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Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 (2021): Comparing Gravity Fed Charcoal Grills

If you’re a die-hard barbecue enthusiast, then it’s hard to beat a gravity-fed grill and smoker. For one, you get showcase sizes and construction. In addition, these grills are your set-it-and-forget-it type, so you don’t have to babysit and manage temperatures every second. The Char-Griller 980 is one of the more popular models in the market today. But the Masterbuilt 1050, which comes in a couple of hundred dollars more, offers a larger cooking area. Which gravity feed charcoal grill and smoker is better? Read our Char-Griller vs Masterbuilt comparison below to find out.

Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 Comparison Chart

ModelChar-Griller Gravity Fed 980 Charcoal GrillMasterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker
 Masterbuilt MB20041220 Gravity Series 1050 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker, 202.9 lbs, Black
PriceCheck at LowesCheck at Amazon
Total Cooking Area980 sq. inches1050 sq. inches
Fuel Capacity16 lbs of briquette charcoal16 lbs of briquette charcoal
Heating Time700ºF in 20 minutes700ºF in 15 minutes
Warming RackYesYes
Digital ControlYesYes
Folding ShelfYesYes
Meat ProbeYesYes
Control FanYesYes
Cord StorageNoYes
ConnectivityBluetooth, WiFiBluetooth, WiFi
Dimensions64.6 x 34.4 x 51.4 inches61.02 x 33.07 x 52.16 inches
Weight213 lbs202.9 lbs
Warranty1-year limited1-year limited

Design

The Char-Griller 980 and Masterbuilt 1050 are both heavy-duty charcoal grills.

Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 Design Comparison
Char-Griller’s gravity-fed smoker (left) sports a barrel style, while the Masterbuilt’s (right) follows a more traditional gas grill.

Like most gravity-fed smokers, the Char-Griller 980 and Masterbuilt 1050 are heavy-duty grills. To move them around, both feature locking caster wheels for improved portability. But if you don’t have the space for them, it’s going to be hard to appreciate what they can do. It’s clear in the Masterbuilt and Char-Griller dimensions.

The Char-Griller 980, for instance, is a 213-pound behemoth that’s almost 65-inches across. Crafted from stainless steel, the barrel-style grill sports a quality paint finish and an industrial aesthetic. The grill’s hopper, on the other hand, comes with triple wall insulation, while its fire channel is porcelain coated. The legs and shelving of the 980 also look and feel sturdy.

In contrast, the Masterbuilt 1050’s body follows the form of traditional gas grills, with much of it made from painted steel. The 1050’s rectangular main cooking chamber, on the other hand, features three levels. There are also two porcelain-coated smoking racks, while the searing area uses cast-iron grates. Like the Char-Griller 980, the vertical hopper is attached to the right side.

Food and Fuel Capacity

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series grill has a larger cooking capacity than the Char-Griller.

Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 Food and Fuel Capacity
A closer look at charcoals being added to the Char-Griller hopper (left); the multi-level cooking area of the Masterbuilt (right).

The model names of the Char-Griller and Masterbuilt smokers are indicative of their capacity. So on the Char-Griller 980, you’re getting 980 square inches of cooking space. Its main cooking area takes up 680 square inches of the total. Meanwhile, the Char Griller’s triple wall insulated hopper can hold up to 16 pounds of briquette charcoal. With this massive grill, you can sear, roast, grill, smoke, and even bake.

As expected, the Masterbuilt grill boasts a larger 1,050 square inches of total cooking area. The company shares that’s enough room for seven racks of ribs, 17 chickens, 45 burgers, or 67 sausages. Its warming and smoking racks are also foldable for extra cooking space. In terms of fuel, the Masterbuilt can hold up to 16 pounds of briquette coals, too. If you’re using lump charcoal, however, capacity is down to 10 pounds.

Performance

Char-Griller’s 980 is easier to use and controls temperature better than the Masterbuilt 1050.

Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 Cooking System
Here’s a closer look at the Char-Griller 980’s cooking area (left) and the Masterbuilt 1050’s hopper (right).

The main draw of gravity-fed grills is the fact they’re set it and forget it appliances. Charcoal in the hopper simply relies on gravity for it to fall and keep the fire burning. As such, there’s no need to adjust coals even while you’re cooking. It also translates to consistent temperatures — both for the Char-Griller 980 and the Masterbuilt 1050 — for longer periods.

Aside from hands-off operation, these grills also enjoy quick pre-heat times. The Masterbuilt 1050, however, is a little faster, reaching 225°F in 10 minutes and 700°F in 15 minutes. Char-Griller’s 980 grill, on the other hand, can reach 700ºF in 20 minutes. This makes it easier to prep meals without worrying about undercooking them.

However, reviewers share that the Char-Griller is much better at controlling temperature than Masterbuilt. Thanks to a well-insulated hopper and a barrel design, there’s little hotspot variation on the Char-Griller 980. Plus, the grill features a slide damper to keep the smoke rolling.

Another advantage of the Char-Griller 980 is that the entire hopper can be lifted out independently. On the Masterbuilt 1050, the component is fixed. There are also fewer flame ups on the Char-Griller model thanks to a flame shield that also works to distribute heat evenly. Plus, it’s easier to remove and clean the Char-Griller’s manifold than the Masterbuilt’s.

Other Features and Accessories

Char-Griller offers more accessories, while Masterbuilt boasts a more intuitive app.

Char-Griller 980 vs Masterbuilt 1050 Other Features and Accessories
Tool hooks next to the Char-Griller 980’s digital controls (left) and access to recipes via the Masterbuilt app (right).

Both the Char-Griller 980 and Masterbuilt 1050 are equipped with digital controls. This component also includes Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for syncing with Char-Griller or Masterbuilt’s mobile app. Through these platforms, users can set timers and control temperatures remotely. Masterbuilt’s app, however, has a more intuitive interface. It even provides access to several recipes. Char-Griller’s platform is clunky and limited.

Now, both gravity-fed grills come with built-in meat probes as well. For convenience, Masterbuilt adds a thermometer on the grill lid itself. These grills also work with a range of accessories. Char-Griller, for instance, has an extensive catalog of grill covers, cookware, and cleaning implements. If you love the 908, you can even show it through merchandise. Masterbuilt also has a lineup of grill covers for its Gravity Series. Users can also get their hands on cooking kits, fuel, and replacement parts.

Verdict

The Char-Griller 980 gravity-fed charcoal grill offers more bang for your buck than the Masterbuilt 1050.

Char-Griller 980

The value for money option

Masterbuilt 1050

The high-capacity alternative

Home enthusiasts will truly appreciate a heavy-duty gravity-fed grill and smoker. Between the Char-Griller 980 and Masterbuilt 1050, however, the former is a more compelling purchase. While you trade-off 70 square inches of cooking area, you get a more practical and durable grill. Features like the flame shield and the removable hopper, for instance, make the Char-Griller 980 easier to clean and maintain. The use of porcelain coating on the grates and the interior makes it more capable of taking wear and tear as well. Plus, the Char-Griller 980 is more affordable than the Masterbuilt 1050.

FAQs

📌 Does the Char-Griller 980 come in different colors?

The Char-Griller Gravity Feed 980 charcoal grill is available in blue and red variants.

📌 Is Char-Griller a good brand?

Yes, it is. Char-Griller has been around for over 25 years. Aside from gravity-fed smokers, their catalog includes dual fuel grills and flat iron gas griddles.

📌 What are some of the pros and cons of a gravity feed smoker?

Gravity feed smokers boast excellent build quality. However, this translates to fairly large and heavy grills. You do benefit from size with impressive cooking surface areas. Plus, gravity-fed smokers can hold consistent temperatures for longer periods. Keep in mind, however, this type of grill and smoker is usually the most expensive.

📌 What are the different models under the Masterbuilt Gravity Series?

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series includes the 560, 800, and 1050 models. The numbers correspond to their cooking surface area in square inches.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.