Best smoker under $400

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by yooper, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    I'm looking at buying a new smoker, want to stay under $400. The one I have leaks smoke out of everywhere (yes I tried rope) and is made out of thin metal. So with some overtime at work I would like to upgrade. It doesn't need to be propane but not really looking into wood, so I guess propane or electric (have heard it doesn't taste as good with electric), maybe pellet? I will be mostly smoking pork and briskets. Also doesn't need to be large, maybe at most 2 shoulders or a couple racks of ribs. Just looking for the best quality for my price range.

    Sorry for going on, just trying to give as much info as possible to help with your advice.

    Thanks, Dave
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Hi Dave! [​IMG]  to SMF!!! I see this is your first post here, when you get a minute would you do us a favor and go to "Roll Call" and introduce yourself so we can get to know you and give you a proper welcome, also would you add your location to your profile, we like knowing where you are when we talk to you, Thanks
  3. cabrego

    cabrego Smoke Blower

    Look into the smoke hollow 44" model.  I am very happy with the build quality and the fact that smoke leakage is minimal.  hardly any though the doors :)  Materials used are similar to the Masterbuilt.  Has two burners and 5 different racks including a rib rack-also comes with a sausage hanger, water pan.

    It runs about 400, I found one locally for 300 at an Academy.  I had a gift card and it was the last floor model they had so I ended up paying 100 out of pocket :)

    If you need alot of space for briskets and such this is a good bet.  I believe Masterbuilt makes a 40 inch model with 4 racks for around 300-you might have to deal with leaky doors though.
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Check out Bass-Pro or Cabella's , they have some decent Smokers.
  5. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    Thanks for the replies. There are no Cabelas or Bass Pro shops near me so I may have to order it on-line. I currently have one that I bought at Gander Mountain for $100, I believe its a Master built but I'm not positive. I will look into the Smokey Hollow line.

    Thanks for the tips
  6. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    I was looking at the Smoke Vault on Amazon and it seems to get good reviews. The worse thing that was said was the damage from shipping. Does anyone have experience with this make? The one thing I would like is double doors, or is this not really necessary?
  7. I prefer charcoal for barbecue, and the Weber Smokey Mountain is a good choice.


    Here's a video of the 18.5 " WSM.....


    Electric can produce some fine barbecue and doesn't require as much attention as charcoal or electric.

    IMHO, the best electric smokers for the money are the Smokin'-It brand.

    Here are a couple good videos of the #2......




    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  8. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    Think it's between the Smoke hollow and the Smoke vault. Does anyone have experience with either? good or bad

  9. My oklahoma joe was 400 at academy. I love it. I found using charcoal or lump gives me a more even temp.

  10. billyq

    billyq Smoking Fanatic

    I have the wide body Camp Chef Smoke Vault. I love it. very easy to use, has a good temp gauge and a thick cast iron chunk tray. I use good siized wood chunks and it's very easy to the thin blue rolling. Hope this helps.
  11. Can't go wrong with an MES 40 at Sams Club for $300. Buy an anms to go with it for $40. = Overnight brisket without hassle.
    katfacer likes this.
  12. I have an MES 40 and absolutely love it. I am researching to add a propane to it but haven't decided on which one yet.
    katfacer likes this.
  13. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    Excuse my ignorance but what is a anms? Might have to look closer at the electric, and keep the propane that I have. To many options
  14. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    AMNS or AMNPS is a smoke generator that burns wood dust or pellets and can provide up to 12 hours of perfect smoke.

    Yea there are very many options out there so my advice is keep looking and asking questions and find just what suits your needs then get it and use it often.
  15. cabrego

    cabrego Smoke Blower

    I am partial to the smoke hollow, only because I have used it and I bought it because I could tell from the construction of mine (floor model) that smoke leakage would be minimal.  The smoke vault looks pretty good too, if you can buy local I would go with that so you could always return if need be.  The stainless steel door is nice but without comparing them side by side in person it is hard to say which brand would be better.  I get the feeling the materials are probably similar enough that the manufacturing is going to be the key difference.

    I am not a huge fan of electric smokers, they will work well though but it is very difficult to get a pronounced smoke ring.  I did a brisket and it came out pretty good but the meat didn't seem right without the smoke ring.

    By the way which smoker do you have?  If you are not going to make a significant change in build quality and size you may just want to mod yours if possible?  
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  16. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    I have a master built "cookmaster" I'm mostly looking for a better quality smoker.
  17. cabrego

    cabrego Smoke Blower

    I would say they are all going to be similar build quality, not really too beefy but 'good enough' for a propane smoker.  If the only probem you ar trying to fix is smoke leakage maybe you should try to fix that with gasket materials.  It seems silly to me to go out and buy basically the same smoker you already have, unless of course you go bigger too.

    does yours leak more than this?

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  18. athabaskar

    athabaskar Smoking Fanatic

    If someone said it don't taste as good out of an electric it was probably operator error. I've owned propane, electric, and charcoal/wood burners and they all are good for some reasons, not as much so for other reasons. Since you said you weren't looking into wood, your choice has narrowed some anyway. I wouldn't dismiss electric outright without considering the ever-rising cost of propane (unless you just don't smoke very often). There's also a lot to be said for the set & forget nature of electric. Still, there's just something reassuring about cooking BBQ with a flame, and it could be argued that the learning curve is a bit lower with propane. My electrics oddly have never been as consistent as fuel burners. Never far off, but never exactly the same. 

    Here's a thought - pick one and get it, work some more overtime and get the other next summer. That's how I came to have my herd of smokers!
  19. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    Thats why I came here. I was thinking that if I bought a more expensive smoker the quality would be better. But it looks like the main difference is the size. I will still need a new smoker because when I tried using the rope to seal the door the rope I used must have been too big and now the doors all bent. I actually have to use 2 large clamps to keep it closed and thats a pain when adding water or chips. I do also have a Char-Griller (I think thats whats its called) but no side box, I just use this for regular grilling.
  20. yooper

    yooper Newbie

    I like your thinking!!

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