MAK 1 Star General

MAK 1 Star General

I recently had the opportunity to try out the 1 Star General by MAK.

First Impressions: Since my normal pit is the 2 Star General, my initial impression was that this was a scaled-down version of the 2 Star.  Well, I was right, and I was wrong.  Gone are the stainless steel lid (replaced with a powder coated lid, the warming tray/cold smoker (replaced by an optional shelf), and the pellet dump door.

Size doesn’t matter: The footprint of this pit is substantially smaller than the 2 Star.  The model I have is missing the optional right side shelf which means it measures in much smaller than my 2 Star.  37″ wide, but 21.5″ deep, by 44.5″ tall.

The cooking area is smaller than the 2 Star at 313 usable* inches of cooking surface, and 12″ height.  Without an optional shelf it is large enough for a turkey, or 4 beer can chickens, or a couple of full packer briskets, or several racks of ribs in a rib rack.  Add the optional upper shelf, and your options are nearly limitless!

Some like it hot: The 1 Star gets hot, and fast.  The prototype model I first had the opportunity to test went to almost 600 degrees.  The production models have a limiter in the Pellet Boss that keep them from going over 500 degrees.  In my testing, I was able to consistently get the 1 Star to over 400 degrees in 10 minutes. The higher temps and quicker warm-up are due to a combination of the smaller volume (no warming tray) and the heat-retaining properties of the aluminized steel used in the 1 Star.

Smoke gets in your eyes: The 1 Star likes to smoke.  The lower fan speeds (due to the lower volume) mean better smoke.  When you fire this unit up, your neighbors will be looking over the fence with anticipation instantly!

What is there, what isn’t: For this comparing this to the 2 Star, the most obvious question is “what is different about this pit?”.

What it has:

Large Hopper: Although it looks smaller compared to the 2 Star, it is still a 20lb hopper.
Pellet Boss Controller: Fully programmable controller with 3 built-in meat probes and compatible with the Remote Boss.
Stainless Steel Grease Bucket: Call it points for style – it just looks a LOT nicer than the steel ones other pits use.
Removable firepot: No shop-vac fires here!
100% Made in the USA!

What it doesn’t:

Pellet change-out door:  I know I would miss this.
Ash clean-out trap door:  I know I would miss this.
Flame Zone drip pan:  This is available as an option, but comes standard with the solid pan.
Stainless Steel lid and side trays:  Everything is black powder coat on this unit.

The Verdict: The 1 Star is a great “entry level” MAK grill.  At a lower price-point but with the USA-made quality you have come to expect from MAK.  If you never had a 2 Star, you won’t miss the features that aren’t there.  If you are short on space or want a unit you can move around – the 1 Star is a great way to get started with pellet grilling.

I think if this had been available when I was shopping for a grill, there is a good chance I would have bought this one instead of the 2 Star.  You don’t miss what you never had!

* Measured total area minus 1″ on all sides for convection airflow.