Dab Rig vs Dab Pen - The Ultimate Guide

What is a Dab Rig

Dab rigs are extremely popular glass setups that allow someone to smoke wax concentrates. Essentially, imagine a glass bong but for wax. Dab rigs had a chamber for water, a mouthpiece, and a ‘bowl’ or ‘nail’ to place the wax and apply heat to it. Some fancier dab rigs would also come equipped with additional features such as percolators much like a bong and they would function, ultimately, for the same purposes. Often, the heat source was a blowtorch or some other item that would be able to superheat a ‘domeless nail’ that wax was then applied to begin to ‘vaporize’ it. This was often done with a dabbing tool used to manipulate the wax to avoid getting sticky fingers. In this way dab rigs were certainly more technical than an average bong. 

What is a Dab Pen

A dab pen essentially is a vaporizer that uses wax. It performs all of the functions of a dab rig (i.e. vaporizes wax) in a different format and manner. In a dab pen, the three essential parts are the mouthpiece, the battery, and a heating chamber. The battery functions as the new heat source by electrically charging, and thereby heating, coils that sit within the heating chamber. These coils then begin to interact with the wax and slowly vaporize it in a similar manner that a heated dabbing nail would contact the wax and begin to vaporize it. Dab pens come in all different shapes, sizes, and with a variety of features available to appeal to anybody.

Dab Pen vs Dab Rig

Differences between Dab Pen and Dab Rig


A dab pen is going to be far more portable than even the smallest dab rigs. Not only is there a substantial size difference but the dab rig requires more and larger equipment to operate. In addition, the dab rig needs to be filled with water so as to avoid spillage in transit.


A dab pen is going to be much more discrete. Not only is it quieter (imagine the sound a bong makes – rigs are similar) but there is no need for a blowtorch or smoke. There is also the size difference that makes a dab pen more discrete.

Dab Nails versus Wax Coils

A dabbing nail is going to be made of a bunch of different possible materials such as glass, quartz, titanium, ceramic, etc. This is to ensure that the nail will not melt or shatter when it gets hot. A dab pen’s wax atomizer will be made primarily of quartz or ceramic for much the same reason. Keep in mind that these materials will have different heating and cooling times. For example, titanium and quartz will likely heat faster than ceramic. However, ceramic will take longer to cool down. Some dab pens have wick coils instead of quartz or ceramic and these are often used for more liquid-like waxes and found in older dab pen models.

Ease of Use

Certainly, a dab pen appears to be much easier to use than a dab rig. Between the different heating mechanisms, size differences, and requirements to operate (battery power v. blow torch and water) there is certainly a steeper learning curve for the dab rig.

Puff Size

Nothing will compare to the hits possible from the dab rig. Imagine trying to compare any other device to the sheer power of a bong for dry herbs. This is essentially the same comparison in the wax world. Not even the most powerful and expensive dab pens will produce a puff comparable to a powerful dab rig.

Glass Rigs are Fragile

Remembering that glass is breakable can sometimes prove harder than it seems at first glass. Dab pens are not indestructible, but dropping one on the floor is not likely to cause it to shatter. Even the hardiest glass models of dab rigs are in danger.

Electricity Dependent

Dab rigs, however, do not rely on electricity whereas a dab pen does. For example, in a California blackout, a dab pen user will be SOL when PG&E shuts off the lights. This plays out in any number of scenarios when the power is out (hurricane, blizzard, thunderstorm). However, a dab rig can coast through any number of blackouts happily with their wax in hand.

Dab Pen and Dab Rig Similarities

Similarities between a Dab Rig and Dab Pen

Both are for use with wax concentrates

Both are going to be used for wax concentrates. So, for wax enthusiasts, both are ideal choices for different reasons.

Both are Re-Usable

Neither needs disposal after a one-time use. This makes an investment in either quality glass or vape technology a critical decision to ensure getting the most out of either.

Varying Features

Both come in a variety of forms with tons of different features to appeal to a wide variety of wax enthusiasts. For example, different wax pens will have things like temperature/wattage power controls, storage at the bottom of the vape for wax, or even battery power display options. Different kinds of dab rigs might feature thick glass for more safety, grips for better handling, or percolators for a smoother, tastier hit. All told, there are so many different options between the two that a thorough examination of the options available cannot be made in any one article.

Available at All Price Ranges

From the cheapest to most expensive, dab rigs and dab pens come in all sorts of options to appeal to everyone. There isn’t a dag rig or dab pen that is out of reach for all people.

Should I Buy a Dab Pen or Dab Rig?

Should I Buy a Dab Pen or Rig

At the end of the day, the most important consideration anyone can make is their own preferences. There is certainly a dab rig or dab pen for everyone – but that doesn’t mean that any individual dab rig or dab pen will appeal to everyone. Some people are going to favor something more portable. Other individuals are going to be looking for something more powerful. While others just need something simple and easy to operate in a discrete, concealed manner because they prefer not to draw attention to themselves in their recreation. However, there are some general tips to help guide a purchase.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to think about the types of use that the dab rig or dab pen is going to be put through. Will it be needed on the go? Or is this a type of recreational activity preferably done only at home? More importantly, how many times a year is it going to be moved or need to be moved? This can help decide between the portability of a dab pen or dab rig.

Another potential thought is whether or not power is more important of a consideration. Again, dab rigs are certainly going to produce the most powerful hits and largest clouds when exhaled. For some, this is super important. Any dab rig loyalist can tell you that a dab rig is not remotely touched by its dab pen competition on the power market. However, some people simply prefer a smoother, smaller hit of wax. Particularly given the power disparity between herb and wax.

Lastly, another thing to think about generally is how committed to wax someone might be. There are starter dab rigs and dab pens alike, however, a dab pen is going to come equipped with a battery charger and other items necessary. A dab rig, however, needs a blow torch and other supplementals. To avoid the use of a blow torch, you can buy an E-Nail. For a beginner to wax, this can be overwhelming and could be decisive.

Where Should I Buy Dab Rigs or Dab Pens

Where to Buy Dab Pens, Rigs and Dabbing Tools

Dab pens, rigs, and all the dabbing accessories needed for a great time can be found in multiple locations. Most smoke shops will stock a couple common as well as higher end dab rigs or dab pens. One great place to look for a wide variety of high-quality, reliable dabbing stuff and materials is nyvapeshop.com. Remember, all purchase orders shipped within the USA is always FREE!

Related Blog Posts

The Ultimate Guide for Dabbing Shatter or Wax

Vaping vs Dabbing vs Smoking - Key Differences

What Are Domeless Nails and Why Are Dab Rigs Used With Them

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