Oklahoma Joe now has a drum smoker for sale called the Bronco and, at first glance, I really like the looks of this thing! The Bronco has a ton of design features that I love and an attractive price point.
Bronco Drum Smoker Features
The Bronco is a well designed but non traditional drum smoker.
Most drum smokers are constructed from a single 55 gallon (or smaller) drum that has been modified for air vents, grate holders, etc. Traditionally the original lid for the drum is fitted with a handle and used as the smoker lid.
The body on the Bronco is comprised of two drum sections that are bolted together. Additionally the Bronco has a hinged lid with extra dome clearance like you find on a kamado smoker.
The Bronco a 19 inch grate that offers 284 square inches of cooking area. There are two sets of grate holders that allow the grate to be placed in an Upper setting, close to the lid, or a Lower setting, closer to the charcoal. The grate holders also double as mounts for three meat hanging rods and associated hooks which let you hang and smoke up to nine slabs of ribs at once.
The charcoal basket holds about eight pounds of charcoal and is covered by a perforated heat deflector plate. The heat deflector is removable if you want to cook directly above live coals.
The smoker looks like it will have pretty nice air control. There is a single air intake in the floor of the smoker and a single air outlet in the lid. Both air vents have movable covers with calibration marks that let you dial in a temperature. Additionally the base of the lid is fitted with a sealing gasket that sinks into a shallow groove at the top of the drum body.
Other nice features of the Bronco include a body mounted over sized thermometer, metal side table and classic Oklahoma Joe branding including the wagon wheel tires. This is a pretty smoker!
My Concerns About the Bronco
There are a couple of design issues with the Bronco that do make me pause.
The first issue is the 19 inch cooking grate. The grate itself is fine but the smoker only comes with one and the size is non-standard.
I would like to be able to smoke some pork butts on the bottom grate and ribs on the top grate like you can with a Weber Smokey Mountain. I don’t know where to buy a second 19 inch grate that will let me do this. One can say that I shouldn’t worry about this because the meat hanging rods will let me accomplish the same thing. This is not a deal killer…I just wished that a smoker with two grate positions came with two grates.
The second issue is the difficulty of cleaning the inside of the smoker. The smoker comes with an ash pan which should allow easy clean up of the spent ashes. However, I don’t see an easy way of cleaning out all of the grease that will eventually build up in the bottom of smoker.
- You can take a WSM apart to clean the base.
- You can rinse out a Pit Barrel Cooker and then either flip it over or let the water flow out of the bottom air vent to clean out the base.
- The Bronco does not have a base drain and is too heavy and awkward to easily tip over.
The third potential issue I see is the inability to easily access the charcoal while you are cooking. While this is an issue for most drum smokers I am concerned about it more in the Bronco because of the limited size of the charcoal basket.
The charcoal basket will hold eight pounds of charcoal which is advertised as being enough for “all day smoking”. Eight pounds is about half a bag of Kingsford and I have no idea how efficient this smoker actually is. You might get five hours or you might get ten…it would be nice to have some real world testing data.
Again, not a deal killer by any means but something to be aware of.
As the Smoker Develops
I have the feeling that this is going to be a monster product for Oklahoma Joe but right now there is almost no real usage data.
I found this smoker at my local Wal Mart but it is not listed on the Wal Mart or Okalahoma Joe websites yet. I am going to keep this section open for now so updates can be added throughout the year.
If you have any experiences with this smoker that you want to share then shoot me an email (David at bbqdryrubs dot com).