Amazon robots call this model the MB20051316 with thermostat control – 40 inch, Black. The box is labeled somewhat more appropriately, “Masterbuilt 340G XL.” It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as it works. This was my very first smoker and my out of box experience has been excellent so far - but - because of some reviews, I almost didn’t buy it. THE GOOD: Many reviewers complained about build quality, damaged or missing parts and trouble with the burner assembly lighting and staying lit. Even more complained about getting customer support from Masterbuilt. I didn’t experience any of this. I didn’t need to contact Masterbuilt, in part, because I did a lot of research before making this purchase. ASSEMBLY: I’m not the most “handy” guy but, I found the instructions (and a Masterbuilt Youtube video) to be sufficient during the build. I won’t say it was easy but it wasn’t bad. I took my time, and that methodical approach meant I had no issues during the assembly process. I probably spent 4 hours on the build. I was completely alone and had no trouble standing it upright once the bulk of the construction was complete. I built, bubble tested all gas connections and seasoned the unit all in one single day. Not a bad out-of-box experience! Usually, my wife has to come out of the house to remind me not to swear at least 45 times during a project like this - but for some reason, there was no swearing! My wife was more than a little suspicious. A few neighbors stopped by to ogle the debris field in my driveway from all the packaging and of course, they invited themselves over for brisket or pulled pork once they realized what I was building, indicating my next purchase may have to be a fence… with some razor wire on the top. MODIFICATIONS: I purchased Lavarock sealing tape to enhance the door seal and a separate dead-simple interior oven thermometer as a simple way to double check temperatures. Don’t freak out over temperature variations. There have to be dozens of ways to monitor your smoker temp as well as your meat. Expecting this smoker to automate that effectively is unrealistic. It may be a “smoker” but YOU are the pit boss. Don’t get mad at the machine if you get lazy with your cook. During our first smoke, (a whole chicken and an 8lb pork shoulder) our old iGrill meat thermometer proved to be about as useless as the day we bought it. It did provide feedback but it kept dropping the signal. We wished we had something “better” for our next smoke (More on that in minute.) YES IT HOLDS TEMPS: During our first smoke, we saw temps rise and fall constantly. Because of this, I was out there fooling around with the controls constantly. All I managed to do, was keep things in constant turmoil. During our second smoke, I let the thermostat do its job. That worked much better. The thermostatic control built into this smoker works very well. You can set a temperature and verify that with any thermometer – once you’ve achieved the desired range, it will keep and hold that range very well. Huge variations will occur when you open the main door and smaller variations may occur when you change chips or add water to the pan. Let the unit adjust itself to your desired range before you try adjust the burner. Water is the key to holding temps. Fill the pan ¾ full and check it every hour or so. The water helps regulate temps while providing moisture. Surprisingly, this does not use that much propane. The little gage isn’t all that helpful but it’s better than nothing. THE BAD: It’s not really bad. If you’re used to smoking with an offset grill, electric smoker or your regular old gas grill – there may be a learning curve. Every smoker has its quirks. Keep that in mind when you read other reviews. For me, the two worst things to complain about are: The hose for the propane tank isn’t long enough to allow the tank to be mounted on the smoker during use. [Turns out I was wrong about this. There is enough hose to fit. ] Also, the metal edge on the inside the door where the glass is fitted needs to be filed down. It’s got razor sharp burrs or jagged edges that will chew up your sponge, hand or cloth during cleaning. This in no way affects function so it’s minor. I’ll hit it up with a Dremel tool next cleaning. [ I did this very carefully and it helped a lot!] THE UGLY: Cleaning. You’ll need to be ready to do a lot of this. The idea of putting glass in the door seemed attractive to me. I hadn’t had a smoker before. Five minutes in and I’m partially blind to what’s happening inside. 4 hours in and I might as well have no glass at all. Don’t get me wrong – the glass is convenient but it’s mostly for luring in new smoker buyers. The pros know this is a gimmick. It still looks impressive, and I am in no way dissatisfied. Just plan to clean this thing more than you think. CONCLUSION: My second smoke is well underway and I’m loving this unit. My neighbors are eyeballing me with hunger in their eyes. I’m not sure how long I can keep them at bay with just a pitchfork. If you’ve gotten this far – send reinforcements! Please! UPDATE & MODIFICATIONS After the 2nd smoke (11+ hours ) I have some observations. The temp control works within reason. I do not expect this to hold at any precise temperature. However, it held temps within 5-10 degrees throughout the day. It did adjust itself after opening doors but the temps would spike as high as 330 - 350 before returning to 275. This is normal. After another successful smoke, I cleaned the unit and noticed some small modifications can be made to extend the life of the smoker. Please note: I am not responsible for any modifications YOU MAKE based on these suggestions. 1.) Trapped water was discovered in both the upper (main) and lower door after cleaning. To prevent this, I drilled a 5/16ths hole into the right-hand bottom (underside) of the lower door. (When the door is installed, and you are facing the unit. The hole will be located on the underside near the far-right corner.) This will release any trapped water after cleaning. This hole should allow water to escape without any sacrifice to functionality. I filed the edges of the hole(s) with a Dremel tool to help protect the powder coat. 2.) I repeated these steps on the main door. When facing the smoker with the door closed, a 5/16ths hole in the right-hand bottom (underside) of the main door will allow any trapped water to escape after cleaning. 3.) Water Tray Rack: After inspecting this rather difficult to remove tray, I could see the sides were slightly bowed outward. A quick tap in the middle of each outside bar (with a hammer) made the tray slide in and out of the smoker MUCH EASIER. Use caution when removing, filling, and replacing this tray, especially during use. About ¾ full should do it. 4.) You may not need to do this - but my unit had a very rough inside edge around the glass in the door. I was able to use a Dremel tool to carefully file down all the burrs and edges so that all edges are now smooth – and no long snag a sponge or cloth. 5.) After a thorough cleaning, I left the unit sitting in full sun with the doors open to allow the unit to dry completely. Because I installed Lavarock sealing tape around the doors, extra precautions were taken. This tape absorbs and holds some water. I wanted the tape to be completely dry before closing the doors and putting the smoker away in my garage. 6. I prefer wood chunks to wood chips for long lasting smoke.
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2021 by Harry Neevus