AmazingRibs.com is supported by our Pitmaster Club. Also, when you buy with links on our site we may earn a finder’s fee. Click to see how we test and review products.

Saber 500 Cast Black Grill Review

Saber 500 Cast Black Gas Grill

The Saber Cast 500 is an entry level model to the Saber line of gas grills. One could compare it to Weber’s Genesis II LX grills in quality and price, although unlike Genesis II, Saber is a searing machine. This 3-burner cooker has some unique features based on patented infrared designs developed by Saber’s parent company, Char-Broil. But Sabers are much more sophisticated and much higher quality than anything that bears the Char-Broil name.

The firebox is designed to cradle each burner with individual compartments for complete isolation and optimal zone cooking. Below is an illustration of one burner system. On this model there are three burner systems. There are no heat tents or flavor bars covering the burners. The 304 stainless grate system has a unique, patented design meant to promote uniform radiant heat and move convection heat away from the cooking grate. Convection heat is hot circulating air that can rob food of moisture. Click here to learn more about The Thermodynamics of Cooking. The grate/emitter system has ridges that conform to the bottom of the grates. Rather than cast metal or steel rods, the grates are half-tubes of stainless steel that fit onto these ridges and create a series of hot air tunnels. A row of slots at the peak of each ridge delivers heat from the burners below into this tunnel. The heat then naturally escapes by moving out of the tunnel and dissipates through vents at the cooking area perimeter.

A graphic drawing of a gas burner  with radiant steel plates above.

Despite the high heat, the 500 is rated at only 24,000 BTU (remember, BTU is a measure of fuel consumption and is not directly related to heat any more than fuel consumption of a car has to do with speed). Each burner is rated at 8,000 BTU. Saber’s fuel efficiency was rewarded by Hearth and Home Magazine with their VESTA 2012 Green Award for creating a grill that reduces gas consumption by 30 to 50%. This unique design provides plenty sear power despite the low heat flux rating displayed in our specs below this review.

Housings are built with solid construction that rivals many more expensive, premium grills. All stainless steel is top quality 304 grade. All cart models have heavy duty 3″ locking casters and are built for Propane. Natural Gas conversion kits are available. This model has a double walled porcelain coated steel lid for heat retention and cast aluminum end caps. The two side shelves and double door cart are coated steel and the control panel is stainless steel. Push button ignition is battery powered. It carries a warranty that exceeds many competitors.

Although it can’t go from 225°F to 900°F in the blink of an eye like some more expensive BBQ grills, it cranks pretty fast, making it great for the reverse sear method on steaks and burgers. Pat O’Donnell, president of Hearth and Home Patio & BBQ, is a Chicago area Saber dealer. O’Donnell has sold the venerable TEC infrared grills for many years and feels the performance of Saber for searing steaks, chops and fish is nearly as good as TEC. “There is no appreciable difference”, he states.

We extensively tested a three burner stainless steel model that is an upgraded version of this unit. We were impressed. It gets real hot, real fast, and can hit 700°F in about ten minutes. Heat is uniform across the entire cooking surface. It does not flare up and produces moist, juicy foods.

Close up of a shiny steel gas grill control knob with a thermometer positioned right above.

There are a few minor issues. We’ve seldom found accurate bi-metal dial thermometers from any manufacturer and Saber is no exception. The 500 has three on the control panel: one above each burner. We had a couple conversations with Saber about their dial thermometers. They ultimately agreed with us that dial thermometers only provide a vague reference point. They are not accurate and “heat indicators” is a more appropriate name. They do illustrate how quickly these systems heat up. After fifteen minutes with all burners cranked to the max, the dials on our test model were pegged past 800°F and our Thermoworks thermocouple read 710°F. We positioned the probe in the center of the cook surface hovering at grate level between two grates. At that point, regardless of the actual temperature, it was plenty hot for searing. At the end of the day, nothing takes the place of an accurate digital thermometer.

We were able to get a nice whiff of smoke on steaks, fish and chicken by simply dropping wood chips into the grates. But when we set up for 2-zone cooking with a water pan and used wood chips in foil pouches for ribs, shoulder, brisket and whole chickens, it was good, but not deep-smoked: typical of a gasser.

The Saber cook chamber is almost completely sealed off from the gas flame. In fact, you may have trouble seeing the flame when you first fire one up, (one quickly learns to peek through a small opening above each main burner). When grilling small items like shrimp and wings, there are no worries about losing food between the grates. This closed system is instrumental for generating radiant heat and preventing flare ups, but even though I did a burn off after each session, grease accumulation eventually became noticeable inside the hood and around the edges of the grates.

Speaking of grease, the grease tray is our least favorite feature of Saber. When left in the rain uncovered, the tray fills with water. Although, not much grease gets past the grates, some does. Handling a one inch deep two foot wide tray of greasy water can be frustrating. Avoid this nuisance by using a cover, especially when you expect rain.

Assembly was easy. You basically put the cart together then drop the head into it. This is done with twenty-six identical hex bolts, six identical screws, and some washers.

Rob Schwing, who was General Manager of Saber at the time of the 2011 brand roll out, told us how the powers that be at Char-Broil directed him to create a new line of premium grills from the ground up. There’s an old saying: “It can be great, it can be inexpensive, or it can be done quickly…. pick two.” Char-Broil chose great and inexpensive. Saber had to compete with other premium grills, but sell for less. Schwing was given a blank piece of paper, a pile of money and told to do what it takes to make it happen. He had the buying power and infrastructure of one of the worlds largest grill manufacturers at his disposal.

Schwing’s team immediately ordered hundreds of different grills to be delivered to the new Saber warehouse in Char-Broil’s Columbus, GA, facility. They wanted to not only analyze the best performance characteristics of each grill, but also how different designs impacted on cost, packaging, shipping and assembly. One interesting idea gleaned from this process was to pre-assemble the grill head, then wrap it with the partially assembled cart. If the box was damaged in shipping, the less expensive cart would protect the valuable grill head. All cost savings were passed along to the consumer, or used for upgrades like the 304 stainless. “From a business perspective, the time was right to introduce a line of premium grills that didn’t carry a super-premium price tag”, said Schwing. “In recent years we’ve watched high-end manufacturers degrade their materials to bring margins up. Product quality has gone down but prices haven’t.”

Saber achieves further cost reduction by using Char-Broil’s aggregate buying power although they do not use Char-Broil’s Chinese manufacturing facilities. They work with a different Chinese manufacturer that focuses on high-end metal fabrication. Schwing bristles at the perception that everything made in China is cheap. “When I go to an airport, everyone’s walking around with iPads and iPhones. The Chinese make some of the best products in the world.” We agree. It’s not that the Chinese are only capable of making cheap stuff, it’s that western companies are placing orders for an awful lot of cheap stuff with Chinese manufacturers. Not so with Saber. During the course of our tests we invited many friends and family members by to join in. None had heard of Saber yet, but the response was always some variation on “Wow! That’s a nice grill!” The quality is easy to see and easy to appreciate.

Saber is not available in any big box chains and is sold exclusively through specialty retail stores. For your nearest dealer check Saber’s website.

  • Model:
    500 Cast Black Grill
  • Item Price:
    $ 1100.00
  • Where to buy (buying from this supplier supports this website):
  • Made in USA:
    no
  • Review Method:
    Looked Closely At It
    We have seen this product up close and we have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners, and other reliable sources.
  • Primary Function:
    Grill
  • Fuel:
    Propane Gas, Natural Gas Capable
  • BTU:
    24,000
  • Heat Flux:
    48
    Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
  • Main Burners:
    3
  • Primary Capacity:
    500 square inches
  • Secondary Capacity:
    175 square inches

Published On: 3/24/2017 Last Modified: 2/25/2021

  • Max Good - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.

 

High quality websites are expensive to run. If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and a lot of freebies!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for high quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 2,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club. But please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get MANY great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

 

Comprehensive Temperature Magnet With 80+ Important Temps

Amazingribs.com temperature magnet
Winner of the National BBQ Association’s product of the year award. This 8.5″ x 11″ magnet contains more that 80 benchmark temperatures for meats (both USDA recommended temps as well as the temps chefs recommend), fats and oils, sugars, sous vide, eggs, collagens, wood combustion, breads, and more. Although it is not certified as all-weather, we have tested it outdoors in Chicago weather and it has not delaminated in three years, but there is minor fading.

Click here to order.


Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?


The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it’s easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.

Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

Click here to order directly and get an exclusive AmazingRibs.com deal


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted


Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special


GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone


GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


The Efficiency Of A Kamado Plus The Flexibility Of The Slow ‘N Sear Insert

kamado grill
Built around SnS Grill’s patented Slow ‘N Sear charcoal kettle accessory, this 22-inch kamado is a premium ceramic grill that brings true 2-zone cooking to a kamado.

Click here for our article on this exciting cooker


Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5″ x 29.5″ footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.
Click here for our review on this unique smoker


Groundbreaking Hybrid Thermometer!

Thermapen One Instant Read Thermometer

The FireBoard Spark is a hybrid combining instant-read capability, a cabled temperature probe, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. We gave Spark a Platinum Medal for pushing the envelope of product capability while maintaining high standards of design and workmanship.

Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review