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Advice on a charcoal smoker

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    Advice on a charcoal smoker

    Hey everyone, currently, I have a Smoke-in it Model 1 electric smoker and it does a terrific job. In the past, I used a WSM and then some life events happened, and I sold it.

    With that being said, I'm back in a place where I can use charcoal again and am looking at some different smokers and would like to hear some insight from people on here that may have some experience with charcoal smokers.

    I'm a single dad with two young kids, so I want something fairly hands-off to use when smoking and ideally, I will stay under $500 for a smoker.

    Currently leaning towards the following:
    Weber Smokey Mountain
    Pit Barrel Cooker
    Oklahoma Joe Bronco
    Maybe something else I haven't considered?

    I really liked how versatile the WSM was and have that experience with it, so that is a pro for it. However, I have also heard good things about the Pit Barrel Cooker and Oklahoma Joe Bronco, and do appreciate the smaller amount of space they take to store, and it sounds like the Pit Barrel Cooker may be even more hands-off than the WSM. In the perfect world, I would just get a temperature controller for the WSM, but they're just not in the cards at the moment.

    Of those three, which would you recommend? Making adjustments during the cook can be challenging with my kids and what they are wanting to do.

    Also, I live in Nebraska, so we do have cold winters.

    #2
    I have the PBC and love it but it isn't a "grill". I know this isn't what you were asking but for the three of you, I would think a nice Weber or a Slow n Sear kettle might do. You can grill and smoke with it. Check out something called the Slow n Sear this is a nice addition to any kettle.

    Welcome to the Pit!

    Comment


    • scottranda
      scottranda commented
      Editing a comment
      You must’ve posted a few seconds faster than me!

    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      This is very good advice. The SnS would be great for his situation.

    • Steve R.
      Steve R. commented
      Editing a comment
      Good call. But I think he is looking for a dedicated smoker, since he already has a grill for grilling.

    #3
    Check out the Slow N Sear Kettle. Or get a basic Weber kettle and get the slow n sear inserts. I think you’ll be very happy!

    Comment


      #4
      Boy it's tough to pick between the 3. All 3 will do what you're looking to do. Have you thought about a kettle? You can smoke a brisket on a kettle, especially with the Slow 'N Sear added to it, plus a kettle gives you the flexibility for quicker cooks like grilling burgers, dogs, steaks- much harder to do those on the devices you mention. Take a peek at the Slow 'N Sear Kettle from SnSGrills.com.

      Comment


        #5
        WSM is my vote. It can be configured easily as a grill too. Very versatile.
        Check out the Virtual Weber Bullet web site, lots of great info.
        Last edited by SierraBBQGuy; November 12, 2021, 09:28 AM.

        Comment


          #6
          log10 I have both a WSM and an OKJ Bronco. Both are terrific smokers, you can’t go wrong with either one. But, you mentioned wanting the ability to grill and a more hands off experience. My suggestion would be the OKJ Bronco without a doubt. You can both grill and smoke with the Bronco. It is designed to do both. I do not have a PBC nor do I have any experience with it. But, I’ve read enough here to suggest they’re not ideal for grilling. Maybe others have been able to grill with it, not sure.

          Your second point is the ability for a more “hands off” experience. For a smoker without a fan/controller setup, it’s hard to beat the Bronco. One of the things I’ve been most impressed with is how it holds steady temps in the cooker. Its’ 2 vent system works wonders in my, and a lot of others, experience. Once you’ve got a few cooks under your belt, it can be a “pretty much” set and forget for several hours. I think you’ll love it. It only took me a couple of cooks to master my temperature control with it.

          If you do decide on the Bronco, or any of the others, one helpful tip, get you some B&B Charcoal and maybe some of their Char Logs as well. I recently switched from KBB and won’t go back, for long cooks. Good luck and keep us posted on your decision!
          Last edited by Panhead John; November 12, 2021, 09:34 AM.

          Comment


            #7
            Panhead John Thanks for the reply, the ability to grill (or lack of) does not matter to me, as I have a different grill I use. That's good to know the Bronco can be set it and forget it for a few hours, I know all three I mentioned have a strong following, so I'm sure I can't go wrong with any of them.

            I did read a few posts online about some people not liking the flavor from the Pit Barrel (grease hitting coals), but I haven't tried it.

            Comment


            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              It makes ribs and brisket taste different than the standard convection smoker (simply smoky air), but grease dripping on coals is amazing flavoring for chicken!

            • log10
              log10 commented
              Editing a comment
              I have heard of the differences, but wonder how much of a difference it will make? I would say, I mostly smoke pork shoulders, chicken legs. Occasionally ribs and briskets, but not as often. Is the flavor bad on those?

            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              log10 Honestly I’ve never heard any complaints from anyone about the flavor from the PBC, actually just the opposite. The PBC and OKJ Bronco owners both love their cookers. Most people like the flavor of the grease hitting the coals. Some have said it just tastes a little “different” than a more conventional type of smoker.
              Last edited by Panhead John; November 12, 2021, 04:03 PM.

            #8
            Of those 3, unless you want to jump up in size to the WSM 22", my money would be on the Bronco. I feel that it can hang like the Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC), and also cook on one or more 18" cooking grates, and even double as a charcoal grill. And it gives you temperature control capability you don't have with the PBC. You don't say what your grill situation is, so that may not be a factor.

            All that said, the WSM with the side access door can certainly be easier to refuel if necessary for long cooks - the PBC and Bronco both require you to remove all the food and potentially a deflector to gain access to the charcoal basket. However, I think most folks here with those 2 cookers can get even a large brisket or pork butt done on a single load of fuel. The trick is to smoke a bit hotter than 225F, and get it done faster. Heck, I did a 8 pound Boston butt on Monday in 6 hours by running my kamado at 300F, and it was very tender and juicy. At 225F that cook would have taken 14 hours.

            Still, I keep coming back to the Bronco. I just like its design best, and I have been recommending it to my son who wants a smoker. And the price is right as well - at $350 or less its a pretty good deal at many Lowe's and Walmart stores and such.

            Comment


            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              +1 on the Bronco, it’ll be the best of the three for set and forget. As I mentioned in your other post. 😉

            #9
            I will add that if you DO want to grill as well, the SNSGrills kettle with the SNS insert can both smoke and grill, and is in the same price range as the other cookers. If you doin't need grilling capability, I kinda like the Bronco.
            Last edited by jfmorris; November 12, 2021, 11:03 AM.

            Comment


            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              I removed that topic so the link is dead now. I merged the two.

            #10
            I have had a PBC and currently have a WSM. Of those two, I would go with the WSM, especially since you already have experience with that one. You can get aftermarket accessories to enable you to hang just like you would in a PBC, but with more capacity. I have the Hunsaker rib hanger, which is great for ribs or poultry.

            Comment


              #11
              You posted this twice so I merged the two topics together into one

              Comment


                #12
                Huskee Thank you, I tried figuring out how to delete one of the posts, but I couldn't figure it out, so I appreciate it.

                Sounds like the WSM is the most versatile, but needs a bit more tending to compared to the others.

                Sounds like the Bronco is more versatile than the PBC, but requires a bit more playing around with, but will hold steady.

                Comment


                • Huskee
                  Huskee commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You nailed it. Every device out there is a balancing game. They all have qualities that set it above another and equally below another, some very minor some much larger. On a more broad spectrum, I often tell folks looking for a grill or smoker "Affordable price, best flavor, easiest to use. Pick two".

                #13
                I was looking at a PBC and WSM but then I was gifted a WSM from my employer. I was leaning towards that anyway so it saved me from spending $350. I love it. I don’t know anything about the Bronco but what I love about the WSM, aside from the cooks it makes, is the plethora of resources online and different accessories available.

                Comment


                  #14
                  I'll also add that the WSM can be hands off for 12 to 18 hours if you set it up right, and also consider use of an automatic temperature controller such as the Fireboard, BBQ Guru, Smoke X, and so on.

                  Comment


                    #15
                    I'd pick the WSM, well because I have one. Seriously though, I don't have experience with the others but plenty with the WSM 22. You can get 18hrs+ on one load of B&B briquettes which is more than enough time for anything really. A temp control device isn't necessary once you get the hang of it. I have a Pitmaster IQ110 that hasn't been used in 3-4 years collecting dust in the garage. If it gets REALLY cold and windy outside pick up a welding blanket and wrap the smoker using spring loaded clips to secure. The door to the WSM is taped along the seams with metal tape as I've never had the need to use it. Just my .02
                    Oh, let's not forget about capacity either. With a couple sets of rib rings you can smoke (12) racks of St. Louis ribs at once.
                    Last edited by Hulagn1971; November 12, 2021, 12:25 PM.

                    Comment

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