All great points TBH and well thought out.Rec Tec will obviously win this survey as there are infinitely more Rec Tec owners than there are Weber Smoke Fire owners (exactly 0).
I do not own a pellet grill yet so all of this is IMHO... but I have been researching for months on a perfect solution and have not yet pulled the trigger. I was leaning towards the Stampede but discovered that there is a difference in gauge of steel between the Stampede (18 ga body and 12 ga lid) and the Bull (14 ga body and 10 ga lid) per Rec Tec. Which to me justified the $300 difference in price. Plus the fact that the Bull sells more and thus brings the per unit cost down. Which means the Bull is probably worth more than the cost difference over the Stampede.... but I am getting off point.
So I had decided to purchase the Bull on Cyber Monday. Along comes the Weber SmokeFire. I have changed my mind in 2 days of research.
I too have a weber gasser so the ability to sear is not critical. But I have very limited deck space so if I could get rid of my gasser and replace with a cooker that can do it all that would be a great advantage. Jack of all trades is not always a bad thing. Advantage Weber
The price is of the 2 units are dead even on the surface. I would have to purchase addition items with the Rec Tec that I would not need with the Weber. Such as GrillGrates for searing. a shop vac for cleaning and Downdraft for efficiency. So slight advantage for the Weber but relatively even.
The ability to smoke meat is the unknown here. I have confidence the Weber can handle the task as it will obtain the 200 degree level which is necessary to achieve maximum smoke output. But I will give this point to Rec Tec.
Construction was a key factor in my previous research for both heat retention and longevity. The stainless steel construction of the Rec Tec vs the enamel coated steel of the weber, gives the Bull the edge. Although, the Weber has double walled construction in certain areas so it may have an advantage in heat retention. But the overall point will have to go to the Bull.
Now the weber design has several design features in their unit that the Rec Tec does not. Such as the angled auger with reverse motion on shut down. Better location of control panel. Easy clean out with hidden grease pan and pellet dump. 4 temp ports vs 2. Pellet low level alarm. All add to a better maintenance experience and more importantly "Safer" operations. All advantage Weber.
The point about the smoke stack and how it effects the flow of smoke on the cooking surface is a minor one (again IMHO) but I believe weber has a point. If the smoke stack was not an issue than there would be no market for products like the Don Godke's Downdraft. Advantage Weber.
I believe both are outstanding cooking solutions but the Weber probably fits my long term needs/desires better. You will have to decide which fits your needs/desires.
Like you this would be my first pellet smoker and I have also been doing research for months because well, it's what I do when I'm going to buy something for this price point.
I can say that I just spoke to someone at Rec Tec and the experience is awesome. It's almost like you called your best friend that's been doing this for years and has a crazy amount of experience and wisdom. This point certainly goes to Rec Tec.
I don't think that Weber WON'T knock it out of the park, I just think that with customer service and build quality, they won't touch Rec Tec's Bull. He also told me that starting tomorrow at 3pm you can see the new deals on their site but can't order them until Friday. He also told me that it would be far superior to my Military discount so take that for what it's worth.
I for one will for sure be ordering a bull and I'll come back and post pictures when it gets here!