Mechanical mods are essentially the first that were on the market. They originally were converted flashlights. Mechanicals are available to support several battery sizes:
- "14" series batteries, like the 14500, are 14 mm in diameter. These are closest in size to the eGo style batteries. The advantage to "14" series mechanicals is that they are small and short. The GS Matrix is one example.
- "18" series batteries inlude: 18340, 18350, 18490, 18500, and 18650. They are 18 mm in diameter and are the most popular size mechanicals (as of June 2014). Mechanical mods available for the 18 series batteries come in two types: those with adjustable tubes. These feature an inner and outer tube. The outer tube is threaded on the inside, and the inner tube is threaded on the outside. Screw them together to make the tube shorter or longer to accommodate the different length batteries – the threads are rarely visible. The second type is fixed tubes and usually are supplied with two extensions. The main portion will accommodate 18340/18350 batteries. By adding the shorter extension, you can accommodate an 18490/18500 batteries (or an 18350 and "kick"). The thid extension accommodates the 18650 battery, or stacked 18350 batteries (or an 18500 and "kick").
- "26" series is the 26650 ... I am not aware of any other size choices. These are 26 mm (approximately 1 inch) in diameter. These mods are growing rapidly in popularity. The Hades is one example.
How to choose a Mechanical Mod
Be clear about this: a Mechanical mod is nothing more than a tube to hold your battery and some type of firing mechanism to activate the coil in your atomizer. What is important is that the contacts between the atomizer connector pin and actuating the power from the battery are all free flow for conductivity. The best conductivity is with copper, next best with brass, next with silver, etc. Conductivity is important to lower the amount of voltage drop-off from poor connections or material is that is a poor conductor. It can be argued that the amount of voltage drop-off is neglible anyway, so selecting any metal will do – however, keep in mind that getting power to the atomizer includes both a positive and negative element. Other criteria include:
- Consistent and Smooth sliding action from the firing mechanism
- Floating or adjustable 510 connector pin
- Air vents for the battery (or batteries)
- Locking mechanism to prevent accidental firing
- Extension tube(s) or adjustable tube to accommodate different battery sizes and lengths
- and, having an air flow adjustment around the 510 connector pin is a bonus
There is no electronic circuitry in a mechanical mod. The above "features" are common on all mechanical mods ... at least most of them. If you find a mechanical mod without these, look to buy something else. Everything else above and beyond these "features" is cosmetic and of questionnable use. For example, there are some mechanical mods with extensive milling work to dress up the battery tube and extensions. Some are multi-part: perhaps a copper inner tube surrounded by a milled stainless steel "shroud". With some the extension tubes are built into the device, others have the extension tubes so perfectly milled that they appear to be one single tube with no visible lines distinguishing the extension. The most flexible mechanical mods are those that include the "extensions" as part of the mechanical mod itself. It is easier to carry just one or two spare batteries, than to carry all the parts as well.
Clone or Authentic?
If you can get an authentic mod, do so ... but don't knock clones. There are many clones that are better than the authentic mods they have copied. Clones are typically one-third the price of an authentic version. What I find objectionable is the use of the authentic mod's brand name and the maker's logo. We review clones on this site – quite a few of them, as a matter of fact. Some have turned out to be inexpensive and some have turned out to be cheap. Inexpensive, as in they are a low price and worthwhile addition to your vaping supplies. Cheap, as in you will get some use out of it, but you've essentially wasted your money. If you are considering a clone, read as many reviews as possible and get a sense for the version you are going to buy. Do not assume that an Hcigar version is the same as an Ehpro version: that simply is wrong. If you find a clone that you want to buy, but can't identify who made it – pass. That's usually a sign that the clone is a batch made in some sweat shop in China that won't be available again after that batch is sold out. They'll be on to cloning something else by the time you want to get some warranty work or return a defective or DOA piece.