KATO Square Box Clone 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.
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 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
- Adjustable 510 connection (flathead screw driver needed)
- Spring loaded fire button
- Locking ring (not reverse threaded)
- Battery vent holes
- Kato Square Box mod
- Hard blue zipper carrying case
- Extra battery spring
- Hex wrench (to disassemble frame)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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