Looking to get a Charcoal Smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by aspicola, May 28, 2014.

  1. aspicola

    aspicola Newbie

    Hi all!

    I apologize if this topic is scattered through the forums, but wanted my own thread.

    I bought a MES 30 a couple months back and I have been producing some amazing food with it. However, I'm to the point already where I would like to add something more to my arsenal. I love the electric smoker, it does a great job, but I would like to produce some food from a real fire and get that true charcoal BBQ flavor. 

    I'm not to the point where I'll drop thousands on equipment, but am willing to pay for some quality.

    If I was going to be in the $250 to $400 price range, what would be a good choice? 

    I was looking at vertical and horizontal side box smokers, so any suggestions for either type would be appreciated!
  2. h2so4ca

    h2so4ca Meat Mopper

    At that price range I would look at a weber smokey mountain. They do a great job and come in 3 sizes to fit your needs.

    I have one of the 22.5" versions and couldn't be happier with it. It is easy to control and produces some great food. 
  3. I think it all depends on your space available and what you kind of prefer. I like offset smokers, but that's just a personal preference. I had a New Braunfels offset smoker for about 15 years and just recently gave it up and bought an Old Country BBQ Pits "Pecos Coal Smoker". It's not the best, but it was larger than my old one, came as a "ready to go" unit and was $400 at Academy Sports and Outdoors. It weighs about 225#, but has good sized wagon wheels so you can move it about if you need to. The firebox is large enough to accommodate good sized logs and the cooking grate on the firebox and cooking side are both expanded metal and slide out easily for cleaning. It fits my needs, but I'm no pro at this, I just love to cook things low and slow. Hope this helps you some.

  4. brinkmann trailmaster, either the vertical or the horizontal, they require some mods but they are great smokers and there are good threads on here on how to get it to be a great smoker
    remmy700p likes this.
  5. wood river bbq

    wood river bbq Smoke Blower

    Aspicola: Honestly, this is what I'd tell you if we both were standing in a saloon drinking a couple of beers.  Also, this is just my personal opinion. In the price range you're looking at you're going to get what you pay for. I've been down the road of modifying a Smoking Pro and it's a lot of time, work and money to modify it.The problem with the low price smokers in your price range is what you're working with in the first place. The thin metal, doesn't retain or distribute heat. The workmanship is not the greatest. There are air leak that carry out moisture,which dries up the meat and these leaks make it difficult to control air flow and the air flow controls your temperature. Also, the heat wants to go "up & out" and not sideways. Once I modified the Smoking Pro, it produced some good product but it was a struggle to deal with each time I used it. Near the end of my frustration, I converted it to propane and then gave it away.

    Lets say you spend $350 to purchase the unit -- you're then going to have to invest some more $$$ to modify it plus the time it takes. In my case, I wish I had purchased my Lang in the first place but "I didn't know what I didn't know about smokers". I thought, like some others, that I could take the Smoking Pro out of the box and start producing a quality product -- didn't happen.

    The suggestion regarding the Weber Smokey Mountain is a good one. It produces good product right out of the box but folks modify it also. The WSM will give you what you indicated you were looking for -- it's a quality unit which will produce good food using a real fire (charcoal) and produce true BBQ flavor.
  6. aspicola

    aspicola Newbie

    Thanks, that is some great information! I was looking at the WSM and it definitely looks like something I would really like to have. I think I may go check them out in person at a local Lowes that I believe has them.

    I was doing reading on the side box quality and Wood River you hit the nail on the head of what I read.I think I'm going to stay away from side boxes until I am ready to really invest the money in something like a Lang. 

    I was also looking at Kamado type smokers but wasn't too sure on them so I decided not to mention them. I was looking at Big Green Eggs until I saw the price, mainly because I saw a guy named Moe Cason on BBQ Pitmasters and Pit Wars had a couple and it interested me.
    marauder likes this.
  7. wood river bbq

    wood river bbq Smoke Blower

    Aspicola: You can't go wrong with the Green Egg and even the cheaper knock offs BUT, again for the money, the WSM is a good investment. I see a lot of them at competitions -- it's all some teams have. I was thinking of getting one because I like the water pan aspect of that unit but I have the Weber 22.5 kettle, which we use for chicken, plus my wife would go ape if I came home with another cooker but she'd eventually get over it!! You can buy WSM's at Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe's, Amazon etc. The price is the same everywhere. I bought the Weber Kettle at Bed, Bath & Beyond and took advantage of their 20% off coupon!!

    Here's the thing on the Lang's (Lang 36 Patio $1000), Horizon's and smokers in that price range and way above $1000 -- when they arrive at the bottom of your driveway, you unpack them from the pallet and move them to your backyard. Then you fire them up to season them. 10 minutes after you finish the season process you could invite your friends and neighbors over for a "Q". In other words, they're ready to go without any modifications and the same with the WSM. I had a lot of fum modifying the Smoking Pro and I learned a lot as to how smokers work but knowing what I know now I wouldn't buy another one.
    neumsky1 likes this.
  8. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

  9. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]  is my opinion also. That's the direction I went after using the MES40.
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  10. aspicola

    aspicola Newbie

    Thanks everyone. I have to save up for a few paychecks to get my new WSM, but once I do I'll show some product. Until then, the MES will do just fine. It took some time but I know the tricks of it, how to get a good smoke going and keep it going without an AMNPS.
  11. jbili

    jbili Fire Starter

    Have to agree got the WSM 22"    easy to use great results   easy to clean up to

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