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Unread 11-08-2012, 02:01 AM   #1
Foxfire
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Arrow Comparing Kamados

With the holidays fast approaching, I can't say I'm in the market for a new cooker today, but after tax time I'm looking to seriously indulge my jonze for a kamado cooker. I'm leaning towards Kamado Joe as a high-quality but mid-range price option. Opinions? Counter-points?

Initial brand impressions, from where I sit after a good bit of research:

BGE: The old standard, expensive but well established company. A safe bet for a proven cooker if you have the wallet.

Primo: American made (a rarity), high quality ceramics, attractive tables (for additional $$), bonus for Oval models given you can two-zone cook with horizontally divided chambers rather than rely on a deflector to provide indirect cooking vertically. But expensive for this feature if you have a couple of Weber kettles on hand such as I do.

Vision, Bubba / Steel Keg, Bayou Classic, Grill Dome, Komodo Kamado, Saffire, etc.: These seem to all be variations on essentially the same theme. Decent quality, minor variations of features from one to the next. From what I've read, these are all competent cookers, just pick the price point and specific features that appeal to you, but nothing hugely stand-out from the lot.

Char-Griller Akorn (or other OEM versions): Stands out because a $300 price point (including cart, side tables, and cast-iron grate) forgives many sins, especially if you're handy with a silicone caulk gun. JMSeltzer's vids and collaborating testimony make this a tempting entry-point kamado model.

Kamado Joe: Based on a week's worth of intensive reading, this seems to hit the sweet spot -- a very high quality cooker for a mid-range $800 price point (18" model) especially considering what's included. Selling points seem to be thick, high-quality ceramics, excellent gaskets, cart / side tables / tools included, good warranty and excellent customer service. Smart design choices including a lower vent screen (on 2012 and later models), high-quality metal components, gasket on upper vent and mid-body metal bands, easy assembly. They're built overseas but most cookers are. Universally high review ratings, often compared to or rated superior to even the BGE standard.

Anything glaringly obvious I'm missing?
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Unread 11-08-2012, 04:32 AM   #2
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You've nailed it... I have a BGE... cost no more than a Kamado Joe, but only because I bought a "demo" (for an Eggfest that never materialized). If I were shopping now, I'd go with the KJ (Maybe the Big Joe). I have a friend who has a small BGE and a Keg... He loves the Keg... Better fuel usage than the small Egg. I'd look at the Keg, too. Whatever you get, make use of the two BGE forums... the "official" one and the original one www.greeneggers.com. There's a huge searchable database of information on Kamados as well as recipes and pron.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 05:58 AM   #3
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I would lump (if you can excuse the pun) the BGE, KJ and Primo in the same category, the others in a level lower. I am a KJ owner for the last four years and could not be happier with mine. That being said, the top three are all going to cook the same, it's a matter of personal preference and a few minor physical differences. I really like the finished hardwood quality of my KJ and the durability of the gasket. I have cooked on mine at home and in competition, as well as hauled it out camping, it holds up, no issues whatsoever. Price point being key, you save a couple hundred bucks versus comparably equipped BGE or Primo. Ceramics of the top three are something I feel everyone should own just for the fun factor. I can't bash any of them, they are all outstanding cookers. Just speaking from personal experience I would never get rid of mine.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 06:42 AM   #4
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You may want to think in terms of ceramic vs. steel. Both have benefits/costs. I think ceramics can do low temperatures better because they absorb a lot of heat in the shell/fire bowl.

It is difficult, but not impossible, to keep a bubba keg at 225. However, 250 to 275 is much easier which is ok by me.

Ceramics can crack and are heavy.

Both kinds are very fuel efficient, but I think a bubba keg will probably use even less lump than a ceramic doing similar temp cooks.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 08:17 AM   #5
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Do not get too caught up in the Oval shape of a Primo, especially if you are looking at a XL BGE. I have an XL BGE, I can easily fit a brisket, racks of ribs, etc, with no meat hanging over/exposed to direct fire.

You can easily set up the egg for direct/indirect cooking with tools from the Ceramic Grill Store.

I went with the Egg due to more support with forums, 3rd party products and just overall reputation.

I haven't see a KJ up close and personal, but I've seem Primos and Eggs, and both are quality.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 08:38 AM   #6
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Saffire and Grill Dome are going to be other options.
For the price I really like the Grill Domes.
They have 2in walls and all 304 stainless hardware (which not too many other companies offer).
They also hand sand them down before throwing a acrylic paint on it.
They are as smooth as a kettle grill.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 09:19 AM   #7
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I owned a Grill Dome, and the day I sold it was the best day I EVER had with that cooker. The auto hinge requires constant adjustment to keep the lid sealed, the paint bubbled and peeled, slide door was junk, as with most ceramics I had to replace all internal ceramic pieces due to cracking. For the price I would look into one of the steel versions.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 09:24 AM   #8
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I have a couple of kegs and they work fine as smokers and even better as grills (very high heat). I say that cause they hold heat extremely well and are very difficult to bring down in temp if you shoot way past your target temp. It took me a few cooks to figure out how to prevent this from happening. A big plus is that they are heavy duty and travel well since they are not ceramic. I got both of them when they were on clearance at select Home Depots - no regrets at all. Depending on your budget I would aim for a larger kamado cooker, having that extra space would be really handy. But that may not matter if you got extra cookers around. BTW there is a keg forum too for specific questions/support. IMO any of these cookers are fine and will do a great job, it all just depends on what things matter most to you.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 11:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JONESY View Post
I owned a Grill Dome, and the day I sold it was the best day I EVER had with that cooker. The auto hinge requires constant adjustment to keep the lid sealed, the paint bubbled and peeled, slide door was junk, as with most ceramics I had to replace all internal ceramic pieces due to cracking. For the price I would look into one of the steel versions.
Did you try to contact Grill Dome? I have a couple of buddies that have them and love them.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 11:12 AM   #10
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I have a standard KJ and I love it. Your thoughts on it are exactly what my thoughts were and that's why I went with it.

I'm sure the others are great, but for the money the KJ is tough to beat. I looked at BGE, Primo, KJ, Saffire, Vision, Steel Keg and the Acorn.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 11:17 AM   #11
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Don't forget the Cadillac of Kamados

Komodo Kamado
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Unread 11-08-2012, 11:32 AM   #12
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I'm sort of in your same situation. I have the Akorn and love cooking on it, but I still want a ceramic Kamado for several reasons. My research has led me to make a final decision on the Big Green Egg. I plan to buy the XL version sometime in the spring. My challenge came down to selecting between the Primo Oval XL and the BGE XL. None of the others were really in the running.

I'm choosing the big green egg for several reasons, and the main one is because there is a larger community of BGE owners online as far as I can tell. I will be able to find feedback and support through my online community of friends here and other places much easier with the BGE. I also have a local BGE dealer which makes the decision a little easier for me as well. He keeps the full line of eggs and accessories in stock at all times. The price tag on the setup I want is a little high, but I think it will be worth it to go that route. I'm not to worried about a learning curve since I have already been through that with the Akorn.

That being said, I still think the grills you have listed are excellent grills and I would not try to sway you one way or the other from whatever you choose. I'm sure you will be happy with any of them.

Good luck with your purchase!
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Unread 11-08-2012, 12:08 PM   #13
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JM, what are you looking for in a BGE that you are not getting with the Akorn? As far as online support, I think this forum is one of the best if not the best one around, all kinds of pitmasters with all kinds of cookers to draw experience from... just my IMO though.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
I'm sort of in your same situation. I have the Akorn and love cooking on it, but I still want a ceramic Kamado for several reasons. My research has led me to make a final decision on the Big Green Egg. I plan to buy the XL version sometime in the spring. My challenge came down to selecting between the Primo Oval XL and the BGE XL. None of the others were really in the running.

I'm choosing the big green egg for several reasons, and the main one is because there is a larger community of BGE owners online as far as I can tell. I will be able to find feedback and support through my online community of friends here and other places much easier with the BGE. I also have a local BGE dealer which makes the decision a little easier for me as well. He keeps the full line of eggs and accessories in stock at all times. The price tag on the setup I want is a little high, but I think it will be worth it to go that route. I'm not to worried about a learning curve since I have already been through that with the Akorn.

That being said, I still think the grills you have listed are excellent grills and I would not try to sway you one way or the other from whatever you choose. I'm sure you will be happy with any of them.

Good luck with your purchase!
Just a thought, you may want to ask if you can purchase the egg in the box. I did on mine and got it a good bit cheaper. Anyone can put one together you just need to make sure you have help lifting the parts.

I got my Xl BGE around 850.00 before tax's.
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Unread 11-08-2012, 12:18 PM   #15
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I agree with JS-TX. You get plenty of support over here for whatever cooker you get. My brother in law has the acorn and he likes it. It doesn't seem to be up to the same quality as BGE or Primo, but it is by no means inferior. It is a good cooker, great considering the money. I love my Primo XL but would be just as happy with a BGE XL to be honest. I would not be happy with a smaller version of either to tell the truth. I have never seen a KJ so I cannot comment on that other than what I have read about them is that they are very good.

Honestly, you cannot go wrong with any of them. Just make sure you do not shortchange yourself on size. I am glad I have the XL and if I went smaller I know I would be dissapointed. Having all of that extra cooking space just opens your options up.
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