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One crazy man's way though choosing a Premium pellet grill

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    One crazy man's way though choosing a Premium pellet grill

    I said I would walk through my thought process for how I chose a particular premium pellet grill, so here’s basically a summary of what I did and the factors that helped me make the decision for ME:

    Besides made in USA, which all of these pits are (to the best of my knowledge):

    Why I chose: MAK
    Top 3 reasons why:

    1. Established brand that has been an innovator since the Traeger Patent Expired
    2. Commitment to the existing customers on their flagship middle model. Pretty much every innovation they’ve come up with over the past 10 years can be retrofitted into a MAK 2 Star from 10 years ago. For me meaning when they invent their next big thing, I’ll most likely be able to add it to my grill instead of buying a new one, so I feel the odds are pretty good I can still play around with new things even on an old grill
    3. Quality Materials - Stainless and Aluminized steel that will not rust and heavier gauge than big box store pellet grills

    Other Strong Factors in no particular order:
    • Meathead’s Platinum Rating and thorough review
    • FlameZone - I have realistic expectations of how this will sear a steak, but I think it’s going to be a great burger, chop, chicken, etc. griller. As well, I feel this FlameZone design with the shield around the fire pot creates essentially a partially insulated cooker delivering more heat directly and efficiently to the grates and will hopefully help with wind affecting it
    • No Smokestack or external hanging grease bucket, I cover my grills pretty much whenever they are not in use. Both of these items are very annoying when putting a cover on and off of a grill and knocking a grease bucket off of a grill makes me mutter very unkind words
    • Lower Cabinet (a place to hide a few too many bbq accessories - for a friend of course so they don't get in trouble), I know it’s not waterproof, but for me on a covered patio with a cover of the grill, pretty safe from elements
    • Renowned controller that has been talk of industry for years
    • Warmer box/cold smoker - I honestly didn’t think I gave a hoot about this, but as I thought more about it decided I could use it a lot.
    • Feedback from MAK FB group and several other BBQ forums, conversations with a few owners including PMs and comments from members here that have one.
    • Limited Lifetime warranty
    Top 2 runner-ups (tied) and why I didn’t choose them:

    Yoder (480s): In the end Yoder ended up very close. In the past, I usually ignored them because of their looks and the regular paint maintenance required. I studied them hard this go round and that maintenance was still a very small strike in the end as well as the pellet consumption rates usually discussed with them and the winter performance using even more pellets. I have a couple of co workers with them so I’ve gotten lots of feedback about them. It was still a very close contender in the end, but by time I would start adding stainless grates, their super expensive insulation blanket, etc. you start nudging fairly close to the MAK in pricing and I trust the MAK more. The Fireboard partnership made that a very hard final conclusion though as I’m a huge Firebaord fan and would love FB logs of all my pellet cooks from a built in controller.

    Cookshack (PG500): Also just as close and (I was quintuple checking my self logic of both Yoder and Cookshack versus MAK still late last night before I made the final call). In the end, the cookshack also barely missed the mark. It's a proven brand that has been doing this longer than anyone else in the list because they built theirs different than Traeger. The controller is complex which is a good thing for all kinds of fine tuning, but I don’t want to be standing half hunched over pressing little buttons for 15 minutes tuning feed rates and such. If they had developed a mobile app so I could tinker with it sitting at the kitchen table watching, it would have been an even tougher call. I like the thought of the 4 zones and know the PG500 has more searing ability than anything else in the list, but I do feel I’d be constrained by the sizes of the zones. The fairly regular mentions of ash flying everywhere and even landing on food was the final small factor. I know once seasoned that likely goes away and using quality pellets likely helps even more, but the risk of ‘sooty’ food bothers me. I eat a lot of BBQ with my fingers and I expect them to get greasy and such, but they shouldn't turn black from ash on the food and I feared that with the CookShack.

    The rest from the short list:

    Pitts and Spitts - Still new enough to the pellet world to be relatively unproven, many Texans have no idea what cold is so I question what the Northern performance would be. I actually got to feel one of these beauties up and was impressed with the quality, but the Maverick was an awfully lot like a much much better constructed Traeger…which isn’t at all a bad thing, a pretty proven design. If I wanted purely a pellet smoker, P&S would have been very HIGH on the list.

    Lone Star Grillz - Could find no evidence that this grill exists yet. By the description and specs has the potential to be one of the best poopers on the market…if it ever truly comes to be. Sounds like it just keeps getting delayed and delayed.

    Smokin Brothers - Too small of a brand, no apparent real searing ability and not very pretty. I’ve seen a couple and they’re well constructed. If I was looking for a smoker only also, this would have moved way up the list. However, I have a hard time moving past their aesthetics every time I visited their site or when I used to see them in a couple local stores.

    Blaz’n - Pretty small brand yet even though they've been in the marketplace for a pretty decent amount of time. IMO, they seem to run behind on innovation and their searing setup seems wonky (again my personal opinion). I love their paint jobs and options there. I also love that almost all their 'upgrades' have nice videos demoing them. They do a lot of things right product information wise. However, I was also worried what was going to happen when the owner decides to retire am I'm not confident they have the size/value for someone else to buy them or for an excited current employee to be able to get a loan to continue the business running on.

    If you made it this far…all of those listed were strong contenders, those are just the deciding factors for me personally. Some probably seem kinda petty, but when you look at a group of American made and all seemingly top notch quality products, personal preferences do factor into the weeding out process or you’ll be analyzing yourself to death. You just have to make sure you put your top few priorities higher than the petty items. Like if the Yoder seared like a SmokeFire, I’d deal with paint touch up and a smoke stack in trade. Also, if you own one of the brands I didn't pick, sell it and buy a MAK..TOTOALLY just kidding, I'll go back to reinforcing these were the tiny differences that pushed my final decision. I can see why every one of you likely made the decision you did doing the same type of research and having different preferences in your order of importance. I think I could be happy with any of the grills in this list.

    #2
    And here I am perfectly happy with one that didn't even make your octanary place.... Your decision process is something else. Tell us, what was your process to pick which home to buy?

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Ok, you win. You have me baffled, because I keep counting 7 over and over.

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh, in that case, my realtor didn’t want to talk to me for a short while when it was finally done and he’s one of my very best friends since 5th grade...but that was awesome you dropped that in.

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      glitchy well I guess I meant you didn't *have/want* an 8th choice.

    #3
    Beats my rational for anything....I'm the prototypical impulse buyer.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      You don’t think out of 11 a couple showed up that way? Too expensive this round to risk that though.

    • smokin fool
      smokin fool commented
      Editing a comment
      glitchy Well....actually, I am an idiot....
      Coupla grand for something, bang zoom brought and paid for!!!!
      A $7 something or other that I actually need and I'll argue, obsess, justify, ditz, think, fume.
      Drives the wife crazy, you can buy a car in 3 mins but it takes 6 weeks to buy under ware!?!

    #4
    Please wake me when this is over.
    Last edited by Panhead John; February 9, 2021, 08:51 PM.

    Comment


    #5
    So here's a question for you, glitchy ... if the new MAK 2 Star actually works, then what are you going to do for fun?
    Last edited by MBMorgan; February 9, 2021, 10:13 PM.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Find out how many ways I can start fires in the WSCG, beginning with a magnifying glass. or try every brand/flavor of pellet and charcoal I can find. I might see if I can make some food that has even half the visual sexiness of an Ernst, Attjack, or Troutman dish (or several others, those are just the first 3 that came to mind that make me feel incompetent to even sling slop in a mess tent).

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      Doesn’t Panhead come to mind?

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Panhead John I don't eat catfish or clam chowder

    #6
    I would never own a MAK for reasons I wouldn't own a Bentley.

    You're definitely in an elite group, seriously speaking.

    Comment


    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      I would never be able to own a Bentley either unless I could finance it 20-30 years and the whole family lived in it, However, I do realize I’m fortunate to have these grills even be an option. It didn’t hurt to have an unexpected savings account in the SmokeFire and the limited lifetime warranty helped stomach the rest with the assurance such a large investment should be around quite a while.

    #7
    Jerod brings up a good point, I’m still somewhat new to the crowd here, so I want to be clear nothing I’ve posted is intended to be a brag or gloating about hey look what I’ve got. I’m the first to admit I’ve been very fortunate the past 10 years. However, I’ve seen many others on here with WSCGC, MAKs, decked out Yoder’s on comp carts, etc. so I know there’s a fair number others than invest in fairly expensive cooking gear and this is the type of place we go first for unbiased info and I’m just trying to share anything I can to help make those stressful decisions easier or more informed as I’ve made several missteps along the way for fitting my needs or wants.

    If ya”ll take it as gloating or bragging I’ll stop posting about cookers and focus heavily on trolling PHJ instead.

    Comment


    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      Clark That wasn’t intended to be a knock on them. They are a good cheap cooker. I’ve had Old Smokey’s all my life until I got my Weber’s about 5 or 6 years ago. I’ve had gassers, a few cheap offsets and other stuff also. But I always had an Old Smokey in addition. I’ve been to the plant and headquarters where they make them here in Houston. Had to pick up an accessory, Mr. Sensitive. 😂

    • JOE E
      JOE E commented
      Editing a comment
      Keep posting. Your detailed info is appreciated. Thanks

    • pknj
      pknj commented
      Editing a comment
      not at all - as you said, you are in a good place to be able to do this and you are sharing all of your (hard earned) experience. Hell, I suspect you saved a lot of folks from spending a grand on the SF when it hasn't (yet) lived up to expectations. Keep the posts coming!

    #8
    glitchy I take no offense to your posts at all. If I did, I have one great option and that is to stop reading! I would imagine the vast majority of the folks on this forum has a passion for cookers. We are here to learn, to show off our food, research new products and the bonus to it all is that there are some fine people in this group. Post on my friend, thats what we are here for!

    Comment


      #9
      The only thing crazy about this is that you spent all that time typing it out. I understand your method. It takes me months and sometimes years to make a decision on things like grills and stuff. I wish I had waited a little longer and had not been persuaded to purchase the Traeger Timberline. My wife wanted me to have a pellet grill and when Traeger had 6 months no interest she said get it. It was on my list but not near the top. So many issues with it but when it works it's fine. I have thought about a write-up on my Traeger journey but frankly, I'm just too lazy. I did ribs on it 1 time and my wife said "Never again! Only do ribs in the PBC!" Never tried it in the Weber kettle and most likely never will.

      MAK was up on my list higher than the Traeger but price was stopping me. I bought a 1996 Chevy Blazer for around $3000 which made it difficult for me to justify a purchase of a MAK 2 Star. But wish I had saved instead of jumping on the no interest incentive.

      Comment


      • glitchy
        glitchy commented
        Editing a comment
        JimLinebarger Your car analogy is perfect and why when the Memphis didn’t fit well with me it took a few years to do this again. As Traeger keeps tuning that Timberline controller, I hear it keeps getting better and better.

      • JimLinebarger
        JimLinebarger commented
        Editing a comment
        Panhead John Forgive me for not sharing my Blazer venture. I had to part ways with it a few years after purchase. The pain of that memory still haunts me to this day. It is something that I can only share with a chosen few. And when they tell me who they are, then I will know.

      • JimLinebarger
        JimLinebarger commented
        Editing a comment
        Panhead John Figured you for a Yugo man.
        Last edited by JimLinebarger; February 10, 2021, 01:15 PM. Reason: Spelled it wrong. Yigo was where I lived on Guam.

      #10
      Like ^ he said. I have enjoyed all of Your very detailed posts about the smoke fire and anticipate some good info on Mak. There is a very old Traeger at my house on lone from my son. At some point I will be looking to buy a more premium pellet cooker, and I enjoy all the research from real users here in the pit.

      Comment


        #11
        glitchy I have really enjoyed your journey to the new cooker. Fun, entertaining, and informative. The really amazing thing is that I have not ordered a new cooker of some sort because of it! 🤣😂

        Comment


          #12
          Originally posted by glitchy View Post
          Panhead John I could probably start a GoFundMe to troll Panhead John and pay for the MAK, but I’m sincere that I’m trying to share info not gloat that I bought a nice cooking appliance.
          Still waiting for the link to the GoFundme for trolling PJ.....

          Comment


          • glitchy
            glitchy commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm spending all my energy right on the lawsuit I have going with PJ's Paper Products.

          • Panhead John
            Panhead John commented
            Editing a comment
            Have em contact my attorneys, Dewey, Screwum and Howe.
            Last edited by Panhead John; February 10, 2021, 01:29 PM.

          • smokin fool
            smokin fool commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow, I use Dewey, Cheatem and Howe

          #13
          I have very much enjoyed followin yer journey in researchin out what cooker ya wanted to buy. Thanks fer takin us along!

          I don't see anything ya posted that might even remotely qualify as 'braggin or gloatin', an I'm Delighted that ya were able to make a choice based upon yer extensive research, an will continue along with ya on this journey!

          Th house is purty Suh-Weet, as well!

          I can readily assure ya, with a clean conscience, that I have slept / lived in worse places...

          Congratulations on yer new MAK, I'm lookin forward to yer experiences with it.!!!

          Someday, if / when I feel the desire to, I might jus git me a pellet cooker...

          Researchin others' detailed experiences an reviews of th ones they have / have had is an invaluable resource to be able to utilize, an glean from, when it comes time to spend my $$$

          Hypothetically, were I to git me a PC, my current choices would haveta be LSG, Yoder, MAK, Rec Tec, in no particular order...
          Last edited by Mr. Bones; February 10, 2021, 11:14 AM.

          Comment


          • glitchy
            glitchy commented
            Editing a comment
            I don't know if I'm happy the LSG doesn't seem to be out yet to make my decision easier or sad that I'll have missed out on it. Almost everything about that thing looks awesome. I think every cooker on that list is very suitable.

          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment
            I know it's all water under th bridge, at this point, glitchy , but did ya try emailin or callin LSG?

          • glitchy
            glitchy commented
            Editing a comment
            Mr. Bones I did not do that. I like to see some in the wild info...not that I might not have called them to get some details too if there had been real user info to start with. This is especially true after the SmokeFire and all the claims from Weber and a certain Weber pit master on podcasts before it came out.

          #14
          I personally appreciate your write-up. While I have been blessed with an amazing wife and financially as well, I am known to be so tight with the penny I can squeeze it hard enough to make change, which allowed me to retire at a much younger age than most w/o sacrificing life style. However, before I make a purchase of something I want/plan to use frequently for years to come, I want to know the good, bad, and ugly so that I know exactly what I can expect, which I admit can led to analysis paralysis from time to time. So, keep the updates coming on your new Mak 2 while sleeping in your new house.

          Comment


            #15
            As a co-plaintiff on the Panhead John lawsuit, I appreciate your posts on your thought process.

            Comment


            • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
              ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
              Editing a comment
              wait I didn't realize this was a Class Action event, I want in too! I mean, who doesn't want to wait 2+ years to get a check for 96 cents that takes more effort to cash than it's worth

            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              glitchy klflowers and to all parties involved. Our client, Mr. Panhead has agreed to a cash settlement ranging in the tens of dollars. Acceptance of this agreement and the terms involved will be forthcoming soon. He is currently out of the country in the Caymen Islands conducting personal banking business. But he has informed me that cash settlement offers of $28. will be sent to both parties, pending your approval. Thanks, David Dewey.......Dewey, Screwum and Howe. Attorneys at Law

            • GolfGeezer
              GolfGeezer commented
              Editing a comment
              Wait a second!!! I thought this was a class action suit! All parties that have read any Panhead John post/comment/PM or any other form of communication is entitled to a portion of any settlement. Maybe pennies, but darn worth it!

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