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What should I buy - Bradley, Cookshack or something else?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by spicy-meat, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I am looking for a good electric smoker.  I think I narrowed it down to the Bradley and the cookshack.  I want to be able to use the smoker year round with no limitations in the colder climates.  I live on the east coast so it gets cold but rarely in the negatives.  I would love to hear your feedback and advice.  I am also open to suggestions if there is something better on the market.  My focus is on quality and performance and not price.

  2. I recently picked up the Masterbuilt 40 from Sam's Club ($299).  It works very well.  It is extremely efficient, and you don't have to babysit it.  I also looked at the Bradleys, but didn't like the idea of having to buy their wood pucks.  Cookshacks were out of my price range. 

    If you do a search for "Masterbuilt" or "MES 40" on this forum, there is alot of info about them.  I hope this helps.


  3. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    If it were me I would buy the MES 40" as it is Cheaper, Bigger and Better.

    With the Bradley you have to use their proprietary Pucks.

    You must cut a slab of ribs in half or bend it to get it to fit.

    The Bradley costs more Money $399.00 than the MES $298.99 @ Sam's Clubs.

    Must have Bubba Pucks to use last 3 pucks in feeder.

    Only has a 500 Watt heating element.

    The MES 40"

    1200 Watt heating element

    Is wide enough to lay a slab flat on the rack.

    Uses Chips, Chunks or Dust which can be purchased anywhere for less money than Bradley Pucks.

    Sells for $298.99 at Sam's Club

    Sells for $399.00 at Cabela's

    Has built in temp probe for meat.

    And by buying and using an A-Maze-N-Smoker for cold smoking you can cold smoke without using any heat at all...

    I have owned both and Now Use the MES and consider the Bradley a POS...
  4. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    Way back when I was looking to buy my MES30 four years ago, I looked at the Cookshack -- for about a minute.  The prices for the various models were way more than I wanted to spend for a smoker.  I've been happy with my MES30, despite having to do repairs to it (heating element connections several times, replace control box once).

    I would like to hear what people's experience with the cookshack has been.  Are they really that much better?  Seems to me that one could buy two MES40s from Sams for the list price of the smallest cookshack.
  5. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    I have been a happy Cookshack owner for roughly 10 years. Yes they are expensive, but IMHO they are well worth the price. If I added up what I spent on the many cheaper smokers I went through before I bought my Smokette it would have easily paid for the Smokette. This year I stepped up to an AmeriQue for more capacity. The Smokette isn’t ready to be retired yet and I’m not quite ready to stop using it. The folks at Cookshack provide the best customer service I’ve seen whether you buy an new smoker or a used one at an auction. They also do trade-ins and trade-ups. Check with them to see if they have a reconditioned smoker to your liking.
  6. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    I have a Cookshack Smokette. have had it for 8 or 9 years, have never had any problems, nothing breaking or needing rewired, just a great solid American built smoker, I have smoked in 80° temps and single digit temps, always great product. The only 2 drawbacks are the dang chicken skin does not get crisp as temp only goes to 250° and I am not able to hang large sticks of summer sausage. Fixed that with a gas unit from Cabelas. I have a small Bradley thing, the one with the blanket, it works okay, but isn't a Cookshack.I have no experience with the masterbuilts, but read of all the issues people have and I am glad i got my Cookshack, back then it was 375.00 not sure of price now, but have been thinking about one of the Ameriques. Forgot to mention it works great with 4 pounds of butt or 34 pounds, and yes you can get 30 pounds of pork buts in it, racks are 14x14 and there are 3.
  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

  8. Thanks everyone for your feedback.  I will have to go to Cabelas to check out the MES.

    BearCarver, I live in Macungie as well.  You'll have to show me the power of your MES.
  9. thebarbequeen

    thebarbequeen Smoking Fanatic

    Cookshack's only real drawback is the price.  I love my smokette, It goes up to 300, but I've never needed it to. You get more space for less $ with the MES. I don't need to do huge batches at one time so the size works for me, and is great for keeping out on the deck without taking up much room visually as well as footprint-wise.  I've used weber kettle and gas grills and LOVE my electric. Whichever one you choose you will love using it. As far as quality, my CS is bombproof! the therm is right on, uses very little wood for a full smoke, and as others have said, good American manufacturing and support (not that it's needed any support). I stayed away from the bradley because of the fuel issue, like Paul said. I use chips and chunks.  I found all the fixes and mod's that are discussed on the MES a bit scary, for me, because I am not a confident take it apart and fix it yourself kind of person with electrical things. I needed foolproof, and I got it.  CS are super hard to find for sale used, because owners usually keep them even if they upgrade!  Look at this forum - you'll see tons of amazing Q, and you won't be able to tell whether an MES or a CSE or a Bradley smoked it.  MES or Cookshack, you'll likely be a happy camper!
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I didn't notice the "Alburtis, PA" thing. I've gotten to ignore that pretty much, because so many people don't fill that out (must be hiding).

    If you'd like to see my MES 40, PM me and I'll give you my phone number.

  11. I got the Original Bradley Smoker, not the digital. The less complicated a system is, the less likely it is to malfunction. I had never even heard of "Smokers" till I saw the one's offered by Cabela's.I got it on sale for $252.00 (shipping included).Taking into consideration the cost of the "Bradley Bisquette's" (pucks), it costs about $1.00 per hour to use the OBS. I chose the Bradley because there is an entire worldwide community devoted to getting the absolute best, and the absolute most, out of Bradley products. I got it, assembled it in about 10 minutes, seasoned it, and smoked 4 lbs of spareribs. I had NO IDEA what I was doing, and the ribs turned out better than any I had ever tasted. I have smoked pork, beef, chicken, sausage, and potato's(so far). I have NEVER tasted food this delicious in my life, and I'm just learning how to use this system. I'm telling you, a person could put dirt in the Bradley, and it would come out tasting like gourmet cuisine. I use mine 3 or 4 times a week, and it has performed perfectly every time. In the world of food preparation, the Bradley is the greatest discovery since fire.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  12. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I own (2) MES 40" smokers $298 at SAMS and $349 for the all Stainless Steel at Cabelas.

    New model includes Wheels and wireless remote.

    You can fit a whole rack of ribs across the shelves.

    No pucks to buy!

  13. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Perfect! I need to get myself a Bradley. Hell, I've been trying to smoke dirt for years. I've used my Weber, my gasser, UDS, offset, tried cold smoking, even roasting. All this time I could never get it to taste like anything other than dirt with a hint of smoke flavour. 

    One question though; Is the type of dirt important? I want to get it to taste like prime rib[​IMG][​IMG]
  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Me Too !

    I had to put a "Choice" standing rib ($5.99 per pound) in my MES, to get it to taste like Prime Rib.

    I got plenty of dirt around my property---I could really save some Bucks!

    The money I'd save on the dirt, could offset the Buck an hour for the pucks.

    I guess you could make Bacon too??

    Let me see here:


    10 pounds of dirt (FREE)---12 hours in Bradley +  $12 for golden pucks  =  10 pounds of Bacon (dirt shouldn't shrink)

    That's $1.20 per pound for "Dirt Bacon".

    10 pounds of Belly ($2.50 per pound)---12 hours in an MES 40 + $2 for Dust = 9 pounds of Bacon 

    That's $3 per pound for Meat Bacon.

    See what I mean???

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010
  15. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    My Bradley Experience:



    Purchase Bradley 6 Rack Digital $599.00

    Purchase Bubba Pucks $24.99

    Purchase Bradley Pucks $19.99

    Total  $644.97


    Use Twice, took 14 hrs to cook a butt on first try and had to finish in Oven

    Took 23 hrs to cook butts on 2nd try completed in Bradley.

    Sell Bradley on Craigs List For $350.00

    Net Loss $294.97

    Purchase MES 40" @ Sam's $299.99

    3 year extended Warranty      $39.99

    AMNS                                    $29.99

    AMAZING DUST                  $4.99

    TOTAL                                 $374.97

    Ability to use Smoker PRICELESS.
  16. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Where can I get the dirt? I have not been working for a while and could really get into saving some money at the grocery store


  17. biteme7951

    biteme7951 Smoking Fanatic

    I agree on the MES..for the extra money go with the 40" model because down the road I GUARANTEE you will need it. My bradley is collecting dust in the corner of the garage until I figure out what to do with it.
  18. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    It looks like Todd may have another line of product to look into.......... A MAZE N  DIRT! 

    I want a commission if it takes off.   [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010
  19. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Maybe we could start a dirt exchange![​IMG]
  20. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Probably gotta use a jack hammer to get yours by now.

    Might have to wait until Spring Thaw in PA & Canada.

    We'll have to use up Scarbelly's California Pride "Dirt" for now, because Todd's dirt is currently buried under a foot of white powder.