Why are cr123's so popular in higher end lights?

I’ve noticed recently that in higher end lights such as surefire and foursevens, they use cr123’s the most. I mean, I just went to the foursevens website, and clicked on the 18650 battery type sorter, they have only TWO lights that use 18650’s. Yet they have 24 lights that use cr123’s. It just doesn’t make sense, they’ll use 2 or 4 cr123’s instead of 1 or 2 18650’s, when 18650’s have much higher capacities for the same space. And theres a much bigger market for 18650’s also, I’ve only seen 2 or 3 different rcr123 brands, yet know more than 10 18650 brands! I thought maybe, because it seems like these higher end companies produce more weapons lights, they want shorter and lighter lights. But cr123’s aren’t that much shorter than 18650’s. Maybe I’m just missing something here. Anyone have any ideas?

You can’t generally get 18650’s in the local stores, Surefire started the CR123 crazy and some companies are just following in their footsteps.

For a primary batteries it is hard to beat CR123’s. For flashaholics it’s easy to get 18650’s and to know how to test and look after them. Most lights are targeted toward the general public however.

A certain bag I have in the corner of my closet has a package full of CR123’s. In a SHTF situation it’s better to have 10 primaries on hand instead of 1 rechargeable.

But I think you’re right when it comes to duty lights and the sort. RCR123/18650’s should be the standard for anyone who uses a light every day. Any clue what cops usually use? They can’t be using primaries, can they?

Yep. Primaries.

Yes they use primaries unless they bought their own light and have some technical know-how.

I know at least one cop that is using 18650’s, because i have ordered them for him.
He is using an Ultrafire 501B with a 5-mode Q5 drop in and Trustfire 2400mAh 18650 protected batteries for about 3 jears now, and it still works perfectly.
The anodisation of the flashlight is almost gone, because the 501B is used almost every day.

Cheap DX flaslights can be very reliable :wink: .

The biggest reason might be CR123s were a relatively easy/early path to more watts (lithium, more volts, more volts in series) with added dependability in heat/cold/life/etc.

No recharging has made primaries safer to deploy without training (perhaps budgets haven’t been tight enough).

Form factor allowed for small, bright weapon lights. Interchangeability with weapon lights has probably helped, even beyond just image/reputation.

We’ve been (re)equipping folks here as follows:

Fenix TK15
XTAR MP1s charger
XTAR 3100mAh 18650
Generic DX button clasp holster

Sometimes an LD12 as simple backup.

Power density is why Lithium chemistries are preferred in general. 2xCR123 will give you a lot of power per unit volume on a duty belt or firearm.

US armed forces readily supply troops with CR123 primaries, and have been for a very long time. So that has become almost a kind of standard across the industry, at least in the states. The 18650 has never really caught on in that market segment. I am guessing that most don’t want to hassle with charging and managing cells. Which makes sense, when you’ve got IEDs, incoming fire and just basic survival + protecting life as a higher priority its just easier to discard and reload cells every evening at base camp.

Anybody that uses a multiple CR123 primary cell anything deserves the flaming disaster/explosion that will eventually befall them…

You know of any LEO’s that this has happened to? Most use quality CR123’s and I haven’t seen much about it except the fabled Roar of the Pelican thread from several years ago at CPF
I think with standard issue (i.e. not customized) Surefires, etc, the Cr123 is pretty foolproof. I know none of my cop friends worry about it.

With no recharging and only fresh cells going into the tube, the remaining issue is using a manufacturer who has known quality control (e.g. top US products)

This thread talks about exploding lights in law enforcement. They blame it on fake Chinese cells, but it can happen with name brand, top-of-the-line ones: Exploding fake CR123A's

I do know of a guy that just about blew his dick off with one. He had it switched on, put it in his pocket to pick up a box, and blammo! Probably one of the cells was defective. A very common problem is when somebody changes the batteries and gets a used cell mixed up with the new ones. Primary CR123’s can be realy nasty creatures when abused.

Frankly, I don’t use any multi-lithium-cell devices of any kind unless there is a proper battery management/protection circuit that monitors each cell group. If you have to do otherwise, LiFePO4 is a much safer chemistry.

I've never used them. But my son asked me to suggest a flashlight at his new place. Wanted something for emergency/household use, nothing expensive. I don't trust him to do everything I've learned (here) to do to maintain Li-Ion cells, so I've chosen a couple of inexpensive options for him:

CitiPower G7 AA Zoomie - Does fine on primaries, Eneloops or 14500s
Ultrafire WF-501b - 18650 or 2 x CR123A

I was shocked tonight when I went to Walgreens and the CR123's cost almost $14. Apiece!

Energizer 1.5v lithium AA batts are typically about $2.50 each so I look to beat that with 123s. I bought 4 very fresh Surefires at Lowes or HD the other day . . they were about $2 each with 10% discount “(regular price is 2 for $4.50)”:http://www.lowes.com/pd_190642-69074-SF2-CB_0?productId=1054377&Ntt=surefire&pl=1&currentURL=&facetInfo= . Over the last month I’ve seen online sales for $15 to $20 for a pack of 12 Surefires . . so now I’m looking for a similar deal for some more to split with my son.

I’d only buy top line US brands (see reviews on CPF) for a 2* setup and would only put used cells in single cell lights if they still have juice left. My UF G4MCU is pulling 6v@2.2A which is a LOT of watts - not to be ignored.

Energizer Lithium AA’s are cheap at sam’s club. You can get a pack of 12 for $18, it was something like that, where they were only like a buck fitty for each one. My dad pretty much only uses those over regular alkaline aa’s now because they just have so much power in them, and they never leak, and last forever(holding charge).

Thanks! $20 for 12 or ~$1.75 each online . . we have a Sam’s Club card from a friend who is a business member, but we almost never go there. I’ll have to pick up a pack for our AA lights if my son will split some of those, too . . I mostly use NiMHs for AA, but would be good to also have some of these on hand.

My favorite thing about them is that they are still 1.5v unlike rechargeables, which is useful for lights like the Sipiksk68, going from nimh to aa lithium makes a huge difference! Wish I had some to put in things like remotes and mice, because alkalines in those usually only last a year or so.

Have you seen the data sheet for them? Really interesting graphs, like how they hold their voltage and capacity in high drain applications compared to alkalines.

Yeah, I’ve seen it many times. The L91s look to have much better draw max than NiMhs and higher capacity if I’ve read it correctly, since I’ve not tested them. While the long-term cost on the rechargeables is better, it makes sense to keep some of these primaries handy (with adapters for other sizes too).

If I’ve read the tables correctly, the L91 capacity is similar to the best 123s when measuring comparable watts and not just draw.

CR123s with 3v at similar draw is double watts so 123 lights are usually brighter on high and it looks like they can still be throttled back for less lumens and longer run time to match the L91s. At similar cost for a dozen, they still seem like good value (as primaries go).

I have to say… I have a UF WF-501a running a generic 4.7v max 5-mode XML T6 that came with my 502b. Very poor performance from a single (cheap bulk buy Panasonic from amazon) cr123a 3v, which I imagine can be expected. Today I received my first set of 16340 Li-ions (MF supplied TF Flame 880mAh), and it turned that above mentioned setup into a freaking POWERHOUSE pocket rocket, almost as bright as my SolarForce L2T custom assembly with a MF UF 3-mode XML with a TF Flame 18650, and I imagine it will be JUST as bright once I get the next MF UF 3-mode in the mail and stuff it in the 501a.

Incidentally, I also ordered a SF L2m battery tube and an extra HAIII head (already have an extra tailcap - dig the forward clikie/momentary-on option), because I’m so excited about the single cr123a sized torch option.

BetweenRides mentioned they recommended to their son an UF WF-501B, suggesting it can run on two primary CR123as. For primaries that would be pushing a good 6v on a couple of fully charged cells, which is well over max for most the drop-ins included with your average 501B. I have a UF Q5 (whatever the LED might be) that is single mode and runs a higher voltage range than can handle the 6v, but still not as bright as a single 18650.

I would love to have at least one light that performs as impressively on CR123as, but I think I’d have to get a high-range, low-voltage drop-in for that. Any recommendations? E1320 once recommended one of the SolarForce low voltage XM-L (I think) drop-ins for this reason, also suggesting full brightness potential at lower voltages. Thoughts?

I am a little leary of >single cell combinations since I’m still pretty much a noob, but ran a couple Streamlight CR123as in a Streamlight TRL-1 for a long time and it was awesome. Other than that, I had some Smith&Wesson Xenon tactical torch that had ran x2 CR123a and it was fine - but is sure dull and obsolete now that I’ve discovered this place.

Anyway… I assume all these military and police outlets for CR123as issue torches that run 6v+ min. But the drop-ins in those torches are obviously regulated for a higher voltage, but almost always seem to perform less impressively than some of these new XM-L drop ins on 4.7 volts. Can someone enlighten me on this a bit? Is it all about regulation? A friend has a Surefire scout on his M-4, and we both thought that thing was bright until I started getting into the Chinese lights and set-ups. LOL. But I have no idea what that thing is running in it’s innards, aside from requiring X2 CR123 batteries (6v).

I agree that in a SHTF situation, rechargeables may become pointless very quickly, and primaries will be more available. What would be the best (performing/run-time) drop-in option for single or double CR123s config?