Pit Boss is a pellet grill/smoker brand that more people are familiar with than Oklahoma Joe’s (here’s proof). However, when it comes to budget/value pellet smokers the current Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills compete well with many of Pit Boss’s budget options. So in this Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s article, I want to discuss how their pellet grills in many cases offer similar features for the price, but also differ in some important ways. For instance, most of the pellet grills discussed below cost below $500 and several (not all) provide direct-flame access. However, don’t expect PID/WiFi functionality on these grills.
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In my previous comparison articles such as Traeger vs Pit Boss and Traeger vs Oklahoma Joe’s I discuss how those brands are not really in direct competition based on the price/features of their pellet grills/smokers. However, when it comes to Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s, they are in direct competition. Hence, for me at least it makes this comparison article more interesting to write because its now like I’m comparing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.
Introduction To Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s Pellet Grills
As Pit Boss has pretty much the largest range of pellet grill/smokers of any other brand at the moment, the simplest/most accurate way to do a comparison is to find Pit Boss models that compete directly against the offerings from Oklahoma Joe’s. Oklahoma Joe’s currently just have the Rider pellet grill range which starts at $399 with the Rider 600 up the Rider DLX at $599. There is a Rider 900 in the middle for $499, however, for this comparisons article, I want to discuss how the 600 and DLX compare against their closest Pit Boss competition.
Pit Boss 700FB vs Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600
So let’s look at how the cheapest option available from Oklahoma Joe’s the Rider 900 for $399 compares against a comparably priced Pit Boss pellet grill the 700FB. These are very small pellet grills, hence would really only suit a couple or a small family. First off, in terms of temperature control, both of these grills are using time-based controllers opposed to PID which you would find on higher specification Pit Boss Platinum Series grills. The maximum temperature setting on each pellet grill is 500 degrees.
However, the Pit Boss 700FB does offer direct-flame access via a sliding grease tray which will potentially reach 650 degrees at the cooking grate. Disappointing though, unlike like larger Pit Boss pellet grills such as the Austin XL discussed below the 700FB does not have cast-iron cooking grates which hold their heat much better than the relatively thin wire racks found in the 700FB. The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600, on the other hand, does not feature direct-flame access, however, it does benefit from a cast-iron grate. Therefore, the grilling/searing performance of both of these pellet grills may actually be quite similar.
What About The Cooking Area Provided?
The Pit Boss 700FB provides a total of 700 square inches, whereas the Rider 600 provides a total of, you guess it 600 square inches of cooking area. However, these ‘total cooking area’ figures don’t really give you the whole picture. For instance, both of these grills feature a main cooking grate for grilling/smoking and a second upper cooking rack which is purely for going ‘low and slow’. The Pit Boss 700FB has a main cooking grate of 500 square inches, whereas the Rider 600 provides just 380 square inches on the main/primary surface.
Therefore while the model numbers of 700 and 600 may make it sound like these pellet grills provide a similar cooking area, it all depends on what you want to cook. Let’s say you want to cook burgers/steaks. Well, then the 500 square inches of primary cooking surface on the Pit Boss 700FB is going to be a lot more useful than the 380 square inches on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600. Therefore, when choosing a pellet grill always take a bit of time to look into the cooking area provided on the main cooking surface.
Differences In Pellet Hopper Design
Now, normally I think pellet hopper capacity is overemphasized as a feature to focus on. When you actually look into average pellet consumption figures, really anything around 20lbs will actually serve most peoples needs just fine. With that in mind, the Rider 600 features a 20lbs hopper, hence it can take a whole bag of BBQ wood pellets in one go. The 700FB on the other hand from Pit Boss takes 18lbs. Not a big difference in terms of being able to use the grill on say an overnight smoking session. However, it cannot obviously take a whole bag of pellets which is a bit annoying.
However, there is a big difference in the design of the hoppers and particularly how you get pellets out. Really, you shouldn’t leave pellets in the hopper over an extended period of time, its asking for trouble. However, the 700FB doesn’t feature an emptying chute. You would have to scoop the pellets out through the top which I would find annoying. The Rider 600 on the other hand along with all the Oklahoma Joe pellet grills has the best empyting system I’ve seen of any pellet grill to date. Quick, easy and they provide a plastic bucket and lid to stop the wood pellets going bad.
Pit Boss Austin XL vs Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX
Right, now let’s look at how the best Oklahoma Joe’s currently has to offer in the Rider DLX compares to one of the most popular Pit Boss grills on the market right now, the Austin XL. The Rider DLX retails for $599, and I have seen the Pit Boss Austin XL at that price point. However, I’ve also seen Walmart price it at $499 in some cases, so just bear that in mind.
In terms of temperature control, its really a similar situation to the 700FB and Rider 900. Pretty basic control panels which can be set to a maximum of 500 degrees. I do believe the Rider DLX control panel will be a bit easier to read due to the larger display and the fact its higher up on the grill and angled upwards. Hence, you won’t have to bend down to set/adjust and monitor the temperature within the pellet grill. Importantly both of these pellet grills do feature direct-flame access and cast-iron grates. I actually think the Rider DLX has a better implementation of the direct-flame feature, more on that below.
Which Offer The Larger Cooking Area?
Well, its a similar situation to that discussed above really. While the Pit Boss Austin XL is marketed pretty heavily as having ‘over 1,000 square inches of cooking area’ that’s not representative of the main cooking grate which is actually 649 square inches. What about the Rider DLX? Well, Oklahoma Joe’s are stating over 1,200 square inches, but as before, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Rider DLX is quite a tall grill (good for beer can chicken), which means that the cooking area is provided over 3 racks. As a result, the main cooking surface (suitable for grilling) is actually 578 square inches on the Rider DLX. Hence, while looking at the headline figures you may think the Rider DLX has a larger grilling surface, that’s not really true at all.
Better Integration Of Direct-Flame Functionality
The Austin XL from Pit Boss features the same sliding grease tray let the flames through that several other Pit Boss models use. Its functional, the downside is you have to remove the cast-iron grates to be able to slide it open and closed. The Rider DLX, by comparison, has a much better (and safer) external lever to select either Smoke or Sear. However, as I discuss in my article on when to clean a pellet grill, on pellet grills with direct-flame access you want to clean it frequently to avoid the chances of a grease flare-up/fire.
Hopper Capacity and Emptying Features
The Rider DLX features the same 20lb hopper found on the Rider 600 and a similar emptying function that supports the plastic bucket to store the pellets in when the grill is not in use. The Pit Boss Austin XL does actually have a ‘purge system’ for the pellet hopper, though its not as well implemented as it is on the Rider DLX. However, the Austin XL does feature a larger 31 lb pellet hopper. As I’ve discussed above, whether anyone actually really needs a hopper larger than 20lbs is debatable. However, if you personally like the idea of a larger pellet hopper its worth noting.
Conclusions On Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s Pellet Grills
So what are the key points to take away from the above comparisons? Well, first off, when you actually properly look into the cooking area figures you are getting a larger main cooking surface for grilling with the Pit Boss pellet grills. Furthermore, both the Pit Boss options above provide direct-flame access, where that’s only the case with the Oklahoma Joe Rider DLX.
I do really like hopper emptying feature on the Rider pellet grill range, and I also think their control panels are better positioned and easier to read. The Smoke/Sear lever on the front of the Rider DLX is a really good feature too. Then again, if you are able to source the Austin XL for $100 less and it has a larger grilling area to boot, that’s hard for the Rider DLX to beat overall.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. The last thing I should probably note, as none of these pellet grills feature twin-wall insulated construction if you do want to cook with any of them during winter/cold weather, you will need an insulated blanket. You may also want to check out my Pit Boss vs Grilla Grills or Pit Boss vs Z Grills comparisons. I have lots of other pellet grill articles in my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide, so please check that out if you want to review more of your potential pellet grill/smoker options. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.