KATO Square Box Clone Review

Kato Box Mod Review

KATO Box Mod Review

The KATO Square box mod is a top firing mechanical mod made by KATO, who is the same creator/modder out of Korea who is responsible for the Astro and Hammer mechanical mods. The authentic KATO Square box is available in 18500 and 18650 size, and for the 18650 version of this mod there were only 500 pieces made. The authentic KATO Square box retails for $235-$250 USD at select online retailers worldwide.

There has been much question and speculation as who makes the KATO Square box clones, and if the clones available at different online vendors (US and China) are the same. There are two confirmed manufacturers for the KATO Square box clone, Shenzhen Limwell Industrial, LTD, and Shenzhen Hot Technology also known as Hotcig.

The KATO Square box clone featured in this review is made by Limwell Industrial, and is available at Focalecig.com in both their US and China Warehouses, and retails for $59.00 USD.

Buy from USA Warehouse

Buy from Chinese Warhouse

Hotcig Kato mod vs FC Kato Clone

The basic differences between the clones made by Limwell and Hotcig can be found in the logos depth, and the construction of the fire switch. Limwell’s KATO Square clone is marketed and sold as a 1:1 replication, the engravings are considerably deeper than the Hotcig version, the fire switch is rounded from the top to the sides, and along the perimeter of the switch like the authentic. Whereas the Hotcig Kato clone’s engraving are more shallow than the Limwell clone, the fire switch has a flat right angle from the top to the side of switch, and it’s flat around the perimeter unlike the authentic.

Limwell’s clone comes standard in a hard blue zip case and Hotcig has three packaging options including; a hard clear plastic box, a basic black pouch, and a newly added hard blue zip case. In spite of these aesthetic differences all of the basic construction elements between the two clones are otherwise the same. Hotcig also offers a logoless version of the Kato Square box clone. *click on photos to view in full size*

Kato Box Mod Packaging

KATO SQUARE BOX SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Brand: Limwell Industrial, LTD
  • Material: 304 grade polished stainless steel frame and brushed aluminum main body
  • Type: mechanical mod (top firing)
  • Connection: 510 (adjustable)
  • Battery compatibility: 18650
  • Diameter: 23mm at 510 connection (top ring is 23.5mm)
  • Height: 100mm
  • Weight: 194 grams

Features:

  • Adjustable 510 connection (flathead screw driver needed)
  • Spring loaded fire button
  • Locking ring (not reverse threaded)
  • Battery vent holes

Package contents:

  • Kato Square Box mod
  • Hard blue zipper carrying case
  • Extra battery spring
  • Hex wrench (to disassemble frame)

BUILD QUALITY

The KATO Square box clone is as gorgeous and stunning to behold as the authentic made by Kato. The logo engravings on both sides of the mod are impeccably done with impressive depth and detail. In person the mod is also surprisingly hefty, yet also quite small for its 18650 battery configuration. To give a size comparison, it is the same height as the Stingray X mechanical mod in 18650 at the top of its frame although the side of the box mod with the switch adds additional height. The polished stainless frames at the top and bottom of the mod provides an attractive contrast to the brushed aluminum main body even as the polished accents are fingerprint magnets.

However, my KATO Square box clone did not arrive without its flaws. One immediate let down was the long and wobbly throw of the switch which brought down the otherwise high quality look and feel of the mod. The bottom frame of my mod was also assembled incorrectly with the battery vent holes sitting underneath the 510 connection as opposed to being underneath the battery side of the mod. The main body of the mod was also out of alignment with the base and had a minor gap between the base and body on one side while the other side sat flush.

In a huff to fix the flaws on the mod I began to disassemble to fix them prior to taking photos of the flaws, which I regret. However, I was able to photograph the fixes that I made for both the switch and the base frame which will be shown later in the review. The fixes are insanely simple to execute and should be helpful to anyone who incurs similar issues.

Kato Box Mod Clone engravings

In spite of the minor flaws in the assembly with the mod that I received, it is clear that Limwell Industrial absolutely nailed the overall 1:1 replication of the authentic KATO Square box by Kato. It is worth mentioning that the authentic KATO also has the same long throw to the switch. There is also a deeply engraved K on the top of the fire switch. Two hex screws on the top and bottom frames are used to secure the frames to the main body and the included hex wrench is used to disassemble and assemble the mod.

Kato collage 3

The top cap has deep and wide air flow channels that lead into to the 510 connection, so this mechanical is suitable for use with devices that receive its air from the 510 connection. The top cap has a brass adjustable contact however, the brass contact is not actually attached to the top cap, it is installed in the base of the device which you will see later in the review. For the brass contact you will need a flat head screwdriver to make the adjustments. The KATO Square box mod is 21x1mm threaded like the Astro and Hammer mods also made by Kato.

The spring loaded fire switch also has an adjustable negative battery contact at the center of the delrin insulator. There is a locking ring which is not reverse threaded. As I mentioned previously, the natural throw on the switch is rather long and wobbly out of the box. While you can shorten the throw by tightening down the negative contact, this also creates another problem. By tightening down the negative contact you will also reduce the degree of clearance of negative contact beyond the delrin insulator which will then prevent the mod from firing. But there is a simple fix that resolves this which I demonstrate later.

Kato Clone Connections

The switch breaks down into five pieces and is disassembled by unscrewing and removing the negative battery contact. In order to shorten the throw of the switch and to maintain the necessary contact clearance so that your mod will fire place a small o ring around the neck of the brass contact prior to assembly. The o ring should not be too big/thick otherwise it will cause auto firing. This simple fix can be used to mod the throw of just about any mechanical mod as I have done for countless mechanical mods over the last year.

The resulting switch throw is nice and short and all switch wobble is eliminated. As long as you do not install the spring too close to the center hole walls where the negative contact screws in, the switch action should be smooth. After I install the spring into the assembly I compress the switch to hold the assembly in place and then use a screwdriver to properly align the spring in center prior to screwing in the negative contact.

Kato switch assembly review

Now on to the base fix. The base on the KATO Square box that I received was actually assembled with a tiny gap between the bottom frame and the main body and with the battery vents holes on the wrong side. When I removed the bottom frame it appeared that the circular insulator installed at the middle of the bottom frame was the culprit of the gap. With the bottom frame removed you can also see the installation of the battery spring (extra spring included), and the long brass positive contact which is screwed into the bottom frame. This long brass positive contact extends up into the center of the top cap, to which it is not attached.

In order to take a slight bit of length off of that center insulator and to even up surface of it so that the bottom frame would screw on flat when reinstalled, I used a piece of 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand down the insulator. Being that the gap was minute I didn’t want to take too much off so that the insulator would still to have enough height to serve its purpose. Approximately 10 quick strokes across the sandpaper was all that was needed to reduce and even out the insulator.

I reinstalled the base, this time with the battery vent holes on the correct side of the mod, and the base now fit perfectly flush with the main body.

Kato collage 6

PERFORMANCE

While the 510 connecting top cap is 23mm and the top frames atomizer ring is 23.5mm, there is still the inability to fit a Taifun GT atomizer through the top ring, due to the knarled accents around the Taifun. In the photo demonstration below I have illustrated how the installation of a Taifun GT atomizer is still possible. You only need to to first install the base of the Taifun to the top cap first, then turn the Kato upside down and screw on the Taifun tank through the top ring and onto the pre-installed base … done.

In spite of the adjustable positive pin in the top cap, flush mounting certain atomizers may still be impossible. The positive contact only screws down but so far, and with an atomizer with only a 1mm protruding 510 pin I still could not flush mount it to the KATO. Due to the overall aesthetic of the mod this is not really a problem for me, as in this case I do not find that the slight gap between the atomizer and top cap takes away for the overall look of the set up. If you choose, you can sand down the top of the contact to reduce its length a bit and allow for greater adjustability.

The overall size of the KATO Square box is about the size of a pack of 100’s cigarettes (please forgive the comparison), so on one hand this makes for easy handling. However, having the fire switch on the top of the mod instead of the bottom or side of the mod takes some getting used to. Another consideration with regard to the handling of the KATO is the air hole placement of your atomizer after it is installed. With my Russian 91% the air hole ending up being exactly where my fingers/hand would be placed, so I kept cutting off the air flow to atomizer while using it with the Kato. However, with the Taifun GT it was the exact opposite and therefore not an issue.

Once modded the switch action is really nice and I like the instant connectivity between the switch, battery, and atomizer. I was unable to perform a voltage drop test because for whatever reason my 510 inline voltage meter could not get a read with the KATO in spite of making several adjustments. The inline voltage works just fine with every other mech and APV that I have used it with. So without any numbers to present, I can only go by feel and in my opinion the KATO Square box is not the hardest hitting mechanical. With a .7 build and freshly charged Samsung INR-20-R and LG HE2, I felt the KATO hit well enough to be acceptable, but is not what I would describe as a “hard hitting” mod. But I would also not describe it as a mod with huge voltage drop.

Kato Square Box Clone

OVERALL

For me, the true high points of the KATO Square box mod are its aesthetics. This is a simply gorgeous and very attractive mechanical mod. The KATO has some of the best engraving work that I have seen on a clone, and I am genuinely impressed by how well Limwell was able to pull off this aspect of the mod. In spite of some of the minor issues that I had, which had more to with assembly, than the quality of the parts of which this mod is comprised, I think the overall quality is good. When compared to the authentic KATO Square Box by Kato, this clone would be a challenge to tell apart from the authentic. The only difference I can find between them is in the knurling on the locking ring which is finer on the authentic. Both the authentic and the clone are made from 304 grade stainless steel and aluminum.

Kato Box Mod comparison

The KATO Square box overall performs nicely, but in my opinion this is a mod that you would buy more for its style, which is unique and stunning for a mechanical mod. This is also one of the most expensive mechanical mod clones presently available with prices ranging from $48 for the Hotcig clone variant and as high as $95.00 for the Limwell clone version on Ebay. Since the clones release to the market I have been of the opinion that the KATO Square box clone is overpriced. And knowing what Limwell’s wholesale pricing is for this clone ($25 more per piece than the average mechanical mod wholesale), this is a criticism which is aimed at the manufacturer, not so much the vendors who carry it.

When I consider a mechanical mod like the Stingray X, which is a little more complex and detailed in its design and construction elements (authentic and clone), I cannot justify the higher price tag of the KATO Square box clone. With the Stingray X you get a lot more by way of versatility, innovation, and performance for about $20+ less for the best clone of this mod which is made by Shenxingkang Technology (SXK).

So unless you are a collector who is simply looking for a beautiful addition to their vape gear collection , I would say that there are other mechanical mods on the market that can offer you a bit more, and at a lower price point than the KATO Square Box clone.

Kato final photo

Pro'sCon's

  • Impeccable engravings

  • Size/form factor

  • Unique aesthetic

  • Colletors item


  • Price point vs what you get

  • Wobbly switch

  • May need minor modifications

Buy a KATO Square Box Clone

Buy for $59.00 – USA warehouse, Same version reviewed, Ships from USA

Buy for $59.00 – Chinese warehouse, Same version reviewed, Ships from China

Buy for $69.99 – Ships from USA

Buy for $47.49 – Hotcig version, Ships from China

Search eBay for the KATO Square Mod

<p>Nicole Lea is a committed vape gear enthusiast of 3 years, who is dedicated to informing, educating, and guiding the vape community in this amazing world of electronic cigarettes.</p>

26 COMMENTS
  • Gary 10/06/2014

    AH, another great review, I had to laugh through a couple parts of your review being I have the Kato also, which I might say can be had right now for $62.99 plus flat rate shipping of $1.99 total cost $64.98 and this is where I bought mine and the shipping was fast and does come with the blue case and by comparing mine to your review it would be the Limwell thank you for that, this mod does have excellent engraving and before I forget this Kato can be found here with a C.C. of oct10, http://www.custommodcreation.com/shop/323/kato-square-box-style-mechanical-mod
    Some of the other things that cracked me up in your review was how your drum voltage didn’t work, mine didn’t either when I first got it and tested for drop, but one thing I’m certain of is your not as stupid as I can be at times, the reason mine didn’t work was because I didn’t put the battery in positive end in first..
    My voltage reading on a Orbitronic nipple top, charged to 4.11v drops to 4.07v with only the meter… By the way the nipple top battery I believe should not be your battery of choice, flat top allows the switch to screw all the way down.
    The other thing I thought was funny was just my recalling taking that bottom off the Kato and not noticing that there was a small round insulator, so when I went to put it back together I had some problems of course and could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong, so thank goodness for Kittys, I say them batting around something on the floor and I looked and sure enough there’s that insulator, good kittys.
    Once again great review, hey how about doing a review of the Istick and the fact that it won’t down regulate?
    I’m talking with Ismoka currently about how they advertised this device, have had some people scope it and there’s problems for sure and it’s trouble for the MVP but certainly not the killer.
    Thanks for the review Madam Excellence..!!

      • Gary 10/06/2014

        LMAOF, Ya I’m still kicking, matter of fact I had put the Kato aside after I got it and decided while reading your review to run a drop test, and well about that battery you kind of look at it like a mechanical with the switch at the bottom or putting the battery in a mechanical thru the switch end, if you look at the Kato and think about it you see the logic, so it’s definitely positive in first, surprised your getting so much bogus info actually.
        Matter of fact I did put it in wrong when I first got it, I think I mentioned, couldn’t get a voltage read either, so got to thinking, yep again and thought well heck it’s just a kinda upside down mechanical, so trust me..LOL
        I wouldn’t want anything to happen to the best reviewer I’ve seen yet…LOL
        Ya the good kitty Wally his my finder of all things vape related, like RDA screws, firing pins, O rings.. He’s darn good, I’ll lose something and all I have to do is wait a bit and Wally or my girl Mia will find them, saw Wally walk by a bit ago with that damn O ring I couldn’t find for the Vulcan, changing those leakers out and lost the one I was replacing with, thanks Wally…. LOL Hanging out of his mouth.
        Got a message this morning for Phil B, asked him to scope the Istick and he said,

        Going to get to it right after the Sigelei 100 which I’m using now. So soon!!

        -Phil Busardo

        Need some hard statistics, been talking to Ismoka and oh boy, definitely lost in translation, but they have a problem with their chip set similar to when the DNA20 came out, will not down regulate, and that’s a fact.. It’s been scoped by some guys over at your other hang out the VUGF, and this Istick is all over the place PWM real jumpy and harsh, real bummer, I bought two, stupid of me frankly, now curious what Innokin will put out, I’m sure Ismoka has gotten their attention, definitely caught Innokin MVP team asleep at the wheel, but the device is flawed IMO and test equipment..LOL
        Heck I should just send you one of mine, as far as I’m concerned besides being really ergonomic and pretty they are only for high volt, high ohm or maybe the new BVC coils since they can handle 4.2v pretty good, other than that I think their a POS,
        I like to vape my juice on a 1.5ohm Aspire at 3.8v when out and about usually on the MVP and you just can’t do it with the Istick burnt juice and wick when it’s fully charged at 4.2v, you have to wait until the battery is down to about 3.6v then up regulate, so that leaves you about 1200maH battery left or half a meter bar, just no good. Advertised as variable voltage, me thinks not.. in the true sense anyhow.

  • Gary 10/06/2014

    No not a stellar endorsement at all sadly, had really hoped, on one level, this would be the MVP killer as many had thought, they made some very stupid chip decisions identical to what happened with the DNA20 debut and yes it’s PWM, I have been in contact with China, this is the goofy reply I was sent by one of Ismoka’s people, really made me laugh actually but not really a bad description of how a Chinese person thinks I need PWM explained to me,…LOL
    Note reference to a normal battery..??

    Dear Gary,
    Thanks for your email to us and sorry to bring you such inconvenience.
    I have checked your problem with our engineers, for the voltage, we use the latest technology in iStick.
    When you turn down the voltage, the normal battery can drop voltage directly.
    While in iStick, the battery will increase the voltage firstly then drop it in order to make a more steady output.
    Put simply, when you take a lift on eighth floor , you can go down to sixth floor directly(like normal battery),
    while you should take the lift to 12th floor then down to sixth floor( like iStick)
    Hope this can be help, if any confusion, please tell us freely. (Oh you can count on it)

    Best wishes
    Ivy-Eleaf service

    So yep I guess it be PWM and you know a fella did a heck of a job here and explains what’s going on real well and no elevators needed, http://vapingunderground.com/threads/eleaf-istick-compact-20w-box-mod.17063/page-8
    The fellas work is about half way down the page and has been very helpful to me with correspondence to Ismoka engineers, I think they thought no one would notice,
    I figured while I was in China I asked about buying a boat load of the ego/510 adapters they send with the unit, they are hands down the best, cleanest, stylish adapters I’ve ever seen and I think it would be a good investment, makes the started ego/510 adapter look stupid and the only one that I’ve found that even comes close to it is made by Cisco and is sold at Avid Vaper for $10…????? Yikees these then would be worth $15… maybe if your vaping more green than amber..

      • Gary 10/07/2014

        Agreed for sure Nicole, Provari is just up the street, don’t own one but from what I’m told their chip is a DC and that’s what makes them so good apparently,
        Did you get enough nerve to try my battery suggestion on the Kato?☺LOL
        Oh by the way I got those hybrid adapters for the Stingray with the insulator & first thing that happened was tube got hotter than hell so threw it out the window & nearly hit my neighbor, he didn’t know what it was and went and picked it up & yelped a bit of WTFs a few times, I think my switch stuck, insulator goes down bat side right?
        Friend is trying to convince me that insulator faces up towards atty I don’t think so??
        Well back to my vaping donuts on a zenith,
        Dennis aka the Fatdaddy sent me some of his ceramic coils awhile ago.
        Don’t know if your familiar with Fatdaddy but a cool guy for sure and made a very interesting coil so will be giving them a vape, he’s also a good source for parts, upgrades, magnets etc.

          • G... 10/07/2014

            Yep, my go to guy a lot, Oh found something by Vapor Royalty
            HCigar Kato Square Box Mod Clone – Vape Royalty
            http://www.vaperoyalty.com/hcigar-kato-square-box-mod/
            The Kato Square Box Mod clone by HCigar is a very unique mod and is gaurenteed to catch … Always Insert the Positive Side of the Battery into the tube FIRST! LOL
            When I first installed my battery I put negative in first like I was putting a battery in a mechanical through the top cap, and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get my volt meter to work, so I looked at it and realized that the firing button is just like the firing button on a mechanical just on top of the Kato so flipped it and positive in first screw on switch and wah La voltage.. and surprisingly I had no thermal runaway, that was a thought after the fact, One thing is I don’t ever test a mod without my voltage meter installed first always before ever screwing down a cap or switch, I’ve had them fire hot straight out of the gate and if I wasn’t paying attention and just set it down, well mad news but that’s why when I put in the battery backwards on the Kato I didn’t get any thermal problems, never fired it long enough, just saw no power so stopped.

          • G 10/07/2014

            Somethings wrong with your Kato! Maybe reassemble? I realized that spring was tricky and I had to stretch it a bit and some firing issues myself, intermittent, fire sometimes and then nothing, mine issue was that spring, maybe why they sent two?

          • g 10/07/2014

            Bye the way that’s why I mentioned using flat top only because of that spring and it has to make absolute direct contact with a button top to fire, eventually my plan when time allows is to remove the spring and tap and thread a copper pin for positive contact, poor idea using a spring since that contact bar flexes and solid contact wouldn’t have hurt any?? Switch as you know is shaky, I ran the delrin on my belt sander took of 1mm and it’s tight now, the other issue was that long contact, may need to adjust up to nearly the bottom of the threads not to far or it will come apart, and my drum inline 510 is 4.6mm so I measured down and checked the measurement in my Kato and I have it at 4.5mm I vape a clearomizrer with the drum meter attached and sure makes people wonder what it is.

          • G 10/08/2014

            I’m sorry I didn’t mean to sound seemingly insulting, just thoughts, I apologize if I sounded as if..?

  • Gary 10/06/2014

    Bye the way got an email this morning from Phil Busardo and he’s going to scope this device also soon,

    Hi Gary,

    Going to get to it right after the Sigelei 100 which I’m using now. So soon!!

    -Phil Busardo

    Taste in juice and devices is subjective! Whatever works to keep you off tobacco cigarettes is the best juice or device out there!
    Use any electronic cigarette product at your own risk!

    Removed his links,
    Might not want to post this..!!! Competition perhaps

  • Paul (Nailz) 10/06/2014

    Great detailed review 🙂

    Must say I think this is a awesome looking device, but it is not something I will bother with, that top firing switch is a no no for me, and also if going to spend that sort of money on a clone, I wouldn’t expect to have to fix things out of the box, but can see why it really appeals to some though.

  • Tam Semreh 10/07/2014

    Another awesome review, I have always liked the look of the Kato Square. With the price point of the clone I may have to try one out. Keep up the great reviews Nicole, Matt

  • sage 11/11/2014

    Thanks for your review!

  • Tom P 01/23/2015

    Pricing is down to $32.50 and just ordered two. Thanks for the review.

  • Dave Gozal 01/28/2015

    I have it from ‘the horse’s mouth’ that the battery goes in + down, amazingly many reviewers (including Mr Todd) got it wrong and so we all did too..oh well, no harm done-I hope! Nice review again.

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