Which Bradley smoker would you suggest for a newbie?

Started by SmokinHotMama, November 26, 2007, 01:33:54 PM

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Hiya Folks...  I hope this message finds you all well...  Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

Question for you...  I would like to buy a Bradley Smoker for my husband for Christmas.  He is a great cook and an awesome BBQ'er.  He has experimented on our grill with smoke and has been doing it for years.  He also makes different jerkeys in a food dehydrator (Because we don't have one of these nifty smokers.)

I have been looking at the Bradley 4 rack orginal as well as the digital.  What would you suggest?  Any information you can offer this poor gal to buy the right thing for her hubby would be much appreciated!  Thanks a bunch!   ;)

Life is too short...  Nothing but FUN!

Tiny Tim

Welcome to the forum.  Everybody has their own preferences, but I have an Original in Black and would go that route again.  The only thing I didn't like about this model is the setting of the temp via a slider switch instead of an actual number, but I added a PID controller and all is good.  One thing I do know is that whichever model you and/or your husband choose, you will be very happy with it's ease of use and cleanup.


Hi Tim!  Thanks for the info.  So with the information you just provided, with the temp issue settings, don't you think the digital might be better?  Do you know what the differences are besides the fact that one is digital and one is not?  The only reason I ask, is that there is about $120 difference between them? 
Life is too short...  Nothing but FUN!

Tiny Tim

Well, that question opens another can of worms.  The digital has a timer on it for the heating element (and Smoke Generator too, I think) that only allows for 9 hours and 40 minutes of smoking/cooking time.  Also, the temp controller in the digital reads from a sensor in the back of the cabinet, whereas my PID controller has a probe I can put wherever I want inside the cabinet, and my temp will stay relatively constant at that location at a little bit tighter tolerance than the digital controller...not a big issue for some people, but I like to set at a certain number and keep the temp close to that number.

Everybody has personal preferences, and as I said before, you will be happy with whichever model you choose, I just prefer the Original with my PID controller.  I know it sounds like I'm trying to steer you away from the digital, but I'm not...as a dealer myself, it would be in my best interests to push the digital model(s).


He will love whatever you decide to buy. All the units are great and easy to use. I have the Original Bradley with a temperature controller and love it.
May the fragrance of thin blue smoke always grace your backyard.

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


I have the original with only the slider control (so far).  I think the PID would be nice, but not really required.  With the slider, there is a short learning curve.  Relatively small cabinet temp swings does not really matter that much.  You generally just want to smoke slow for many things and focus on internal meat temp.
Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.

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I bought the digital thinking that I could set target temps and forget all but internal meat temperatures.  Turns out that the digital temp settings (as opposed to the time settings) are more inaccurate than I was led to believe.  Not because the temp monitor is wrong; turns out that the sensor is mounted on the back wall, too low and far too close to the heat element.  Which means that temp readings are taken too far away from the smoking meats that are lowering the box temperatures.  All that considered, here are my thoughts  (I should warn you guys when the wife is out of town and I have time to "think"):

1.  I don't like that when I set a box temp for 210F that the sensor is picking up a temp skewed to read higher than that at a level where the meat is cookeing due to the placement of the sensor.  That said, I do like that I can pick a higher temp value (even if inaccurate) and rely on the digital to target that temp.

2.  You can correct for the inaccuracies with a remote temp probe like the Maverick ET73.  I want to cook between 210 and 220F.   Digital tells me that I am, but due to poor placement of the sensor (way below meat level) I'm actually cooking much cooler.  With the maverick, I have a probe in the box at cooking level and can see actual temps.  I can  correct the temp setting to get the box to the temp I want.

3.  Even with the shortcomings, and all the research into the other smokers, I think the Bradley is the closest you can come to "set it and forget it" smoking.  Which isn't to say that we here "set it and forget it."  I look forward to the day when the digital set temp reflects box temp at mid-height.  Hopefully, the engineers at Bradley are paying attention to us.  After all, it's free market research.  And I think that (like their customers) these people want as perfect a smoking machine as they can produce. 

Before considering the next sentence, bear in mind that this machine smokes/cooks phenominally even without the temp precision.  However, most consumers purchasing a product capable of setting a cooking temperature digitally would expect a great deal of precision .  When customers pay the price for this type of "digital" equipment, they shouldn't have to consider shelling out a hundred dollars or more for additional gear like a PID or Raptor Guru to ensure precision cooking to +/- 2 degrees of target temperature.   Don't get me wrong guys:  I love this machine, but wish I would have known more about the temp setting shortcomings.  Either way, you'll be smoking some great meals, but will still have to rely on your wiles somewhat.

All factors considered, I would buy another Bradley in a heart beat.  And still a digital.  But I'm grumpy, and want those people who make this fine machine to pay attention.  And fix this perceived problem.

When's dinner?  I'll bring a side dish and some beer.  Probably should consider some AD/HD medication too.  Anyway, welcome to the family. 

Rant notwithstanding, Ms. Momma, hard to beat a Bradley.  Consider the original if the temp measurement discrepencies will bother you.  Or buy the digital if it doesn't matte to you that your digital reading says 240F, but  a remote therm. hanging about mid-box reads 210F. 


Thank you guys for the wealth of information you have provided!  I certainly appreciate it and I will definately be back!  Consiglieri, you are a hoot!  You can come over for dinner anytime...  (If I were you, I would wait until we get this all figured out though..  I wouldn't wanna put ya in the hospital on your first visit!  After all, it is a long trip in the family truckster for you.. I am in (Snow Country) Erie, PA!  LOL  Wanna wait until spring?  LOL

Basically, I guess what I really wanted to know is whether you all thought the extra $140 for the digital was worth it...  From this information, I am gathering that it is not!  You guys ROCK!
Life is too short...  Nothing but FUN!

Tiny Tim

So, I've got a "new in box" Original in Black sitting no more than 30 feet from me right now...want it? ;D


To follow up, I have a 6 rack digital and even with the temp level discrepencies, I'd buy the digital again.  Many here have purchased an original and spent close to the difference making or acquiring electronic temp control devices. 

I just wanted you to go into your decision with open eyes.  Good luck with winter.


Hi and welcome SmokinHotMama, you can't really go wrong with either model, there are pros and cons with both versions of the Bradley, but all said and done, both models are easy to get to grips with, and both churn out great food time and time again ;)

I have the original in black 

<<< Click Me For Great Recipes


<----------  Is SOOOOOO confused!!  LOL   :-\  For me being the frugal person that I am, the extra $140 is just killin' me!  LOL  However, I bet ya big papa wants nothing but the best, I'm sure!
Life is too short...  Nothing but FUN!



As it has already been stated you can't go wrong with either model. If you go with the digital you can just add a Maverick ET-73 to be sure your temps are where you want them.

If you decide on the OBS the slider just takes a little work to master and you can always build your own PID later. Those will run around $100 to make.

Don't lose sleep over the decision, either one you will be happy with.



for me the digetal 4 was the answer.as was said i thought i could set it and forget it,which you pretty much can with the maverick.send the probe down the vent and your good to go.heres one thing i didnt think about when i bought my 4 rack.just say when i smoke ribs,i do 4 at a time.so i cut them to fit the rack.the end pieces go along side the ribs  in each rack.they will be down before the ribs are,so now i wish i woulda got the 6 rack.then i could play with the ends on a rack by them selfs and not have to disturb each rack when im smoken.bottom line,you have to do what the pocketbook says but if you can go 6 rack now,do it.because you might wind up that way down the road.just athought.
fishin and cookin,must be gettin ready to retire.gamefishin.

La Quinta

Girlfriend....go with the OBS to start...it's less exspensive and figure by the time you're both ready for the extra $$$$ (for the digi) you'll be experts!! :) :)