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View Full Version : $400 Budget, Which Smoker????


Prisoner
12-23-2008, 10:12 AM
Ok, being new here, I came here for advice. I am treating myself by retiring my smoker that is similar to This (http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100606045)
(I hope posting he link doesn't violate the rules)

Anyway, I have about $400.00 to spend, so what would you suggest I buy? I am leaning toward the New Braunfels Bandera Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-5601) from Academy. Or Oklahoma Joe's Wild West Traditions S.E. Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-3321)

I smoke brisket, ribs, salmon, turkey legs, turkey breast and anything else that I think might taste good.

What would be the advantage of one over the other. I read the Bandera 101 and am not sure I want something that would need to modded so heavily.

Thank you.

Prisoner/Rick

BBQ Grail
12-23-2008, 10:17 AM
Are those the only choices?

If it's between those two I'd go with the Bandera. If you are willing to consider other options I'd get the new 22 inch WSM or build a UDS.

Prisoner
12-23-2008, 10:23 AM
Nope, certainly not the only options. I am here for advice.

(I kind of don't like the top access WSM's. They seem inconvenient)


Thanks.

Harbormaster
12-23-2008, 10:23 AM
You are going to get all kinds of info on the Bandera from folks here, but not me.
The Ok Joe's looks like a right handed Brinkman Cimmaron. If it's 3/16 or 1/4 inch steel, that's a good price. However, with a smaller offset like that you will find the temps are uneven across the cooking area, being considerably higher at the firebox. One of the Brethren (Coz) set me up with a batch of 1/4" steel plates that I put in my Cimmaron under the cooking grates and it helps to even out the temp. I also removed the stock baffle between the firebox and cook chamber and attached a different style that directs all of the heat from the firebox under the steel plates. It's a rib machine now.
There is another direction you can go too. With $400 you could get everything you need to build a UDS and buy a WSM. That way you get two very versatile smokers for the price of one.
Good luck on whatever you decide to do.
Merry Christmas.

BBQ Grail
12-23-2008, 10:32 AM
(I kind of don't like the top access WSM's. They seem inconvenient) Thanks.

This shall be an interesting conversation. Stand-by for some strong opinions. Don't take anything personal...

The WSM and UDS are both top access and loved by millions...

Harbormaster
12-23-2008, 10:38 AM
(I kind of don't like the top access WSM's. They seem inconvenient)
Thanks.

This shall be an interesting conversation. Stand-by for some strong opinions. Don't take anything personal...

The WSM and UDS are both top access and loved by millions...
The top access is not an issue really. It just takes a little thought and advance planning. Though not done to all of mine yet, I used some ceiling tile wire to make handle extensions for the lower cooking grate. Makes it much easier to remove when hot.
Don't discount the advantage of grate over grate cooking. Imagine the tasty goodness you will achieve when you cook butts over brisket. Or butts over Keri C's hog-apple baked beans. No way to duplicate these on an offset.
For me, the biggest advantage is once you get a WSM up to temp, it's pretty much hands-off cooking.
Prisoner, I love all of my cookers, and wouldn't get rid of any of them. Each serves a purpose in my arsenal.

ComputerMike
12-23-2008, 11:15 AM
I would get the new 22" WSM and build a UDS. I have zero experience with a stick burner.

jrb03
12-23-2008, 11:42 AM
Dont knock the WSM until you try it. No better cooker for the $. Although, I firmly believe you need to experience one of the mass manufactured department store offset smokers to fully appreciate the WSM's greatness.

BBQchef33
12-23-2008, 12:04 PM
if you want a stickburner, and THATS IS TRULY A NEW BRAUNFELS BANDERA, DONT PASS IT UP!!!. NB bandera are far and few between. Forgo the horizontal and get the vertical. More even temps, larger capacity, more versatile, and more useable cooking space. It will teach you fire management, uses charcoal or all wood, and once u get used to it, you will talk to it likes its your best girl.

But its apples and oranges comparing it to the WSM. The WSM is a cooking machine.... that u dial in and go away. (I have 3.) it will chug for 12 hours nearly unattended and it performs consistent each time. But the capacity is no where near the banderas and like i said, its a different machine, filling a different niche. U want to be a stickburner.. starting with a bandera is a great start.



For 50 bucks over budget, u can get both. Start with a bandera, save the extra 150, and in a few months or a year, throw in another 50 bucks and get a WSM for those overnight briskets and u dont want to get up every hours or 2.

Harbormaster
12-23-2008, 12:12 PM
For 50 bucks over budget, u can get both. Start with a bandera, save the extra 150, and in a few months or a year, throw in another 50 bucks and get a WSM for those overnight briskets and u dont want to get up every hours or 2.
The Poobah is wise.

Dr_KY
12-23-2008, 12:18 PM
ProQ XL. for easy access if considering a WSM.

http://i41.tinypic.com/2u637k7.jpg
http://i44.tinypic.com/sq5qxd.jpg

bigmeatbbq
12-23-2008, 12:19 PM
Build a UDS and pocket the remaining $350.00.

ricksegers
12-23-2008, 12:19 PM
Like Harbormaster said..That is why he is the Great, and Grand Poobah

Jorge
12-23-2008, 12:25 PM
A WSM will allow you to sleep. With either of the units from Academy you will be up tending the fire. The Bandera will give you more capacity than the WSM or horizontal you've looked at. It all depends on what's important to you.

Barbarian
12-23-2008, 12:27 PM
Prisoner, you asked for opinions so here is mine and I am prejudiced.

To start with, to me it depends on how much fire tending you like to do. Offsets take alot of tending while a WSM or UDS does not.

On the top access on a WSM, I have an old WSM and tend to agree that it's small diameter was a bit of a pain to me, just MHO. So the new WSM should be much better on that front.

The UDS is big enough that getting to the meat is not a problem even when your cooking on two racks.

Building your own smoker and or grill is also great fun. For less then $200 you can build a UDS and a UDG(rill) and spend the other $200 on something else fun like a Red Thermapen, Thirdeye's grill lifter, Maverick ET remote thermometer or whatever suits your fancy.

cheez59
12-23-2008, 01:44 PM
I don't know all that much about any of these smokers mentioned but that ProQXL looks like the bees knees compared to the WSM. Why isn't that thing pushed more?

thedirtman
12-23-2008, 02:06 PM
Another one I would suggest is the Chargriller with the smoke box. You will save some money and it works great. I love mine.
Todd
"The Dirt Man"

Prisoner
12-23-2008, 03:02 PM
You guys are great with the advice. I had suspected that the horizontals would have an issue with the uneven temps throughout.

I like the vertical Brinkmann (it's just that the metal is very thin. It cost me $50.00 new four years ago and I thought it would be great to learn with it) so I will probably go with the Bandera.

The only issue with the one I currently have is acheiving temps above 200. I usually only cook in it for a couple of hours of smoking, then put the meat into a cooking bag in the oven for a few more hours. I have never had a bad outcome.

ComputerMike
12-23-2008, 03:49 PM
I don't know all that much about any of these smokers mentioned but that ProQXL looks like the bees knees compared to the WSM. Why isn't that thing pushed more?

The maker of the ProQ BBQ's is a Brethren member. He can speak more to your question. I own the older ProQ and it had problems with too few vents. The new version has three. The components are lighter weight as well.

Mike

cheez59
12-23-2008, 03:59 PM
Thanks Mike I have been toying with the idea of either building a smoker of buying something like the WSM 22.5 just to have a second unit for more capacity. Is the ProQ American made? That means a lot to me.

KC_Bobby
12-23-2008, 04:43 PM
Everyone likes different things ... if it were me, I'd build a UDS on casters with a clay heat sink, side door to reload the charcoal tray (oven gasketed of course), adjustable rack settings, Guru air inlet, insulate the barrel in 2" of clay and cover that with sheet metal. Add a Tel-Tru directly under the lowest rack adjustment and use a Maverick for the upper rack. And come up with another idea or two as I build away - maybe run a pellet hopper off it.

HoDeDo
12-23-2008, 05:08 PM
Sears/KMart both sell the ProQ around here. Neat design, and low pricepoint... but not quite as well built as WSM. That said, the WSM is $100 more expensive and does not have the additional section. I had a friend with one, and it cooked great, but parts wore out sooner, and it got rougher quicker, due to the thinner metal, etc.

As far as other $400 cookers:
The 22.5" WSM would be great
The UDS would be great.
Outside of those top loading styles:
There are some Kamado style cookers out there that are very versatile. Bayou Cypress, Grill dome, etc.
The Bandera, with the mods you will see in the Bandera 101 doc would be a great cooker.
I would also look for a used BWS Party, or other cooker. There are alot of used equipement in that range folks might be trying to unload right now.
A used Good one would also be nice.

Dr_KY
12-23-2008, 05:12 PM
I was under the impression that the ProQ was made of thicker material.
http://www.probbq.co.uk/Excel.html


ProQ Excel 20 - 3 in 1 BBQ Smoker
20 inches in diameter make this the largest water smoker available today, and as it's made from heavier gauge steel, it will outlast the rest.

toys4dlr
12-23-2008, 05:18 PM
I was under the impression that the ProQ was made of thicker material.

Not the one I saw, as it was donated for an Xmas party from the AZ distributor.

It was a nice design, but the material was thiner and there were some gaps where the parts met up. I did like the hanger bar under the hood, under the handle. Just in case you want to hang sausage or something.

I am sure it is a decent unit, as I have not cooked on one and I did not win it in the raffle.

Smokin Turkey
12-23-2008, 05:25 PM
I'd go HERE (http://www.huntingdoncountycustoms.com/hcc-keg-smoker--grill.html) and place an order for the Huntingdon County Customs Keg Smoker. You can get it upstretched 12 inches and 2 cooking racks with enough space to cook 4-20lb turkeys! They are made from 16 ga 304 stainless and are customizable top to bottom. What could be more fun for the money?

http://i411.photobucket.com/albums/pp199/hccllc2008/kegkong.jpg

Ok, being new here, I came here for advice and since I just received a performance bonus from work, I am treating myself by retiring my smoker that is similar to This (http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100606045)
(I hope posting he link doesn't violate the rules)

Anyway, I have about $400.00 to spend, so what would you suggest I buy? I am leaning toward the New Braunfels Bandera Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-5601) from Academy. Or Oklahoma Joe's Wild West Traditions S.E. Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-3321)

I smoke brisket, ribs, salmon, turkey legs, turkey breast and anything else that I think might taste good.

What would be the advantage of one over the other. I read the Bandera 101 and am not sure I want something that would need to modded so heavily.

Thank you.

Prisoner/Rick

QDoc
12-23-2008, 05:28 PM
WSM 18" or 22" plus a 22" Weber grill. You have all bases covered. The stick burner is Ok but labor intensive for long cooks. I have a Lange 84 but only use it for large meat quantities or if I have help stoking the fire.

Dr_KY
12-23-2008, 05:29 PM
Sears/KMart both sell the ProQ around here. Neat design, and low pricepoint... but not quite as well built as WSM. That said, the WSM is $100 more expensive and does not have the additional section. I had a friend with one, and it cooked great, but parts wore out sooner, and it got rougher quicker, due to the thinner metal, etc.


Not the one I saw, as it was donated for an Xmas party from the AZ distributor.

It was a nice design, but the material was thiner and there were some gaps where the parts met up. I did like the hanger bar under the hood, under the handle. Just in case you want to hang sausage or something.

I am sure it is a decent unit, as I have not cooked on one and I did not win it in the raffle.


Guys Sears sells a clone ..
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=609552&postcount=1 (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=609552&postcount=1)


The BBQ Pro has nothing to do with our company or our factory, it is a clone and judging by the price, not a very good one.
ProBBQ Ltd is the name of my company and our brand is "ProQ", so it seems they got that wrong too.
As one person (who owns an original ProQ)on another forum said "
You know what they say. Imitation is the sincerist (sp) form of flattery."

HoDeDo
12-23-2008, 05:32 PM
Some other options:
Check these out!!
http://sanantonio.craigslist.org/for/956703811.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/hsh/966833309.html

TysDad
12-23-2008, 06:11 PM
Or butts over Keri C's hog-apple baked beans. No way to duplicate these on an offset.

This isn't true. It's easy to put the beans underneath the grate in place of the drip pans I put there already.

I have a BarBChef from Barbecue's Galore. It is a decent small offset and well within your budget. But as others have said, the offsets take more attention. There are a few tiny mods that help get very even temps across the whole box if that's what you want as well.

Heck they all work --- differently. Whichever one you learn about and learn from will do nicely. So based on everyone's opinions and observations find the balance you can live with.

http://i352.photobucket.com/albums/r357/PSTysDad/BBQRatings.jpg

Actually, I'd love to see something like this graded rating system for all the typical cookers that show how they rate on the above criteria on this website.

toys4dlr
12-23-2008, 06:27 PM
Dr KY

The one I saw was a Pro Q, as there is a distributor in Mesa AZ and they donated the smoker and some hats to raise money for a family that is having a difficult time.

It looked like a nice little smokers, but the walls appeared to me to be thinner than the WSM

jack040806
12-23-2008, 06:47 PM
Keeping in mind what has been said about a UDS or a WSM I absolutely love my bandera (thanks Larry) It is teaching me more about temp control and there is a ton of room, plus I like being able to do everything from the front and not having to worry about pulling out a top shelf to access the bottom. Just my two cents.

River City Smokehouse
12-23-2008, 07:28 PM
How about 8 UDSesess

Dr_KY
12-23-2008, 07:29 PM
Dr KY

The one I saw was a Pro Q, as there is a distributor in Mesa AZ and they donated the smoker and some hats to raise money for a family that is having a difficult time.

It looked like a nice little smokers, but the walls appeared to me to be thinner than the WSM

Cool

I don't know the exact or anything about the thickness/ quality I'm only going by what I remember hearing and what was posted on the site that I quoted. Several people have done side-by-side test with the two units.

My personal opinion as a user is it's a great and very versatile cooker and suits my needs and a bit more. I have very limited yard space and up till a week ago I had to transport my 22" Weber , all my cooking gear/equipment and a bullet smoker(ProQ) in a Dodge Neon for catering and competitions. I like that it breaks down into sections yet there are no air leaks that affect controlling temps.

I guess what I'm saying here is just like others, get a cooker that suits your needs. I would love a Spicewine and a ranch kettle but I couldn't afford it at the moment.

HoDeDo
12-23-2008, 09:36 PM
Guys Sears sells a clone ..
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=609552&postcount=1 (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=609552&postcount=1)

Learned something new today!! ProBBQ vs BBQPro Thanks for the clarification - There appears to be a sizable difference

JD McGee
12-23-2008, 09:58 PM
I'll add my 2 cents here...for what it's worth. It all depends on what you want to do with your smoker. If you're looking for capacity...then I'd go with the Bandera. If your looking to do good backyard Q for your family and Friends go with the WSM or build a UDS or 20 :twisted:. If your looking to get into comp cooking the WSM's are hard to beat for portability and no-fuss-smokin'. It's all about the "Cook" not the cooker! :-P Whatever you purchase or build will have the capability to produce good Q...once the "cook" learns how to use it. :biggrin: Good luck with your decision.

tony76248
12-24-2008, 08:26 AM
I would keep an eye on craigslist as well as local newspaper and go for something used and get the most bang for the buck. be patient and wait for it to come to you.

If you prefer new, I would put my money on the WSM (limited cooking area being the only drawback) or a drum smoker for more space.

Desert Dweller
12-24-2008, 09:21 AM
I have the smokers listed below, and as many have said, each serves it's own function. In my late 50's, I appreciate my sleep, so overnighters are definately done on the WSM. Frankly, I only use the ECB as a tabletop and storage place anymore. For simplicity, ease of use etc., its easy to pick the UDS or WSM every time! Even when all the Mods are complete to the New Braunfels, I am sure my opinion will not change. Nothin beats my OTS for a quick steak or burger though...

dbhost
12-24-2008, 01:38 PM
Ok, being new here, I came here for advice and since I just received a performance bonus from work, I am treating myself by retiring my smoker that is similar to This (http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100606045)
(I hope posting he link doesn't violate the rules)

Anyway, I have about $400.00 to spend, so what would you suggest I buy? I am leaning toward the New Braunfels Bandera Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-5601) from Academy. Or Oklahoma Joe's Wild West Traditions S.E. Smoker (http://www.academy.com/index.php?page=content&target=products/outdoors/grills/smokers&start=6&selectedSKU=0263-02219-3321)

I smoke brisket, ribs, salmon, turkey legs, turkey breast and anything else that I think might taste good.

What would be the advantage of one over the other. I read the Bandera 101 and am not sure I want something that would need to modded so heavily.

Thank you.

Prisoner/Rick


I've got a Bandera, and love it, but I had to mod it a little to make everything work the way I wanted. Read the Bandera101 document and you will know all you need to know. For my application I did...

Added firebrick to the fire chamber.
Added brick pavers to the smoke chamber.
Added drain holes to the bottom of the smoke chamber.
Added a through door thermometer, and several drop in remotes.
Did the silicone door gasket mod.

Once you get the hang of using it, I can get the fire going, and control temp / fuel usage to get sweet blue for about 4 hours prior to having to tend fire again.

There are probably better smokers out there, but I am silly happy with my Bandera, and if stolen, I would gladly go out and buy another one...

K I N G P I N
12-24-2008, 01:59 PM
This is just my opinion as I only have a GOSM and sold my NB Black Diamond due to the high fuel consumption and time it took to do so. As I entertain frequently, having not to maintain the charcoal every 30 minutes is what drove me to the GOSM. Am I upset I sold the Black Diamond?? Hell yes, I could have made some mods to it and still have it. But I do love the GOSM for ease of use and small wood consumption.

Ian Mack
12-27-2008, 05:18 AM
Dr KY

The one I saw was a Pro Q, as there is a distributor in Mesa AZ and they donated the smoker and some hats to raise money for a family that is having a difficult time.

It looked like a nice little smokers, but the walls appeared to me to be thinner than the WSM
Just to clarify things a bit, no doubt the distributor in the Arizona donated a Frontier model, which is a smaller diameter model, made from thinner material than the ProQ Excel, which is 20 inches in diameter and made from exactly the same thickness material as the WSM.
Hope this helps and compliments of the season to everyone.

Ian

Mo-Dave
12-27-2008, 11:04 AM
This shall be an interesting conversation. Stand-by for some strong opinions. Don't take anything personal...

The WSM and UDS are both top access and loved by millions...


They are both top access with one big difference. I have never had to access my uds during a cook to tend the fire, only when loading new fuel and lighting it up. But with the wsm I had to tend it a few times. Plus being an old fat man I find it hard to adjust the intakes on the wsm because I can't see what I am doing down there, as apposed to the uds with one intake on a riser.

So in conclusion I would take 50.00 buck more or less and build the uds, that leaves 350.00 for meat, beer even a contest if one was so inclined. I wonder what he is cooking on at this time?
Dave