Newbie Smoker, Which Smoker To Get, questions please **HELP**

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Original poster
Jan 2, 2011
Cold As Hell NY
Thanks In Advance, so many smokers out there, and i have alot of questions, i have looked on here and its hard to find all of the ans.,

first off: which smoker is the one to get, i did alot of research and realize that it is most personal pref. but not sure, i have been making ven. jerky basically w/ LEM pack and cooking it in the oven on 200 for about 4hrs, want to move up to a smoker and expand my hobbie but would mostly be used for jerky, backstraps and occ. ham, so i don't need anything bigger than a 50# for now. I have been looking at the sausage makers (being from buffalo) in either alum. or ss smoker but have read some neg. that i agree w/, LEM has one that is similar that is alum and only $199, but i also like the MSE 40 w/ the window but i m not sure, i also thought of making my own, alot of cool ideas/designs on here however im worried about the plywood/glue and other materials prod. toxic smoke or ruining the flavor of the meat, plus in buffalo now it is 20* and about 35mph wind so it gets in the teens or (-)'s and many complain of not keeping the heat in.

Second: elec, prop, or charc.  i like the idea of constant temp w/ elec. but like trad. charc. i have found an elec. sausage maker ss locally for $380 and they retail for $550, just not sure if for the $ i can get "the whole package", i will mostly be smoking w/ applewood and outside under a carport please help, great community here, glad i joined!
First welcome to SMF as you will see and come to understand that you gain a lot of knowledge and help form the fine people here. As to your question, my first thought would be not to engage in trying in building a rig yet,not until you figure what,how often and how much you will be"q-Inga". I personally own the char-griller pro and with the proper modifications,which you can find instructions here from fellow owners. I really like the unit and have some really nice success with it. I have been thinking if I could start all over again I might start with a WSM from all I have read and witnessed it is a real nice compacted unit that produce some outstanding results. That being said if you are looking to go electric I have heard nothing but great things about the MES there are many members here that give you better guidance than I can. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you look at getting yourself a A-Maze-N smoker it is a great tool to have in arsenal it produces some fantastic smoked cheeses and pecans and I am attempting some salt. For information you can go to Todd Johnson he is the inventor and he liked so much he bought the company.The really nice thing is that is a regular and very knowledgeable posters. I hope that this helps and good luck whatever you go!

I second a WSM if you want to go with a charcoal cooker. I can't help you with electric or gas as I have never used one.

I would tell you to decide on what you want, then go one size bigger - once you start, you will want to cook more and more...

So do some reading, make a list, then jump in. Your first smoker will nost likely not be your last.

Welcome to the party.
Get a Smokin It #1 from

Insulated, stainless steel construction.  I love mine!

Two pork shoulders will fit.  I did a 16 pound turkey,  I have done buckboard bacon, fatties, brisket, ribs, chicken,  peanut butter.

I use a cardboard box on top of the unit for cold smoking cheese.  Awesome cheeseballs.
thanks guys, i have been on here all day doing research and have been leaning towards the MES40 w/ window from sams, good price, just some neg rev. on the smoke not being produced.  i looked at an a maze n but i think thats just a 6x6 tray right? prop spreads out the wood for more smoking, also not sure about the tray, several talking about breaking the welds and or the window for loss of heat, as far as the wsm, i like the idea and size, how about the bottom rotting out from the coals over time? is it hard to maintain the temps w/ the coals? guess i will just have to start somewhere, any of you guys ever use the LEM or The Sausage Makers, guy locally has a ss/digital model for $380, norm $550, used once thanks again ryan
I used to have a charcoal smoker -- what I called R2D2.  At the time its name was Cajun Smoker, today same thing in a Brinkman.  I enjoyed it, and it did not cost much.  The disadvantage was lack of heat control.

I've had a MES30 for just over four years now, and really like it.  The electric control is practically "set & forget".  No real tending needed like the charcoal smoker had.  It is big enough for everything I've wanted to do.  I've done four pork shoulders at a time -- 30 pounds.  I've also done two full size turkey breasts, also two racks of ribs (but they needed to get cut to fit in).

You seem to be leaning more towards the jerky than the type of smoking I do.  It is hard to get decent smoke out of an MES at mid temperatures, e.g. 140F. 

For that sort of smoking, and for cold smoking (e.g. cheese), the A-Maze-N smoker fills the bill.  It currently comes in two sizes, 6x6 and 6x8.  I have the 6x8 and it could do up to six or eight hours on one load of sawdust ( or half that time if you light it at both ends for more smoke).  There are other smoke generators, but you'll find that the majority of the people here like the AMNS.  You could load up your box with jerky or sausage, set the temp at 140F or whatever, fire up the AMNS and you're good to go.

If I were buying a new one today to replace my MES30, I would probably go with the Costco MES40 -- even if I couldn't find a friend who had a membership and had to join them again.
Build a UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) for a starter or until you can save up the funds to get something else.  Had I done that I probably wouldn't have bought the gasser I have.  Don't get me wrong, I do like my gasser (GOSM), but using the charcoal I think meats smoked with the coals have more flavoring.  The UDS is reliable, stable and very fuel efficient. 

I'm a propane kind of guy here. I have an older GOSM small block that I use for sausage and bacon and mainly low temp smoking. Then I have a smoke vault 24" and I have benn tring to ware it out and it hanging right there with me. Now I smoke maybe 3 times a week and have started a small catering bussiness so you know that I smoke alot too. Just my couple of pennies.

I have an MES 30 and love it.Plenty of space for the family and I make sausage and hang it in there.
I'm for the WSM myself. I have had mine for about a year now and love it! You can controll the heat for low heat stuff using just a couple of pieces of charcoal - that's how I do jerky on mine and maintain approx. 165°-185°.

As for gas or electric I can't offer much input there, never have used either.
I started out using a vertical Brinkmann, which I got some great Q out of but the walls are very thin and it doesnt hold the heat so well. If I was in the market for another charcoal smoker, Id go with the 22 1/2 WSM for sure. You can get a nice 8 hrs with a full load of lump in there and there is nothing like a charcoal smoke. As far as the bottom rusting out, just make sure to get all of the ash out of the unit after each smoke. Ash + water is very corrosive. 

I recently got a MES40 Stainless with the window and it is pretty awesome. Ive done a bunch in there and the set it and forget it temperature is GREAT! I use the A-Maze-N Smoker (6X8) rather then the chip drawer and its been a dream so far. I light both ends so I get about 4.5 hrs with a full load. You get a nice TBS and it does a great job. Just smoked my first batch of cheese, almonds and some Kosher Salt. If the AMSN wasnt so hot after its in the cabinet, Id give it a hug. 

If you are looking to be crafty, then build a UDS. That is next on my list. People here have had great results with them and their smokes look amazing. 

Hope this helps. 

Thanks a bunch, i think that i will go w/ cabela's and get a MES only b/c i have $100 in gc and a coupon to save another $20, i tried to get them to honor 0% til next dec but that promo ended on dec 31st, bummer, anyways, im not sure about the model, they have a mes 30 in the bargin cave for $199, black and elec., no window and got a 4.3 out of 5 on 303 reviews

im not sure if its the older model, people were talking about no smoke at low temps and may need an upgrade or so, or i have been looking at the MES 40, only 2 out of 5 based on 3 reviews, but i think i will go w/ the 30 (assuming that is the inside dim? right?) only b/c im just starting and its an extra $100, some say that it also doesn't smoke and the window is an extra expense not worth it, you can read the review, i am thinking that you would lose temps w/ the window, they have that model for $299 or 40 for $399 here:

again, kinda looking for the comp.between the too from those that have used them or have them, again prob just per. pref, either way i am going to order a a maze n and a different therm., but should i go w/ the 6x6 or 6x8 a maze n? does bigger = more smoke? or is bigger overkill, i mainly want it for jerky, saus., poss. ham / chicken so is 30 ok? or follow the prev. advice and go bigger than you think you need. thanks again to all, can't believe that im act. taking my time, i usually jump in and go, kinda impat. but i can't wait to smoke my brains out, lol will post pics and my dec. thanks ryan  
Get a Smokin It #1 from

Insulated, stainless steel construction.  I love mine!

Two pork shoulders will fit.  I did a 16 pound turkey,  I have done buckboard bacon, fatties, brisket, ribs, chicken,  peanut butter.

I use a cardboard box on top of the unit for cold smoking cheese.  Awesome cheeseballs.
The " SMOKIN-IT " all stainless steel electric smoker ! This electric, stainless steel smoker was designed for ease of use and portability. Every "SMOKIN-IT" smoker comes with heavy duty casters, stainless steel shelving, smoke box, and a thermostat for temperature control up to 250 Degrees. The Smoker is fully assembled and ready to go. Also included is a one pound bag of Hickory wood blocks so you can start using your new BBQ Smoker immediately.

1. Up to 22 lbs. of meat capacity per load
2. 350 watt heating element, 8 amps 120 volt single phase
3. Inside dimensions: width 12-1/2" x depth 13-1/2" x height 17-1/4"
4. Comes with 2 removable shelves
5. All stainless steel construction
6. 1 lb. of American Hickory wood blocks included with this Smoker
7. This Smoker is insulated to reduce heat loss
8. This Smoker comes with Casters

 Sorry but P=I X E  It says 350 Watts draws 8 amps at 120 volts?  Temp is up to 250° I would'nt touch one of these things much less pay $250. If I read everything correctly.  What if you want to raise the temp up to get poultry out of the danger zone faster. Ill stick to wood.
OK, so i have decided to go w/ the MES40 from Cabela's (jump both feet in), i have found many good deals but it kinda had all that i was going for and it was ss-more cosmetic.. i purchased the lil chief and wanted to return it, so after working it out w/ them, i sent mine back and the grand finally is that the cost was $399.99- 100 (gc) -$20 coupon and difference from the other one total came to $242.50, hell of a deal i think, plus got the amns 6x8, now just need to wait for it to come and start to get meat, have about 8 veni backstraps / tenders sittin on deck., will post qv's as soon as i get them going, just need to get a thermo, ET-73?? thoughts? I like the dual probes, remoteness isn't a big deal, thanks
You won't go wrong with the MES. The ET-73 is a good choice too. Taylor makes some good inexpensive thermo's as well. 
Ok, so i decided to get the ss mes 40 from cabela's, finally came in after 4 wks, just seasoned er, cleaned entire inside w/ soap water, cleaned all internals/parts, rubbed er down w/ light crisco on a rag, 40* out and dropping, snow here in buffalo=got about 3 in in the last 2 hrs, temps at 275*, clean burnin, added hick chips last 45min, sooo excited about the first smoke, can't wait for some fatties/cordon blues this weekend, pics to come.....
Looks like you're on your way!  Welcome aboard and good luck!  The MES 30 and 40 seem to be very popular here so there should be no end to the help you can get!  No matter the type of smoker you have, the fundamentals seem to apply  "low and slow" the name of the game!
OK now you gotta smoke something & get that bad boy all dirty inside. It's just to sparkly!   
  I'm sure your gonna have a lot of good smokes with that MES.
You won't go wrong with the MES. The ET-73 is a good choice too. Taylor makes some good inexpensive thermo's as well. 
I have used the Taylor's for a number of years.  Typical price is just under $20.  They seem to last about 2 years for me before they die and give funny or no readings.  My current one just died, and so I sprung for the ET-732 that Todd is selling.  It costs more, but hopefully will last longer -- plus it has remote, which my Taylor's did not have.
Congrats !!!!

You're gonna love that new MES 40. That's the one I got, and it is Awesome !

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