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Is he looking to be a "set it and forget" guy or tinker with it all day kind of guy? If he's looking for super low and slow(cooking -170) needs to be some sort of off-set smoker box IMHO. Then it's just about size.

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So many options.  Pellet grills are nice because you can set it and walk away.  Stick burners give that traditional bark and smoking "feel" but your not walking away for more than 20-30 min.  Then you get into the gravity fed charcoal pits.  Just about the same set it and forget it as a pellet grill, but with a much different flavor profile (IMO). Which brings us to the ceramics like the green egg. Charcoal fueled, but wood chunks are used in conjunction with the charcoal.  Can smoke a pork butt or brisket on a cold day for 10 hrs, without going out to add fuel.  

All (most), except a true stick burner, can be used to grill and sear, even bake. 

So I depends on what he wants to do or prefers. 

Edited by mowin
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There are lots of options out there as described above. For each option, there are loads of comparison videos that you could watch. 

I've owned vertical barrel smokers, offset smokers, electric smokers, and pellet smokers. The only thing I'd say to be aware of is the quality of some lower end models. I bought an offset style a bunch of years ago and went with a low end, budget friendly model. The sheet metal used was super thin, there were gaps in where the metal didn't come together properly, etc.. I tinkered with it to try to insulate it and plug some gaps, but in the end I gave up on it. I'd have to babysit it for the entire cooking time to really make sure the temps didn't spike or drop. I now have a pit boss vertical pellet smoker and love it. As mowin said, set it and forget it. I've used it outside in rain and snow and had good steady cooking temps. The only thing to be mindful of is moisture in the pellet hopper. If the pellets get damp, the expand and clog the auger. Then once they dry, they become like a mortar that dries hard and requires some work to clear out. That's only happened to me once, and that was enough. Now if I use it on damp/wet days, I just add a few cups of pellets at a time. They get used before they get damp enough to cause trouble. 

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Don't forget about water smokers either. You aren't walking away from them for long either. Refill water and chips every 40minutes to an hour and clean them regularly.

I don't feed trolls.

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8 hours ago, Lawdwaz said:

What’s he willing to spend?

This is probably the most important question. I was a set it and forget it guy for years but now that I've gone stickburner I am hooked and will never look back 

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