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Nesco Jerky Works (Jerky Gun) Tutorial w/gun-view

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I recieved a PM about some tips for using a Jerky Gun, and I did a search for something similar to this and came up empty.

So, for the benefit of this member as well as anyone else who may be curious about the equipment, the process of it's use, or is just looking for something different to smoke up, lets begin with some basics on the principle of operation and how to use it, inwhich I will include some tips from my personal experience.

The package from our victim...I mean, topic:

Jerky Gun Components (clockwise, from top left)...Barrel, Tip Retaining Collar, Snack Stick Tip-large, Snack Stick Tip-small, Jerky Strip Tip, Gun Mechanical Housing and Controls:

Plunger Release Button (metalic tab) on top of red plastic housing (very important), trigger on bottom and Plunger rod passing through the center:

Plunger in the retracted position:

Plunger in the extended position:

Barrel installed and Plunger retracted, ready to load with meat:

Barrel installed with internal view of Plunger retracted, ready to load:

Barrel installed with internal view of Plunger extended, as it would be after shooting all of the meat:

Collar over top of the Jerky Strip Tip:

Packing meat into the Barrel with the handle of a wooden spoon, to remove air cavities in the meat. I recommend a smooth, round, blunt-ended wood object, as it is less likely to cause scoring of the barrel bore (interior), thereby increasing Barrel and Plunger seal life:

Seasoned & cured Ground Beef to load with wooden spoon...note this mix contains crushed red pepper and this will shoot through the strip tip with no noticable clogging:

Jerky Tip installed and ready to shoot:

Some of one of my product runs nearing completion of drying...notice on the bottom rack (left front) a strip looks torn...this is caused by air cavities in the barrel during shooting, which can cause width/thickness uniformity problems. Another cause for this is stretching during shooting of the meat to the rack:

Principle of operation: meat is discharged from the tip by displacement of meat via the plunger caused by squeezing of the trigger. This is very similar to how a sausage stuffer operates, in fact when a stuffer is not available, this could be used as such, for very small batches of just a few pounds.

Barrel capacity of this model: approx 6.5-7.0 oz of meat mix by weight, with moderately packed meat.

Expected rack coverage needed for 1.0 lb of strips: 215-220 square inches for very close meat strand spacing (1/8" or less), 240-250 sq in for ~3/16" strand spacing.

Note: clean and have ready all racks you wish to load with meat for smoking/drying prior to prepping jerky gun to lessen the exposure time of your meat. Practice good hygiene, and like to wear latex or similar gloves if available while touching meats. Following sausage making sanitization and housekeeping practices is a good rule of thumb.

1.0 To load the gun:

1.1 Assemble the barrel and mechanical housing, leaving the tip and collar off;

1.2 Fully depress the Plunger Release and pull the Plunger Handle until the Plunger fully retracted into the barrel;

1.3 Scoop 1-1.5 oz into the barrel and pack to remove air cavities, repeat until meat is approx. 1/4" to 1/8" from the barrel end;

1.4 Place desired Tip and Tip Retaining Collar over the threads on the Barrel and gently thread up and finger tighten until slightly snug;

2.0 To shoot the gun (if you have used the old style rope window caulk, and then, caulking guns for home maintenance, you'll really appreciate this):

2.1 place meat rack on a suitably sized baking pan oriented in the upright position, or some other object to rest the rack in an elevated position on your work surface. This will reduce the possibility of contamination of the meat un-necessary contact with surfaces;

2.1 Choose orientation of meat on rack. If using regular wire meat racks, you will want to shoot the meat across the wires to avoid fall-through of meat. If mesh racks or small gauge expanded metal is used, orientation of stips or sticks will not be as critical. Large expanded metal may not be suitable for this application.

2.2 For optimum coverage of rack space, you will shoot the entire span of the rack. Note that most vertical smokers will have hot areas near the edges of the cooking grate (near cooking chamber walls). This causes a more rapid drying of the meat, so use these areas sparingly for the best end product results.

2.3 To begin shooting, aim the gun down ward and squeeze the trigger several times for the first run to start out of the tip. The plunger will make a clicking sound with every release of the trigger...this is normal, and is the action of the mechanism as the trigger tange engages into the teeth on the plunger rod for the next stroke of the trigger.

2.4 When approx. 1.5" of meat has exited the tip, place the end of the meat where you want to start shooting. Orient the tip at the lowest possible angle with the grate without contacting it. Raise the gun tip approx 1.0-1.5" above the grate and squeeze the trigger in a smooth motion while drawing the gun towards the opposite end of the grate.

2.5 When shooting the meat, orient the tip approx. 1.0-1.5 inches from the grate at a low anglein relation to the grate while squeezing the trigger to discharge the meat mix.

2.6 Draw the meat strand towards the opposite end of the grate as it discharges from the tip, stopping approx. 1.0-1.5" from your desired target;

2.7 Lower the tip to the grate and pinch off the meat strand at the tip by pressing it gently onto the grate and lifting the tip. This will cause the meat strand to tear off.

2.8 Repeat 2.3 to 2.7 until gun is empty.

2.9 If gun runs empty in mid-strand as is inevitable and frequent, simply start your next strand so as to continue where you left off. This will help you to maximize grate use.

2.10 When it seems as if you have an extra long pull of the trigger, this is your indication that the gun is almost empty, if you don't watch the Plunger rod/handle clearance from the housing as an indicator.

3.0 To reload: Unscrew the Tip Retaining Collar and place tip/collar aside in a sanitized container and repeat steps 1.2 through 1.4.

4.0 Reloading before Barrel is empty: not recommended, as allowances must be made for the volume remaining on the tip when removed, while not being able to remove all air cavities...been there, done that (twice), won't do it again.

5.0 Clean-up: use med/hot dishwater, nylon brushes as needed and cloth to wash, then, hand dry.

I hope this helps to clear the water for anyone who may be looking for a little more fun while playing with fire, er...smoke...er...fire & smoke...yeah that's it!

Don't be bashful on questions if you have any...

Have fun & good smokes to all!


Note: bear with me on edits, as I did not use an outline for preparing this article...I just winged it! LOL! I'll update if I missed something, but I'll answer anyone's questions with a reply. Thanks.
post #2 of 24
Nice job Eric, thanks for taking the time to post this.
post #3 of 24
Very good tutorial, Eric! Points!points.gif
post #4 of 24
Very nice tutorial. You have inspired me to look for a gun
post #5 of 24
I found something like this last night a wally for 10 bucks my wife told me no i was so mad im going back tonight and see if i can get it
post #6 of 24
Cabela's has one in the Bargain Cave that looks like a good deal for $8. Is anyone familiar with the Shore Lunch Jerky Gun?

post #7 of 24
For the $7 price the racks look great too - you couldn't make em for that. Just pulled the trigger on both of them
post #8 of 24
Great tutorial Eric, have one question about the round tubes, do you use them with or without casings?points.gif
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

No casings for me...and the larger size holds up like a champ. Haven't used the slim-jim size (small) yet, but I don't think there would be any issues with that one either.

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dan!

No prob...was up late anyway lastnight, so.....

Thanks, I fugured there'd be someone interested in these gadgets.

Hah-hah! They are a pretty cool way change things up.

I bought this last winter @ wallyworld.com.

I just did a search and came up with what is still available on-line, if you can't find a local source, or if it's not on your favorite supplies shopping site. Here ya go:

Thanks fellas, have fun!

post #11 of 24
Thanks for the tip, I just ordered the Jerky Gun and a set of the racks...PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
I just thought about this info. I do alot of progressive q-views when I post to keep a diary of the day's events with the thin blue smoke.

Here are all (I think) of the threads I've done with the jerky gun, and they have additional info about the jerky gun, techniques, etc, and some show some minor jerky making boo-boos, just for some additional tips for those new to the jerky scene:

In post #4 on this thread I discussed some info about rendered fat removal:

This thread shows some pics/info on shooting the meat, and the finished pics show some discolored strips due to overdrying the meat (I wasn't on top of it as close as needed...lesson learned):

Here's an earlier thread with some smoker techniques, and on post #6, 3rd pic, you'll notice some tearing of the snack sticks due to lack of complete air cavity removal prior to shooting it out (packing the meat in the barrel), and possibly (not sure) due to meat shrinkage and sagging into the wire grate, which could also cause the meat to tear apart. This is just a cosmetic issue in the worst case, but just so you understand what can happen:

And this thread was from the first small batch I did with the jerky gun. This is for the most part a discovery of my new toy and a few thoughts on it's possibilities:

Enjoy, Folks!

post #13 of 24
Thanks for the links Eric, I will definitely be picking your brain once my jerky gun gets delivered...
post #14 of 24
Thanks for the great tutorial man. Points are in order but not available.mad.gif
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Cool, glad to help a fellow smoker. Yeah, feel free to "fire away" (heh-heh). I hoped we could get a good Q & A out of this thread. Even though I covered quite a bit already, no one person (including myself) can think of every possible detail or problem which could arise.

post #16 of 24
Congrats Eric, nice follow-through on the pics. You've given us much more information than most owner's manuals provide.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Rich. Man that's the truth...gotta have a degree in engineering to figure out how stuff is supposed to work before you can touch it, or else you break whatever it is the first time out of the box.

Alot of these gadgets come from some unknown backyard inventor who goes through all the red tape with some research/developement/marketing company. They tell him they'll handle the rest and all he has to do is sign over a percentage of the sales. Then the real world testing falls short of expected/advertized goals, and you and I have to figure it out on our own....sigh...such is life.

Anyway, SMF is great because we can bust open a can of whoop-butt on it and get 'er done! LOL!!!!!!!!

Take it easy, Rich.

post #18 of 24
I have the same nesco gun in the first post that came with a dehydrator, I bought a bigger one at sportsmens warehouse that works the same but holds about a lb of ground meat, less reloading!
post #19 of 24
Excited to try this soon. My package just arrived from Cabellas with the gun and 3 racks -
post #20 of 24
Thanks Eric, those are better instructions than came with mine! points.gif
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