If you started vaping within the last year or so, you most likely know about mechanical mods, but aren't really sure what they're all about. Why do people use them? Why do some vapers say you're not "legit" unless you own a mech mod? Do I need one? Are they better?
First let's look at what they are and where they came from.
A brief history of the e-cig
The first e-cigarette was created in China by Hon Lik, a pharmacist who was also a smoker. After his father died of lung cancer, he decided to create a better way to get his nic fix. The company he worked for developed it and changed their name to Ruyan.
These were the "cig-a-likes". They looked like a cigarette, worked like a cigarette, tasted like a..... they looked and worked like a cigarette, and they soon caught on in a big way in Europe.
Not long after came the "eGo" style battery and clearomizer that we all most likely started on.
But, being the inventive types we all are, some e-cig users started experimenting with different ways to get more power to the coil, which creates more vapour and harder throat hit. They began repurposing various items - most commonly flashlights - to attach atomizers to them and use them as personal vapourizers. And so, the ubiquitous MOD was born!
Enter the MOD
The term "Mod" is shorthand for "modified", meaning a "mod" can be any electronic device appropriated for the purposes of vaping.
So what makes a mod a "mechanical" mod?
It's quite simple - a mechanical mod is an e-cig with no circuitry.
Really. That's it. You have the battery, the atomizer, and a switch that manually connects the battery to the atomizer. Simple as that.
But why mechanical mods?
In the days prior to high-wattage regulated mods, mech mods were the only way to sub-ohm. Your average eGo will only deal with resistances well over 1 Ohm, and this is not enough for die-hard cloud chasers. The only way to fire your perfect 0.25 Ohm build was to stick it on a mech mod. But of course you couldn't just simply attach it and vape on. You had to build the coil to a target resistance, meaning you had to Ohms-test. If you got it wrong - well, just say the phrase "catastrophic battery vent" in front of a mech mod owner if you want to watch them break out in a cold sweat.
Nowadays, however, you can stick your perfect 0.25 Ohm build on a wide range of high-wattage, regulated box mods and get the same results. They have built-in Ohms testing, and if the resistance is a bit off, you just adjust the wattage (or voltage, if you insist) to match your resistance. Life for sub-ohming cloud chasers has never been easier.
So.... why do people still love mech mods?
By and large, mech mods are just plain purdy! From the sleek dragonesque ones in the above photo, all the way to the bold as brass Atmomixani fare, there is no denying their aesthetic appeal. There's just something about those big pretty pieces of metal that's hard to look away from.
Because there are no delicate bits and pieces of circuitry, they are tough as hell. They can take a pounding and still go right on firing away. The best quality ones are often milled straight out of a big lump of steel, and as a result will probably outlive all of us. Unlike regulated mods, which once the circuits are fried are reasonably attractive yet unnecessarily expensive paperweights, mech mods just keep on keeping on.
Being as they are artefacts from a more wistful age, they can have a lot of sentimental value, and look just as good on your shelf as they did in your hand. They also have the hobbyist appeal - sure it's more convenient to use your 150W box mod throughout the day, but for those of us who already love building our own coils, nothing beats spending a nice relaxing evening in the man (or lady) cave fiddling around with them to get the resistance just right.
In a nutshell
Back in the day, mechanical mods were the only way you could achieve higher wattages by building sub-ohm coils. These days, you can sub-ohm without them. They are not inherently "better" or "worse" than regulated mods, just a different way of doing the same thing.
If you want one just coz, there are still plenty being made, and some vapers swear by them. Just do yourself a favour and don't blow up your batteries!