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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 03-10-2012, 08:31 AM   #1
cmohr74
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Default Backyarder/Small Comp Cooker Buying Tool Guide

Like many new comers out there to the awesome world of barbeque, it's hard to decide what type of smoker to buy. It's a very, very large investment for some who are looking to do very few competitions, but still get a stellar backyard cooker. I went back and forth about so much and decided to gather as much information in one spot as I could, which is listed below. Some of these have options added so the price reflects it. This is just information I gather from the internet and only a few options from these manufacturers. There are no guarantees it is 100% correct, but it's the best info I could find. Then I asked myself a great deal of questions, here are just a few of them:
  1. How many contests will I really be competing and at what level?
  2. How will I transport this cooker?
  3. How much do I want to tend to the fire?
  4. How much smoke flavor do I want?
  5. How much will I REALLY cook quantity wise? (Too little/Too Big)
  6. What temperature range do I want to cook with overall? (versatility)
  7. What spacing do I want between my racks? Brisket/Ribs/Birds/Pork
  8. What is my cost per square inch of cooking surface?
Detailed Smoker Comparison.pdf

Take this for what it's worth, but maybe it will help you with your decision. There are many other cookers out there, these are some of the one's I had interest in.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 08:44 AM   #2
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You should list both sizes of WSMs.

Also, they have 2 shelves, not 22.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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Nice job! This is one of those things that could get very big :)

A couple of thoughts...

For the Cookshack listing, I believe you're referencing the FEC-100. They also make the FEC-120 and a couple of models of Fast Eddy pellet grills, so you should be specific.

Also, the temp range column can be misleading. As an example, the Backwoods smokers listed can all cook anywhere from cold smoking to 350-400 degrees, and the Party and Chubby with the water pan removed can also grill. It just depends on the setup.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 08:53 AM   #4
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The man wins on his UDS and now he needs a new smoker . Thanks for doing all the leg work. What one are you leaning towards?
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Unread 03-10-2012, 10:08 AM   #5
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Default Updated List

Ron you are absolutely correct. Many of them will go much higher than indicated...and lower if you forget to add fuel. These are just the recommended ranges that the manufacturer indicated on their website. Here is that update for you with the Cookshack/Fast Eddy as well as I added a few others for people to compare. Thanks for the input.

Detailed Smoker Comparison Update.pdf

P.S. All this work and I still can't completely decide which one. Although the questions I asked myself led me away from which ones I do not want due to personal cooking habits.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCSmoke View Post
The man wins on his UDS and now he needs a new smoker . Thanks for doing all the leg work. What one are you leaning towards?
It's an addiction!!! Trust me I'm still at the first step of the 12 step program..

Admitting I have a problem.

As far as the boss is concerned I just purchased my last smoker!!!! Otherwise I will be the next thing on the cooker!!!!
Just have fun Dan, and the rest will fall into place.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 04:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmohr74 View Post
Ron you are absolutely correct. Many of them will go much higher than indicated...and lower if you forget to add fuel. These are just the recommended ranges that the manufacturer indicated on their website. Here is that update for you with the Cookshack/Fast Eddy as well as I added a few others for people to compare. Thanks for the input.

Attachment 61755

P.S. All this work and I still can't completely decide which one. Although the questions I asked myself led me away from which ones I do not want due to personal cooking habits.
Just use the drums and get through a season before you decide. The reason I say this is because after a few comps you might have a game plan set and know more of what type of cooker you need to fit your style. At home I cook more hot and fast mainly because I like to sleep in my bed but at comps I cook low and slow with a guru on my drum and just sleep next to them. Keep it simple your first season and just have fun.
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Unread 03-10-2012, 08:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Parker View Post
Just use the drums and get through a season before you decide. The reason I say this is because after a few comps you might have a game plan set and know more of what type of cooker you need to fit your style.
Good advice. We are now enjoying a lot of success with our FEC 100, but it also took a few months of competing with it to make the adjustments we needed. We did practice with it off season, but it's not quite the same as cooking in a comp.

Also note that the FEC has safety cutoff at 425, but from a practical point of view you aren't going to reliably get up that high, especially in colder weather. It has 4 shelves, but comes with slides for 7, so you can add capacity by buying more shelves.
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Unread 06-20-2012, 07:34 AM   #9
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Default Updated Competition Cooker Comparison List

When I was searching for a smoker earlier this year, I made this tool to help me compare a few things. I have since bought a Backwoods extended party that I love. However I know how frustrating it can be to search for a new competition cooker, so I wanted to update this list for anyone else who has trouble trying to decide on what to buy. If you can think of anything else I could add to this to help people, let me know. Not only do I have my own BBQ addiction problem, but I enjoy research and helping others out so that they too can have a BBQ addiction.

Detailed Smoker Comparison.pdf
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Unread 06-20-2012, 10:46 AM   #10
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for a backyarder, looking to compete occasionally. You left out the ceramics. Big green egg and primo are both awesome cookers. We compete on 2 larges. They'll go as low as 180 and as high as 700 for pizza. always something to consider.
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Unread 06-20-2012, 12:29 PM   #11
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Default Updated with Ceramic Cookers

This is now updated with the BGE & Primo Cookers. Thank you for the input, I somehow completely forgot about those.

Detailed Smoker Comparison.pdf
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Unread 06-21-2012, 11:11 AM   #12
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That's a great list. I'm curious though, is there a reason there are no Klose smokers on there? In fact, I don't see them mentioned by many Brethren at all. Hmmmm....
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Unread 06-21-2012, 12:48 PM   #13
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To be honest, I have heard about Klose pits, but have always heard of them as being the Bentley of BBQ pits. AKA out of small competitor bbq price ranges. However upon looking into it more, they have some pits that really aren't any more money than many list here on this list. In the near future, I will take the time to update this list with "BBQ Pits by Klose".
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