Why are American companies obsessed with the CR-123 battery configuration?

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speedsix

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I really want to buy American whenever I can but it seems most USA flashlights are using the CR123 batteries. Those batteries were great 10-15 years ago but I don't know a single person that uses them anymore. Everyone has abandoned them in favor of AAA/AA lights due to ease of finding them at any store and cost.

Everyone I know has a Surefire sitting in a drawer that they can't use because of dead batteries. Most people are not flashlight geeks and they certainly do not have time to make a special trip to get CR123s when they run out. It is just one more chore that they have to do and often just buy a cheap AA light at the hardware store and never look back.

It seems Surefire, RAlights, Malkoff, And others are over focused on a weirdo battery that is dying and being replaced by the ubiquitous AAA/AAs.
 

yifu

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Seriously? Replace? I dont know what you mean but AA/AAAs can never replace lithium/li-on batteries. There is a reason why they are so popular in flashoholic lights, high energy density, high voltage, higher discharge rates and lighter than equivalent secondary batteries. Run a poll around here and you'll find for sure that very few people run AA/AAAs as their primary power source. Sure, they are not aimed at normal people but you will not find a 1000 lumen light that runs on AAs. There is a reason this is a hobby, and that is because very few people own the stuff we own. There wont be hifi enthusiasts if everyone owns hifi equipment and there wont be any car enthusiasts if everyone owns the Porsche or a Ferrari. Same thing applies here.

I have no interest in the AA/AAA format, the only two AA lights i own - Quark AA/miniAA i run on 14500 li-ons all the time except in a real emergency, where they can take AAs as well. 18650/2CR123 is my preferred formatt.
 
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CheepSteal

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They are marketed to Military and L.E. guys mostly. CR123A primaries (non rechargeable) retain their high voltage for longer and are best suited for higher power lights. They are also reliable cells (won't leak, shelf life of 10 years, more resistant to damage through recoil etc. aparantly) compared to alkaline AA's.
Lithium primary AA cells are more expensive than buying bulk CR123A lithiums. You'd need 2 AA cells to match the voltage of a single CR123A, yet a two cell AA light could fit THREE CR123A's (length wise).
In terms of size and weight constraints, the CR123A wins hands down.

Surefire does market their Outdoorsman range which runs on AA cells. You can also run two AA cells in a three CR123A cell light but you'd need spacers or the batteries will rattle. Indeed in countries outside the USA, CR123A's are extremely pricey (cheapest in Australia I've seen locally is 7 dollars). I order them online and have them shipped to me instead.

Many civilian flashaholics like me tend to bore their Surefires out to accept 18650 lithium ion rechargeable cells. You can also run 17670 cells in most Surefire stock lights. HDS/RA lights can run off of RCR123's or 16340 cells.

Again, the bottom line seems to be US companies tend to market towards more tactically minded consumers ie. military, L.E.

Hopefully that helps and my insight is correct. If I'm wrong about something, someone will correct me!

Edit: As the previous poster was saying, I use my AA lights as "scavenger" emergency lights. For my primary lights that I EDC, I use Li-Ion/CR123 based for the high energy density, power and form factor/weight.
 
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speedsix

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My guess is flashlight geeks make up less than .0000001% of the flashlight buying public. The average person that I know just wants a decent light that they don't have to think about too much. They do want as much runtime and output as possible however and a single AA is way more than enough for 99% of the public.

There are 1AA lights that put out 2-3 times the light that Surefires put out a few years ago using Incan bulbs. They also last longer and don't need spare bulbs like Surefires and Maglites did.

I really believe American companies are dropping the ball and leaving a lot of cash on the table. If Surefire made a series of AA and AAA lights with pocket clips and the latest emitters, they would sell faster than they could produce them. The difference between a 200 lumin AA light and a 300 lumin CR123 light is meaningless and not noticeable to most people.
 

yifu

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Yep, those flashlight companies dont cater for the general public, mostly for military/LE and part of the flashoholic market. There's the 20 lumen 2D light/ 50 lumen 4D flashlight/ 20 lumen 2AA maglite for the general public :devil: Yes, the difference between a 200 lumen 2AA light and a 300 lumen light is very small, but the runtime difference would be huge, and not to mention the fact that not many flashoholics dont use CR123s due to cost but their equivalent li-on batteries, a 6P sized 18650 light for example is capable of 1000 led lumens with a XML drop in, and that output simply isnt possible with aa size lights of similar size. Take the SC600 for example, it is literally the same size as my 1AA light but is capable of 750 OTF lumens for 2 hours (with a 500 lumen step down). The same light is also capable of 0.1 lumens for nearly 3 months or 200 lumens for 6 hours, which is impossible with 1 AA.
 
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CheepSteal

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My guess is flashlight geeks make up less than .0000001% of the flashlight buying public. The average person that I know just wants a decent light that they don't have to think about too much. They do want as much runtime and output as possible however and a single AA is way more than enough for 99% of the public.

There are 1AA lights that put out 2-3 times the light that Surefires put out a few years ago using Incan bulbs. They also last longer and don't need spare bulbs like Surefires and Maglites did.

I really believe American companies are dropping the ball and leaving a lot of cash on the table. If Surefire made a series of AA and AAA lights with pocket clips and the latest emitters, they would sell faster than they could produce them. The difference between a 200 lumin AA light and a 300 lumin CR123 light is meaningless and not noticeable to most people.
You're correct. The advancement of LED technology is why many users are converting to AA. Most people don't want to deal with weird battery types so the overseas companies are really starting to cater for that market. Surefire seems to be starting to branch out into civilian markets with the X generation of lights; "latest" LED emitters with cheaper parts/quality. I love Surefire but honestly I would like them to stick with what they do best - making military grade modular lights. I don't want the US companies to branch into AA as that often means a compromise on the development/production of their normal lineup. If you want AA lights, there is a long long list of overseas produced quality AA lights. I don't think a US made AA light priced twice as much will do any better than the current offerings. People that use AA lights often don't need it to be 'bombproof'.
 

nbp

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I really believe American companies are dropping the ball and leaving a lot of cash on the table. If Surefire made a series of AA and AAA lights with pocket clips and the latest emitters, they would sell faster than they could produce them. The difference between a 200 lumin AA light and a 300 lumin CR123 light is meaningless and not noticeable to most people.


Based on the fact that almost none of my non-flashaholic friends have any of the high output, higher quality Chinese AA or AAA based lights either, and most people I know still prefer to use crappy 2D incans or if they are really with it, a LED MiniMag, I don't think this is accurate at all. I would wager good money that if that line of 200 lm AA lights came out from SF and they charged a very reasonable $100 for them, none of my friends would buy them. As pointed out above, the people here who buy SF and HDS who aren't in military or LE are enthusiasts, and we will buy them no matter what batteries they take.
 

yifu

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My guess is flashlight geeks make up less than .0000001% of the flashlight buying public. The average person that I know just wants a decent light that they don't have to think about too much. They do want as much runtime and output as possible however and a single AA is way more than enough for 99% of the public.

There are 1AA lights that put out 2-3 times the light that Surefires put out a few years ago using Incan bulbs. They also last longer and don't need spare bulbs like Surefires and Maglites did.

I really believe American companies are dropping the ball and leaving a lot of cash on the table. If Surefire made a series of AA and AAA lights with pocket clips and the latest emitters, they would sell faster than they could produce them. The difference between a 200 lumin AA light and a 300 lumin CR123 light is meaningless and not noticeable to most people.
I believe this question was already addressed when you posted a similar thread couple months back http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...merican-companies-build-lights-we-want-to-buy
Most Americans or any belonging to the general public for that matter doesnt want to spend more than 15 dollars for a flashlight, a 4D maglite is already considered a premium. Thus, a AA american made light at 40/50 dollars simply wont sell as well as a say Dorcy 3AAA or any other generic AA light and certainly wont compete with chinese made el cheapos. Thus, like a lot of American made lights, they cater towards Department of Defence (and flashoholic) budgets and specs.
 

Mikeg23

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I don't think a US made AA light priced twice as much will do any better than the current offerings. People that use AA lights often don't need it to be 'bombproof'.

Indeed, the person looking to use alkaline batteries is not generally going to spend a bunch of money to get an American made light. Nevermind the fact that for most people a flashlight purchase is an after thought that usually takes place at the grocery/hardware store.

Don't get me wrong I like alot of the single AAA offerings and also like my Quark single AA tactical. However, i don't know that it would be a good business move for a company like Surefire.
 

eh4

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"My guess is flashlight geeks make up less than .0000001% of the flashlight buying public."
Yep there are about 7 of us. ;-)

I bet that flashlight enthusiasm is inversely proportional to how reliable a society's lighting infrastructure is, and directly proportional to how often a person has to function outside of that bubble of grid powered lighting.
 

Roger999

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Companies like Surefire also market to mostly military, so what would happen to the hundreds of thousands of CR123 batteries they had in storage if Surefire was to suddenly switch to all AA cell lights? Not the mention the CR123 has a 10year shelf life on average, and alkalines have a shelf life of maybe 2 years with some of them leaking, the operating temperature of alkalines is also a concern with the heat or cold of different climates.
The AA format as mentioned is also more prone to damage from recoil.
I don't see the point of coughing up extra money to purchase a quality light if you're going to be cheap on the type of fuel you use.....
If everyone has abandoned CR123's then why are they still so popular on the forums? Why does the military of many different countries still use it?
There are 1AA lights that put out 2-3 times the light that Surefires put out a few years ago using Incan bulbs. They also last longer and don't need spare bulbs like Surefires and Maglites did.
Since LEDs put out more light than incandescents, the AA battery format is superior? lol wut? You compare an incan module (p60) made in the 1990s with an LED made past 2007 and can somehow draw to the conclusion that an AA battery is better than CR123.

You don't see many 2X AA Alkaline lights putting out 700 OTF lumens for over 60minutes.
 

jamesmtl514

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Sounds like OP is trolling, or it's a case of sour grapes.
I'll gladly take all of those Surefires sitting idle. Tell all those people you know that I'll even cover shipping.

Based on the fact that almost none of my non-flashaholic friends have any of the high output, higher quality Chinese AA or AAA based lights either, and most people I know still prefer to use crappy 2D incans or if they are really with it, a LED MiniMag, I don't think this is accurate at all. I would wager good money that if that line of 200 lm AA lights came out from SF and they charged a very reasonable $100 for them, none of my friends would buy them. As pointed out above, the people here who buy SF and HDS who aren't in military or LE are enthusiasts, and we will buy them no matter what batteries they take.
qft
 

varmint

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I have 2 AAA and 1 AA small lights, I carry 1 of them daily usually a MicroStream, the othere are a Fenix EO1, EO5 & Terrulux AA. I get about a month's battery life and that's fine with me. I doubt that I will buy another without a pocket clip though. My main working lights are 123 or 18650 etc powered. For a $1.oo a battery or the recharge factor of the 18650's they suit me fine. I like the brightness of the 123 style lights as well as the size. I require a dependable light for my lifestyle raising cattle and don't mind paying for it plus they are tax deductable for me. I can't see the $1.oo cost of 123's a problem when buying online, in retail stores that's a different situation, I would go rechargeable 100% with the best cells I could get, I use AW. I dont need anymore lights but the thought of a new one gets to me, it will be a 1x123 or AAA probably, I dont mind the battery cost its just part of the disease.
Larry
 

GotMak

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I have no interest in the AA/AAA format, the only two AA lights i own - Quark AA/miniAA i run on 14500 li-ons all the time except in a real emergency, where they can take AAs as well. 18650/2CR123 is my preferred formatt.

Ok, I'm a noob at all this, so at the risk of exposing my ignorance, can you clarify for me how that works? As far as I can tell, a 14500 is a 3.7 v AA-sized battery. A 2AA light is made to run at 3V - if you use two 14500, aren't you pushing it to 7.4V? How is it that doesn't burn out the light?
 

DM51

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Sounds like OP is trolling, or it's a case of sour grapes
When words such as "obsessed" and "weirdo" are used to describe those who do not fit with the OP's own ideas, then I have to agree - it DOES sound like trolling. When it is repetitive, insofar as the OP has already posted a very similar rant (as pointed out by yifu above) the case becomes compelling.

speedsix... we'll give you the benefit of the doubt this time that your post was just provocative hyperbole, rather than trolling; but please bear in mind that provocative posts are liable to be misinterpreted. If you make any more like this, it will be taken as trolling.

As the topic has already been extensively covered in other threads, this one is now closed.
 
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