The Best CR123 Flashlights

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When it comes to flashlights, most people will choose AA-powered torches. The AA battery is a comfortable choice because we’re familiar with it in everyday use, be it in the TV remote control or the kids’ toys.

There’s a chance that you have a few at home already, and if not, they’re available to buy at most stores. However, flashlights have moved on. Now, CR123 battery-powered flashlights are becoming more popular due to their superior qualities.

CR123 flashlights are more powerful compared to the regular AA—their light output is in hundreds of lumens rather than the meager 100-150 lumens that an AA flashlight emits.

The best CR123 flashlights are lightweight and pocket-sized, yet powerful enough to produce an intense beam and light wide areas.

If you’re on the hunt for a CR123 flashlight, we’ve got you covered with this guide and our in-depth reviews of the top products.

CR123 flashlights reviewed include:

What Is a CR123 Flashlight?

Manufacturers generally categorize flashlights by the type of battery they can use; however, many CR123 flashlights are compatible with other types of batteries, mainly 18650 cells. Likewise, some 18650 flashlights operate using two CR123 batteries.

The CR123 is a small, approximately 1.31 inches long and 0.66 inches in diameter, but very powerful, around 3 volts, lithium cell that provides a strong beam of light when used in a flashlight.

CR123 flashlights are EDC (Every Day Carry) flashlights, because of their powerful, yet easy to carry or pop in a pocket quality.

Why Choose a CR123 Flashlight?

Although CR123 flashlights are generally more expensive than AA models, they do come with a few advantages that make them very attractive. Here are a few reasons why you should choose a CR123 flashlight:

Lightweight

In general, CR123 batteries are smaller and lighter than AA batteries. Because of this, they don’t require much room and are, therefore, ideal for smaller flashlights.

Many survivalists choose a CR123 flashlight as a backup to keep in their backpack because they’re so light.

CR123A-AA-battery
Source: Wikipedia

High Performance

Regular AA batteries deliver around 1.5 volts per cell. This is enough for a beam of about 100 to 150 lumens, depending on the flashlight. The Fenix LD11, for instance, that runs on AA batteries, can hit 130 lumens for two hours when on High mode.

A CR123 battery delivers around 3 volts per cell, which is enough to power a bright beam of several hundred lumens. As an example, the can provide a powerful light on Turbo mode at an impressive 400 lumens for 70 minutes.

The LD11 might be able to run for longer, but you get a much stronger light from the PD25.

But what happens when we dim down the CR123 flashlight?

Run Time

In an emergency, it’s unlikely you’ll be running your flashlight on the highest mode. CR123 batteries offer a much longer run time when comparing them to AA batteries at the same lumens.

If an AA battery powers a 30 lumens output for seven hours, which is quite impressive, a CR123 battery at a low mode of 30 lumens will far exceed that.

Temperature Resistant

Temperature changes can affect batteries in different ways—hot weather, for instance, can cause them to overheat quickly. Regular AA batteries are commonly affected whether the extreme temperatures are hot or cold.

CR123 cells, on the other hand, are highly resistant to extreme temperatures because they are lithium. Lithium batteries have specific chemistry that enables them to withstand extreme temperatures.

For anyone who needs light for extreme outdoor weather, a CR123 flashlight is a great choice.

Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!

Finding the Best CR123 Flashlight for You

There are many advantages when it comes to CR123 flashlights. However, if you want the most out of your purchase, you need to find the best one for your individual needs. We’ve made a list of points to consider before settling on a specific torch:

Size and Weight

Although CR123 flashlights are generally pocket-sized, there are other sizes available.

Keep in mind that a larger torch doesn’t necessarily translate to a brighter beam. Choose the size and weight that you’ll feel comfortable with, and that will suit your requirements best.

Lumens and Beam Distance

Lumens translate to brightness—flashlights emit different lumens depending on the bulb, settings and battery.

Beam distance is another useful rating to look at since it tells you the throw the light will achieve before diminishing.

Knowing these two ratings, you’re able to figure out how well the flashlight will work for you.

Beam Type

Beam type is another consideration. How the light disperses depends on the lens reflector surrounding the bulb. There are three common beam types:

  • Flood: A wide beam that’s good for when you’re walking or camping.
  • Spot: A single directed beam. This is a good option for any fast-paced activity or identifying objects from a distance.
  • Adjustable: With an adjustable beam, you can easily switch between flood and spot, or any point in-between. 

Battery Type

We already know that we want a CR123 battery, but there are two different types to choose between; these are:

  • Disposable: The most common and affordable type of CR123 cells are disposable. However, the running costs of the flashlight will be higher. Replacing used batteries can get expensive.
  • Rechargeable: These are generally more expensive; however, they’re more economical in the long run. Rechargeable CR123 cells are denoted as RCR123. Most are charged using a USB connection to either a stand-alone charger, the flashlight itself, even solar panels in a pinch. According to suppliers, many are rechargeable up to 1000 times.

Modes

Some flashlights offer different modes to choose from. The basic modes are low, medium and high. Run time will vary depending on the mode you use.

Other handy settings available include a throw mode with an extra-strong beam, strobe light or SOS features.

Controls

The controls or switches on a flashlight play a valuable role in how easy it is to operate. Most flashlights have the usual tail cap switch that you press to turn on or off.

When you have a torch with multiple modes, it can be difficult and time-consuming to swap between them using the tail cap switch.

Some flashlights that feature multiple modes will also have a second switch—located on the side or near the head. This allows you to change the mode more easily.

Another smart control you might find useful is an insta-beam. This functions as an instant light that will turn on when you touch the on/off switch slightly (without clicking). The light will stay on until you click the switch, or you release it.

Product Reviews

Knowing what to look for when searching for a new flashlight is very helpful, but if you still need a little more help, we’ve got your back. We found some of the best CR123 flashlights on the market, compared their performances and researched how they’d perform in different situations.

Best Rechargeable CR123 Flashlight

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The has a brilliant lumens rating of up to 550 with a beam distance of up to 427 feet. It’s an excellent choice for hikers as well as hunters who need a clear view of the track ahead.

It measures no more than 3.7 inches in length and 0.8 inches in width. It will sit comfortably in your pocket without restricting your movements.

You get a Fenix branded rechargeable battery included, along with a LumenTac USB cable that you can connect to the built-in USB port on the battery.

Also, this flashlight comes with a few smart features to enhance its performance and durability. It has a toughened ultra-clear lens with an anti-reflective coating. Furthermore, the body design is very distinct as it’s anti-roll, as well as slip-resistant, helping you to maintain a secure grip.

The flashlight has reverse polarity protection that safeguards the circuitry from improper battery installation.

Pros

  • Compact design.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Durable aircraft-grade aluminum construction.
  • High lumens output and long beam distance.

Cons

  • The mode button can be tricky to locate in a hurry.

Best Single Cell CR123 Flashlight

Olight S1R

The Olight S1R II is one of the most powerful EDC flashlights on the market. It has an incredibly powerful 1,000 lumens output at its highest setting. Furthermore, the beam can reach a distance of 453 feet.

On its lowest mode setting of 0.5 lumens, the battery will last up to eight days.

There are five different power modes to choose between., plus a strobe that emits 600 lumens.

You can take the Olight with you wherever you go; its small design makes it an excellent fit for the pocket. Additionally, it’s fitted with a pocket clip that enables you to secure it to clothing while moving about.

Complete with battery, it weighs under 2 ounces, the flashlight also has a textured body to secure your grip. It’s excellent for any outdoor night activity.

The flashlight comes supplied two different batteries: the rechargeable IMR 16340 and a backup, non-rechargeable CR123. You also get a magnetic charging cable that attaches to the tail cap of the torch.

The flashlight has a power indicator. Green is full power; when it changes from yellow to red, it’s time to charge.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Two batteries included.
  • The MCC cable can be used for other applications as well.
  • Powerful light.

Cons

  • Battery drains quickly when on the highest setting (around 37 minutes).

Best Tactical CR123 Flashlight

Streamlight 88030 Tactical Flashlight

The Streamlight Protac is an incredibly durable little flashlight. It’s waterproof and fitted with an anti-roll face cap. It’s equipped with Solid State Power Regulation to maintain the best light output.

This flashlight measures 3.35 inches long and 0.90 inches in diameter around the head and 0.77 inches in diameter at the barrel. It’s very compact and fits comfortably in your hand or secure it to your pocket using the clip.

You can change between the three available modes of high, low and strobe by using the push button at the tail of the torch. The CR123 battery provides you with up to two hours of run time on the high setting or 24 hours on the low.; The strobe can run for up to three hours.

Pros

  • Waterproof.
  • Durable tempered glass lens.
  • Secure grip.
  • Long run time.

Cons

  • The battery supplied isn’t rechargeable.

Best Waterproof CR123 Flashlight

SoonFire E11

The SoonFire Flashlight is a strong but powerful compact light that you can take anywhere. It’s operated using the single side switch that also controls the five brightness settings as well as strobe and SOS functions.

The flashlight is no more than 4.3 inches in length and weighs 3.35 ounces. It’s requires two CR123 batteries or a single 18650 battery.

It delivers 1,000 lumens with a beam distance of up to 834 feet, and last up to 131 minutes on this highest setting. When in the lowest mode (firefly), it can run up to 500 hours while delivering 8 lumens.

The sturdy aluminum construction can withstand harsh conditions as well as submersion in up to 6.6-foot of water. The circuitry is protected, and you get a spare USB port rubber plug to prevent water penetration.

The small LED light around the switch not only helps you to locate it in the dark, but it also shows you when it’s time to charge. When the battery is low, the light will change from blue to red.

Along with the flashlight, you also receive a holster, lanyard, spare O-ring, a USB charging cord and a pocket clip.

Pros

  • Long run time.
  • Strong light output.
  • Far throw.
  • Submersible.
  • Easy-to-locate side switch.
  • Is compatible with different battery types.

Cons

  • Users had a few issues with the location and feel of the side switch—some saying it should be more tactical.

Best Multi-Cell CR123 Flashlight

Nitecore P12

The Nitecore P12 is a powerful torch that has an impressive throw of up to 756 feet. It has two battery options; a 18650 cell, or two CR123 batteries.

Included in the price are a Nitecore P12 , rechargeable 18650 battery and a LumenTac charger.

You can quickly change between the four available modes using the side switch. The high mode will deliver a dazzling beam of 1,000 lumens while the medium mode will provide 240 lumens. Set the torch to its lowest setting, and you’ll get a small light, ideal for night-time reading, measuring only 1 lumen.

You also get a strobe function, location beacon and an SOS mode. These extra features make this light an excellent choice for anyone who hikes or camps off-grid. Another feature users appreciate is the brightness memory—it will automatically turn on to the same brightness it switched off at.

Reaching only 5.47 inches in length and weighing 3.1 ounces, you can take the light wherever you go. It comes with a smart clip that keeps it secure, whether in your pocket or on a hat.

Furthermore, you also get a lanyard, spare tail cap, tactical ring and a holster to help you carry the torch comfortably.

Pros

  • Multiple carry methods.
  • Separate on/off and modes switches.
  • Features an ultra-low mode.
  • Extremely bright light.

Cons

  • Users found the charger to be a bit flimsy.

Toughest CR123 Flashlight

Streamlight 88850 PolyTac

The Streamlight 88850 Flashlight utilizes C4 LED technology, making it resistant to shock and giving it a lifetime of 50,000 hours.

It runs on two 3V cr123a lithium batteries that deliver up to 600 lumens on the highest setting with a run time of 2.75 hours. Furthermore, it can run up to 34 hours when in low mode delivering up to 35 lumens.

The rugged body offers an excellent grip while being comfortable to hold, and you can easily control it using the tail cap switch. It also features a momentary light that you can activate by holding the on/off switch.

Pros

  • Long LED lifespan.
  • Bright light.
  • Waterproof.

Cons

  • Users were disappointed with the battery life.

Best Budget CR123 Flashlight

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If you’re looking for a budget-friendly CR123 flashlight, the UltraFire is an excellent choice. It has a lot to offer at a reasonable price.

This single-mode flashlight has got a high light output with its high-efficiency XP-L V6 LED bulb—it’s powerful, and as well as delivering 1,000 lumens, it can also light up to 656 feet.

The aviation-grade aluminum housing construction is coated with a matte anodize that’s resistant to impact and scratches. Furthermore, it’s safe to use in heavy rain and harsh conditions.

Supplied with your purchase is an UltraFire nylon holster that’s both lightweight and convenient, enabling you to carry your flashlight comfortably. The holster has a 360-degree rotating clip that allows you to secure it to a pocket, hat or clothing.

Keep in mind that this is a budget buy; therefore, there are no batteries included. The flashlight works with either one 18650 or two CR123 batteries.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly.
  • Included high-quality holster.
  • High lumens output.
  • Lengthy beam distance.

Cons

  • Batteries not included.

Best Flood CR123 Flashlight

Fenix FX-PD35TAC

The Fenix FX-PD35 is another great flashlight from the PD series. It has several handy features and provides great value for money. It has high-quality CREE LEDs that have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours and offers incredible brightness.

Furthermore, the CREE LEDs have a light output of up to 1,000 lumens with a beam distance of 656 feet.

The ultra-clear toughened-glass lens is incredibly strong and coated with an anti-reflective film. It’s constructed of durable aircraft-grade aluminum with a type three hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish.

The sturdy construction makes the flashlight resistant to high-impact as well as scratches and dents. The product is also submersible to 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes without damaging the circuitry. It’s a good choice for anyone who needs a flashlight that can keep up even in harsh conditions.

Furthermore, it features Intelligent Memory that enables it to automatically return to the previous mode as you turn it on.

Despite all of this power, the flashlight weighs only a little over 3 ounces, making it virtually unnoticeable when in your pocket.

Pros

  • High lumens output.
  • Durable construction.
  • Lightweight.
  • Intelligent memory.
  • Convenient side switches.

Cons

  • Batteries not included.

Best Throw CR123 Flashlight

EagleTac D25C

The EagleTac D25C has a bright light output of 800 lumens, and although it isn’t as high as others, users have found it very strong. Additionally, it has a beam distance of up to 420 feet.

It features five brightness modes, including a Turbo setting for maximum light output. You can also set it as low as 0.5 lumens.

When needed for emergencies, you can activate SOS mode or Beacon mode.

The flashlight fits easily in the palm of your hand or your pocket. It’s conveniently operated using the tail cap that you also press to change between the modes.

Having a separate switch for the modes would be better, simply because there are so many to choose between.

A LumenTac CR123A battery comes with the flashlight as well as a convenient holster and clip.

Pros

  • Powerful throw light.
  • Multiple modes.
  • Excellent for emergencies.
  • Compact and light.

Cons

  • Difficult to change between modes.

Best Mini CR123 Flashlight

NEBO Micro Redline Mini

The NEBO Mini Flashlight comes supplied with a Panasonic CR123 battery and has four light modes: high, medium, low and strobe.

When in high, it can deliver up to 360 lux, a light intensity measurement which is the equivalent of 360 lumens per square meter. The lowest mode delivers 39 lux.

It offers an impressive run time in all settings, topping at 15 hours on low and six hours on high—making it an ideal backup light for hikers and campers.

The flashlight measures no more than 2.6 inches in length and weighs 1.6 ounces. It’s constructed of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum and is resistant to impact.

It’s able to zoom up to six times, allowing you to see what’s ahead clearly. Furthermore, it features a magnetic base that enables you to attach it to any metal surface. The purchase includes a pocket clip and a convenient keychain.

Pros

  • Long run time.
  • Magnetic base.
  • Zoomable beam.

Cons

  • Users found the light to be less bright than expected.

Best Rugged CR123 Flashlight

Maglite Mag-Tac LED

The Maglite Mag-Tac is a compact tactical flashlight with a rugged case design that enables you to get a secure grip. It runs on two CR123 batteries and can deliver up to 320 lumens with a beam distance of 633 feet.

The housing construction is of anodized aluminum with a stealthy matte finish and completed with weather-resistant seals. Furthermore, it complies with the ANSI/NEMA FL1 standards with a rating of IPX4 water resistance and 3.3-foot drop resistance.

The QuickClik tail cap button allows you to quickly choose between three modes: full, strobe or momentary, where the light stays on while you’re half-pressing the button.

It’s available in a variety of colors as well as styles—you can choose between a plain bezel or crowned for more tactical use.

Included with the flashlight is a detachable pocket clip and batteries.

Pros

  • Sturdy anodized aluminum construction makes it resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Tested according to the ANSI/NEMA FL1 standards.
  • The knurled design improves your grip.
  • Features a momentary light.

Cons

  • Users found the run time to be short in the highest setting.

The Verdict

When it comes to EDC flashlights, CR123 torches take some beating. This compact and lightweight battery offers a powerful light output for hours at a time.

CR123 batteries are lithium batteries that have rechargeable, as well as disposable options available.

When searching for the best CR123 flashlight for you, it’s important to consider what you will use it for and how bright you need it.

Different mode options really won’t be beneficial if you only use the flashlight while walking the dog, but a beacon light or strobe can be a lifesaver in an emergency for hikers and campers. If you regularly read in bed, a low mode option of 0.5 or 1 lumen is ideal.

Regularly replacing CR123 batteries in your flashlight can work out expensive; therefore, consider a rechargeable option to minimize your running costs.