I almost bought a fast Eddie mostly because the Cook Shacks are not legal for completion. I had a deal set to purchase a used trailer with a FEC on it. I agreed to the asking price without an issue. He needed to use it for 2 more weeks which fit my timeline perfectly so he didn't want a down payment of any kind so we shook on it and went about our own business. The morning I was to pick it up he messaged me to tell me he had an offer he couldn't refuse so he sold it.
Anyway since then I have come to the opinion the competitions have become a bogus farce. Just my opinion, but go into any BBQ establishment displaying their championship banners and ask to sample anything they won a championship with and they will tell you, if they are honest, not only do they not serve it in their restaurant they don't serve it at home either because it's not affordable or practical for them to do so, Enough of my rant
I have 3 Traegers. Their tailgate model, which I actually I just sold. A Timberline and a top of the line all decked out something or other. Resbuck gives the Traeger more credit than I would when comparing it to an FEC. I'd more likely call it a Volkswagen. And (also just my opinion) they are overpriced for what you are getting.
jobieone is spot on with his research and reason for choosing a PG 500 That's exactly what I did and where I was at.
Since owning 3 Traegers I'll go a little further than jobieone. FEC's construction is very solid so it will stand up to years of use and abuse. Traegers are really cheaply made. The casters are junk. Mounting screws are light weight and strip out. Traeger's customer support sucks. I've been on hold for as long as 4 hours. You are given an option to give a call back number, but that didn't seem to work at all. I have spoken with tech support, working from home, in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Canada. You better know what your problem in and what you need to make it right because they read from a scripted flow chart and don't know how to deviate from it. Even if it is an obvious problem and you have the part number ready for them.
With Cook Shack I have never been on hold for more than 15 minutes and whom ever I've spoken with has used whichever smoker I'm having an issue with so they have no problem diagnosing my issue and resolving it in very short time. I cannot say enough about the support coming out of Cookshack
As a side note if you dig into the history I believe you will find that when the Fast Eddies first came on the market their controllers were supplied by Traeger. After a short time there was a falling out and Traeger pulled out
I think you're gonna like your PG500