Thanks for checking out this Green Mountain Davy Crockett pellet grill review. Fast becoming one of the most well known and respected brands out there – specifically for their top notch customer care – the GMG brand is finding its way into more and more homes in the US, as well as countries as far a field as Australia. Before I go into my review of the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill, allow me to give you some background on Green Mountain Grills.
Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Promo Video from Green Mountain Grills
The following video produced by the folks at Green Mountain Grills does a really nice job of going over how to Davy Crockett Pellet Grill works and its basic features, including power source options and the built-in Wi-Fi capability.
Like I have done with the What Everyone Should Know Before Buying a Pellet Smoker post, I’ve opted to use a corporate video produced by the company itself simply because they do a fine job and I found no inconsistencies between what is reported here and what I’ve found to be true in using the Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker at home myself.
Davy Crockett Pellet Grill At Home and on the Professional BBQ Circuit
As far as direct competition goes, Green Mountain Grills sees Traeger as their main competition – specifically in the retail market. You’ll see in this post the steps GMG takes to ensure high product quality and customer satisfaction. Just know this, the Davy Crockett pellet grill is making waves on the retail home front as well as the competition circuit. There’s a huge fan base for the Davy Crockett pellet grill on this Facebook group for instance. Additionally, from a competitive standpoint, Pitmaster Sterling Smith of Loot N’ Booty BBQ won 1st place in Chicken at the 2014 American Royal Invitational with a perfect score of 180 cooking on the GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker.
The Green Mountain Grills Story
The GMG Manufacturing Process
Jason Baker of GMG and I spent a lot of time talking about the subject of manufacturing Green Mountain Pellet grills from the standpoint of offering value priced pellet smokers while keeping quality and customer service a priority. One key component in keeping retail prices for GMGs low involves having components manufactured in China.
From day one, GMGs owner, David Baker, knew that he’d be competing directly against Traeger. The story goes that he and Joe were talking and David told Joe that he’d had a fire in his Traeger pellet grill one night.
So, he then went on to tell Joe of an idea he had to put a safety feature on the grill that when the customer was done cooking, the grill would go into “fan mode” to make sure the fire in the burn pot went out at the end of the cook. Joe then told David that he should go ahead and get into manufacturing pellet grills because he (Joe) was nearing a time when he was going to get out of it and the patent on the then Traeger grills at the time was expiring.
So, from that point on, David Baker began tinkering with the Traeger he had in his garage and began noting all the things he didn’t like about it. He didn’t like how the lid was too low, so he used a peaked lid.
He didn’t like how the Traeger couldn’t hold temp very well, so Dave added two variable speed fans. He then added PID technology, where the controller began taking in information from all of the different devices in the grill and putting this information all on informational loops so they were all talking to each other.
So instead of a gram based 70 degrees input kicking in when temperatures needed modification, which is how Traeger was doing it, the PID would use input from all of the other moving parts to modify temp more accurately.
Steel wise, Baker knew he wanted to be sure all the steel was properly gauged. So, for instance with the Daniel Boone and Jim Bowie, you’ve got a 14 gauge body with a 13 gauge lid – resulting in a heavier grill than was offered at the time from Traeger. So, in many ways – David Baker was an innovator. But, he also knew that the only way he was going to be able to put these innovations to use in a pellet grill that could compete price wise against Traeger was to use overseas manufacturing.
Though being manufactured overseas is a negative for some pellet grill purchasers, the fact is that steel is one of the highest price point components involved in bringing GMGs, or any other pellet smoker, to market. As such, the company has chosen to use Chinese manufacturing coupled with very close quality control monitoring processes as a means of making GMGs affordable for as many people as possible.
To this end, Jason travels to the company’s overseas facilities at least once per quarter for about two weeks per trip to make sure end users of the various Green Mountain Grill products remain satisfied and stay on as long term fans.
GMG Pellet Grills Produced in a Company Owned Overseas Factory
One thing I found interesting in talking with Jason is that Green Mountain Grills has an ownership interest in the Chinese factory they use to manufacture all of their grill parts. Unlike Traeger and other companies who use overseas manufacturing for their pellet smokers, this means GMG doesn’t work on a contract basis with their manufacturers.
The GMG factory in China only builds GMG grills, which means there is a lot more oversight capability and a faster modification to marketplace timeline in terms of getting changes to grills implemented and out to end users.
In terms of market share, pellet grill sales are about 2 percent of the BBQ market. Traeger has about 50 percent of the pellet grill market with GMG coming in as the second largest pellet grill manufacturer – at between 10 and 12 percent. Clearly, Traeger is the 800 lb. Gorilla on the Pellet Grill block.
Estimates for Louisiana Pellet Grills are about half of what GMG is doing, with Rec Tec doing a bit less per year via a direct to consumer sales model. All told, Jason believes that the approximate 250,000 to 300,000 pellet grills that are actually made represent maybe one percent of the 15 million barbecues sold in the US last year. Because pellet smokers represent such a small piece of the overall BBQ sales market, Jason feels that the only way they are going to thrive long term is through overseas manufacture and production.
I share these figures with you here to paint a clear picture of where GMG has set its sites. Traeger has a huge leg up on them from a market share standpoint. That said, Green Mountain Grills is intent on growing its piece of the pie. However, in doing so they want to be sure that quality and customer care remain the company’s number one focus.
GMG Maintains a 360 Degree View of Customer Service and Technical Support
According to Jason Baker, GMG knows that maintaining the highest quality production processes when also trying to continually increase market share is a challenge. As such, the company is implementing Six Sigma quality control practices in its China factory – which takes about four years to implement. Through GMGs SalesForce system, a module called Desk.com, GMGs quality control, customer service, and sales staff have instant access to any and all technical support issues. So, any time a customer contacts GMG about a bad handle or bad handle, or something wrong with the computer – the issues are seen immediately by everyone in the company both in the US and in the QC department at the China factory. Anything seen as a trend is addressed so that customer satisfaction remains high. This QC platform has gone live with GMG in the past year and all signs point to it being another feather in the company’s hat where customer care and technical support are concerned.
Testing… One, Two, Three
Every 50 grills manufactured by GMG is pulled out for testing. The units are fired up and run through a series of tests to make sure everything is functioning as designed. This and the work GMG is doing using Desk.com isn’t unique among other global manufacturers like Weber and Charbroil, it’s just that Jason’s team is upping its game by joining the ranks of these larger companies from a QC standpoint — essentially, upping GMG’s game to that next level.
Wi-Fi Firmware Tweaking for the GMG Phone App
Another area where GMG is working to keep things updated and working properly is in the company’s Wi-Fi modules. As you probably know, GMG pellet grills come with built in Wi-Fi units. At first, these units generated a signal that was “Grill to Phone.” This required users to hop off their home’s Wi-Fi signal and onto the local network put out by their GMG pellet grill.
GMG now has a firmware update method in their phone app that knows when new options for connectivity are available, so now – anyone who has the GMG phone app should have received a recent update that allows for them to access their GMG’s controller via the home router they use – increasing the signal range a great deal and making it to where users don’t have to hop off their home networks to communicate via their grills via phone. (NOTE: This feature for connecting to your GMG via your home Wi-Fi network is working now on Android phones and will be updated for iOS soon).
The next step will be to upload a firmware update to all GMG app users that allows them to connect to their GMG pellet grill controllers via the cloud. This is where it gets super cool, as controlling your GMG cooking session from anywhere you can get a signal will be a snap! Imagine, you’re at work and you see via your GMG phone app that your pork butt is nearing the correct temperature. You can either have set your app profile to bump the temp down to a holding temperature — or in case you forgot, tell it to do so on the fly!
OK. Let’s get moving now to my personal experience with the GMG pellet grill unit I was sent to try out: The Davy Crockett DC Powered Tailgate Model.
My Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Experience
Jason sent me the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett unit, and it arrived in excellent condition from a shipping standpoint. The unit was packed very well and took next to no time to assemble the few unattached parts. A full color, step-by-step laminated assembly guide and all necessary tools and hardware are provided when you get your GMG grills. This is a nice touch for folks who may not be among the most ‘assembly savvy.’
Between what I cooked at home, at my Mom’s, and at the 2014 Pigs Fly South KCBS event in Lakeland, FL with JW and the guys from Team Unknown BBQ, we put the GMG Davy Crockett through its paces. In the photos above, you can see that we did some nice pork tenderloins using the Davy Crockett’s built in meat temperature probe. The probe was +/- 5 degrees or so compared to my Thermapen – so no complaints there.
Bringing the Davy Crockett pellet smoker to the Pigs Fly South KCBS competition was awesome. Man, that little guy set up on the table at the Team Unknown cook site and hummed along like a champ. Nearly everyone who walked buy asked about it, and a lot of the ladies remarked about how “cute” it was. LOL… that’s about the only time the word “cute” was ever used at a Team Unknown cook. Well, that is unless Chris Tyner’s Bully Puppy “Hinson” is on site!
Getting the smoker up to temp to do the hot and fast rib tips was a snap, and it came right back down for the chicken soon after. There was a little issue with power on the cook site, as the cord kept getting bumped from the socket at the power supply end (not the GMG end). This caused the PID to reset a few times, so I had to empty out the burn pot to keep things going nicely.
NOTE: if you have too high of an amount of pellets in your burn pot due to the power tripping and the unit restarting from scratch on any pellet grill – cause it can happen to them all – clean out the burn pot and start fresh. Otherwise, when the contents of the burn pot finally catches fire, you’ll have a “right huge conflagration” on your hands and temps will shoot up like a rocket!
Very Portable, with Easy Set Up
Though 68 lbs, the Davy Crockett might prove a little heavy for some, I had no problems moving it to where it needed to go. It did take some figuring out in terms of how to get the unit up, moved, and then set down onto its built in folding legs all on my own. However, I soon found out that if you grab it by the convenient handle attached to the pellet hopper and then also by the chimney, it is relatively easy to lift, move, and set the unit back down on its legs.
As you can see, the Davy Crockett pellet grill uses a 12 volt DC power supply, which means you have a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can use this unit. Being able to run the Davy Crockett from your car or truck’s cigarette lighter port is pretty handy, and the battery clips are also a nice option. So far, I’ve only used the AC power adapter.
Cooking Capacity – Perfect for Tailgating and Small Family Use
The photos in the slide show above give you an idea of the amount of food you can cook in the Davy Crockett. This is in fact a tailgating model, so you won’t be feeding a large family using this bad boy. However, I’ve found that I can cook two St. Louis slabs of ribs, two trimmed pork butts, a couple of regular sized chickens, two to three pork tenderloins, etc with ease.
Pellet Hopper, PID Controller, and Grill Lighting Process
The hopper on the Davy Crockett unit holds 9 lbs compared to its bigger brothers (Daniel Boon and Jim Bowie) that hold 17 lbs. You can see from the photos that I did not use Green Mountain Grill pellets on my initial cooks, as I had recently purchased a bag of Cookin’ Pellets Perfect Mix blend to try. I’ll be buying some GMG pellets soon to test out.
I filled the hopper with the Cookin’ Pellets and proceeded to charge the burn pot – which involves putting a few pellets in prior to the initial firing of the unit. Another nice touch from GMG is that when you get a GMG unit, it comes with a little bag of Green Mountain Grill pellets to use in charging the hopper for the first time. I just put them into the burn pot, turned the unit on, and let it go through it’s start up cycle. All went well.
Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Review – Final Thoughts
[easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”n” identifier=”B010RFO0CG” locale=”US” tag=”bbqbeat-20″]I’ll begin by saying that I really enjoy cooking on the Davy Crockett pellet grill. During the past three months, it’s performed exactly as advertised on all points. Things I’d like to see changed at some point are a little nit-picky and include a front shelf option of some kind and some rubberized foot pads of some sort to go on the metal legs when the unit is in stand up mode. One other thing I noticed is that while the spring/coil feet that sit at the bottom of each of the Davy Crockett pellet grill corners provide adequate support, they do tend to shift on you if the unit gets bumped laterally at all. This was actually most noticeable while the unit was in transit in the back on my SUV while en route to the Lakeland Pigs Fly South KCBS event to cook with Team Unknown BBQ.
As a value buy, I give the Davy Crockett pellet grill two sauce-covered thumbs up. At just under $400 retail, you’re hard pressed to find a better value out there with the versatility and cooking ability this little guy offers.
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