Unfortunately the very best crimping I have ever seen came from hot irons. Yes, braids created on white or damp hair, when braided tight enough on small section of hair can create a type of crimp, it is not the type of crimp you get with hot crimping irons.
I have a hot iron with a crimping plate and I rarely use it because it make my hair feel very dry from the heat. However, I will say, when I do use it, my hair looks amazing and I get tons of compliments.
I guess you have to decide whether it's worth the risk to "cheat" a big with a hot iron to achieve the hard core crimped results.