Ever since it was first released in 1981, the Weber Smokey Mountain, also known as the Weber Bullet Smoker or WSM for short, has gained a huge following of new and advanced smokers alike.
There are hundreds of online WSM communities, fan groups, web pages, recipes, and others that are living proof of the almost cult-like following of this popular charcoal smoker.
This vertical charcoal smoker has been continuously improved throughout the years and is still often at the top of most smoker reviews and lists. A WSM can be seen used in almost all competitions competing against the much larger higher-end smokers used by pro pitmasters.
If you are wondering whether the Weber Smokey Mountain is for you, you can read along through our detailed review of its main features, its pros, and cons, as well as how it compares to some of the most famous competitors on the market.
Here is our in-depth Weber Smokey Mountain review.
As we already mentioned, the first Weber Smokey Mountain was introduced back in 1981. Today, 40 years later, the WSM is hugely improved and ever so popular.
It is now available in different sizes of 14, 18, and 22 inches for all smoking needs. It also has a built-in thermometer, much-improved construction, and other added features which help it hold one of the leading positions among charcoal smokers for four decades.
It became popular mainly thanks to its easy setup and maintenance, its space-saving bullet-style design, and excellent temperature control without spikes, which is crucial for smoking.
It is known to be very easy to master even by beginners and provides amazingly stable temperatures for hours. The temperature control is very easy due to the size and design of the Weber Bullet, including the large water pan, and all you need to do is open or close its vents to raise or lower the temperature.
The design of this famous charcoal smoker by Weber is ingenious. It is constructed of porcelain and chrome coated steel and aluminum and has sturdy legs with a bowl-shaped heat shield made of aluminum to protect your patio or deck.
The high-quality materials and coating by Weber will ensure that this smoker remains working and great-looking even after years of use outdoors.
The WSM has a thermometer port which helps keep the probe wires in place, keeps the heat in, and allows for monitoring the pit and the food temperature without opening the lid.
There is also an accurate built-in thermometer on the lid and a stay-cool handle.
The water tray helps keep the temperature stable, moistens the food, and also acts as a grease and drip tray. Many pitmasters add different flavors such as apple cider, juice, and others to the water to add to the flavors of the smoked meat.
There are two chrome-plated cooking racks which are stacked over the charcoal and water pans and the smoke chamber. Depending on the size of the Weber Smokey Mountain you choose, you will get from 286 square inches up to 726 square inches of cooking space.
This iconic bullet-shaped charcoal smoker is very simple to set up and use and is a great choice both as an entry-level smoker for newbies and as a space-saving and reliable smoker for advanced smokers.
Smoker type: a vertical bullet-shaped smoker and grill
Construction material: powder enameled steel and aluminum
Cooking grate material: chrome coated steel
Cooking area: 286 square inches for the 14-inch, 481 square inches for the 18-inch, and 726 square inches for the 22-inch smokers
Dimensions: 31.4 (H) x 14.7 (W) x 14.7 (D) inches for the 14-inch, 41 (H) x 19 (W) x 21 (D) inches for the 18-inch, and 48.5 (H) x 23 (W) x 24 (D) inches for the 22-inch models
Item weight: 23 lbs. (for 14-inch), 39 lbs. (for 18-inch) and 68 lbs. (for the 22-inch smoker)
Weber warranty: 10 years for the lid and bowl, 5 years for the cleaning system and plastics, and 2 years for all other parts
- Simple design but provides an ability to make competition-worthy smoked meat
- High quality, weather-resistant porcelain enameled steel and aluminum body
- A space-saving design thanks to its vertical bullet-style
- Two chrome-coated steel cooking grates which can be removed and adjusted to fit different foods and which allow for two-level smoking
- Easy temperature control via the four durable aluminum dampers (one on top and three on the bottom)
- Large cooking area for such a small footprint
- Integrated water pan for keeping the temperature and smoke stable and preventing the drying of the food
- An easy to access fuel door to add more coal without moving the food
- It is compatible with Weber’s iGrill 2 thermometer and mobile app for remote monitoring of the temperatures, cooking time, and others
- It is sold in three different size options
- Offered at a reasonable price
- Backed by an industry-leading warranty by Weber
What you get in the box:
- A porcelain enameled base, a lid, and a middle cooking section
- A charcoal ring (chamber)
- A steel charcoal grate
- Two chrome coated stainless steel cooking grates
- An aluminum water pan
- An easy-access fuel door
- Aluminum legs
- A stay-cool handle for the lid
- A protective cover for the grill
- A box with nuts, washers, bolts, and a user manual
Ease of use
The ease of use is pretty subjective and depends on how experienced you are with charcoal smokers and grills.
The WSM is a small-sized and easy-to put together charcoal smoker and is among the top favorite charcoal smokers of all time due to its ease of use.
It doesn’t require too much of a learning curve, especially as compared to larger-sized smokers, offset smokers, and others with hot and cool spots which need to be mastered.
Thanks to the added water pan and the dampers, the temperature levels are fairly easy to control with the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.
The water pan acts like a heat sink which helps absorb some of the excessive heat, increase the thermal mass in the smoker, and thus ensuring that the temperatures and smoke levels inside remain consistent throughout the cook.
The water pan will also help prevent the accidental increase of the temperature higher than the recommended 225 degrees F for smoking.
The water in the pan also helps keep the meat or other food inside moist and prevents the drying up of the meat throughout the low and slow smoking session.
You can use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, or both to start the WSM, as well as your preferred type of wood chunks, chips, or others for smoking.
It is easy to keep an eye on the temperature inside the smoker thanks to the built-in thermometer on the lid, but you can also use wireless thermometers to monitor the internal meat temperatures and the ambient temperature of the smoker from a distance.
During smoking, the temperature remains stable with slight fluctuations, but different weather elements like rain, snow, wind or direct sunlight can cause deviations too.
Maintenance and cleaning
While the Weber Smokey Mountain doesn’t have an ash cleanout system, this smoker is very easy to take apart and clean.
You can clean the grates with crumpled aluminum foil or a grill brush.
The bottom section needs to be dumped out of any ash and what’s left of the coal.
The interior will develop a patina over time, but it is still recommended that you wipe off the inner side of the lid in order to prevent it from starting to flake.
The outside of the Weber Bullet can be wiped with a sponge and some warm soapy water.
When not in use, you can use the included cover to protect the smoker from dust, dirt, and weather elements.
10-year warranty for the bowl, lid, and center ring for rust and burn through
5-year warranty for the plastic parts, including discoloration or fading
2-year warranty for all other remaining parts
What we liked
- A very small footprint and yet provides a large cooking space
- Very sturdily built of premium quality materials and coating
- It is backed by Weber’s 10, 5, and 2-year warranties
- The smoker is easy to set up even by beginners
- The temperature remains stable thanks to the water pan and the 4 dampers
- The two removable cooking grates are easy to clean and provide a large cooking area, which can be expanded for large-sized foods like a whole turkey
- The water pan helps keep the temperature constant, prevents the food from drying, and helps prevent temperature spikes
- There is an easy access door for the coal and wood, so you don’t need to move the food every time you need to refill the smoker
- It is available in three different sizes – suitable for any need, budget, and available space
- It is compatible with Weber’s mobile iGrill 2 thermometer and app
- There is a reasonably accurate built-in thermometer in the lid and holes for additional thermometer probes
- It is small and light enough to be among the best portable smokers for camping, fishing, hunting, and traveling
- It comes with a practical protective cover
What we didn’t like
- It can be uncomfortably low positioned for some users
- In some cases, some heat and smoke can leak from around the door, but this can easily be fixed with the help of an inexpensive gasket smoker seal
How the water smokers work
Since the Weber Smokey Mountain is a water smoker and is bullet-shaped, it can hold the temperature remarkably stable throughout even the longest smoking sessions.
It uses charcoal briquettes or lumped charcoal and wood for the fire and smoke. The water pan on top of the chamber helps absorb any excess heat and keeps the meat and other food moist throughout the cook.
Since the water will help regulate the temperature inside the smoker, the WSM doesn’t require too much babysitting during the smoking.
The water also eliminates the need for wrapping the meat and other food in foil in most cases.
Plus, you can add more flavors to your food by adding some apple juice, cider, beer, or other flavorful liquids in the water pan.
The water smoker typically constitutes three main sections, including the firebox for the coal and wood, the cooking section in the middle for the water pan and the grates, and the domed lid on top.
These types of bullet-style, vertical water smokers are easy to set up, use, and clean out, which makes them so popular.
They are perfect for people with zero experience in smoking and yet can often be seen used and winning at BBQ competitions.
They work by lighting the piled charcoal on the bottom, filling the water pan with water, cider, apple juice, beer, or other liquids, adjusting the vents for a constant smoking temperature, and placing the food on the cooking racks.
The internal meat doneness temperature can be monitored via thermometers, and the ambient temperature is displayed on the gauge in the lid.
How to choose the size of your new Weber Smokey Mountain
If you are wondering which of the three available sizes of the Weber Smokey Mountain is the most suitable for you, then first consider the total cooking area of each.
The 14, 18, and 22 in the name of the Weber Bullet smoker refers to the width of the cooking grates of each. Each of these charcoal smokers comes with two removable grates situated one above the other.
The smallest 14-inch version has a cooking area of 286 square inches on both grates. The middle 18-inch option has a 481 square inch cooking space, and the largest 22-inch one offers a generous 726 square inches of cooking space.
Consider what the largest piece of food or cut of meat you will be smoking in your WSM. The smaller two sizes are sufficient for cooking for a family of 4 and a few other guests. The largest 22-inch variant can fit a rack of ribs or brisket and can feed a larger group of people.
If you are thinking about the budget for this smoker and grill, then here is what the approximate price for each is when it comes to the cooking area:
The WSM 14 will cost you about $ 0.72 per square inch
The WSM 18 will cost you about $0.62 per square inch
The WSM 22 will cost you around $0.55 per square inch
Of course, when you are choosing the most suitable size of the Smokey Mountain, you should consider its overall dimensions, especially if you have limited outdoor space for a smoker.
If you are cooking for a large family or a lot of food at once, you should go for at least the 18-inch model. Most users can fit and smoke two medium-sized chickens on one of its racks and a larger meat cut like a pork butt or several racks of ribs on the other.
And, if you are planning on using the appliance as a combination between a smoker and a grill, probably the best option for you is the 22-inch one.
Overall, if you can afford the largest version, then opt for the WSM 22, as you will have sufficient cooking space for family meals and for parties alike.
How to use Weber Smokey Mountain
While each recipe is different, the basic steps for using the iconic Weber Smokey Mountain are as follows:
- Light the coals using a chimney starter, or another method
- Transfer them into the charcoal pan of the smoker
- Add the wood for smoking of your choice
- Add water or another liquid of your preference into the water pan
- Place the meat or other food on the cooking grates
- Adjust the vents until the ambient temperature in the smoker reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit
- Monitor the temperature and perform adjustments to the vents during the cook (if the weather is stable, you will hardly need to make any adjustments)
- For longer cooks, you will need to add more coal or water by using the separate fuel door of the smoker
- Note: if you are cooking and smoking food in snow, rain, and cold conditions, you may want to invest in a thermal blanket to keep the heat and the smoke inside the smoker and to achieve more efficient usage of the fuel and faster cooking.
Can the Weber Smokey Mountain be used for grilling?
The famous Weber Smokey Mountain is designed and made as a dedicated smoker, and as such, has the cooking grates far away from the charcoal chamber, which means that you can’t get the temperatures hot enough for grilling or searing.
But there is a way to set the WSM as a grill as well. This can be done by removing the middle section with the fuel door before the cook. Then you can place the cooking grate on the charcoal chamber’s rim. This will keep it close enough to the high heat, and you can proceed with the grilling.
The only problem with this alternative usage of the smoker is that there will be no lip for securing the lid, so you will need to be careful not to knock it off when it is hot.
Still, for occasional use, the Weber Smokey Mountain can be used as a great alternative grill.
Alternatives of Weber Smokey Mountain
There are some other excellent charcoal smokers, and alternatives to the Weber Smokey Mountain, which you may want to consider investing in. here are short overviews of two of them, as well as how each compares to the WSM.
- This is the Original Weber charcoal grill that made the company famous
- It is offered at a very reasonable price, much less expensive than the WSM
- It is a dedicated charcoal grill but can easily be converted into a smoker making it more versatile
- It does require some practice to learn how to adjust and keep the temperature stable
- It does carry a risk of temperature spikes due to the direct heat radiation
Weber Smokey Mountain vs Original Kettle
Here is how these two popular products made by Weber compare:
The Kettle grill is a charcoal grill, while the Weber Smokey Mountain is a smoker, and as such, each does its main job better.
The Original Kettle grill is significantly lower priced than the Weber Smokey Mountain.
The WSM can hold a temperature suitable for smoking very well, with minimal interventions and adjustments from your side, while the Kettle requires regular adjustments that can take practice and time to master.
The WSM cannot reach a very high temperature and is good at maintaining lower temperatures of up to 225 degrees F, while the Original Kettle grill can have temperature spikes due to the direct heat radiation.
If you will be grilling more and smoking meat only occasionally, then the Original Kettle could be a better option for you and vice versa. If you are serious about smoking, then the WSM is a definite winner in this head-to-head comparison.
Weber Smokey Mountain vs Big Green Egg
Here are some of the main similarities and differences between these two legendary BBQ products:
The BGE is a Japanese-style Kamado stove, and the WSM is a smoker. Both use charcoal for fuel.
The Big Green Egg is a more versatile appliance that can even be used as an oven, apart from a grill and smoker. Still, you can convert the WSM into an oven as well but will need to buy a separate Pizza Oven Kit and remove its central section.
Thanks to its well-insulated ceramic construction, the BGE will hold the temperature more stable even in cold temperatures, rain, and snow. As such is offers superior air and insulation control and will burn less fuel than the WSM.
Both are very well built to last, but while the Weber Smokey Mountain has a 10-year warranty for its main parts and 5 and 2 years for other parts, the Big Green Egg is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Many pitmasters prefer Smokey Mountain when it comes to smoking because the Big Green Egg cannot be set up for traditional 2-zone cooking.
Being one of the top-celebrated small charcoal smokers on the market, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a favorite for new and for advanced pitmasters when it comes to smoking meat.
It has a space-saving design and is very easy to use and clean. At the same time, thanks to the vertical design and the two cooking grates, the WSM still provides enough cooking space. Plus, you can buy it in one of the three available sizes, which is the most suitable for your needs and your budget.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a reasonably priced and easy way to get started in smoking. It is also perfect for those of you with limited outdoor space or those who want to be able to take their smoker with them when off camping or enjoying other outdoor adventures.
As a whole, we can truthfully say that if you want a durable, reliable, and good quality smoker which is easy to set and will keep the temperature stable throughout a long cook, then we recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain as one of the best options available on the market!