Worth it?

GwenR

New member
Hi happy users of WSM!
I'm here to clarify some moments before I join your WSM-brotherhood! I hope you'll help me.
I want to buy a smoker and I'm a beginner. I have very little experience of smoking, so I was looking for a good and easy-to-use smoker for newbies. I've been surfing the internet for a week and I've read a lot about smokers. I visited plenty of forums and most people there praise WSM. I also found some comparative overviews, where this device is well appreciated too. You'll ask me: "So what's the question? Purchase WSM and be a lucky duck with it".

But, on the other hand, I have Amazon customer's reviews. Some people were not impressed with the quality of this product, some people had problems with delivery. One man even got his smoker broken from the start... Also, one overview says, that WSM has a small cooking area. Do you agree with this statement? I don't know what cooking area assumes to be normal and I can't estimate... It's a little bit annoying me.

I understand that the ratio of positive and negative feedback about this product are disproportionate. But I'm a little bit paranoic with buying smth, especially technics.

So I'd like to hear feedback from you. Are you satisfied with the quality and integrity of the produce? Have you had any problems with delivery? Where did you buy your smoker?
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
Hi Gwen,

Welcome to the family. The WSM is indeed an excellent smoker that will serve you long and well. With 3 sizes to choose from, you get to pick the perfect size depending upon your BBQ needs. None of them will fit a full pig! That website you noted only listed the smallest WSMs, the 14.5". All three will produce excellent BBQ. In fact, the WSM is use by everyone from beginners to nationally rated, pro-circuit competition BBQ teams. We bought ours from Sams Club. We had no problems with delivery.

Looking forward to hearing about your BBQ journey !!!

Again, welcome to the family !

Bob
 
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Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Gwen, I've written an article on which size WSM to purchase, hopefully it will help in your decision making process:

Which Size Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Should You Buy?

Short answer: the 18.5" WSM is perfect for most people.

I've spent over 21 years writing articles about the WSM at https://virtualweberbullet.com and almost 20 years running this forum...I was promoting the WSM back in the days when Weber said virtually nothing about it on their website, had no social media presence, etc...so when you buy a WSM you have access to all of the accumulated knowledge that I've documented here over the years.

Regarding where to buy...I bought three WSMs from Amazon during the past year and all arrived in good shape. Of course, sometimes UPS or FedEx screws up and damages these things; when that happens, you call Weber customer service--not the online retailer--and they replace the damaged parts for free. But of course, some people prefer Home Depot or Lowe's or Ace Hardware or a BBQ specialty store so they can pick, choose, take home, etc.

Weber customer service is another big advantage of buying a Weber smoker. While acknowledging that no company is perfect, Weber has earned a reputation for superior customer service, often going above and beyond to help a customer. This forum is filled with posts from customers about positive support experiences.

I bought my first WSM in 1997 and I'm still cooking on that unit. At the time, there were some very successful teams winning big national BBQ contests using the Weber smoker, and I figured if it was good enough for them, it had to be good enough for an amateur like me. It was a great decision for me and has brought me two decades of enjoyment.

P.S. The WSM is a great smoker for people who like to build and manage a fire...it's one of the easiest smokers to operate. But if you're looking for a "set it and forget it" smoker, Weber will be coming out with a pellet smoker in early 2020...at a much higher price than the WSM.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Ive yet to use my bottom grate for meat

The 18.5 biggest drawback, is the top rack cant fit a couple racks ribs laid flat. You can roll them, use racks, etc. Its tight fit for 15+ brisket too, but doable, the brisket shrinks as cooks. People have cooked as many as eight pork butts at once in a 18.5. you can really pack meat in if you try. Most don't want to pack stuff in so tight though.

The 22 simply has larger rack. Honestly, i think a 20 would be perfect.

It needs a few modifications. Legs are flimsy if you will move it around. It needs handles on shell. Larger coal ring, smaller water pan. Handles on vent tabs. You can do these things over time

Adding auto temp control is a game changer for ease.

After all mods, thermometers, and auto temp control with blower/damper, i figure my 18.5 cost me...close to $800

The porcelain coated construction holds up very well. Painted steel ...will fall apart in only a few years typically.

In basic new form, its very easy to use. I used to have a Meco that was so ridiculously difficult I never used it. It wouldn't maintain temperature, it would barely get hot enough, ran out of coals quick, etc. Had to wrap it in cardboard to get it to maintain 250. getting the WSM was like night and day and actually made it enjoyable to cook things. Then you want to use it all the time. Then you want to start making it easier and better for your use., That's when you start modifying it.

You can buy most everything accessory wise as well, that you might want. And, there's a huge community of support here...

When I got mine, I never thought I would be making bacon and pastrami....
 
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Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I bought my first WSM in 2002, an 18.5" , and I still use it and see no reason it won't go another 17 years. Can't go wrong with Weber or a WSM.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
Welcome, and if you purchase a WSM I hope you find yourself as pleasantly satisfied as I've been for nearly 4 years! I first purchased an electric smoker but for a variety of reasons I followed-up with a WSM purchase within a couple months of that initial purchase. Today, I own a combination of eleven Weber smokers and grills. I thoroughly enjoy smoking with my WSM's (I own all three sizes); they do require a little bit of human interaction--I'd say just enough for my personal liking. I prefer a method that involves more involvement than an indoor oven but not so complex that I need to fuss with it at frequent intervals (my cooks can progress for several hours without my attention).

Weber products can be imperfect; of my eleven units three had defects out of the box but were usable while awaiting replacement parts, which arrived within a few days of my claim submissions. As you well stated, peoples' reviews and feedback will sometimes be unfounded. Criticism is sometimes an excuse rather than true merit. And some folks have unpleasant experiences because they choose against reading instructions.

Good luck in your decision, and whatever you choose I bet you will discover there is no more informative site as this one and it operates with the highest level of integrity!
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Once you’ve done a few cooks on any size ( I have an 18, perfect for my needs) you will see the fun of it. Go ahead, get whatever size you want. I had a 22 and sold it, it was simply too big for my normal needs. I do a party for 20 every year and smoking a brace of butts on the WSM and grilling some other things on any of the rest of the herd I’ve not needed more smoking area. Could easily do four to six butts but, I just don’t seem to need that much.
The 22” was a significantly more “fuel hungry” unit but, if you really need a lot of space, that is always a consideration.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
I previously owned a pair of 18’s and now own a 22. One of the 18’s and the 22 were purchased online. Both of the online purchases arrived in good shape. IIRC, the 22 was purchased from Amazon.

If your plan is ribs and brisket, do not get the 18. It is just too small. The 22 can fit any piece of meat without the origami necessary to fit it in the 18. The 22 does use more fuel than the 18. Also, 22’s seem more prone to leaking than the 18’s. Unless you plan on using a 22 for competition, I suggest a gasket kit for the door and the lid.

The 22 is a great cooker. Many successful teams use them on the competition circuit. And hundreds of home cooks here on TVWBB turn out amazing ‘cue using it too. Chris has lots of great articles and videos on his main site that are amazingly helpful to getting started.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Harry Soo has 100+ first place wins in competition on wsm 18. Beating teams with $15000 equipment.

Thats a pretty good testimonial there.

Check out his videos and website.

I cook 3 racks of baby backs all the time on my 18, on edge in a rack on top grate. Ive done 6 hanging, and could easily do 8 or more.

For big brisket, you put wood chunk under middle and squeeze in. It shrinks in a couple hrs and take wood out. People have done at least 19lb this way that i read, my biggest is 15.5.

But yeah, id like to lay all ribs flat. To glaze them in place really. It would be simpler and faster. Brisket is a non-problem to me.

Other workarounds for ribs flat on top grate..stacking grates with one rack on each, cutting in half or shortening some, etc.
 
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DarylB

TVWBB Fan
I honestly think the WSM is the perfect beginner smoker. It is a great platform to learn the concepts of fire management. Although you actually have to do the work of building the fire and adjusting vents, it is attainable and you learn from the cooker how much airflow you need. And as you become advanced you don't necessarily outgrow it. When I was competing, that is what we cooked on and we placed or won every time we cooked in one. And Harry Soo does just fine on WSM's.

And quality is fantastic. As long as you don't abuse it (and maybe even if you do) it is built like a tank and will continue cooking. Easy enough to take apart and clean, easy to store etc. I don't think there is a better smoker to get started on.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
I guess I imagined the well worn 22’s in his yard (one of which was in use) when I attended his class this summer. :rolleyes:
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
FYI Harry uses 22’s too.
Perhaps

But

"Hi! I’m Harry Soo, a Grand Champion pitmaster from in Diamond Bar, near Los Angeles. Welcome to my vlogs, BBQ product reviews, travel & lifestyle videos, BBQ contests, classes, as well as interviews and stories.

On weekdays, I’m an IT nerd living a Dilbertesque existence in a fabric covered cubicle in downtown LA. I’m the head tour guide for a team of IT project managers who build datacenters, networks, servers, and infrastructure that helps bring tap water to 300 cities and 20 million residents in SoCal.

On weekends, I come alive as a pitmaster, competitor, and BBQ instructor. You’ve seen me on BBQ Pitmasters, Food Network, Chopped Grill Masters, Smoked, Cutthroat Kitchen, and local TV in California. My shtick is I’ve used a humble 18-inch Weber Smokey Mountain smoker to win 100+ first places and 1st place USA in the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) awards including best chicken, brisket, and sirloin; and I’ve won over 27 Grand Championships. I’ve personally taught 200+ classes and trained 3,000+ pitmasters in small hands-on dozen student classes in the US, Sydney, London, Kuala Lumpur, Canada, and Hawaii."


One amazing thing, is Harry doesnt have room to cook a lot of meat to choose best from
 
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Fred BW

TVWBB Fan
I have an 18.5 and honestly don't think I could do better.
It is simple,fairly inexpensive,efficient,and flat out works.
I keep it inside so it will outlast me :)
 

GwenR

New member
Wow, i didn't expect so many relies, appreciate this!
Hello everybody,
I read everything you'd written, and i decided to buy 18,5'' WSM. Special thanks to Chris Allingham for detailed response.
We're buying it next week and I'm looking forward to this.
Many thanks!:wsm:
 

Tim K

TVWBB All-Star
Gwen, congratulations on your decision. I hope yours serves you as well as the WSM has served the rest of us. Welcome to the addiction, you’ll soon be turning out great tasting bbq and will become really popular when it’s time to cook for a get together!!
Good luck,
Tim
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Not to dispute too much here but for those of you who claim you cannot fit a brisket on an 18 I have done several 15 pound briskets with very little problem, just tuck the ends under the handles and it will shrink to fit just fine. It’s NOT a big deal at all.
And abandon all hope for ever turning back! It’s an addiction like TimK said and you’ve just taken the first toke!
 
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