About 12 to 18 months ago, mechanical mods were all the rage. They were popularized for their ability to allow users to completely customize their vaping experience. Their unregulated nature allows vapers to run any type of coil their battery can handle, meaning more power and a more customized experience.
That was then. Once the DNA20 came out and variable wattage mods became popular, they were quickly adopted by vapers because they offered a regulated way of getting that same high wattage, and also feature more flexibility than previous regulated mods in terms of handling low ohm builds.
Personally, while I have had many mechanical mods that I really enjoy, I’ve spent the better part of the last year using primarily variable wattage mods, and I’ve been really happy doing so. So happy, in fact, that I really haven’t had much interest at all in any of the new mechanical mods coming out, and haven’t really included any as part of my regular rotation.
That all changed when I got my hands on the Tantra by Chillum Vapor.
This mod has a ton of unique features, looks great and has performed well enough to have become my primary vaping device over the past several weeks since I started working with it. Here’s a video of their manufacturing process:
At first glance, it has a lot of the features you may be accustomed to with a mech – bottom firing button, reverse locking, etc.
The fine details are where this device really separates itself from the rest of the pack.
First of all, it has a unique spring design that I have never seen before on any device. The top cap is extended so that you can easily keep it from getting stuck to the tank – something I’ve done countless times on other mechs. The vent holes have been moved to the top, so they aren’t obstructed by the firing pin, and most importantly, it’s made from pure lead-free naval brass – including both contacts. This brass is like nothing I’ve ever seen on any other device. It has a lighter color than regular brass – to me it looks somewhere between gold and silver. And of course, it’s also worth noting that it is made in the USA.
What I DIDN’T like about the Tantra Mod
Like most bottom firing mods, the button does tend to unscrew itself after a while. If I were going to take the Tantra out with me and use it all day, I would likely have to unscrew the bottom cap and re-tighten the pin one or two times throughout the day. Once it begins to get unscrewed, the button tends to fire very easily so this is something I do have to keep an eye on. Again, something I have seen on a lot of other mechs and it’s not really that big of a deal.
I absolutely love the color of the brass on the Tantra. The only downside is because it is so unique, I don’t have any atomizers that are a good color match. Now I know a lot of people like to mix colors between atomizers and mods, so this may be a non-issue for a lot of people. I personally prefer a uniform look and feel, but in this case I am growing to like mixing stainless with the brass.
The price, at $170 is going to be a little cost prohibitive to some people. Now for the quality you get, I think it is a more than fair deal – especially considering the prices on other high-end mechanical mods, but I know a lot of vapers out there may still find the price a little high for a mech mod.
What I DID like about the Tantra Mod
Most importantly, this thing packs a super powerful hit. It’s advertised at a 0.19 voltage drop, which is quite good in my opinion. The naval brass contacts are very large and don’t tarnish easily, which I think also contributes to the excellent performance of the device.
Second most importantly, it looks great. The lead free naval brass has a very unique color to it that I haven’t seen anything like in the vaping world. There is a knurled band around the locking mechanism that really adds a nice touch of texture to the appearance, and it has a really cool engraved logo, plus engraved button. All around, it’s a beautiful looking piece.
Another point on the brass – I have had at least 5-10 different brass mods, and a lot of times these things will start getting tarnished the second I lay a finger on them and quickly become a hot mess. I’m really not one to polish my mods, so as a result I have a bunch of super tarnished brass mods laying around. Not the case with this brass. I am amazed by how little it has tarnished in the several weeks I’ve been using it – both the tubes and the contacts still look shiny and beautiful after several weeks of heavy use.
The overall quality of this mod really impressed me. It is made right here in the USA and you can tell they have paid great attention to detail. The button and locking mechanism work flawlessly. Other than the pin slowly unscrewing itself over time, I have had no issues at all with either – and this is an area where some mechs have major problems, so this is a big win.
Who is it good for?
This really isn’t a starter mod. This is a piece for someone who really knows how to use mechanical mods, and likes using them. Of course anyone could use it and benefit from the nice features it has, but if you’re not a mech user currently, you may not be able to get the most out of it.
This is really a high end device – and as a high end device, the price is very competitive. You have to be able to understand that, or this mod is really not for you. If you had no problem spending 200+ on an authentic Nemesis or Chi You, then you will be floored by the quality of this mod for the price.
Do I use it?
I haven’t STOPPED using this thing since I took it out of the box. Really. And this is coming from a guy who has been almost exclusively using variable wattage devices all year, so that is saying a lot. I have taken this out with me all day on many occasions over the past couple weeks and not even brought a backup device. Just a couple spare batteries and I’m good to go for the whole day. It’s definitely going to remain in my rotation, and I don’t have any other mechs right now that hold a candle to it.
Where to Buy?
You can buy this directly from their website: http://www.chillum.la/
My Ideal Setup
I initially set up an Origen V1 clone with a basic, single 0.7 ohm microcoil. It worked so well, and looked so good that I haven’t had to change it since initially setting it up. The diameter is an exact match, and while I do wish the 2 materials matched, I am actually starting to like the contrast of stainless and naval brass. I like the Origen because it has deep drip wells, so I have found I can actually set the mod on its side much of the time and not have to worry too much about leaking through the air holes.
The Bottom Line
Quality. The overall quality of this device is beyond excellent. I rarely ever give out a perfect score for quality, but in this case, the Tantra really deserves it. It’s well made from top to bottom with very high quality materials. It features a really unique spring design that I haven’t seen anywhere else, and all the threading, knurling and engraving is top notch.
Performance. As mechs go, this is as good as any device I have ever tried in terms of performance. Generally with mechs your results are only going to be as good as your wick and coil, but in this case the excellent contacts and minimal voltage drop seem to give it that extra “push” that really makes this thing hit like a champ.
Ease of Use. Any mech is going to come with issues – you’ll need to cycle your batteries out, the bottom button comes unscrewed occasionally, and if you really want to stay on top of your game you will keep it polished as well. That is basically the case with this piece. It’s very low-maintenance, but you will have to do some of the basic things that go hand in hand with using a mech on a regular basis.
Appearance. If I had a matching atomizer for this mod, I may have given it a perfect score. Overall I completely love the appearance of it from top to bottom, and really the only nit I have at the moment is that there are no atomizers I know of that are a perfect color match with it.
Price. I’m not a person who would normally be in the camp of paying hundreds of dollars for mechanical mods. In this case, I don’t think they could sell it any cheaper if they wanted to given the overall quality of it. It is definitely worth the asking price, and any mech user who is looking for a high end option for under $200 would probably be completely satisfied with this device. So while I don’t think it’s for everyone, I think there are a LOT of vapers out there who can really appreciate the quality you are getting in the under $200 price range.
Overall. At the beginning of this summer, I wouldn’t have possibly imagined that I would be primarily using a mechanical mod as my everyday device here in October 2014, but I have to say that I pretty much fell in love with this device from the minute I laid eyes on it.
I can tell that Chillum Vapor definitely puts a lot of emphasis on quality, and that is something I can really appreciate.
The downsides of this mod are all very minimal. I’ve owned other very expensive mechanical devices, and I can say with confidence this is easily my favorite that I have tried to date. If you’re looking for a high-end mech, this is a must-try.