Thanks, everybody! For grilling, I'll stay with the Brinkman since it's what I know. (I have a Weber 22 Gold... never use it...)

I've looked at the WSM, but to be honest, for the price ($400!!!) it doesn't have a lot of rack space. The GS40 has three racks at half the price. But I haven't looked at one in person... maybe I should do so.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby BluDawg » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:07 pm

What will you take for the Weber? I think you should look into building UDS It will out cook everything you looking at for less than a Franklin.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby IngloriousBriskets » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:38 pm

Heh, heh... I probably need to start using the Weber Gold. I need tol practice controling charcoal heat and burn rates.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby HarvestMoon » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:17 am

Watch out for BluDawg, he likes his Webers. Here a BluDawg's link with a very simple mod to get over 10+ hours of smoking using a kettle. http://www.texasbbqforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=8090
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby Boots » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:30 am

Quality on the Webbers I have seen is superior to the old Brinkmann can smoker I had. plus Home Depot carries lots of spare parts. My Brinkmann was cranky to operate, light weight and kinda flimsy, with only 2 height positions for the grates. Would look for one with more grate height options and easier to lift a lower grate out with food on it. Was not possible on the Brinkmann given the lag bolt hangers for the grates. Now, it has been years since I owned my Brinkmann, they may be much better now. Must be a lot of people that like 'em, since 'ol Baxter Brinkmann can afford a big mansion down in Dallas.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby IngloriousBriskets » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:05 am

HarvestMoon wrote:Watch out for BluDawg, he likes his Webers. Here a BluDawg's link with a very simple mod to get over 10+ hours of smoking using a kettle.


I understand, once you have a tool that works well, you keep using it :D .

In my case though, crouching down over a bullet is not ideal physically (balance issues, glasses and a bad knee.) The propane smoker at least lets me sit on a stool and load everything sideways. The others I listed let me work standing up. I realize they're all "B-grade" equipment, but right now that's a good price point for learning.

Maybe in a few years my wife will let me buy a Jambo... :rose:

I'm leaning towards the Old Country smokers, but the Masterbuilt GS40 has a major advantage of being "more" portable. And with the heat/drought situation where I live, I can use a propane smoker even with a burn ban being ordered by the county.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby dub' » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:00 am

I'm with BluDawg-
If I wasn't usin a Kamado,I'd want a UDS.
A WSM would be choice #3.
I learned fire control on my ECB back in the day.
That was a trail/trial of tears sometimes.
I wouldn't complain if someone gave me a Masterbuilt,but,
they don't look all that well built.

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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby BluDawg » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:40 pm

IngloriousBriskets wrote:
HarvestMoon wrote:Watch out for BluDawg, he likes his Webers. Here a BluDawg's link with a very simple mod to get over 10+ hours of smoking using a kettle.


I understand, once you have a tool that works well, you keep using it :D .

In my case though, crouching down over a bullet is not ideal physically (balance issues, glasses and a bad knee.) The propane smoker at least lets me sit on a stool and load everything sideways. The others I listed let me work standing up. I realize they're all "B-grade" equipment, but right now that's a good price point for learning.

Maybe in a few years my wife will let me buy a Jambo... :rose:

I'm leaning towards the Old Country smokers, but the Masterbuilt GS40 has a major advantage of being "more" portable. And with the heat/drought situation where I live, I can use a propane smoker even with a burn ban being ordered by the county.
I'm a firm believer in spending my money one time. Take a Hard look at ABS It is a great compromise between a Cabinet and an offset. http://americanbarbecuesystems.com/All-Star.asp
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby Markw142 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:11 am

I tried a bullet type for a while but never felt comfortable with it.. started cooking with friends on a cook off team and fell in love with offset smokers....later on I found an Oklahoma Joe on craigslist for around $300...talked the wife into it and borrowed a c note from my brother to buy it....never regretted it
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby RACES DAVE » Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:50 am

A new guy here but let me chime in I have A CharGriller A Masterbuilt A Brinkman and now what I think is the easiest load and walk away cooker out today. The PIT BARREL Cooker. http://pitbarrelcooker.com/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank I cant tell you how tender and juicy everything comes out. I will be adding 4 more to my collection when I go into Competition. I cook BBQ on the weekends at a local Tavern and pack the house every weekend. This week is Smoked Beef Tenderloin. Smoked Twice Baked Potatoes.
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Re: Suggestions on buying my first dedicated smoker

Postby Jarhead » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:40 am

Dave, nice looking UDS.
But it will be a cold day in Haiti before I spend $300 on a UDS. :shock:
I built all three of mine for $75 less than one of those.
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