I would like to state that I love this grill and its predecessors. My first CB 940 X lasted for 30 years and likely would’ve lasted longer had I protected it from the weather better, but alas it finally retired to the grill graveyard this year. The last time I used it was indirecting some baby-back ribs for Joe Bonwich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in May of 2009. I can’t imagine what ran through his mind when he arrived and saw me grilling on this grill that had seen better days:
Here’s the thermometer, or at least it used to be a thermometer:
And here’s the ash catcher tray in the back that wouldn’t close properly toward the end of its life:
Despite how bad that dinosaur looked, it still churned out these ribs. The dry rubbed ribs were smoked in Cherry wood for approximately 2 hours:
How did it turn out? If my memory serves me correctly, Joe took a bag of ribs home with him. I think that speaks for itself. The grill didn’t look great, but after three decades it was churning out great BBQ.
My second CharBroil 940X is now over 20 years old and has been featured in numerous posts on this website. Here’s the new one and the old one standing side by side (old one in the forefront):
The grill still resides in my garage where I roll it to keep it out of the weather after each use. I am so comfortable using this grill. I know how it cooks and handles temperature—I typically don’t use a thermometer (Scott gives me major grief over this too) and feel I know the grill well enough that it isn’t necessary. I guess old habits die hard but then I’m an old habit myself.
***Editor’s note ~ Kinda hard to show people how to grill when the instructions are, “Put the meat on the grill till it’s done.”***
My new CharBroil 940X is a major improvement over the previous editions. Char-Broil actually discontinued this model and just this season reintroduced the 940X. Scott performed the assembly in minimal time and I was set to play with my new grill.
***Editor’s note ~ I stopped off at the folks one weekend and decided to put it together for Dad who was swamped at work that weekend. I thought I would surprise him by building it for him so he could break it in that weekend. With the help of my mother, and a very precocious 2 year old, we put it together in about an hour:
Daddy’s little helper. Never too early to get them involved with power tools:
The first thing I noticed that was different from earlier editions was the weight. This grill seems to be at least twice as heavy as the older versions. Heavier gauge metal was definitely used. I can tell you how much heavier the new lid is, and you can take my word for it, or I can give you a visual. A quick example of how much better made the new one is over the old is the width of the legs. Here’s the old grill. We didn’t have a ruler or a tape measure so a Grillin Fools business card had to do:
The width barely gets to the edge of the G on the website name. Now check out the new grill:
That’s got to be 50% thicker, albeit not all that scientific.
On top of the thicker steel, the grill is much better designed with not nearly as many gaps and drafts as the older model, which allows it to hold temperatures much better. Consider this, when I close the lid after a cookout, and shut the vents, it locks the airflow down so much that the next day when I open the lid the remaining charcoal is not reduced to ash after burning all night. The charcoal is still in briquette form and can be re-used because closing the lid and shutting the vents makes the firebox practically air tight.
Here’s a side by side shot of the old and the new, notice how on the old one (nearer) the smoke is coming out from the entire perimeter of the lid and the new one (farther) the smoke is only coming out the holes/vents in the side:
The features of this grill are many. They include adjustable briquette grate with four settings to adjust the height of the coals. It has four removable cast iron grill grates and the spaces between the individual bars in each grate allow for easier cleaning and produce great grill marks—an improvement over the previous model in which the grate spacing was closer together and cleaning was more difficult.
***Editor’s note ~ The spacing of the bars on the grill grate is the reason for the lack of cleanliness of your grill grates? That’s why you haven’t cleaned a grill grate in your life? Take a good look at what they looked like coming out of the box:
Because pretty soon they will look like this:
Notice in the pictures above how much grill space there is? That’s 540 square inches of cooking space. This is on the old grill, but the dimensions are the same. These are staggered half slabs, but you could go with just as many whole slabs, and with the bigger rib racks out today, you could do six slabs if you wanted:
It has a trap door on the front of the grill which makes it easy to add charcoal and smoke wood without losing as much temperature as opening the lid:
There are adjustable vents located at the top of each end of the firebox lid:
This helps when indirecting/smoking. Put the coals on one side, and the meat on the other. Leave the vent closed on the side with the coals and open the vent on the other side so the smoke has to pass over the meat on its way out of the cooking chamber.
The ash catcher tray now has an improved pull out for ease of cleaning and removing ash. I always line this with foil to make cleanup even easier.
The sideboards are now cutting boards with a drip tray rim on each and cutouts are there for ease of removal—the older model simply had a couple of slats of board that were not removable:
You will need to oil the boards as they are untreated wood to preserve them:
The thermometer now extends from the firebox slightly—is this a big deal? In my opinion it certainly is. The older models had the thermometer mounted flush to the firebox lid and every bit of smoke and grease that traveled upward with the heat seemed to accumulate on the glass making the thermometer unreadable.
***Editor’s note ~ That and you never cleaned that either!?!***
Here’s the old thermometer:
And here’s the new:
The new model has four wheels, two with locking casters, as opposed to the earlier model which only had two wheels. Given the increased weight of this grill, the addition of wheels on all four legs makes transport much easier.
Is it perfect? Well, I’d be hard-pressed to have an issue but there is one in my opinion. The grate that holds the charcoal could use an extra metal bar on each end to prevent coals from falling through easily. See the briquette sized gap here:
The older versions had an extra bar making it more like a charcoal basket than a charcoal tray:
I’m not sure why such a minor thing was omitted on this version. Perhaps the engineers at Char-Broil could remedy this.
In summary, the Char-Broil 940X is, perhaps, the only grill the average backyard griller will ever need. I know I feel that way and I have six grills available for Smokin’ on the Water at my home on the lake. If I could only have one this would be it. It’s perfect for direct grilling, indirect grilling, or slow-smoking as you may have seen many times on this website.
If you want to buy one of these, I’m afraid that you have to order one online as they are not available in stores. Not quite as convenient, but still worth the effort. You can find it here.
I was so in love with it that I bought it’s “baby”…the CB 500X which is a smaller version portable grill with most of the same features on a smaller scale:
Here are the two of them together for perspective:
Those of you that attended our BBQ Bash saw it used and on display—it’s available now at clearance pricing of $75. The “baby” for my travelin’ grill and the CB 940X for my home grill—I will likely never need another grill in my lifetime.
The price of the grill is nothing to sneeze at. The CB940X runs about $400 on Char-Broil’s site, but consider this. This new 940X is made much better than the originals I’ve been using for decades. One lasted 30 years and the second one is still going strong after two decades. This is not something that will need to be replaced after a couple years if it is kept out of the elements. This one is definitely not a three year disposable. This is the type of grill your sons (and maybe daughters) fight over after your funeral.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
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