Decision on Bradley vs the others

Started by Bytes, August 06, 2008, 05:39:08 AM

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I'm having just so much fun trying to figure out the right smoker for my husband and me.

I've decided on electric. That's about it. Well, I've probably decided on square vertical.

Here are my observations on some brands I have seen with my own eyes, and questions about how they might compare to Bradley in a particular way. I'm not mentioning Weber's Smokey Mountain because I hate everything about the Weber company, including their "grill expert" telling me that the way I like my food cooked is wrong and not recommended (He was not referring to the degree of rareness in steak that I like, which admittedly is extreme). End rant.

1. Masterbuilt will tip over towards the front when the door is open. I went into a Sports Authority and put a lot of heavy stuff in it, which the CS lady had said would prevent this issue, and I could still make the shelves slide out practically just touching the open door. 

2. Bradley. I have not ever seen a Bradley, but my Wisconsin-visiting husband went to a Gander Mountain the other night as a special favor, and communicated with me by mobile about the OBS he saw there. He thought it probably would not easily tip over in the same way. Bradley informs me the units are made in China, but designed in Canada.

3. Kenmore makes two electric square smokers, the 30 inch sold at Sears currently on sale for $150 and the 24" sold at KMart currently on sale for $105. They have the huge stickout legs like Brinkmann because Brinkmann makes them (in China) and insulated side walls. Here is a link to the Owners Manual  section of the Brinkmann web site. It has the Kenmores on it too.


1. Masterbuilt has a damper at the top of the box part.

2. Does Bradley have a damper in the box part? If not, then what?

3. Kenmores have a stupid little air hole in the back of the box, towards the top. It is fixed and only about a quarter inch wide. That's it, plus the stupid little grease drip hole.   How would the wood stay lit? Is this a really good thing or a really bad thing?


1. Masterbuilt takes up a LOT of space with its arrangement of pans and chip holders. In fact, their 30" unit only has 16" of food space. From top to bottom, you get racks, water bowl, slide-out wood holder,  concealed electric element, and full-size drip pan. So as I see it, grease will drip into the water pan.

2. Bradley - I have no earthly idea how grease dripping is handled, or where water goes. The web site gives cubic inch sizes for available smoking area which are about a third of the total volume of the cabinet. Seriously, it comes out to 10" of height for all 4 shelves. What am I missing?  (This is consistent in all their listings, for 4 and 6 rack).

3. Kenmore small has 13" of space for 2 provided racks, and large has 19" for 4 provided racks. Arrangement top to bottom is racks for food, a single rack which holds a water pan and a punch-hole covered chip pan, and then the element. There is a small hole in the very bottom of the actual unit and you hang the drip cup on it.  So this also seems like grease will hit either the open water pan or the wood pan first, though they are not as huge combined as the Masterbuilt water pan. Then grease will sit on the bottom of the unit. There is no slant to the bottom to make the grease head towards the hole.

More stupid questions. Why doesn't the grease from, say, a top rack of ribs, just settle on the 2nd rack of ribs?

The manuals say to season or cure your smoker before using it for the first time, but not how to set the temperature for the curing process (ie high or low).

I am going to try to include a picture of the interior of the Kenmore. This is of the small one. Frankly, for the money and the highly cute smallness of it, I would be leaning this way. (Ok, that didn't work. Anything has to be already on a web site? Can't just attach? )

Oh. Another question. Assuming you have a constant amount of meat to smoke, and it fits easily into smoker A, is it very inefficient to put that same amount in smoker B which is much bigger? Another way of putting this is why doesn't the Bradley 6-rack have diluted smoke and take more time to smoke. Or does the 6-rack burn the pucks more quickly, say, in 15 minutes each?

Thank you, anyone and everyone.


I'm a newbie so won't offer any advise other than to say that I too did quite a bit of research into getting a new smoker before decising on a Bradley. What sold me was the fact that you don't have to mess with soaking wood chips and such. I have owned both charcol/wood and electric somkers and they tend to take bit of tending to keep the smoke going and the temp right. I have a friend with a Bradley and a much more expensive electric and the effort to get to the finished product with the Bradley is simpler and more consistant. So, if you're not oposed to the cost of bisquettes than I don't think you can make a better choice. I'm sure some of the more experienced folks will chime in. I've heard nothing but good regarding after sales support which is important of course. Obviously if you post this kind of question on any name brand smoker forum, the responses will tend to favor what they own and support, and it's obvious that the folks who post here really like their smokers!


Thanks, Coherent!  Did I understand correctly that there is a more expensive electric smoker than a Bradley? For plain old regular residential use?  Do tell! 


I found some more Bradley documents, like a manual, and enlarged a picture of a Bradley's innards and went over it with the CS rep. Those aren't little sausages in the back of the bottom on the left; they're the bisquettes coming in. I had thought that they were ignited in the left hand piece, which she informed me is strictly a delivery device, and controls. This misunderstanding had made me wonder why people were not enthusiastic about offset smokers (little and big drum) when the Bradley itself was offset, albeit high-tech.

So there are two drip pans. Nice touch!  And the burned bisquette goes into the water.  Did I understand this correctly? Doesn't this tend to fill up or overflow, and require attention, which would negate the whole set and forget thing?  Ah, I called CS back; 'never leave it unattended', she asserts. Empty that water bowl!  Does anyone really go to sleep, set the alarm for 3am and get up to empty the water bowl? I thought someone said he left it on all night.

She also gave me the usable cooking space dimensions as 15 x 11.5 x 19 which multiplies out to 3277, but the web site says 2288, and she is going to look into that.


I can tell you one thing, I love my Bradley SS. I bought this magic box about 3-4 years ago and how no idea how to smoke anything but cigarettes. I only started using the smoker about 2 years ago due to some health issues. After my first smoke I was hooked and with the help from this forum things just get better. I tried with a Brinkman a few years back with no success. I smoke with my Weber and have some success but when push comes to shove the Bradley is boss. I still haven't invested in the pid like others here and I still don't own a maverick 73 to make life a little easier, but at least I get excercise running back and forth the the box. :D The cost of the biscuits aren't that expensive either, you can get them on amazon for a song.
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the bradley 4 rack is 15 inch wide by 12 inch deep and 28 inch high inside. as how the grease is delt with the bradley has a v drip tray that channels the grease to a center location and into a metal cup which is also used to catch the bisquetts.

I have had  my  bradley 4 rack for 18 months and love it.. i was much like you  looking and  looking and looking and  finally  decided on the bradley.

also depending on what you  are going to  make is how much you  can fit into the smoker. if you  do full sides of  ribs you  will  have to  cut them in half  just to get them into the  smoker and the most that i  could get in them  was 7 -8  full  racks of  ribs and it  was  full...maybe 17 to 20 lbs. and a 2 hour  smoke and 10 hour  cook.

have also done 40 lbs of tri tip that took 20 hours to cook all the  time rotating the tri tip from   top to bottom and front to  back
also sprayed them with orange juice jus  for added flavor and glazing.

I believe that you  would be very  happy  with a bradley smoker. i would recomend that you buy the obs and add a pid to controll the tempture it is well  worth the time and effort.


Over the years I have owned just about every type of smoker there is, including one offset that was so big and heavy that they used a forklift to set it in my truck.  In my humble opinion, nothing compares to the simplicity and repeated consistent success of the Bradley Smoker.  Among other things, because you are using the bisquettes, the smoke is a "purer" smoke and thus much more concentrated.  For example, traditional offset smokers doing a pork butt will pretty much be putting smoke to the butt the entire time, say 18-24 hours.  With the Bradley, 4 hours of smoke time is all it requires.  Total cooking time will take much longer but once you have completed the smoke time in the Bradley, it is just another oven.  In fact many times once I have completed the smoke process, I take whatever I am preparing to my house oven to complete the cooking process as I can control the heat more consistently there.

You inquired about the stability of the units.  As they sit directly on the surface with 4(?) small flat rubber feet, they are extremely stable.  I have never had mine to even remotely begin to tip over.  You had also inquired about venting.  The tower, box, oven whatever you wish to call it has a fairly large round adjustable vent in the top.  As for the water pan, many on the forum have opted to substitute one of  the rectangular foil roasting type pans as their water pan.  It provides for additional space to help prevent the build up or overflow you inquired about.  Also would require less attention to which you referred.

You obviously have done a lot of research.  It is my opinion that should you choose to go with a Bradley, you won't regret it.  The HUGE plus is the members of this forum are more than willing to welcome you and help you with whatever questions you may have once you start smoking with a Bradley.  As with everything worth doing well, there is a learning curve.  These guys teach me something almost everyday.



QuoteThis misunderstanding had made me wonder why people were not enthusiastic about offset smokers (little and big drum) when the Bradley itself was offset, albeit high-tech.
This statement really tells me you are truely lost in the world of smokers. Which is not a bad thing, but then folks who are lost often only hear those who speak loudest.
Quotei would recomend that you buy the obs and add a pid to controll the tempture it is well  worth the time and effort.
I totally agree.

If it is out there I've owned it, stole it, or built it. For the home smoker nothing can compete with the Bradley. I don't care how much cheaper or bigger it is.


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I have been smoking for 30 years, Have had all sorts of smokers from many different makers. Gas, wood, charcoal and electric. I have even made many of my own home built smokers.

BTW I work at Cabelas and am in charge of the smokers, grills dehydrators and jerky areas. I sell 4 Bradleys to every 1 of the others including Cookshack, MasterBuilt, Cook Chef and Cabelas vertical.

IMHO the Bradley smoker is the best electric box smoker I have ever used.

Whichever BS you choose you wont go wrong.

I think most here have the 4 rack either SS, Original or Digital. I myself have the original, 4&6 rack digital and the propane.

All except the propane have an adjustable vent at the top. The door stays closed. Unlike the MB that has a very cumbersum latch and is not very good because it breaks easy. The MB cannot stack the racks like the BS can (invert one atop the other) which means you can turn your 4 rack into an 8 rack or your 6 rack digital into a 12 rack. We do this when we do alot of jerky or fish or alot of small things. You do have to buy extra racks for this.

The BS vent is located smack in the middle of the unit where as the MB is lacated in the corner. This makes it difficult to place a power CCR fan on the MB.

There are alot of tricks you can do to customize your BS.

Hope this helps some and Welcome to the BS forum family.




I am also pretty new to this smoking thing and I have three friends that have three different smokers. One is a home made and the other two are some other kind than Bradley. They all make really good end products, but after seeing my new DBS they were just amazed how easy the pucks work and you don't have to be right on top of it babysitting it. After making a pork tenderloin in there for my daughters baptism I some how seem to be an extremely popular guy all of the sudden. My father in-law already wants to borrow it for some chickens and my brother in-law claims that he will be bringing his venison over. All in all after doing some research and talking to my friends I believe I made the right choice by purchasing this model.

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Quote from: Bytes on August 06, 2008, 08:27:46 AM
  Did I understand correctly that there is a more expensive electric smoker than a Bradley? For plain old regular residential use?  Do tell! 

Oh ya... like most things in life, you can pay as much as you want. I have a friend with a smokeshack electric smoker (don't get me wrong, they make great smokers and he's produced some terrific stuff with it), but it cost more than twice what an OBS cost and he says it's twice the work and at best par with his Bradley... but costs are more per smoke. I'm not lazy but usually look for the right tool to make things easier when I try to accomplish something... thats what kinda swayed me in the direction of the Bradley smokers. Some folks relly enjoy messing with the wood chips and temps etc and thats the hooby/fun to them. I can't debate that, but I'm out to smoke food to enjoy and share... that's the fun for me!

La Quinta

Hey Bytes....first off...welcome to the forum...whether you buy a Bradley or not...I have an OBS (black) not stainless...because I live in a baaadd place...ok it would get blasted by sand...soo....My hubby and I have been totally thrilled with the unit. For, really no other reason, then, the simplicity and reliability. Load the pucks, turn the sucker on...walk away (well...put the food in!!) ...drink a bevie...go out and check on it (if you feel like it) and viola...deliciously smoked products.

Put the drip pan and water bowl in the dishwasher...cover the unit go to bed!!  :)

I have had many smokers...this one I can walk away from and entertain or whatever and feel fine about it. We do tend to party. It's a diamond in the rough. Love it.

Whatever you decide to buy...stick around...a lot of real cooking/smoking folks here!!


You've received some pretty strong testimony here today.  Time for you to weigh all of the information you have gathered and make an informed decision.  If you choose the Bradley, we will all be here for you and if you choose another smoker, we will still be here for you.



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The southfork is a nice looking unit, similar to what my kid uses...but is a differnt beast all together.  On electric for the money, quality, food it is bradley... for flexibility to cold smoke it is a bradley, for customer service it is bradley, to hang out on this forum - no place like it. An OBS for 300 and a plug and play PID for 130,,, smoking like it always should have been for under 500.

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NOW THAT'S A SMOKED OYSTER (and some scallops)