Barrel Smoker Vs. Gas Smoker?

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Original poster
Feb 4, 2014
Avondale, AZ
So I am looking to buy my first smoker and I think I am going to get either a barrel smoker or a gas smoker. From what I have read both are good choices for a beginner but I would like your input. Both smoker I am looking at are priced around the same: Big Poppa barrel smoker and Camp Chef Vault 24" gas smoker. 

From what I can tell the the benefits of the barrel are easy to set up and use, large area to smoke, uses charcoal. 

Downside is it is messy, hard to use multiple racks

Benefits of gas: Easy access to the meat, gas is easy to use, multiple racks

Downside: Some claim that propane makes the meat taste different, can be hard to control heat, tends to leak, could cost more to use

I am sure there are advantages and disadvantages that I am missing, this is just a brief list. 

If you could give me some guidance I would greatly appreciate it. Please give me reasons why you think I should go with one over the other. Also if you have a certain barrel or gas system you recommend I am all for recommendation. 
Hello Brian.  I hate to add to your dilemma.  Sometimes the weather in your area can also affect your choice.  I see weather in your area will not be an issue.  Your pros and con for each are correct, but each con can be easily solved.  It is almost a personal preference thing.  IF I had to chose between the 2 for a 1st smoker I think I would chose the UDS.  They are easy to build and work really well.  I would not but that kit, I'd build from scratch.  I advised a 21yr. old girl here in England on building her's so you can do it, and it's cheaper.  I think the UDS is a cheap to make, easy to control heat, well rounded smoker.  You MIGHT want to move on from that smoker but many folks love them sooo much they never change.  Just my opinion.  Good luck.

I actually have a barrel/horizontal (older Brinkmann Pitmaster Deluxe) smoker that I put a gas burner insert in. The biggest con I have with the smoker, it heat distribution. There can be a 30-50 degree difference from one end of the smoker to the other. But that can also be a good thing to. There have been times were the meat was close to the firebox, and got a little too much char and i was able to move it further away. This can be alleviated by putting in some tuning plates and heat baffle which i have done. And it does help. But with a vertical smoker, there is no need for those mods. There will still be mods that you need to make to a vertical smoker. I have only used gas for my heat source, the heat can be easily maintained, once you get it dialed in correctly, which could take some time, set it and let it go.  
Thanks for the advice guys. I decided to go with a UDS. I am going to start getting the parts soon. Ill post updates someplace on the forum. 
Glad to see you went with a UDS....Price and how well they work are hard to match. I built my first last year and my other 3 smokers are sitting in a corner. Can't wait to see it. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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