The Mysterious Exploding Surefire

The Mysterious Exploding Surefire

This is a discussion on The Mysterious Exploding Surefire within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Dad had his Surefire G2 Nitrolon sitting on on a table, and I picked it up and pushed the button on. Because playing with really ...

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Thread: The Mysterious Exploding Surefire

  1. #1
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    The Mysterious Exploding Surefire

    Dad had his Surefire G2 Nitrolon sitting on on a table, and I picked it up and pushed the button on. Because playing with really bright flashlights is so fun I kept pushing the button, flicking the light on and off, zapping different parts of the room. The light got dimmer and dimmer until it was no more. Hmm, I thought. Dad needs new batteries. I'll tell him when he comes home.

    Hours later I hear POP! I can't figure out what caused it. My two nieces are playing with balloons in the next room, so I figure they popped one... but the sound seemed to come from this room.

    Later on mom finds a clear plastic disc and asks me if I know what it goes to. It looks like the bulb cover to the Nitrolon. That's odd. How did it get on the floor eight feet away? I look at the light, and sure enough, it's missing the clear cover. I find the screw-on piece three feet away, and then the rubber O-ring around ten feet away in a different direction. Now that's odd.

    I unscrew the Surefire and pop out the batteries. The first one slides right out, but the second takes some jiggling. It comes out in pieces in my hand, and I immediately flick it onto the table. It ruptured inside the light, and somehow, pressure of the battery gases blew the front end of the flashlight off. The bulb, however, still works.

    We had bought a bunch of these Pentagonlight batteries from a vendor at the local gunshow; he sells Surefires and is expanding his inventory to include the more budgetable competition. And the Pentagonlight batteries were cheaper. I have six of them waiting in my Surefire extra battery case.

    So, have you ever had something like this happen before? Is this a typical battery thing (I've seen leaky batteries, but I've never seen this happen before).

    If I contacted Pentagonlight, do you think they'd respond with, "that's what happens when you cross our batteries with a Surefire?"
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  2. #2
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    Betty,

    If they were Surefire batteries, I have heard, hence this is hearsay, that there are some problems with Surefire batteries. I don't recall what the specific problem(s) was. And in all fairness, Surefire may have corrected the problem by now.

    My students and I have performed a number of intensity/run down tests and run probably a hundred or so Sanyo CR123 batteries completely down and have had no problems.

    I know Surefire batteries are cheap, about $1.25 each, but you can order Sanyos from Botach for $1.00 each.

    Further, for what its worth, from what I've seen from all the testing we've done, Surefire lights pales (no pun intended) in comparison to comparable Streamlight lights, e.g I just finished a test on the Surefire M3 I just had to have, some $230! It's output was about 1000 foot candles less than the Streamlight TL3! They both use three CR123 batteries. From Botach, the TL3 costs $59.00. It's much smaller than the UltraStinger and produces just about the same intensity for the same length of time.

  3. #3
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    A follow up:

    I just went to see how my Surefire A2 (Aviator) was doing in its run down test. When I looked at the computer screen, I saw there was a "dip" in the curve. I waited just a few minutes and saw the light dim dramatically, and another dip on the computer screen.

    Since I had seen this some time ago with a Surefire L2, I realized the flashlight was overheating and shutting down the electronic control. It cycles between reduced output and cooling, and then full output again until it over heats again.

    Further, both the L2 and the A2 get so hot you can't hold them in your hand! And, the Sanyo CR123 batteries take the heat and keep on, err...cooking?

    We have had no such problems with the non-electronic Surefires such as the G2. In fact, the G2 was impressive!

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Wow thats king of wild things urban legands are made of ive heard about it but never see one that has blown up

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    The same thing has happened with some lithium cell phone batteries. It was attributed to poorly made ie 'counterfeit' batteries flooding the market from overseas.
    diplomacy ... the art of saying "nice doggie"..while looking for a big rock !!

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    I'm not sure I would use those batteries in my light now. I expect if the Surefire batteries had done that they would have repaired or replaced the flashlight, if any permanent damage was done. I would certainly not hesitate to use other "big name" batteries. I have sure never seen anything like that happen.
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    Member Array MechE's Avatar
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    Lithium batteries have been known to pop....well actually the batteries are safe and designed not to burst when the lithium gets wet and burns. The pop comes from the preasure building up in the water resistent flash light body. Condensation or moisture must have made its way into the battery.
    "EVERYONE is operating with only partial information" :hand27:
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  8. #8
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    never heard of it happening before, but don't leave the batteries loose in your pocket with change. They get hot fast.

  9. #9
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    Here is a link to a video clip of lithium reacting with water.

    http://www.iun.edu/~cpanhd/C101webno...hium-reac.html
    "EVERYONE is operating with only partial information" :hand27:
    Some Wise Guy, USA 2001

  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Not to get too far off topic here but this reminds me of an argument I got into with the head of my math department about a battery policy. I argued that we should not be shoving $0.89 batteries into $130 graphing calculators. I wanted to rewrite the policy such that the school could only buy Duracell or Energizer brand batteries because if we don't, we're eventually going to have some poor student get their hands coated in battery acid or at least lose an expensive TI-83 unit.

    Personally I've never trusted anything worse than Energizer or Duracell in my good flashlights or in my good calculators. Actually I've had really good luck with Rayovacs too but I don't trust them like I trust the better brands.

    I think if you just carry the light around for emergencies like I do, you're better off purchasing the more expensive Energizer batteries because they're not going to leak, etc. A set of batteries lasts me about 3-4 months during Daylight Savings time. When we change time and it gets darker sooner again, then they only last me about 1-2 months.

    Heck one of my Surefires just sits in my house. It's my designated backup/house light. I haven't touched it in weeks.

    I think if you go through these batteries all the time and burn them out quickly, the cheap ones are probably safe, but if you're like me I think you should buy good batteries.

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