Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Grill Review: Is the New Design a Superior Upgrade at $170?

by Jim Casey
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Lodge Cast Iron has been a trusted name in cast iron for more than 125 years. The foundry in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, has been cranking out some of the most creditable cast iron cookware since 1896. Among one of my favorite products—from the more than 30 pieces of Lodge I own—is their Sportsman’s Grill, a cast-iron hibachi-style charcoal grill that Lodge produced for decades until discounting a few years ago. However, in February 2022, Lodge introduced the new Sportsman’s Pro Cast Iron Grill with a revamped design. So I purchased the new one, because I’m a cast iron addict.

Let’s take the new Sportsman’s Pro Grill to the farm and put it to the test in today’s Outsider Review.


Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Grill Specs

  • Weight: 33.25 lbs.
  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 19.38 in. x 9.69 in. x 7.56 in.
  • Grilling Surface (LxW): 16.75 in. x 9 in.
  • MSRP: $169.95
  • Buy: Amazon

Biggest Changes

  • The most noticeable difference between the Original and Pro is that the Pro features a one-piece slide-out ash/airflow drawer, instead of the Original’s separate flip-down coal access door and sliding draft door.
  • The three-piece Pro (fire bowl/base, drawer, cooking grate) comes with two wire handles for carrying and adjusting the grate and drawer, while the five-piece Original (fire bowl/base, cooking grate, charcoal grate, draft door, coal access door) featured a bailed handle.
  • The Original weighed 27 pounds, while the Pro tips the scales at 33.25 pounds.
  • The grilling surface areas of the Original and Pro are very similar (Original is slightly bigger). However, the Original’s grate was oval-shaped with a Lodge logo in the middle, while the Pro’s grate is rectangular and logo-free.
(Left) Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Grill vs. (right) the Original Sportsman’s Grill.

Pros

Streamlined Design – My biggest complaint with the Original was its multiple parts, specifically the hinged coal access door and sliding draft door, which regularly fell off the grill whenever it was moved (and had to be replaced when lost). The Pro’s new streamlined design effectively remedies that problem.

Performance – The Pro cooks like a dream. The new sliding draft door makes airflow/temperature control especially easy. Filled with lump charcoal (on five separate occasions), the grill remained blazing hot for more than one hour. The grill is perfect for steaks, burgers, hotdogs, chicken wings, and more. The fact that the Pro no longer features a coal access door wasn’t a problem for hour-long cooks. And I don’t typically use the grill for anything longer, but adding coal after removing the grate (with the included handles) is easy enough.

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The grill grate can be inverted (legs up) for a hotter sear, while the sliding draft door controls airflow/heat.

Cleanup – The Pro’s sliding/removable ash drawer makes cleanup easier. Basically, to clean the Original, you had to turn it completely over. And, of course, its coal door and draft door would fall off.

Durable/Rugged – Lodge’s reputation for quality is remarkable. This new piece feels in line with its predecessor regarding durability and longevity. Like the Original in later years, the Pro comes pre-seasoned. In addition, like the Original, the Pro’s cooking grate can be used at two heights (with the legs, or flipped over without).

The Pro consists of three main pieces: (clockwise from top): fire bowl/base, grate, and ash/airflow drawer.

Cons

Weight – At 33.25 pounds, this grill is a juggernaut. Take that into consideration if you plan to use the grill as a mobile unit for tailgating or camping. And, since the Pro no longer features a bailed handle, it takes both hands to move at all times. In addition, I do miss the Original’s bailed handle.

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At 33.32 pounds, the Sportsman’s Pro Grill is a heavy hibachi.

Instructions – This is nit-picky. But the base and fire bowl have to be secured to each other with two bolts, nuts, and washers. The instructions simply say: “Use the two enclosed bolts to attach the grill bowl to the grill base.” Look, this sounds simple enough, but a diagram or thorough instructions (even online) would have been an easy fix, because the nuts/washers actually attach on the inside of the fire bowl.

No. 2 needs more thorough written instructions or a diagram.

Final Thoughts

Welcome to the family, Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Cast Iron Grill. I got 20 years out of the Original (and I’m not putting it out to pasture yet). I’m confident the Pro will last as long—or longer.

The Pro is ideal for grilling burgers, steaks, chicken, veggies and more.

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