The other weekend I was able to get my hands on a prototype of the brand new BBQ Guru Shotgun Smoker. While the smoker that I tested was a prototype, it is exactly the same as the production model. This smoker is available now from BBQ Guru. Since I was one of the first people to get my hands on this smoker, I wanted to post and describe my experiences with it.
The smoker itself is well built. It is a vertical reverse flow insulated smoker. This smoker works by having the smoke move up from the firebox though hollow inner walls. The smoke then circulates down over the meat and finally exits through an exhaust port near the bottom of the cooking chamber. A smoke stack connects to the exhaust port and exits at the top of the smoker allowing for proper draft. This design prevents direct heat from scorching the meat. Plus, the design allows for a more uniform heat top to bottom.
The Shotgun is heavier than the prior onyx oven, but not so heavy that it cannot be moved easily. I would say that it weights in around 180 lbs. This is my estimate, so it could be slightly heavier or lighter. The smoker has built-in wheels in the rear along with a heavy duty handle. It rolls well and was easily lifted into and out of the bed of my truck. As for portability, it was super easy to move. A great smoker for competition bbq contests.
The firebox is nicely designed. The bottom has steel bars welded to the bottom to help the ash pan slide in and out easily. On top of the ash pan is a removable heavy duty charcoal basket (20.5 inches wide x 13.5 inches deep x 5.5 inches tall) that holds more than enough charcoal for a long cook. On the side of the firebox is a guru port to connect a bbq guru fan. The shotgun smoker requires a pit viper fan (10cfm). I emailed the guru guys and they said that it would also work with a party Q, however, I did not try one. Therefore, I cannot confirm how a party Q works with it.
The water pan is a whole steam pan, making cleaning and replacement easy. Also, you can insert a disposable full sized pan into the steam pan for easy cleanup.
The grates are nice and sturdy. Everything is done right on this smoker. The grates are large enough for you to cook in disposable pans. This feature really helps for easy cleanup. I measured the grates and they are spaced 5 inches apart. The grates measure 22 inches wide by 12 5/8 inches deep.
The First Light
I added a disposable full sized pan to the water pan and then filled it with about 2 gallons of water.
I filled the charcoal basket with lump charcoal (I used frontier and it was not my favorite, too much random material in it). It took roughly 7 lbs of lump charcoal to fill up. I used a torch to light the center of the basket. Once I had the charcoal rolling, I added a few chunks of hickory. I slid the basket back into the firebox and closed the door.
I set the guru temperature controller to 275 and sat back. It took roughly 20-25 minutes for the smoker to come to my set temperature. I found that having the stack just slightly opened allow for the temperature to be maintained at 275. This was one efficient smoker. (The one negative to the smoker is that the intake for the firebox is just a guru port. So if the guru happens to break down, or the fan stops working, there really isn’t a option for manual control.)
For my test cook I seasoned up a few pork butts with my basic bbq rub and cooked in disposable aluminum pans. I placed a wire cooling rack in the bottom just to lift the butts up off the bottom of the pan. The butts, sitting in the pan, slid easily into the racks. The spacing of the racks works perfectly. If I could change one thing, I would add one more inch to the rack spacing.
This smoker cooked flawlessly. Once the guru was set, it did all of the work. I did not have to make any adjustments.
The butts came off in the middle of a rain storm so I did not get any after pics. Sorry about that.
When I took the butts off, I closed the fan damper and the chimney damper. When the fire was snuffed out, I checked and I still had about 30% unlit charcoal. Once again super efficient. An 8 hour smoke on roughly 5 lbs of lump. Not bad at all.
The butts came off with a nice smoke ring, and a super smokey flavor. My wife noted that it was some of the best pulled pork that she has ever eaten. That is saying a lot. She also said that the pork was super moist. I found the flavor to be perfect. Nice and smokey without overpowering the meat. The butts cooked evenly and the color was spot on. The water pan did its job and regulated heat and also kept the meat moist. Just check out my wife’s comment above.
This was one of the easiest smokers that I have ever used. Once I lit the charcoal, there was literally no effort on my part. The quality and robustness of the construction was superb. The oversize rear wheels and sturdy handle show this first hand. I also liked the fact that the grates are spaced perfectly so that you can cook in pans. I also liked that the water pan was a full sized pan. This makes it so that you can insert a disposable pan in it to hold the water. This makes cleanup a snap. These features show that the shotgun smoker was designed by a person that actually competes and cooks all of the time.
The only negative I found was that the smoker was designed around exclusive use of the bbq guru controller (makes sense since it is made by bbq guru) and therefore does not have a backup feature for controlling the input in the event that the guru fails. Without a manual way to control the air intake you are relying solely on the bbq guru controller and fan. Luckily, bbq guru controllers are super reliable. BBQ Guru makes a great controller and this smoker is no different.
This cooker was easy to light, easy to use and produced a fine product. You can not ask for anything more from a smoker! I am definitely switching my competition pork and brisket over to this beast of a cooker.
[tab title=”Overall Size”]26 7/8 inches wide
17 5/8 inches deep – 21 5/8 deep at the handle
42 inches tall – 44 1/2 inches to top of stack
[tab title=”Cook Chamber”]22 1/2 inches wide
14 inches deep
20 3/4 inches tall[/tab]
[tab title=”Cooking Grates”]22 inches wide
12 5/8 inches deep
5 inch spacing between grates[/tab]
Disclaimer: We won the Shotgun smoker at the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Annual Meeting and did not receive it from BBQ Guru. We did not get paid or compensated in any other way for this review.