A wife a little out of her league

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Original poster
Mar 22, 2011
Gentlemen (and some ladies perhaps?),

I have been reading the reviews of various smokers - I want to get one for my husband for our anniversary.  He loves to grill and has faithfully used his little charcoal Weber for 10 years now.  As someone who loves BBQ (esp. the Texan kind), I think he would love a smoker. He is all about the details when he grills and he sincerely appreciates meat (and he's a metallurgist, so I know he would appreciate the super thick gauge varieties, but I can't swallow the price that comes along with them).  

Based on the rankings on this forum, I checked out the Char-Griller Smokin' Pro on amazon.  The one I found on amazon is model 1224, comes with the side firebox, has 580 square inches of main cooking space (extra 250 w/ grate on firebox) and has cast iron grates.  Price $217.49.  

There is also a Char-Griller Outlaw (model 2137) with 725 sqin of main cooking space, cast iron grates, and advertised as "air-tight." Adding on the firebox, total price about $265.  

Does anyone have the Outlaw - it seems for $50 more it might be worth it to have more space and an "air-tight" lid??  Is this a true claim?  Just wondering if anyone can recommend one over the other.  

Also, is it standard practice that these things arrive all beat to heck?  The reviews on amazon are a little scary for damaged parts, lousy assembly instructions, mismatched holes, missing parts.... my husband is a very handy guy, but still I don't want to get him something that shows up as junk and has to be custom built from the outset.  

Thank you all for any input you may have.  I am the "inside" cook so researching these things has definitely been like learning a new language!  
I'm not sure how to reply to this.  There are so many types of smokers out there that I don't know how he would like to go.  The Weber Smokey Mountain is an upright, and is very durable as all Weber products are.  Many here love them.  I have the Char Griller Smokin Pro, which is a horizontal offset and is a good starter unit which is cheaper.  The horizontal offsets like the Char Griller are less fuel efficient and require more fire tending.  Some of us think that is part of the fun because it keeps us out of the house and closer to the beer cooler.  Others like a hands-off, set and forget method which will lead you toward uprights, gas or electric units. I bought my Char Griller at Home Depot, so I cannot tell you about shipping problems.  Assembly is no problem for anybody who is at least a little bit handy.

Having said that, be sure you know what he is thinking about before you buy.  Personally I don't like people making those decisions for me.  Have you thought about a gift certificate?

Either way, he is lucky to have you.  I am a little touched that you are so understanding of his hobby and so thoughtful!

Good luck and good smoking.
Glad you joined us, welcome!

Hard to pick out a smoker for someone else.... I have a CharGriller Smokin Pro that works descent after several modifications, but I have regular Weber grills that I prefer using. Others here will have good suggestions for you, personally I would also look at the Weber Performer and/or Weber (WSM) Smokey Mountain either 18" or 22.5".
  Wife, Is there a ceiling on the cost of the pit? If so, then I would go with one that has more room as it sounds as if it is a little heavier made(you'll apreciate weight later).

  I was told a long time ago that if you are going to get a smoker,get one bigger than you need(again you'll thank me some day!). Hoping I don't "P" off anyone, IMHO,I believe the Smokin'Pro is a piece of junk,wide gaps to the entire thing-firebopx and cooking chamber. I got one
and promptly sold it;and it's still here at my place?Shows you that it's nothing special,or he felt sorry for me

  When I got my big smoker, I talked the Wife into getong a bigger one than we needed and now she loves thay I can do any kind of party that's thrown at me.
And yes it stretched our budget for a while,but this pit will be willed down to my greatgrand kids.Although my pics are down for the time , I have a shot of it in my avatar shot

  Anyhow for what it's worth,if he's a good guy (and I'm sure he is), get one that won't rust down in a year or so...Remember;you get what you pay for

  Well, I hope I've not led you into poverty, but whatever type cooker you get , remember to:
Here's my two cents. 

If he is also at the metal working side of things then I say tell him what you want to do, but you don't want to waste money on something that either does not work right or may it be something he didnt really want.

Actually even if he would not want to make one himself, tell him anyways.

This way build or buy, it will be one that he really wants. Heck, he may surprise you and say he would like to use an electric unit. There is a bunch of folks on here that simply love them.

No matter the route you take he will surely love you for your thoughts and plans to get him a smoker.

Please give us an update and let him know you found a great place for smoking ideas.
I just bought a new smoker (also at the urging of my wife) and I agree it's a good idea to let him pick his own.  He'll appreciate the thought and it will be fun for him to shop around.  He might already have some thoughts on what he wants.  Maybe you could wrap some BBQ tools with a card, then send him to this forum to get 1000 opinions on the best smoker to buy!
Hello wife and welcome to SMF,

Your husband is a very fortunate man to have a wife that understands him.

I own two smokers, a Weber Smokey Mountain which burns charcoal and a propane smoking cabinet, since your husband is already familiar with how to use charcoal I would suggest the Weber Smokey Mountain, it is a very good smoker that has a very short learning curve, it is air tight and after a couple of smokes will settle in at the low smoking temperatures we use, there are two models, the 18.5 inch which costs around $250 and the new 22.5 inch for around $400. The WSM is easy to assemble, air tight and if there is a problem their customer service is excellent.

May I also suggest you take a look at some of the recipes, other than the meats, and you will find most of them can be cooked in your oven.  There are a lot of very creative men and women here and I'm sure you can find some that will interest you, that way you will be able to prepare the meals together, you 'inside' and your husband outside.

Please keep us posted as to what you chose and be sure to show your husband this site so that we can help him with his new hobby.

Wife - Welcome to SMF. Glad to try and help you. There are a lot of happy WSM smokers here. I have what they call a watt burner guy. I have an electric smoker and it is really simple to use,

I have an idea for you. Give him a gift certificate for a smoker that you generate on your PC and let him research and select his own.  Good luck in your quest

Let us know how we can help 
One more vote for the Weber Smokey Mountain! He already knows Weber makes a good product from his last ten years of using one and the WSM is "smoking for dummies" easy to use (which is why I have one!
). If it is just the two of you the 18.5" one is great, but if you like to entertain, have friends, have family, ect. then the 22.5" is the way to go. A lot of folks here have purchased theirs from these guys and had great results:


Good luck and I welcome to the addiction!
i agree with the weber.......i don't have one but those who do, love them and as gene said they have great customer service.
I would have to agree with the Weber too. However, your husband may be dead set on getting a side fire box model, or a propane, or electric. I think the greatest gift is that this is something you want to get for him. So to make it perfect you need to find out what he wants. Let him pick it out.
Thank you all so much.  The reason I was looking at firebox models is that a friend in Texas (and accomplished smoker) told me to go that route.  Also, everyone has their own style, and my husband's would definitely be fire!  So I am not looking at propane or electric.  I like the looks of the Weber because it will take up less space and Weber is a trusted brand name (as far as my limited experience goes).  But I also like the idea of a bigger cooking area so we can feed more than just us.  He doesn't know what he wants yet - I don't think he's ever thought about getting one!  But we recently moved from TX to VA, and the BBQ just isn't the same out here.  He likes to cook, he likes to experiment, and he likes to drink, so I know this will be a fun new hobby for him.  I am seriously thinking about wrapping up some tools (and maybe a 6-pack!) as suggested and then letting him choose his own.... but I also wanted the "big surprise" of having one here on our anniversary! (#10)  

I will give it another day or two and see if anyone else weighs in.  Thank you so much and I will definitely tell him about this forum!!  I have been lurking for a few days and have already learned a lot!

Also - thanks JlRodriguez for the aim to find link - they have a sale going on right now and the 22.5" is a lot cheaper than home depot or elsewhere and comes w/ a free cover.
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 welcome and  congrats on the anniversary,

 I would recomend staying away from the char griller unless the hubby just wants to have to do a few modifications to it.

 The WSM is a great unit .

 But i have to agree w/ the others ,give him a token gift and let him pickout what he would like for a smoker after doing some research.
Wife....all good avice above and as you can see there is a wide range of opinion. Congrats on the upcoming anniversary and I like your thoughtfullness. For my 2 cents I like the idea of the gift certficate or cash in the amount you are willing to spend along with a gadget (we love gadgets) so he has something to open. Maybe create a folder on your PC with some links to various models he might consider, along with a link to this forum, so he can immediately start looking at possibilities. I, personally, would much prefer not being bought something such as this and would prefer doing the choosing myself. He most likely would not want to hurt your feelings and say he loved whatever you bought, secretly wishing for a different model.
Glad you joined us, welcome!

Hard to pick out a smoker for someone else.... I have a CharGriller Smokin Pro that works descent after several modifications, but I have regular Weber grills that I prefer using. Others here will have good suggestions for you, personally I would also look at the Weber Performer and/or Weber (WSM) Smokey Mountain either 18" or 22.5".

Mossy gave you a good reply to your question, and gave you good advise on a couple of alternatives too. It's all good my friend.
Hey Wife,

Glad you stopped in.  Buying a man a smoker for a gift is like me buying my wife shoes for a gift.  I hope that analogy makes sense.  While my wife would love for me to buy her shoes, and she would really appreciate the thought and effort for me to do that, but they surely would not be what she would pick out for herself. 

If he has a friend that is really into smoking meats and he's hung out with said friend doing it...that may be what he wants to copy since there will be some familiarity with it.  However I have to agree with the above about the Weber Smokey Mountain.  I have one and love it.  Just to give you a frame of reference on size.  I have the smaller 18.5" version.  I can do a 10+ pound pork butt on the bottom rack plus fill the top with sausages, a couple 3 racks of ribs, whatever.  Or you can fill the bottom with chicken (IT IS NOT TALL ENOUGH ON THE BOTTOM RACK TO DO A BEER CAN CHICKEN UNLESS THE TOP RACK IS REMOVED) and fill the top with a brisket, etc.

Basically I'm saying that in most cases my smaller WSM is plenty big for my family of 5, plus feeding a few guests.  It all depends on what you're cooking.  I just did 6 racks of ribs on mine and they turned out awesome.

I had a friend of mine's wife ask me this very question last Christmas.  I responed the same way.  Well, she did it her way.  He was really happy at first because it was something he'd always wanted.  But once he realized what his options were and what a pain the rear his smoker was, he was a little disappointed in what he got.

Due to probably price restraints...I'd print him out some pictures and direct him back here so he can ask based on what kind of cooking he wants to do.

Good Luck.
I have both a side fire box charbroiled and a WSM 22.5 I like them both if your looking for value the WSM is it the char trolleys can make some good Q with some minor modifications..... That said I would have loved the thought my wife put into picking out the gift and since he's been happily using the same grill for ten years I say go for it.
Good luck let us know how it turns out!
Wow what a great wife! I am lucky enough to have a GF that bought me my smoker and cant tell you how thankful I was when I got it. Probably the best gift i have received to date! I am partially biased toward the wsm as its the only smoker I have ever personally used and owned. However based on my experience thus far I would highly recommend it. As most have already said weber service is top notch, its a simple easy to assemble design and it takes up next to no space at all, while still having the capacity to cook its fair share of meat at one time. From what I have read charcoal usage is relatively low compared to comparably sized units and temperature control is a breeze. Here is some pictures of mine and the assembly process along with a few cooks. Let me know if you have any questions but I am sure you will get all the information you need on here as everyone is very helpful and knowledgeable on this forum!

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Welcome to SMF wife   I would say find some stores that sell smokers and find a reason to go there and as you go by the smokers say those look neat and see which one gets his attention

good luck and happy anniversary  
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