Like a lot mech mod and RBA users, my first setup was made up of cloned hardware. My 2nd and 3rd setups? Clones. Why? They were cheap. I'm not rich. Otherwise these blog posts would be about what flavor pairs best with caviar or which mod matches my Rolex. My clones were cheap in price, but not necessarily in quality. At least I thought so until I bought my first authentic piece of gear. But that's not necessarily what this article is about. This article is about why people choose one over the other, so let's dive right in.
|Authentic (left) vs. Clone (right)|
Vapers are regular people. We have bills, we have other hobbies, and we have other financial responsibilities. Do you spend $200 on a stainless steel tube or $50 on a pretty accurate copy? Price plays a huge role in the decision here, but thankfully that argument is slowing dying off. There are authentic mechanical mods by well-known and respected vendors being released left and right. iHybrid released a full line of anodized aluminum Trinity mods for less than $70. We sell the Sigelei 150w box mod for less than $100. One of my absolute favorite RDA's out right now is the Sig-S and it's $20. As the market grows and expands, prices on hardware will continue to fluctuate and I imagine we'll start seeing more and more budget-minded authentic gear coming out.
Most people take a few things into account when buying a mod or an RBA, and the most common aspect is the design. Vapers want cool-looking gear. Maybe your heart is set on a Skeleton Key, but you don't have $250+ to spend on it. Well, the clone is a fraction of that price. But what are you sacrificing when buying a much cheaper mod?
My first mechanical mod was a King clone. I loved it. Granted, I had nothing to compare it to, but it was mine and I liked the thing. My first authentic mod was, you guess it, a King. Once I got my hands on the real thing, I never touched my clone again. The difference in machining and craftsmanship was like night and day. No squeak when it threaded and the threading was as smooth as butter. The button didn't go all wonky and lopsided and instead slid up and down like a dream. Atties threaded onto the 510 perfectly every single time. I had seen the light.
My next authentic? Another King. And I hated it. The voltage drop was crazy high, the spring was thin, and the button was clunky. My point here is that quality, to some degree, is subjective. There are mods with machining so precise that you'd swear it was magical (see Labyrinth Mod,) and then there are high dollar mods that look like I made them in my garage with a hacksaw. There are high-quality clones, too. So, knowing all of this and having this experience, why was I insistent on buying only authentic gear?
I buy authentic hardware because I want to support the hardworking folks who made them. I said that I hated my 2nd King mod, but I've met dozens of folks who love that mod. After my 2nd King mod, I bought a 3rd and it was great. Someone has to brainstorm a piece of gear, plan it, sketch it out, market it, and then produce it. All of those things require time, energy, and money. I felt determined to show those people how much I appreciated their work by buying their product. Most of this hardware is created by a few people, not by a huge mega company. I didn't feel that it was fair to buy a cheaper copy of their hard work.
Keep in mind, that's just me. I wouldn't want someone ripping off my efforts, and that idea really resonates with me. Do I look down on someone who uses a clone? Hell no. I'm not that person and I don't make decisions for them. When I go grocery shopping, I don't buy Kraft Mac & Cheese. I buy "Cheese Macaroni Dinner" because it's cheaper. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. But I'm pretty darn sure those noodles and cheese powder comes from the same factory, but my box doesn't get the fancy logo and pictures on it.
Totally a clone.
This supposed "war" between authentic users and clone users is silly. There are some gear makers who make very small runs of their product making acquiring it nearly impossible. That's why the clone market exists. Buy what you want to buy, use it, and love it. I'd rather see a million vapers rocking a clone than the same people smoking cigarettes. Also, now I really want some macaroni and cheese.