Excitement about vape mods, like an authentic Nemesis or Stingray, leaves some vapers shaking their heads. They cannot understand the allure of a $150 piece of metal that doesn’t even have variable voltage or wattage buttons on it. What’s so special about these things that customers are willing to wait months and spend hundreds of dollars to own them? It might be time to learn a few things about mechanical mods and modders.
Mechanical mods typically cost between $50 and $250, with the occasional exception at either side. That is a big range of prices to consider, and many times the difference relates to aesthetic features or how collectible an item is.
Although a high-end mod almost certainly performs better than a clone or a $50 variety, the difference does not amount to $150 of extra features or better workmanship. Simply put, manufacturers in Korea, the Philippines, the United States, and Greece are creating limited edition mods. Their value is partially due to striking aesthetic features, partially build quality, and partly to the rarity factor of owning a hand-made item or one produced in small numbers. Here are ten excellent examples in the high-end and affordable categories.
Mechanical or Mech Mod Features
Just so we’re clear, these are not variable voltage devices. No battery is included and usually a mod does not come with a tank either. APVs fall under a different category. With a mechanical mod, customers are literally paying for a tube. To harness and adjust voltage, add a “kick” device where possible.
The Top 10 Mechanical Mods
The K100 Telescopic
Our first device is priced around $50 or less and is what you would call a telescopic mod. This means the K100’s size can be lengthened to accommodate a larger battery or left at its original length. The K100 accepts 18650, 18500, and 18350 batteries. When shortened the K100 measures 3.9″, extends to 4.4″, and is 5″ at its longest. Vent holes in the top and bottom tube plus the switch assembly stop your battery overheating in this affordable and attractive device resembling the Empire State Building. Use the reverse thread lock to prevent accidental firing.
This is a Pinoy mod made from stainless steel and brass. Like the K100, it extends to accommodate more than one battery size and is lockable (most mechanical mods are). The bottom button uses reverse threading to lock but users find the switch requires such a significant push that accidental firing is unlikely. A vent hole occupies the center of an engraved kaleidoscope image. The manufacturer installed a copper firing pin for excellent connectivity and minor voltage drop.
Buy: Standout Vapes
United States vets will recognize the design of an AR Mod by Tac Mods of the USA. Its octagonal shape keeps the button in place and also prevents the mod from rolling. Each of several versions assumes the shape of an AR-15 rifle barrel, the design of which lends itself to considerable venting and an excellent grip. This gritty-looking unit comes with knurled caps, adjustable pins, and performs extremely well. Fans of the AR frequently express excitement about being able to buy an American-made vaping device.
Hammer by Kato
The most significant aspect of Kato’s Hammer is its unique shape, taken from that of the Hammer Head Shark. Engravings are inspired by this marine beast but the gavel-shaped mod only uses an 18350 battery, placing it among the smaller mods. An extension tube is available for 18490 batteries. Thanks to brass connections, voltage loss is minimal.
Turtle Ship by RJ
Like the Hammer, Turtle Ship mechanical e cigs come from Korea, but the company is RJ Mods this time. Their telescopic device accepts 18-series batteries and is bottom-firing. Beautiful engravings depict a traditional Korean naval ship. The plastic insulator is adjustable and an excellent locking ring prevents the consumer from activating their elegant mod by mistake.
Valkyrie Hybrid Mod
Vicious Ant’s Valkyrie is a hybrid made from 304 food-grade stainless steel: hygienic, tough stuff. Its rhodium-coated firing pin offers excellent connectivity. What is a hybrid? In this case, it is a mod and dripping atomizer combined. Adjustable airflow control and built-in venting supply safety and custom performance using an 18650 battery. Build and flavor are excellent. Wind a single or dual coil and enjoy the unusual benefits of a built-in atomizer.
Magneto by Smok
Again, vaping with mods can be an inexpensive prospect. A Smok Magneto sells for around $45 to $55 and comes in 5 colors. Employing a lockable magnetic firing switch enables Smok to ensure safety and provides a longer-lasting switch. Magnets tend to outlast springs. It feels good to the touch and uses many different batteries so one can extend or shorten the Magneto to form a huge or discrete vaping device. In common with the K100, a Magneto is relatively easy to find when compared with the other examples here. Authentic, top-quality mechanical mods sell out rapidly.
4Nine by Tarsius
For $220, you too can own a 4Nine by Tarsius, if one is still out there somewhere to buy. It is often sold out, even at that price. This is a small magnetic mod using 18350 to 18650 batteries. A floating magnetic button without a top in allows for mechanical agility. The seams are so beautifully blended as to be nearly invisible. A recessed bottom firing button is impossible to deploy while standing the 4Nine on its end.
Chi Megan 26650
The Megan is even more expensive: $255. It is also one of the biggest mechanical mods available, accommodating a 26650 battery. While such power creates astounding clouds and throat hit, it also means you are holding an ostentatious mod in your hands. Friends and acquaintances are going to comment on the exquisite engravings of this artistic e cig blending stainless steel and brass for an impressive two-toned effect.
Black Hawk Panzer by MCV
At $240, this device is another product that has to earn its keep, and it really does. Threads are creamy smooth. An adjustable top pin prevents rattling. The firing button is easy without being cheap. Use 18350 to 18650 batteries, one or two at a time, with the telescopic pin adjusting to accommodate your choice. A militaristic look makes this ideal for vets and a masculine crowd unimpressed by artistic engravings of ships and animals. Four holes vent the battery. A brass bottom cap and reverse locking provide the safety customers are looking for.
Prices listed above are only approximate. There could be a $10 to $40 difference between vendors.
Some Hype, Some Pizzazz
You’re right: some of the hype around a mechanical vape mod will be nothing more than that. Who starts it and how is best known to those with the gift of promotion, but labeling something as “limited edition” certainly helps. The artistic beauty of some engravings, metallic tones, and even packaging doesn’t hurt. Many high-end mods are fashioned from single pieces of steel: that is, they are not constructed out of two fused halves. Such solid devices are going to last until they are melted down so that, even if they get scratched, their function will be impeccable.
Modders who love these also enjoy playing with their e cigs and prefer to do things the hard way. Regulated mods are too easy: there’s a screen and built-in voltage/wattage/ohms meter. Where’s the challenge in that? With an authentic mechanical mod, these consumers believe they get the best and hits from the best-looking devices which double as heirlooms for their children.
Limited Edition Mechanical Vape Mods
Limited edition models are often characterized by velvety threading, snug battery casing without rattle, and buttons that feel solid rather than wobbly. Vent holes prevent overheating in the chamber. Buttons lock or are so firm they can’t be accidentally depressed, although side-firing mechanisms are preferred in some quarters. Although adjustments to airflow and battery size alter the performance of a mechanical mod with its atomizer attached, adding a Kick (for variable voltage) is tempting to many consumers. They look specifically for compatibility.
Your authentic Chi You or Nemesis will be packaged with a certificate for proof.
Vape Mod Sizes
The most common diameter you will see is 22 mm. Most RDAs and RBAS will fit onto a mechanical mod of this width without appearing out of place. These mods usually fit with 18-series batteries. When you see mods that take 26650 batteries, that is a sign that dimensions differ. Width is 28.5 mm (like the Akuma 26650) or 31 mm (such as the King 26650). You need to know these numbers so as to choose an atomizer to fit. Appearances matter to someone willing to buy a serialized piece of metal for $250.
Some brands you encounter are TAC Mods, Element, Vicious Ant, Tarsius Customres, and Madz Modz. When you see these names, you are purchasing the authentic mechanical vape mod. Names like EHPro, Infinite, and HCigar indicate that you are about to purchase a clone.
Mechanical Mod Clones
Now, before you become offended about clones, think for a minute. Many reputable dealers sell these items proudly. They cost $50 when a real version costs $175. Threading isn’t as smooth perhaps or there could be some slight variation in engravings. Pins might be silver-plated copper instead of brass or something like that. Generally, a good clone is an excellent product, just not as desirable because not as collectible.
I mentioned the pins for a reason: battery conductivity is made better by certain metals. Brass and copper are both excellent. Gold-plating can also improve conductivity over stainless steel, for instance.
Telescopic or Extension Tubes
Telescopic or extendable mods work with two or more battery sizes. The most common series is 18-series batteries (18350, 18490/500, and 18650). They extend the size and the power of a product. If the device is telescopic (like the Empire, K101, or Magneto), then it uses screws to release an inner portion to grow or shrink lengthwise. If there are extra tubes, the bottom cap comes off so an extension can be added or removed. Which is better? The one you appreciate most is the better one for you.