Pit Boss is one of the main players in the pellet grill market and they produce a wide range of grills and smokers. With this post, I’m going to discuss the entry-level/budget Pit Boss pellet grills. I’ll discuss the sort of features you can expect to find on these grills and how they compare to the competition from Traeger and Camp Chef etc. While the pellet grills below are relatively basic compared to higher specification units, they do still serve as a good introduction into the world of wood pellet grills for those yet to experience the great flavour and convenience of cooking with BBQ wood pellets. Furthermore, if you’re on a tight budget, all of the Pit Boss pellet grills below can be purchased for between $300 and $700.
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Pit Boss do produce some very high specification/luxury pellet grills such as their Platinum Series which I’ll discuss in a separate post in the future. However, this post is purely about the entry-level pellet grills/smokers that Pit Boss offer. These types of pellet grills are also sometimes referred to as ‘Economy Class’ products. If you want to learn more about the different classes I have a separate post on how to chose the best pellet grill to meet your needs.
While I do enjoy writing about the ‘latest and greatest’ innovations with pellet grills, I also think its important to champion the economy ranges of pellet grills as well. I want to encourage the increased use of pellet grills in general. Therefore, low-budget units such as the Pit Boss units below serve as an important entry point to cooking with pellets for many people.
Introduction To The Economy/Budget Range of Pit Boss Pellet Grills
There are a couple of different Pit Boss wood pellet grills I want to discuss in this post, namely the 340, Tailgater and 700S and SC. These are the cheapest Pit Boss wood pellet grills you can currently order. There are a couple of features which most Pit Boss pellet grills have which have made them very popular. First lets, discuss the smallest/cheapest unit the 340.
Pit Boss 340 Wood Pellet Grill
I included an image of the 340 at the start of this post above. It has the classic appearance of a barrel smoker with a small pellet hopper on the side. The pellet hopper with this being an economy unit only holds 5lbs of wood pellets, which will provide roughly 3 hours of cooking time. Therefore, please be aware if you want to do any long cooks on this grill such as brisket, you will carefully need to keep an eye on that hopper level.
The reason this model is called the 340 is that it provides 340 sq. inches of cooking space. The sales literature actually states 341, so it appears Pit Boss rounded down for a neater model number. The grill is constructed from 16 gauge (1.5mm) steel which is reasonable for a grill which costs just slightly over $300.
All Pit Boss pellet grills include an analogue temperature gauge on the lid which is a feature I do like, and its not found on other grills from Traeger or Camp Chef at this price point. The reason I like to also see an analogue temperature gauge is you can use it to keep an eye on the digital controller to make sure that’s reading the temperature inside the grill as accurately as possible. The 340 just like all Pit Boss pellet grills has a peak operating temperature of 500 degrees. Though it could still benefit from a set of GrillGrates. However, there are some notable/popular Pit Boss features which are missing.
Popular Pit Boss Features the 340 Pellet Grill Is Missing
There are certain features which Pit Boss has become well known for in the pellet grill world. Namely, the use of cast iron grates and the ability to flame broil your food over the pellet fire. It should be noted that this entry-level 340 unit does not feature cast iron grates, but relatively thin porcelain-coated steel grids. When cleaning pellet grill porcelain-grids you should never use a wire grill brush, as it will damage the coating. Furthermore, the 340 does not have the sliding grease drip tray found on other Pit Boss grills included in the other models below which enables flame broiling. These compromises are partly due to the low price of this pellet grill. However, the Tailgater discussed below does provide flame broiling for a similar price point.
Pit Boss Tailgater Pellet Grill
The Tailgater is Pit Boss’s offering to the growing demand for portable pellet grills to take camping or on fishing/hunting trips. The Traeger Scout and Ranger pellet grills are popular in this segment. However, the Pit Boss Tailgater provides a larger cooking area and is designed to more directly compete with Traeger’s Tailgater model. In terms of specifications, the Pit Boss Tailgater is very similar to the 340. Both have a 5lb pellet hopper and both provide 340 sq. inches of cooking area. However, as you can see from the promotional video below, the Tailgater has foldable legs.
Pit Boss Tailgater Upgrades Over The 340 Pellet Grill
The Tailgater was developed a couple of years after the 340. Therefore, while the Tailgater may use the same pellet hopper and cooking barrel of the 340 there are some important differences/upgrades. First, the legs on the Tailgater are much more sturdy than those fitted to the 340. Furthermore, while both units feature a digital controller with a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees, the Tailgater benefits from two meat probes ports. The digital controller used on the 340 doesn’t feature any meat probe monitoring ports.
The Tailgater is only fractionally more expensive than the Pit Boss 340 pellet grill: Image – Amazon
Finally, as the video above shows, the Tailgater, unlike the 340, does benefit from the ability to flame broil. For a long time before Camp Chef introduced a flame broiling feature into their pellet grills, Pit Boss were the only manufacturer to provide it. Therefore, while the 340 and Tailgater both have a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees, that doesn’t tell the whole story. With the flame broiler, the Tailgater will be able to expose the food to higher direct temperatures around 650 degrees. The Tailgater doesn’t feature cast iron grids that Pit Boss are also well known for. But then again, this is marketed as a portable pellet grill, and cast iron grids are heavy.
Pit Boss 700S and SC Pellet Grills
If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for a pellet grill/smoker which can more easily be used to cook for the whole family/group of friends than the 340 or Tailgater then the 700S or 700SC are worth considering. As you have probably guessed, the 700 refers to the provided cooking area on this larger pellet grill. However, its not just the grilling area which is larger. The 700S and 700SC come with a 21lb pellet hopper. Obviously much larger than the 5lb pellet hopper found on the 340 or Tailgater.
Having a pellet hopper capacity over 20lbs is also significant, as BBQ wood pellets come in 20lb bags. Therefore on the 700S and 700SC, you can empty a whole bags of BBQ wood pellets into the hopper. Another notable improvement over the 340 is the empty chute on the hopper to quickly change over pellet flavours.
Just to clarify, the only difference between the 700S and 700SC is the lower cabinet which is not found on the 700S. Other than that the two models are identical. As shown in the video the 700 models benefit from the arched grease dome flame broiler, which is also found on the Tailgater. However, the 700 pellet grills also benefit from cast-iron grates which are not featured on the Tailgater due to the additional weight. The benefit of cast-iron grates is they hold the heat better due to their increased mass. Therefore, you can get better searing results with cast iron grates. You don’t find cast-iron grates with several other pellet grill manufacturers, though they are found on Broil King pellet grills.
Another notable difference between the 700 models and the 340/Tailgater is how grease is dealt with. On the 340/Tailgater grease is directed to small grease bucket suspended on the side of the grill. It does give that classic grill look, though its not that practical as it can be knocked off and make a proper mess. On the 700 pellet grill models, the grease is directed down into a central grease draw. You would obviously use a removable grease tray in the draw. With this draw, you are far less likely to end up with a grease spillage.
Pit Boss Budget Pellet Grill Reviews
Below I’ve included the three owner reviews for the 340 and Tailgater Pit Boss models referenced above. Unfortunately, as yet, I cannot find a good quality review on the 700S or 700SC.
Pit Boss 340 Review
Pit Boss Tailgater Review
Conclusions On Pit Boss Entry-Level/Budget Pellet Grills
If you are looking for a low-cost range of pellet grills with some notable features such as the ability to flame broil and cast iron grates, at this price point you cannot do much better than the range of Pit Boss pellet grills above. Camp Chef on some of their SmokePro models also feature flame broiling. However, those units generally cost more than the Pit Boss Tailgater or 700S/SC. What I will note is none of the Pit Boss pellet grills above is using PID digital controllers which means they have wide 25-degree temperature settings.
Camp Chef has introduced a Gen 2 WiFi controller which can be used to upgrade their low-cost SmokePro range with PID temperature control within a 5-degree range. Though that controller will add several hundred dollars to the cost, and that’s a significant proportion of the cost of the Pit Boss grills above. Therefore, I do think the Pit Boss budget models above are a good introduction to pellet grilling/smoking. Just don’t expect close temperature control, you will have to monitor these grills more closely than more expensive models.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. You can purchase any of the Pit Boss pellet grills mentioned above over at BBQGuys.com. They also have lots of other makes and models of pellet grills available along with some great financing deals. You may also want to consider one of several budget vertical pellet smokers from Pit Boss. I also have a Traeger vs Pit Boss article you may be interested in. In total now I have lots of other articles on various makes and models of pellet grills. Please review my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. Enjoy 🙂