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About to buy first smoker...advice needed

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I would like to buy my first electric smoker by the end of this summer and I've been looking at both the Masterbuilts and the Bradleys. My concern about the Masterbuilts is in the area of quality....seems like these units have a lot more threads/posts on defects and the units going out than the Bradleys.....however, I am hesitant on getting a Bradley due to #1. it's up front cost is more, and #2. the expensive wood pucks you have to use. Can anyone put at ease my fears of getting a Masterbuilt? I have seen the 30 inch digital controlled model at Cabelas for $150! That seems like quite a deal!
post #2 of 16
Send Beer-BBQ a -pm and he will set you straight.

My MES has served me well. I would look at Sam's 40'.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I just looked at the 40" at Sams.....$300....that is a little out of my price range.....I like the sounds of $150 much better icon_wink.gif

Could I get away with the 30" that they are selling at Cabelas? Is this a reliable model? Should I be looking for specific model/production numbers?
post #4 of 16
I think you probably see more problems with the MES because so many more of our members use them by far.
post #5 of 16
If I were to go with an electric it would be the MES. A friend of mine has one and loves it.

And Ron recommends it PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #6 of 16
To see if it is a new model look on the back and see if there is an access plate.
Thanks Rick.icon_wink.gif
post #7 of 16
I've had my MES for about 3 years and haven't had any problems really. The door gasket is just now starting to come loose but I'll fix that with a litlle RTV. Other than that the racks are starting to get a little rusty but that was my own fault. And I have used the hell out of mine!
post #8 of 16
I had an MES for a little over a year, and then one day in the middle of a butt smoke the heating element up and died. An internet search quickly revealed that this is not an uncommon problem with MES smokers. However, while it was still alive I loved that little box. I've since purchased a GOSM, and IMHO it is a much better product. It's easier to control heat, to get thin blue smoke, recovery times are much quicker, it produces a smoke ring, it's bigger, and yadda, yadda, yadda... However, it all comes down to personal opinion and likes and dislikes. My advice is to at least look into gassers too if you're considering an electric.

Just my $0.02.


Here's my new GOSM and the defunct MES it replaced. The much larger GOSM was less expensive than the MES:

post #9 of 16
MES or anything but a Bradley unless you like burning money.
post #10 of 16
I second that. (I have never used an MES though)
post #11 of 16
I own a couple MES's and for the cost compared to other electrics it is what I have been very happy with. There are other electrics I would prefer, but they are double and triple the price.

Here is an old thread on the same subject -
post #12 of 16
Not to mention the cost of operating it and small wood consumtion.

I called the power company and was told that 6 hours a day for 30 days would cost 10 dollars, and the wood is very cheap.
post #13 of 16
Just speaking from my own experiences, I was never able to get any smoke flavor out of anything I smoked in my old MES 30". I would add chips every half hour or so for the first 5-6 hours and have rich thin blue smoke the entire time, but my meats always tasted oven baked without an ounce of smoky goodness.

Again, that's just my experience with the MES. Several of the fine folks here own one and have great smoky results on a regular basis.
post #14 of 16
I started out looking for an electric a few months ago and ended up settling on a propane GOSM. $148 at wal mart .com
post #15 of 16
I bought my Bradley last August because of all the hype on them. When I got it I was super excited as I bought their biggest and best Model the 6 rack digital. I have used it twice. The first time we took the pork butts out of it after about 10 hours because we couldn't get the cabinet temp up over 198º and finished them in the oven.

The second smoke we decided to see how long it would take to complete in the smoker and after 23 hours we got the pork butts to 189º or there about. I have never been able to get cabinet temp above 200º.

I contacted Bradley and their great customer service said it must be the Temp sensor and they mailed me a new one that I could install myself. So much for a Warranty. Then I decided to start reading every post on their forum and began to notice that everyone was either adding a second element or a PID or some other fix so that the thing would get to proper temps. Also having to by Bubba Pucks in order to use the last three pucks in the feeder.

I started reading all the posts at the Bradley Forum and should have before buying one. An awful lot of buyers have problems with their units... Read every post carefully before buying one of them to see if you really want to get into redesigning an brand new smoker...

I also noticed that the majority of those liking them smoked Cheese, Fish, Sausage and things not needing long smokes or higher temps.

I also noticed a lot of complaints about not getting up to temps leading to the threads on how to over come that problem by adding the items to the smoker listed above.

I bought a new Bradley Digital 6 rack last fall and have used it 2 times. It is worthless in my opinion. I plan on selling it on Craig's list and taking my loss.

I bought the MES 40" at Sam's Club and got the 3 year warranty with it for an additional $39.. and LOVE IT... It is easy to use and works like a champ. you can use whatever type of wood you want sawdust, chips, chunks and get them for anywhere from Free to a few Dollars.

Check out My Comparison of Bradley vs MES

Bradley 6 Rack Digital

* Dimensions: Inside 15”W x 11.5”D x 33”HT Must Cut a Slab of Ribs in Half to Fit on Rack
* Dimensions: Outside: 17”W x 14”D x 39”HT - 24"W with Generator on side
* Internal Heater: 500 watt cooking element / 125 watt smoking element
* Bradley Price: $599.00
* 1 yr Factory Warranty (They Send You The Parts You Install Them, Some Warranty!!!)
* Must use Proprietary Pucks
Bradley Smoker Bisquettes 48 Pack - HICKORY $16,99 From Yard and Pool
* Bubba Pucks Needed to Feed Last Three Wood Pucks
* Bubba Pucks - Bradley Smoker Woodsaver - Set of Three $25.95 From Yard and Pool

MES 40"

* Sam's Item #: 173462
* Model: 20070810
* Dimensions: 41" x 20" x 24-7/8 Will hold full slab of ribs without cutting in half
* MES Price at Sam's: $299.00
* 3Yr Extended Warranty: $39.00

* MES has 1200 Watt Heating Element
* Uses Common Wood Chips or Chunks Which Can Be Found Anyplace Cheap. Can Even Make Your Own.

Which would you buy after comparing side by side? The cost of operating the Bradley skyrockets once you get past their original hype. The original cost alone is a $160.00 more than the cost of the MES + the 3yr Warranty from Sam's. If It Breaks Just Take It Back and Get Another One!!! And the MES is BIGGER!

There are many MES users here and ALL are Extremely Satisfied with them.

The MES doesn't have the problems Bradley smokers do with recovery times. Heating problems and a lot of other problems found on the Bradley.

I would highly recommenced getting one if you are looking for a good electric smoker.

I would also recommend getting an A-MAZE-N-SMOKER to go with what ever smoker you decide on. They ad a great versatility to smoking with or without cold smoke.
post #16 of 16
I Double What Paul Said!

I looked at both the Bradley and MES and purchased the 40" MES. I really had an issue with having to buy pucks from Bradley. These little things burn up every 20 minutes, and they cost $.40 each, unless you buy a large quantity. My understanding is that you waste 2-3 pucks on every smoke. A 4 hour smoke will cost you $5.60+ and an 8 hour smoke will cost $10.40+, just in those wood pucks. This was the main reason I chose NOT to purchase the Bradley. With the MES, you can use anyone's chips or even your own, if you chip up a tree.

The MES units of prior years had some wiring issues, but the fix is fairly easy. I believe MES has stood behind their earlier issues.

Only complaint I have, is I wish that MES had a switch to turn 1200 watt to 1/2 power. The recovery times are great, even during the winter months, up here in Minnesota. Minor Improvement in my opinion!!


No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

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