Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Combo vs Char-Griller Texas Trio

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BarkIt

Newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2018
14
6
Being very limited on space, needing a new propane grill, and wanting to get into smoking I've set my sights on two products and thought I'd share my findings with you. One, for any last minute advice/thoughts and two, so others who may be in the market can get a quick comparison.

If you're not familiar, the Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Combo (OKJ) and the Char-Griller Texas Trio (CGTT) combine a propane grill, charcoal grill, and offset smoker all-in-one. Plus a side burner. Same size as your typical cheap offset smoker, but split down the middle for charcoal and propane, with the offset heating the charcoal chamber for smoking. The Texas Trio should not be confused with their Triple Play or other Dual Fuel offerings that have a sometimes optional offset smoker. This is a new this year, Home Depot exclusive. The OKJ on the other hand has been around since at least late 2015, and can be found at Lowes, Academy and Tractor Supply. Both are around $400.

They may not be the best at any, but if you're limited on space like I am it's really the only choice as all three separately would be even bigger. Smoke Hollow also makes a combo, but seemed cheaper and no display units for me to see. There's also the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1 at Walmart, but I don't want an electric smoker at this time.

I'll start with some point-for-point comparisons, that is extensive at first sight but not exhaustive as I tried to list what was important to me or minor differences I saw/thought-of. Some of which aren't really important, but trying to break a tie so listed them in my notes. Some pictures of those comparisons are further below.

Char-Griller Texas Trio.
CG.jpg

1. 779 square inch main gas/charcoal grills combined + 610 = 1389 sq in. total. The extra is the firebox and the upper racks in the main chambers.
2. Firebox on right. Warming plate on top.
3. 12k BTU Side burner. 40.8k main burners. 3 burners.
4. Porcelain coated cast iron grates.
5. 14 gauge steel (1.984mm according to google)
6. 75"W x 30"D x 50"H. 230lbs (according to Char-Griller, HD gives slightly diff figures, such as 202lb)
7. Slide out ash drawer on firebox.
8. Powder coat exterior, none inside.
9. Plates and air under both charcoal racks. Charcoal chamber has a rack on a curved plate, which sits on 4 triangle legs so heat kept from barrel. Firebox has a drawer/plate that sits slightly above bottom of firebox, and then a rack on top of that.
10. Main charcoal rack only couple inches smaller than chamber.
11. Dual chimney over gas side.
12. 4 petal-shaped air damper holes on ash drawer. In order to increase air, would have to slide drawer out some.
13. Brand new this year, no long term reviews.
14. 1 year warranty, 5 year burners.
15. Hooks on side burner for tools.
16. Char-Griller thermometers, may not be easily replaceable with other brands. (will likely go digital anyway)
17. Gas flame shields on hook-like shelf, not as easy to replace with other brands perhaps.
18. Plastic handles on metal arms.
19. Nuts and bolts don't seem as heavy duty, but overall the unit feels solid. Rack for storage underneath not as sturdy.

Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Combo.
OKJ.jpg

1. 750 sq inch main gas/charcoal grills combined + 310 = 1060 total. The extra is the firebox, with no upper racks in main cooking chambers.
2. Firebox on left. Warming plate on top.
3. 12k BTU Side burner. 36k main burners. 3 burners.
4. Porcelain coated cast iron grates.
5. 2mm steel, 2.5mm doors.
6. 74"W x 31.5"D x 50.6"H. 205lbs. 70" w/o handle by my measurement.
7. Ash door on side of smoker box; level with bottom to clean ashes out during cook.
8. High temp paint exterior and inner doors.
9. Plate under just main charcoal rack, not fire box rack. Charcoal chamber has a rack on a curved plate, which sits directly on barrel with no air in between. Firebox has standard rack, no plate. The plated charcoal rack from the main chamber could fit in firebox if wanted.
10. Main charcoal rack seems several inches smaller than chamber.
11. Dual vents in back of gas side.
12. Approx 1/6 of a circle damper hole. Open door for more air.
13. At least 3-4 years old, long term reviews available.
14. 2 year warranty.
15. Towel/tool bar in front.
16. Thermometers look easily replaceable. (will likely go digital anyway)
17. Flame shields sit on shelf. Likely could use anything that'd fit on shelf.
18. Spring metal handles.
19. Nuts and bolts seem sturdier, as well as the storage rack underneath. Overall, very close comparison in sturdy feel for both. Slight edge to OKJ subjectively.

Pics below of some of those differences.

CGTT nuts and bolts. Not a fair comparison as not from same area, and low quality image.
CGbolt1.jpg



CGbolt2.jpg


OKJ nuts and bolts.

OKJbolt1.jpg


OKJbolt2.jpg


CGTT charcoal rack in main smoke/charcoal chamber. As you can see it spans the entire width just short an inch, and sits on a plate that is lifted with triangle legs.

CGchar1.jpg


CGchar3.jpg


The OKJ main charcoal rack on the other hand is several inches smaller than the main chamber. It sits on a plate, but that plate sits fully on the barrel and not lifted at all. Which means less charcoal side to side, slightly lower charcoal, and less heat protection. Not sure how problematic that would be, but if I go with the OKJ I could just buy the CG rack replacement if it ever becomes available separately.

OKJchar1.jpg


OKJchar2.jpg



CGTT has a pull out ash drawer with the petal hole damper I mentioned. The drawer is essentially a tray slightly lifted from the bottom on sliders and has a removable rack on top of that. Benefits would likely be more heat protection and easy clean up afterward. However, I'm not sold on this as I think it'd be problematic to empty while smoking, but that may not be needed often. Plus, it'd get in the way of pulling the drawer open some for more air. My solution would be to have a basket/rack that sits higher off of the drawer. This way the drawer catches ashes, but can still be pulled out as necessary during cooks without pulling the basket/rack with it.

CGdoor.jpg


The OKJ on the other hand has a simple door that's flush with the bottom for easy cleaning or pulling ash during a cook. Just a simple wire rack, so not as much heat protection. The damper is pretty small, but leaving the door ajar some would be an easy inlet increase.

OKJdoor.jpg


Both suffer from cheap offset smoker quality though, as each have general faults in their build. Such as doors that aren't perfectly curved and flush, gaps in the strips the doors sit on, gaps between firebox halves, etc. Plenty of places for smoke/heat to escape from and air to get into. I could add gaskets if I want, but I'll probably start naked and see how it goes from there. Reading reviews and talking to a helpful OKJ owner on here makes me believe that I'll still be able to achieve the desired temps.

The below are not necessarily fair comparisons between the two brands as viewing a number of display models each one is different. Some with more gaps and flaws than others. I can only hope I get a better one, and then work with what I've got from there. Gaskets, jb-weld, etc.

First up are some CGTT pics.

CGgap1.jpg



CGgap2.jpg



CGgap3.jpg


This one may be harder to see, but that is a thin metal strip on the top inside of the barrel. Sort of like a shelf for the outer-skin to sit on. It's not flush all the way around and begins a gap near the door. All though the gap between the strip and the roof is pretty large, the resulting air gap isn't as big on the outside.

CGgap4.jpg


Now some example gap issues for one of the OKJ display units.

OKJgap1.jpg


OKJgap2.jpg


Like the CGTT gap pic above, the OKJ model may have some gaps between the roof and the thin metal strip it sits on. The arrow is pointing at light entering from the outside.

OKJgap3.jpg


Here's the left-upper corner of the charcoal chamber. The horizontal strip and vertical strip are stacked on top of each other slightly instead of meeting at the same level, which means heat/smoke escaping right there. As mentioned, other display models weren't as bad and relatively flush.

OKJgap4.jpg


I won't bore you with endless pictures. You can see the thermometer and handle differences in the full unit pictures above. You can also see the double chimney on the CGTT over the gas side. Both have a single chimney on the charcoal/smoke chamber. The OKJ has vents in the back on the gas side as seen below. Because the CGTT has higher BTUs it seems to have more ventilation on the gas side. I've read at amazingribs that's pretty standard with propane grills. Some have low ventilation, lower BTUs, and as such good heat. While others have high ventilation, high BTUs, and as such good heat. It's a combination of marketing and safety.

OKJ gas side ventilation in back.

OKJvent.jpg


And one notable difference on the CGTT are the upper racks in the two main chambers.

CGupper.jpg



All in all, they both seem like quality units with similar faults. They're not 1/4" offset smokers, they're not 6 burner propane grills, and they're not tried and true kettles or easy temp holding eggs. So you're not going to get the best of all worlds. My concrete pad behind my rental unit is about 8 x 8', so this is about all I'm going to fit with my chairs and table. I want propane for quick daily cooks, and smoke and charcoal for flavor days. A small propane and a PBC/WSM combo wouldn't be bad, but not ideal.

Their small chambers wouldn't be good for big families, but I'm single with a gf or few friends to cook for on occasion. The small chambers also mean less fuel to heat and smoke, so good flavor with less wood.

My pros and cons are:
The OKJ has the firebox on the left. If I put the grill where I wanted, the firebox would be about 2.5' away from my screen door. That may not be bad as the heat shouldn't kick in that direction too much, and I can push it to overhang a little when using it. Or move it to the other non-preferred side of my pad. Why OKJ did this when every other offset firebox is on the right, I don't know. If it was on the right, I'd probably go with the OKJ and be done. Other negative is no upper racks. Not necessary, but an extra slab of ribs in a small chamber could be useful. I could probably rig something or use rib racks. The charcoal rack is pretty abysmal in comparison to the CGTT, but I hope I can buy the CGTT version separately if it comes to it.

The OKJ has been around longer and so has way more reviews, especially on long term durability. It's hard to say, but if I subjectively thought one was higher quality it would be the OKJ based on the better looking hardware (handles, bolts, etc.), and durability through years. There's a video on youtube with a 3 year review and it's still up and running with very little maintenance from the filthy looks of it. Bad reviews complain of rust, but that seems to be common with all of these cheap offsets. I plan to oil it and cover it. I also like the firebox door better than the CGTT drawer, though the CGTT offers better protection by lifting their racks off the bottom.

With the CGTT the sore spots are mostly the ash drawer, some superficial cheapness look to the plastic handles, and unknown quality. The steel is damn comparable so likely really close there, it's just a tough sell to be a guinea pig when you've got more long term reviews on the OKJ. The firebox on the right is better for my preference, but the ash drawer not so much. As mentioned, having a rack/basket above the drawer could perhaps fix that negative rather easily. The upper racks are a nice addition, and the charcoal rack is far superior in my eye.

Upper racks can be rigged, ash drawer can be gotten around, charcoal rack can be bought... may come down to partially subjective quality/looks (OKJ) vs. firebox on right (CGTT).

If anyone has experience with either of these units, or thoughts on my pros/cons, possible solutions or experience with overcoming similar features, I'd love to hear them.

Thank you for your patience and hope this was helpful to any shoppers in a similar situation.
 

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That is quite a detailed review!
Thanks for taking the time to write it up!
I'm not familiar with either unit, but I'm sure there are a lot of guys on here who are.
Al
 
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Although I’m not in the market for a cooker right now I sure can appreciate your efforts In Your search. Very nice write up.
 
I bought the OKJ Longhorn Triple back in March and I have been really happy with it and the build quality of my unit. I did the high temp sealant while assembling the grill and have added high heat felt around the opening of the charcoal lid and the firebox lid and ash door. It has really helped IMO. One word of warning, because of the smaller size, mine heats up fast and stays hot for awhile so keep that in mind if you want low temps. Use less wood or charcoal
 
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Thanks SmokinAl and Dcecil, hope it helps someone.

Thanks for the input DeviousMrMatt! The felt for the fire/smoke chamber was one of the mods I was considering, but may see how it does at first. Even if temps workout ok I may do it just not to bother (or tempt) neighbors with too much smoke. I presume you used Lavalock Nomex gasket? How's it holding up? The other mod I was definitely going to do was a makeshift baffle just to direct some of the intense heat immediately coming out of the firebox. Block it and spread it some.

How much charcoal and wood have you been using to maintain around 225-250? Ever try a basket with snake or minion method to go a good while without tending the fire, or are you constantly on it? Do you measure with digital probes, and if so how have you routed them into the chamber?
 
I bought the red colored high temp sealant at lowes. Can't remember the name. The felt I bought off of Amazon. Both have held up great, the felt especially, it has formed to the imperfections of the lid to create a good seal.

For lower temps of 225 to 250 I have learned to start with half a chimney of charcoal and add a good hunk of wood every once in awhile and adding charcoal briquettes a few at a time as required. The wood i buy is the ones that comes in the bags that you can almost buy anywhere. I use digital probes in the cooking chamber.

After using the grill and knowing it's nuances I have learned when to add coal and mess with dampers a lot less and dont seem to be babysitting it so often like I did when I first started using it. I also learned not to be too concerned with swings in temps also as long as they arent too extreme. (I learned that from this site) I am new to smoking and this was my first smoker I ever bought
 
I feel sorry for your wife or girlfriend...
But I'd probably like the review.
After-all, I have been called a Dirty Old Man.
 
You really dug into the nuts and bolts on these units. Very impressive review. I don't have one of these combo units but I do own a OKJ Highland offset smoker. The one thing that I guess I would be concerned with for such a small smoking chamber would be a very limited amount of cooking space. Some kind of baffle plate might be a necessity for this thing to be able to use the full cooking space in your smoker half. I tend to use the 2/3 of cooking surface farthest away from the firebox. I use the other 1/3 only when I am cooking something like chicken or sausage that handle the higher heat without issue. Sounds like Matt has some good info on the OKJ model. They both look good. The extra cooking rack space could be very handy for the Char Grill model. I can't complain about my own OKJ so I will give my blessing to the brand from first hand experience but will leave this to guys like Matt to give you more hands on advice. I believe that one of the newer forum members has this OKJ model as well. He posted about some pretty nice looking ribs the other day. Have fun with whatever you choose to buy.

George
 
I bought the red colored high temp sealant at lowes. Can't remember the name. The felt I bought off of Amazon. Both have held up great, the felt especially, it has formed to the imperfections of the lid to create a good seal.

For lower temps of 225 to 250 I have learned to start with half a chimney of charcoal and add a good hunk of wood every once in awhile and adding charcoal briquettes a few at a time as required. The wood i buy is the ones that comes in the bags that you can almost buy anywhere. I use digital probes in the cooking chamber.

After using the grill and knowing it's nuances I have learned when to add coal and mess with dampers a lot less and dont seem to be babysitting it so often like I did when I first started using it. I also learned not to be too concerned with swings in temps also as long as they arent too extreme. (I learned that from this site) I am new to smoking and this was my first smoker I ever bought

I know of the red stuff you're talking about. If the firebox halves leak that bad I may get it, but don't want to gunk it up until I've got it all together and good to go. Returns department might not look kindly on the red caulking.

Thanks, I'll start with a half chimney and the chunks you use are probably exactly what I was going to buy as I see them at the big stores too. How do you route your digital probes into the chamber? Just through the door and let the felt keep the seal, through the chimney or what?

I feel sorry for your wife or girlfriend...
But I'd probably like the review.
After-all, I have been called a Dirty Old Man.

Don't be, she'll get more smoked meats now. I keep my never ending analysis to myself for the most part.

You really dug into the nuts and bolts on these units. Very impressive review. I don't have one of these combo units but I do own a OKJ Highland offset smoker. The one thing that I guess I would be concerned with for such a small smoking chamber would be a very limited amount of cooking space. Some kind of baffle plate might be a necessity for this thing to be able to use the full cooking space in your smoker half. I tend to use the 2/3 of cooking surface farthest away from the firebox. I use the other 1/3 only when I am cooking something like chicken or sausage that handle the higher heat without issue. Sounds like Matt has some good info on the OKJ model. They both look good. The extra cooking rack space could be very handy for the Char Grill model. I can't complain about my own OKJ so I will give my blessing to the brand from first hand experience but will leave this to guys like Matt to give you more hands on advice. I believe that one of the newer forum members has this OKJ model as well. He posted about some pretty nice looking ribs the other day. Have fun with whatever you choose to buy.

George

Thank you for the input. Seems to be a lot of OKJ love out there, but I think I was drawn to them earlier and didn't really consider anything Char-Griller until I saw this one. So could be a bit of uninformed bias.

The cooking space is definitely smaller, but can still fit a full brisket, or a turkey, number of ribs, chickens, butts, etc. I'd mostly be cooking for 1-2, very rarely 4-5. Rib rack or upper racks should take care of that, not to mention the second chamber for propane smoking or non-smoked items.

A baffle is on my definite mod list, likely a basket, and leaning towards some gasket after all. A owner of the same unit suggested the same and does well with just a grate wrapped in foil. Knowing how well this thing builds, holds and spreads heat was a concern as well, so I'm glad there are others out there that confirm it's capable. Even the propane side has been confirmed to hold a nice low 200s temp, and the propane side getting real hot has been shown too.

I've found numerous users of the OKJ Combo on here, but only a few recently active. Then Matt called it the Longhorn Triple and found even more. Seems it may have had a different name at some point, the OKJ Longhorn Black Triple Function or some such combination. If you see any, please lead 'em to here!
 
Same as Matt for the probe wires. They do fine just going through the door for me. If you wanted to get all fancy you could install a probe port but I haven't found a need myself. I do have the gasket around the CC door and I'm sure that it both seals and cushions the pressure on the wires.

George
 
Thank you both! If keep it naked there will probably be a gap somewhere for the wire anyway. :) And if I seal it then it probably won't matter.
 
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Thank you both! If keep it naked there will probably be a gap somewhere for the wire anyway. :) And if I seal it then it probably won't matter.

It's a smoker, not a pressure tank. Doesn't matter if it leaks a bit.
To often things get over thunked. A probe lead coming under an edge isn't going to matter.
Anytime you open it while it's working it will be hot and smokey inside.
When in doubt, add copious amount of Beer.....
 
Good point, but overthinking is what I do best. Instructions unclear, now I'm drunk.
 
I have the OKJ. It’s a good combo unit that can do it all, but isn’t the best at anything. I quit trying long smokes on it, as it eats coal quickly.

Mods I did to help it out:
1. Red seal between the fire box and smoke chamber, and top/bottom of the firebox. Do this as you are putting it together, it’s much easier than taking it back apart.

2. Nomex tape on the lids of both. Still need to seal up the fire box dampener door, it lets a lot of air in, to the point that the actual dampener is closed fully, and it still runs hot.

3. Dryer vent in the exhust pipe to bring heat and smoke down to grate level. This is a must.

4. Bought and use a weber veggie basket as a coal basket. 3/4 full of coal, and a 1/4 chimney of lit will get you about 5 hours of heat.

5. After starting my coal, i put half of the cooking grate in the fire box, on the right side, and put a pan of water over the coals. It helps regulate temps, and seems to even heat out in the cook chamber.

6. Use the half moon coal grate as another cook rack under the grate in the cook chamber. Buy cheap elevated cooling racks and use over the regular grates in the cook chamber for even more cooking area. I’ve been able to fit 6-7 racks of ribs in at one time.

Other comments:

Propane side heats up fast and will do well at searing meat. All three burners on low will run at about 350. All three on high will hit over 500 in a minute or two.

The side burner is good for lighting the charcoal chimney.

This thing is heavy, and appears to be better built than than char griller. I’ve never used the charg., but have seen one, and it appears to be a cheaper built unit. I believe chargriller owns OkJ now.

For long smokes, I bought a WSM 18.5. If you are going to wrap long cook meats, you could put them on the smoker for the first few hours, then wrap and finish in the oven. Cause once you wrap, it’s not getting any more smoke.

Message me if you want any more info, or have any further questions.
 
Great response with interesting points! I especially like #6, very creative. Do you lift the cooling racks with something, never seen any with tall legs? Got a link?

Anyway, I'm packing up for a short vacay so I will come back to this comment for more, just wanted to give a quick thank you!
 
Great response with interesting points! I especially like #6, very creative. Do you lift the cooling racks with something, never seen any with tall legs? Got a link?

Anyway, I'm packing up for a short vacay so I will come back to this comment for more, just wanted to give a quick thank you!
The cooling racks sit up 3-4” on their own collapsible legs. Just enough to have ribs under. I’m doing some ribs tomorrow, I’ll grab a pic or two.
 
I just assembled my OKJ Longhorn combo. Gonna be spraying it down with Pam soon and seasoning this afternoon.

Can't speak to the use of it, but I can tell you that if you're super detail oriented, the instructions will make your brain hurt. The actual assembly is not bad and the engineering of it, I think, is well done.

Whoever wrote the instructions needs his butt kicked till his nose bleeds.

Once I figured that out, the assembly went pretty well. I'd guess I had about 2 hours in it total, and the only part I needed a second set of hands to accomplish was hanging the firebox on the side.

Just be prepared for the instructions to be...interesting.... with the OKJ. But they're manageable.
 
Pics as promised. Smoker box set up for ribs, I’ll get 5-6 hours of heat out of it, which is enough for baby backs.

The rack I use to get more area. I have 2 and can fit both on the main grate if needed. I put the meat on the regular grate, add those on top, and add more meat, normally just for ribs.

Let me know if you have any other questions, or figure out any other useful mods.

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