In the fast-paced world of vaping hardware it is not uncommon for a device to be more-or-less obsolete within months. Technology moves so fast that there is always a newer and better product just around the corner. However one device is proving to be a huge exception to that general rule – the ever-popular Billet Box.
US company Billet Box Vapor released the original Billet Box in 2013 in what was to become one of the industry’s first boutique devices. At a time when most vapers were content to use some variant of an eGo pen which could cost £40 or less, here was a product with a price tag of around £200. It didn’t take long for this device to get noticed by a group of particularly dedicated enthusiasts and they absolutely loved it.
The 2013 edition, known as the Rev 1.1, had a variable voltage dial, a 6.5ml cartomiser tank and was powered by two 16340 batteries. If none of that terminology is familiar to you, it’s okay, since most of these things have gone the way of the dodo in the vaping industry.
By 2016, the Billet Box Rev 4 had started production. The newer model featured a DNA chipset, had a more open-ended “Boro tank” and was powered by a single 18650 cell. This was a total modernisation of the Billet, allowing finer power adjustment and superior battery life. The new Boro tank design also made it easier for third parties to design new device-compatible atomisers.
For about two years, the Rev 4 maintained its cult following, with countless custom panels, buttons and drip tips made, almost universally by individual craftsmen, rather than established modding companies. Occasionally, a new stock coil bridge or RBA would be released but generally speaking, they were niche products, for a niche audience.
Then, something changed in 2019. Perhaps it was the rise of the pod system, or maybe the “high end” community simply had its fill of boutique squonk mods, but suddenly there was a huge demand for small, regulated devices. The Billet Box fit the bill perfectly. Even though the Rev4 was several years old at this stage, the DNA60 chipset is still considered one of the best on the market and a single 18650 cell is ideal for the low-mid wattage atomisers that remain popular with enthusiasts.
In a matter of months, Odis Designs, Mission.XV, Haku Engineering, WICK’D and Ground Kloud Innovations all announced their new Billet Box compatible RBAs. Then we saw new Boro tank compatible mods announced from Sunbox, BMM and Friendly Flipper. Recently, we’ve even seen bridge compatible 510 tanks from the likes of Limelight Mechanics.
When a significant number of small companies, with limited resources, are all designing products compatible with a single platform, it’s because that platform is hugely popular. The result of this design frenzy is that the Billet Box is now perhaps the most customisable vaping device ever made and can utilise some of the best atomisers on the market. From doors, to buttons, to tips, condensation plugs and even custom-coated screws that hold the device together, there’s virtually no limit to how much you can personalise a Billet Box. There’s also seemingly no limit to how much you can spend doing so.
There are entire communities on Facebook, which link creators with consumers and allow them to show off their most recent modifications. The most prominent is Billet Box Bay and many were happy to share their stories with Vapouround.
Jenn Schiavo said she had always wanted a Billet Box and it is now the only device she uses. She said: “This is an amazing device with a huge variety of customisation. If you can dream it, one if the amazing modders can and will make it happen.”
Billet Box fan Jordan Blake said: “I started about six months ago because I was tired of pod systems and wanted a compact form factor, with power and versatility. Now I have four Billets, one SunBox, and a different RBA in each one. I love all the variety. I never even coiled or wicked my own build before the BB. But the community helped made me take the plunge.”
Billet Box Bay member Dan Brown said: “I said no more switching between pod systems, I’m gonna go back to rebuildable. BB had an 18650 to last all day and I remembered the portability, so I snagged a 2018 Paua Rat Billet Box and an Atmizoo Vape Shell. It was such a great vape that I bought a second and haven’t looked back. I now have four Xetas, the same two Billets from 2018 and a 3rd on the way.”
The huge uptick in Billet Box popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by mainstream manufacturers, either. Devices such as the Aspire Mulus, Smok Fetch Pro, DotAIO and Mechlyfe Ratel XS all borrow design cues from the BB, to a lesser or greater extent. In my view, the Billet Box is here to stay as long as vaping is around and has written the blueprint for all AIO devices going forward.
Find this article and many more like it in the latest issue of Vapouround Magazine: www.vapouround.co.uk/issues/
From left to right, images provided by Jenn Schiavo and Courtney Mather.