I would honestly pick consistency over safe. I would rather know the outcome is combo or I get punished than not know what the fuck will happen.I've never had B3-Smoke Bomb not connect. B3 connects at the start of round positioning, which is pretty friggin' good for a low, meterless starter into possible vortex.
If you're trying to use B3 as a starter out of that range, honestly, it's just pushing your luck. And any slight movement in the opponent or collision with B3 that still lets B3 win the trade, yeah I'd expect Smoke Bomb to be wonky there.
B1-Smoke Bomb (regular) doesn't connect midscreen except off a meaty. Okay.
Would you rather it be "adjusted" to connect and be full combo punishable? Cyber Sub and Cyrax can connext their Net/Freeze off B1. UNSAFE.
If you're worried about the opponent always blocking low midscreen when you're meterless, B1-Spear. I bet you'll have some success. That's also uninterruptable by armor. And as unsafe as Sub/Cyrax's B1-special, meterless. So Smoke is in the club.
I know you can position the Smoke Bomb, like Tremor's Rocks, but I've honestly never had to do that with Smoke in the week+ I've been learning him.
And running over/through some projectiles? C'mon, that's been in the game.
On a side note I do actually use b1 harpoon quite a lot. Works well in the vortex.