Smoktech Gripper – Stealth Mods for the People
MadVapes Gripper Mod Review
MadVapes has finally released its Gripper ecig mod after months of planning, design and finally, production. The Gripper is a compact mod with a unique design that is custom-built to house XL cartomizers yet provide a low profile. Perhaps the most interesting feature of MadVapes’ Gripper is the $20 dollar price tag. Read the rest of the MadVapes Gripper mod review to find out if you get more than you pay for.
The MadVapes Gripper is a single battery 3.7v e-cigarette mod. The unit’s unique side-by-side design makes it an ideal candidate for a pocketable stealth mod.
I first read about the gripper on a forum post from the company looking for feedback in the summer of 2011. After many revisions (and name suggestions) the Gripper has finally been released for sale. The e-cigarette mod was conceived from the beginning to be a low-cost, simple-to-use device.
Original plans for the Gripper had the device made in-house (or at least locally) out of molded ABS plastic. The final version is mass-produced in China and consists of two moulded plastic halves joined together. The plastic has a nice, satin, almost rubberized feel to it.
The basic configuration of the gripper remains about the same as the original prototype. The mod is essentially two short tubes melded together. The thin tube snuggly surrounds the cartomizer while the fatter tube is home to the batteries and switch assembly.
The battery chamber was designed to house a protected 16340 battery. However, smaller 18350 batteries, such as the AW IMR flat top models also fit nicely into the space.
Batteries are secured by an aluminum end-cap. The cap features the obligatory vent hole (although I am sure this model would simply vent through the seams during a gas release event) as well as a diamond texture for easy grip when removing. Interestingly, I found the action when screwing in the cap to be smoother that just about any device short of the ProVari.
At the top of the battery chamber sits a horn-style switch. The button features a flat top and a nice, tactile click when the device is operated. There are no additional features such as lights or a discrete on/off switch.
Bells and whistles should be expected to be minimal in such an inexpensive mod. MadVapes goes so far as to call the Gripper the first disposable mod. I’m not exactly sure what that means since clearly the batteries and cartomizer can be replaced.
My best guess is that this is a plastic mod so it isn’t going to last forever. Despite that, the Gripper still feels remarkably solid for such a low-cost device. I do have to subtract some build-quality points for the seam which appears nearly invisible in some spots, but has fairly wide gaps in others.
Finishing out the Gripper tour is the cartomizer chamber. The chamber is designed as a sleeve to totally envelope the cartomizer. Specifically, you have to use long cartomizers like the Smok Tech XL cartomizers.
Even using the long cartomizers, there will only be about a 1/4″ of cartomizer exposed above the sleeve. This can make screwing in and removing cartos a little tricky. This isn’t lost on MadVapes as they clearly state on their website to avoid overtightening your cartomizer as it could become stuck (or possibly break the connection.) That may be another reason the Gripper should be thought of as “disposable.”
Using the MadVapes Gripper Mod
The Gripper is very straight forward and simple to use, once you get past some of the limitations of the device, particularly regarding cartomizers.
First, there are a very limited number of cartomizers that will work with this device. I mostly use SmokTech 1.7Ω single-coil steel cartos which work just fine with the device. However, thicker cartomizers like the Vapor Alley CE3 cartomizers were too thick to fit into the opening.
The only other snag I ran into was my own fault. After reading the usage tips on MadVapes site for the Gripper, I was a little too cautious to not over-tighten the cartomizer. I didn’t initially screw it in tight enough to make proper contact with the battery connector. Once I realized I didn’t need to be THAT dainty with the cartomizer, things were ok.
You can tighten the things, just don’t crank the heck out of them. If you use your attached drip-tip to tighten the cartomizer you’ll do fine since it’ll start slipping once it’s engaged tight enough into the connector.
The top of the cartomizer should stick up about 1/4″ from the top of the Gripper once it’s tightened. This will give you just a bit of grip to further tighten the carto, or to break it loose if the drip tip spins too much when trying to reverse gears.
The practical take on this is that your mouth will be only as far away from the top of the device as your drip-tip. Shorter drip tips may make it kind of difficult to use the device and get it close enough to your face to use. I kept shoving my knuckle into my chin until I found a pretty long drip-tip.
Ergonomically speaking, there’s a few different ways to grip the Gripper. It may take a little practice to find the right placement for you.
The placement I found most comfortable also was convenient for stealth vaping. I placed my thumb on the switch, my ring finger on the bottom cap and then wrapped my fingers around the mod. This left just the drip tip sticking up a bit past the side of my closed fist above my thumb knuckle.
My thumb is able to hit the button which operates smoothly and consistently. I haven’t experienced any sort of misfires or irregularities. The device is downright consistant.
While it lacks an on/off switch, I still had no problems sticking the Gripper in my pocket and toting it around. If you’re a little less foolhardy than I (and you should be), loosen the carto a turn or two before pocketing to be safe.
The easy to carry nature of the device puts it on the short list of take and go mods for me. The one think keeping me from using this as my go-to portable mod is I am limited to the e-liquid capacity of the mega cartomizer. Choosing the SD Keychain (key ring?) with a 3.5ml carto tank or the diminutive Vapage V-MOD gives me a little more e-liquid run time (but less battery time).
The 18350 IMR batteries are rated at 800mAh which should get ligher users through the better part of a day (if not more). I’m a very heavy user, so I can count on around 4 hours or so of use.
Naturally when it comes to mechanical, or semi-mechanical mods like the Gripper, performance tends to rely mostly on the battery and cartomizer combination in use. The 1.7Ω cartomizer and IMR battery make the mod a very good performing unit.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
The MadVapes Gripper mod is a very inexpensive and very compact e-cigarette mod. The device features a unique double barrel design that keeps the profile low. Coupled with the right atomizer and 18350 battery, the Gripper is a tiny powerhouse. While it’s billed as a disposable mod, perhaps calling it a budget model would be better. Even though it is built to be inexpensive, the Gripper has a good, solid feel to it. You can get your own copy at MadVapes.
- Very inexpensive
- Nice feel to the finish
- Fairly solid construction
- Reliable performance
- Compact profile
- Very limited cartomizers are compatible
- Over tightening cartomizers can damage unit
- Kind of tricky finding a good gripping method
- Some minor flaws such as poor gap tolerances in seam
Product Name: Gripper
Available From: MadVapes
Battery: 16340 protected (also works with some 18350s such as IMR flat-top)