There’s a lot to cover, so as much as I like writing introductions, I’ll jump straight into the review.
The Pioneer 1.5 is a 22mm DL/RDL/MTL RTA, with slide top-fill, and 3.2ml juice capacity.
What do you get?
Pioneer 1.5 RTA (fitted with MTL positive post, and 0.8mm airflow pin.
DL positive post + DL positive contact
1.0mm, 1.2mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm and 2.9mm airflow pins
1×28g Ni70 MTL coil
1×28g 2+40g RDL coil
1×26g 2+40g DL coil
This is a very different package from the original Pioneer MTL RTA, while the original gave a lot of cosmetic accessories (three different tanks and matching drip-tips) the 1.5 gives you a lot of accessories designed to tweak the way the RTA performs, but apart from the DL drip-tip, nothing that changes how the RTA looks.
My first thoughts on the 1.5 were that it looks almost identical to the original, apart from a different drip-tip design and some knurling on the airflow control ring, it’s all the same.
However, appearances can be deceptive – and the 1.5 has a few functional differences from the original.
Slide fill - unlike the original’s bayonet style top-cap, the 1.5 has a slide-fill system. This is a nice improvement, when the top-cap is fully screwed on, the slide mechanism is locked in place, rotate it a tiny amount and you can slide open, and then secure it by rotating the top-cap back to the original position.
Airflow control ring - with the original, the airflow control ring was really tight and hard to adjust, I had to remove the RTA from the mod to do it. The 1.5 has no such issues, airflow is adjustable while the RTA is on the mod.
One thing they didn’t fix
Screwing the tank into the base was awkward on the original, and it’s still awkward on the 1.5, Try and force it and you’re going to cross the threads. On the original, I found the easiest way was to push the tank onto the base, almost as if it was press-fit, and then tighten it up. On the 1.5, the easiest way is to align everything, and then rotate the tank backwards, feel it drop into place and then screw it up, while not applying much pressure. Either way, it’s not a deal breaking, but still slightly annoying.
Firstly, a complaint. Everything on this RTA is tiny and fiddly, the deck screws, the condenser screw, the screws for the chimney – all tiny. It doesn’t make setting up this RTA impossible, it just adds an element of annoyance, especially for people like me with awful eyesight.
Putting the coil in, is almost the same as with the original Pioneer RTA – slightly bend your coil legs to clear the condenser, slide the coil into the posts, tighten, center and align and you’re done. This is slightly easier on the 1.5 as there is a small channel to rest your coiling rod in.
Wicking is slightly different, as there’s now a raised deck. With the original, you wicked it almost like an RDA, but with the 1.5 you’re feeding the wick through wicking slots. No matter, it’s still really easy to do. With MTL builds, it doesn’t seem to matter how long the wicks are, I tried them cut in line with the base, I tried them longer – it all works. With a restricted DL build, I was a little more careful, wick cut no longer than the outside of the base, with some fluffing/thinning and the tips of the wick, carefully placed into the slots, rather than stuffed in as far as they will go.
How does it perform?
So far, I’ve tried three builds:
- Traditional MTL
28g round wire, 2.5mm 1.05ohms. With the 1.2 or 1.5mm pin, his build performs exactly the same as it does in the original Pioneer MTL RTA – sharp, clear flavor – nice throat hit, use the MTL airflow holes at 10-15w and it’s a really nice tight MTL vape.
- Loose MTL
30g MTL fused clapton, 2.5mm 0.6ohms. This was a little warm with the 1.5 airflow pin, so I swapped it out for the 2.0mm pin. Running it with the DL slot about 2/3 open, at about 20-25w seemed to be the sweet spot. This is the sort of build that the original Pioneer struggled with due to heat issues, but the 1.5 deals with it well. The flavor was stronger, but not quite as sharp as with the previous build – overall, it is a very nice loose MTL vape.
- Restricted DL
27g dual core fused clapton, 2.5mm 0.25ohms. For this build, I put in the DL post which is equivalent to 4mm airflow, I removed the chamber condenser, put in the tobacco/DL chimney, and opened the airflow fully. First thing that I noticed, was that the DL drip-tip isn’t suitable, the inner bore is just too narrow. So, with the drip-tip swapped out, I started it at 25w – and the flavor was top-class, so I bumped it up to 30w – the flavor was even better. 35w? Still a great vape, no heat issues – however, at this point my wicking was starting to fall behind. I should note that despite everything being as open as possible, this was still very much a restricted DL vape, not DL.
You could probably fit a chunky 3.0mm coil in this RTA, however while the wicking slots are very good for 2.5mm MTL builds, I can’t see them allowing the sort of juice flow that a chunky coil at 40w+ would require.
- Chamber condenser
Maybe, this isn’t the case with other juices, but with all the builds, and juices that I tried (tobacco, fruit and RY4), I noticed zero benefits from removing the condenser.
- Tobacco/DTL chimney
With the round wire MTL build, I tried both chimneys and the results were strange. Using a tobacco juice with a tiny hint of apple, with the regular chimney, it was exactly as I expected – a slightly saturated vape, decent tobacco flavor and a slight apple flavor.
Once I put in the tobacco chimney, the apple was removed from the mix – the flavor I got was pure tobacco, but it was a much drier vape – no lack of flavor, just less saturation, far more like smoking an actual cigarette than with the regular chimney. I was also able to push the wattage a little more using this chimney.
- Airflow pins
While you can keep your build in place while swapping the pins, the fact that it loosens the positive post while doing so, means that you want to remove the tank and have a finger holding the post in place. It’s comparatively easy, but not as easy as the Berserker V3 with its push-to-fit pins.
This is a hard conclusion to write, because there are so many perspectives:
Personal perspective – I love this RTA, I loved the original, and this does most things the original does just as well, some things a little better, and then adds a lot of new stuff.
Upgrade from the original – if you loved the original and want to buy the 1.5 to vape in exactly the same way, there aren’t any performance increases, but because of the slide-fill and easier airflow adjustment, it’s a slight improvement.
Never used the Pioneer – this is a great MTL to RDL RTA, that covers a lot of different vaping styles really well.
New vapers – while the actual build is simple, there’s a lot of configurations to consider, and it’s a little fiddly.
The Pioneer V1.5 RTA was provided for the purposes of this review by Sourcemore, who also provided me with the discount code PIOV15 which will reduce the price from $49.99 to $34.19