Batteries for Tactical Flashlights2016-12-12T14:15:06-05:00

Batteries for Tactical Flashlights

by David Barnett, P.E.

Many of the consumer inquiries we receive revolve around the batteries used to power an Elzetta Modular Flashlight; Can it use the same batteries as my TV remote?  Will it run on rechargeable batteries?  Why does Elzetta insist on USA-Made batteries?  What brand is the best?

Many people, unfamiliar with newer battery chemistries or the differences between battery types, desire to use common department-store alkaline batteries.  However, the advantages of CR123A batteries (also available in department-stores) over alkaline cells are numerous and significant;

  • Higher Voltage
  • Greater Energy Density
  • Lower Mass Density (Lighter Weight)
  • Operate at Both Higher & Lower Temperature Extremes
  • Longer Shelf Life
  • Less Prone to Leakage/Corrosion

While these benefits may not be necessary for the batteries in a remote control sitting on an armchair, they are essential in a tactical flashlight used for life-and-death situations.  Tactical flashlights, especially those mounted to weapons, demand the best battery technology available and the ability to perform at peak capacity in the harshest of conditions.  Greater performance, durability, and reliability come with the use of CR123A batteries.

The use of rechargeable batteries is the other frequent question we receive.  While the reusable nature of such cells is attractive economically, such batteries are better suited for consumer electronics and gadgets rather than mission-critical gear such as a tactical flashlight.  The quality of rechargeable dry-cell batteries (all of which are made overseas) is dubious and highly variable.  As a result, the advantages listed above are amplified even more when CR123A batteries are compared to the various rechargeable technologies currently available.   While rechargeable versions of CR123A batteries, known as RCR123 cells, may be used in Elzetta Alpha and Bravo Models for non-critical applications (i.e. dog-walking, maintenance chores, etc.) they should never be used when one’s life or safety is one the line.

Given the tremendous benefits of CR123A batteries, they are the only batteries recommended for use with Elzetta Modular Flashlights.  It must be noted that only USA-Made CR123A cells should be used (varieties manufactured in China have been known to explode violently and should not be used in any circumstances).  As for the various brands of USA-Made CR123A cells, they are all identical except for the wrapper (Panasonic is the only manufacturer of CR123A batteries in the USA and they are all made in the same factory to the same specifications in Columbus, Georgia).   Believing one’s favorite brand of battery is better than others is like painting a car red thinking it will make it faster.  And just as one would not buy a Lamborghini and then try to save a few pennies per gallon by using low-grade gasoline, grumbling that CR123A batteries are not as cheap as some other batteries is inconsistent with the demand for the best performance from one’s equipment.  When value, rather than mere price, is considered, CR123A batteries are the best choice.  Elzetta Modular Flashlights are designed and manufactured without compromise.  Accordingly, no compromise should be made on the batteries that feed them.