Last Updated on February 5, 2018 by Team Spinfuel

Think Vape is a name that I’ve often connected to DNA mods, so when the non-DNA, 230-watt Think Vape Ruger box mod arrived on my desk, I was surprised to see an all-new chipset advertised on the box. I was also surprised to see the bold design and control scheme choices the company made.

The Ruger is bound to be a highly polarizing device, both visually and with its oddball joystick operations. Let’s take a closer look at Think Vape’s latest to see where we landed with the Ruger.

Think Vape Ruger 230W TC Box Mod Review - Spinfuel VAPE
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Initial impressions of the Think Vape Box Mod

In my preview, I indicated my first impression of the Ruger was a resounding “wow.” Well, that hasn’t changed, but for my personal preferences, the Ruger – at least in this stark yellow and black combination – isn’t the most attractive thing out there. Between the bumblebee/school bus color scheme, the oddball round display, and enough lines and cutouts to fill an art studio, the Ruger isn’t likely to be the belle of everyone’s ball.


(I will say some of the other, more subdued color options help improve the overall look. But the Ruger is clearly aimed at a different demographic than other Mods in this category.)


What the Ruger lacks in lipstick, it more than makes up for in durability. This highly compact, extremely durable, dual-18650 Mod looks and feels like it could survive a day being dragged behind a car without blinking. Everything on the surface on the Mod – from the clicky buttons, to the 510 connection, and even the joystick nub – all seem welded into place by artisan metal workers.


Yet, despite all this compact strength, the Think Vape Ruger is lightweight, and thoroughly vented in several places on the Mod, which I was thrilled to see. And it worked, because the Ruger never got hot to the touch, even at loftier wattages.


In my preview, I indicated that the battery door had some issues. However, in spending a few weeks with the Ruger, I’m happy to report the door stayed in place throughout, and never came loose with batteries installed. Strangely, it seemed more intact with batteries installed then without. I’ll leave the physics out of this review, but I’m just glad this issue sorted itself out quickly.


However, the leather-like skin on the rear of the Mod did start to peel with minimal use, which was disappointing. Again, the Ruger might be tough and durable, but the same can’t be said for its outer layers.


The circular display window seems really cool, at first – simply by virtue of being different. However, it doesn’t take long for users to realize that this cuts of a significant amount of visible screen space. I didn’t necessarily have trouble seeing the necessary information through the Ruger’s “porthole,” but it wasn’t a great use of real estate – especially since more space could have been dedicated to viewing area, had Think Vape decided to forego the LED light ring around the display.


Finally, that darn joystick. This is perhaps the most polarizing element of the Think Vape Ruger, because while it works BEAUTIFULLY with the control interface, it also sticks out well beyond where it should, to the point that it becomes uncomfortable in a pocket, and even more so in the palm.

Operating the Think Vape Ruger Box Mod

Like I mentioned already, the Ruger is extremely well-machined, and all operation buttons are firm, smooth, clicky and responsive. While my instincts were first screaming for standard up/down control buttons, the joystick nub soon became second nature. Mostly because the onboard operating system is one of the easiest, most user-friendly traditional menu systems to date.


Using a seamless combination of up, down and center press interactions, users can swiftly navigate the menu system, choose options, and get right to vaping. Even the most complicated TC adjustments can be done with one hand, once the user learns the system. It’s a refreshing take on an older system, and it’s implemented extremely well.


The proprietary ST230 chipset may not have the name recognition (or the exhaustive customization) of DNA Mods but Think Vape has found a highly functional alternative. Not only will this tiny dual-battery Mod hit 230 watts, but it also has a nice slate of temp control options, five TCR slots, bypass functionality and more. It’s not loaded with custom curve and preheat settings, but that’s probably by design – power first, everything else second…


On a physical level, the Ruger is either insanely compact and comfortable, or one of the least comfortable Mods you’ll own. It all depends on how you hold the device, and where that nagging joystick ends up. While I loved how the Ruger felt with the joystick facing out, it simply protrudes too much to consider using it any other way.


I’ve never had such a love/hate relationship with a button before, but the Ruger had my head spinning more than once.

Vaping the Think Vape Ruger Box Mod

In my preview, I indicated how surprised I was to like the Ruger so much, even with its obvious quirks. After a few weeks with the Mod, my opinion shifted a bit. While I still LOVED the Ruger’s performance from top to bottom, I simply didn’t enjoy USING it for extended periods.


The primary reason for this is that screen, which is bright, clear, and well laid out. It’s also utterly useless if you’re even on a slight angle, since the rounded screen edge create an optical illusion that blurs the display. Is it too much work to turn a Mod slightly? No. Is a round screen a big enough innovation to justify this effort? Also no.


In short, the display is an example of design-for-design’s-sake and serves no purpose other than to catch attention. It looks cool but won’t improve your experience one iota.


But, when it comes to performance, there are few Mods in this category that can keep up with the Think Vape Ruger. From flawless 230-watt power output, to beginner-friendly, laser-precise temperature control adjustments, the Ruger can handle every tank and dripper in your arsenal and make them sing.


I tried virtually every coil type, tank format, and vaping style with my testing, and other than a few underpowered draws for my MTL setups, the Ruger proved itself to be a worthy device for all of them.

Wrapping up, and Score...

Think Vape Ruger

Let’s be clear, I was mostly impressed by the Think Vape Ruger. But the awkwardness and discomfort that came from operating the Mod ultimately beat out my enjoyment of the chipset and sheer power. Maybe that’s just personal preference, but since I joined Spinfuel VAPE more than a year ago, I can’t remember a device that made me simultaneously smile and grimace as much as this one.


Would a more traditional three-button control scheme have helped? Probably. The same can be said for a standard rectangular display. I might be nitpicking, but as good as the Ruger’s performance turned out to be, I find myself passing on using it, because it’s so purposefully strange.

I have no doubt the Think Vape Ruger 2 could be a game-changing device, but the strange inaugural edition needed a little more time in the design booth before landing on vape shop shelves.


Score: B-