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Thread: Surefire explosion

  1. #1

    Default Surefire explosion

    While on Arfcom I found this thread... http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=951360.

    I had no idea a leaking battery could do so much damage.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Good find! I'm going to move it to the "Smoke & Fire" section.
    Resistance is futile...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I wouldn't be sticking my fingers all in it

    (Lots of exploding battery stories here on cpf fyi)
    TK40 Round-Up Thread - very image intensive!

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* DaFABRICATA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    MAN!
    Glad he was ok..

    Very well documented.
    Flashlight Modifications available upon request
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  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Tekno_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Looks like the batteries turned it into a mini rocket. (kind of like knocking the valve off a gas canister)

    To give testament to the quality of the light, I bet if you stuck a new tailcap on, and a new lamp in that light, it would work just fine
    Due to my current schedule being pretty darn hectic, I will not be accepting new modding projects until things settle down.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Beamhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I/m glad no one was hurt and I hope that they didn't inhale any thing nasty.
    LOL at some of the posts........."If you go over to Candlepowerforums (the flashlight geeks) and check there, you'll find some more stories. In fact I'd reccomend the OP go over there and register just to tell his story and show the pictures, they'll be fascinated. "
    ......."Post this over at candlepower forums and it will go 800 pages."........
    Quando Omni Flunkis Moritati

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Crenshaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion




    Quote Originally Posted by Beamhead View Post
    I/m glad no one was hurt and I hope that they didn't inhale any thing nasty.
    LOL at some of the posts........."If you go over to Candlepowerforums (the flashlight geeks) and check there, you'll find some more stories. In fact I'd reccomend the OP go over there and register just to tell his story and show the pictures, they'll be fascinated. "
    ......."Post this over at candlepower forums and it will go 800 pages."........
    And he is going to post here, and then get locked because "there is already a thread on it"



    Crenshaw

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Beamhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Yet another testament buttressing my "single cell light only" policy.
    Quando Omni Flunkis Moritati

  9. #9
    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
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    Str Re: Surefire explosion

    *Staring at my M3 nerviously*

  10. #10
    Administrator Size15's's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Illum View Post
    *Staring at my M3 nerviously*
    Why?
    You keep it locked out right?
    The batteries are only a few months old even if they are partially used?

    SureFire gets its SF123A from the only CR123A manufacturer in the USA. If the assumption is that no external factors influenced this event and therefore the safety of the batteries is in question then the same question must be made of all USA-manufactured CR123A batteries.

    Given that Chinese CR123A are well known and documented as being dangerous and not suitable for high output / multi-battery flashlights, the result is a question of where to get 'safe' CR123A batteries if you make the assumption that all USA-manufactured CR123A batteries are no longer safe based on this event.

    But this assumes there were no unavoidable extenuating factors that contributed to the batteries in the classic old-school 9Z 'exploding'.
    I suspect this event could easily have been avoided.

    The most important thing I notice is that that 9Z does not have a LockOut TailCap (called a Z41) that was introduced to the SureFire range when SureFire changed the 9Z to the Z3.

    Being able to disable a high output, multi-cell flashlight is vital in helping to prevent damage from unintentional activation. Damage to the now discontinued Lexan polycarbonate window being the most normal occurrence.

    The flashlight would not have acted this way unless it was activated, even only slightly, especially in a confined space like a pouch or clothing where the heat building up could not escape. This can't happen in disabled flashlights, even when the batteries are damp and whole mix of discharge states as the electrical circuit is not complete and the compromised batteries are not being stressed.

    If the batteries were stored or the flashlight opened in wet / high humidity conditions, and/or if the batteries were subject to crushing or vibrations then this can compromise them and significantly contribute to 'explosion' events.

    If the batteries were partially used I understand that compromises their shelf-life. If partially used batteries are stored in the flashlight for a long time then they could become unmatched as they degrade at different rates which is a contributing factor in 'explosion' events.

    American-made CR123A batteries remain the only source of the safest possible CR123A batteries.

    Do not mix old and new batteries.
    Do not mix new and used batteries.
    Do not mix different brands of batteries (even if they are technically exactly the same this is like mixing different age batteries).

    Disable the flashlight when it is not in use. Check that it actually disabled for transportation/storage and even carry when immediate use is not required/anticipated.
    If immediate use is required/anticipated ensure that you will notice as soon as the flashlight is activated accidentally.

    Store spare batteries in a dry, cool place where they can not be crushed, short-circuited, get mixed up or subjected to intense vibrations.

    Do not store partially used batteries in devices.

    Replace or use up batteries that have been stored in devices every year or so. Avoid storing batteries in devices.

    Take especial care when using high output lamps options and/or multiple-cell flashlights.

    If in any doubt use up the batteries in single-celled flashlights.

    I'm certain that SureFire will want to examine the flashlight, the bits and pieces of battery and the remain batteries from that box.

    Al

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Size15's View Post
    Do not mix old and new batteries.
    Do not mix new and used batteries.
    That is the cardinal rule with CR123A primaries, and not observing that rule could have caused what happened here.

    Maybe the user found his light was running down, and rather than replace both cells, he thought he could give it extra life by replacing just one. Or maybe he only had 1 spare cell with him at the time. That would be enough to cause this.
    Resistance is futile...

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Search's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I had to close that page as soon as I found what I was looking for. That he had used SF batteries (aka Duracell).

    The things I read in that thread were so horribly inaccurate my eyes almost bled.

    It's a shame people think a flashlight body could cause a battery to explode


  13. #13
    Flashaholic* DimeRazorback's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Damn the pics are gone!

    Stupid photobucket...

    ^^Click for my beamshots!!^^ My Flashlights

  14. #14

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    That is the cardinal rule with CR123A primaries, and not observing that rule could have caused what happened here.

    Maybe the user found his light was running down, and rather than replace both cells, he thought he could give it extra life by replacing just one. Or maybe he only had 1 spare cell with him at the time. That would be enough to cause this.
    Bold added by me. I believe this was a 9Z which would mean three cells in series and that much more prone to an event with unmatched cells. I agree with the brunt of Al's comments but storing partially used cells in a flashlight is probably common practice of many of us and likely needs to be elaborated on a bit. If the light is a single cell light then I think storage in the flashlight is as safe as anywhere else. With multi cell lights, it gets a bit murky. If the light locks out or is definitely off and is a two cell light, storage of the cells should be fine in the light but I know I have encountered a two cell light that worked fine last time I used it and months later, it seemed to have died?!? What isn't clear to me is the impact on shelf life of a battery that has seen some service.

    If there are three cells in series in the light then I think the margin of error really gets thin and it would be great if the experts could give some quantitative advise on storage and usage.
    Build Prices .... some mods and builds (not 4 sale) "Nature can be cruel- but we don't have to be."~ Temple Grandin

  15. #15

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by DimeRazorback View Post
    Stupid photobucket...
    +1

  16. #16

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Very sobering pics.

    Glad the gentleman is alright.
    Blew another IC!

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* DimeRazorback's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Pics are back up.

    They are incredible!

    ^^Click for my beamshots!!^^ My Flashlights

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Search's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I would have thought it was user error but he claimed it was just sitting there. The pics make it seem like it was just sitting on the floor when it happened. Not sure why.

    It's annoying people think it was the light that is to blame. Given that SF doesn't make the batteries their name should be completely left out. The correct title of this thread should be "Duracell batteries exploded".

    Oh well, I'm just surprised he isn't sick. He stuck around long enough to smell the lithium gas. Oh wait, it's lithium-ion gas that gives you hydrochloric poisoning or something.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Did anyone else notice that the SF123A package looked very very old? Surefire have been using more colourful packaging for a long time. Perhaps the batteries are >10 years old?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Search View Post
    I would have thought it was user error but he claimed it was just sitting there. The pics make it seem like it was just sitting on the floor when it happened. Not sure why.

    It's annoying people think it was the light that is to blame. Given that SF doesn't make the batteries their name should be completely left out. The correct title of this thread should be "Duracell batteries exploded".
    Probably because he clearly stated that the light was on his duty belt when he sensed the problem. See the second sentence in his AR15.com post.

    The claim on CPF I've seen is that SF specs the batteries, even if they don't manufacture them. Obviously, the SF label is on them. Why should SF's name be left out? It's their batteries as far as the consumer is concerned.
    Last edited by Justin Case; 11-07-2009 at 07:26 AM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by zipplet View Post
    Did anyone else notice that the SF123A package looked very very old? Surefire have been using more colourful packaging for a long time. Perhaps the batteries are >10 years old?
    I have SF123A cells in the same style box. They are not 10 yrs old. Closer to 7, and within the expiration date.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Search View Post
    I had to close that page as soon as I found what I was looking for. That he had used SF batteries (aka Duracell).
    You mean aka Panasonic?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Hmm, so with batteries within the expiration date. That's scary. I think I'll make a habit of checking cells that are stored in lights with my tester (a device like the ZTS) every few months if they haven't been replaced - this happens in a couple of my lights.

  24. #24
    Administrator Size15's's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Whilst it may not be an especially good idea to keep batteries sitting around until they get to their expiration date - it's more because their performance will have degraded thus reducing the output and runtime.

    Unless you have good reason not to, it is worth using up stored batteries every year or so and replacing them with fresh cells.
    (this assumes that you have some active use and some emergency use (stored) flashlights of course)
    Strongly consider keeping batteries in Spares Carriers rather than flashlights that are intended for long term storage.

    When it comes to flashlights:
    The most important thing to ensure is that your flashlights are disabled to prevent unintentional activation in storage, transportation and even carry.
    If your SureFire does not have a LockOut TailCap - in most cases SureFire does offer one (I'll help make sure you get the right one if you ask).
    Last edited by Size15's; 11-07-2009 at 08:01 AM.

  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* Mr Happy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I've noticed people seem to put too much store by expiration dates marked on batteries. Just because a battery has a ten year expiration date marked on it, it does not mean it will be good as new if you store it for years before using it. It simply means that after ten years you can still get some reasonable use out of the battery rather than throwing it away.

    Regardless of expiration dates, primary batteries should always be bought and used as soon after manufacture as possible, ideally within a year.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* Search's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Case View Post
    You mean aka Panasonic?
    I thought all 123A cells made in America came from Duracells plant?


  27. #27
    Administrator Size15's's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Quote Originally Posted by Search View Post
    I thought all 123A cells made in America came from Duracells plant?
    I believe the 'plant' is considered to be the Panasonic plant. I'm not certain but Duracell either have their own plant (they don't do OEM), or they also use the Panasonic plant like everybody else.

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Interesting thread.


    Just FYI . . . .


    Panasonic Battery Corporation of America
    makes Cylindrical-Type Photo Lithium Batteries in Columbus Georgia USA.


    I understand this is the ONLY plant in the US which does so.



    Certainly do hope we get some more "concrete information" on this event,
    as our speculation can only take us so far.

  29. #29
    *Flashaholic* LuxLuthor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    I noticed the heroic attempt at bringing some useful, repeated, and rational responses by Al, despite being challenged as a "SF Rep." Good effort!

    Even still, it is not often that we see SF 123A cells explode, let alone with such ferocity...blowing out the plastic leg of chair, casing of sliding door, knocking down screen door, and still traveling 90 feet outside. That is one of the most damaging & dangerous exploding lithium battery events (other than runaway multicell fires) I have seen with a 123A cell.

    He claims his cells were SF, showed the box, all changed at the same time, and showing another that has an expiration of 2/2013, so those were likely 7 years old.

    I just have this one stupid question that is nagging at me.

    It comes from looking at his photo #8 which I blew up and posting below. I can't quite resolve the difference in appearance with that one battery with the more prominent ridge and lip. It's probably nothing.


  30. #30
    Flashaholic SUREFIRED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Surefire explosion

    Looks like a different brand of battery to me...
    Last edited by SUREFIRED; 11-07-2009 at 11:55 PM. Reason: Removed redundant pic
    -Mike
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