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Battery Guide: CR123's vs 16340's

CR123's vs 16340 Batteries

Navigating the variety of terms and specs can make shopping for batteries harder than it needs to be. One of the frequent confusions we come across is the differences between CR123A batteries and 16340 batteries, as well as the advantages and drawbacks of each. To clarify all that, we’ve compiled this handy guide to help you in your purchasing process!

Rechargeable vs. Primary

The most important distinction between these two types of batteries is their abilities to be recharged or not. CR123A’s (Also known as CR123’s) utilize a lithium chemistry, and CANNOT BE RECHARGED. RCR123A’s (Also Known as RCR123’s or 16340’s) ARE rechargeable, and generally use a Li-Ion chemistry to achieve this functionality.

Attempting to charge a primary lithium battery can be dangerous, and you should always be sure of the kind of battery you are about to place in your charger, as well as the types of batteries your charger is intended to work with.


Lithium-Ion RCR123’s have a higher voltage than their non-rechargeable counterparts. This is an extremely important point to note. While some devices have circuitry that can handle the increased voltages, others are designed only for use with 3.0 Volt batteries (Compared to the 3.6V 16340’s) and the use of higher voltage cells can damage your device or cause extremely unsafe conditions.

Occasionally, a flashlight will actually generate greater outputs when using the higher voltage rechargeable cell. Generally, the difference will be negligible, however and many lights are built with circuitry that minimizes this discrepancy for more consistent performance.

Battery Capacity

The capacity of a battery represents the maximum amount of energy stored in the cell. The higher the capacity, the longer run time you’ll get (When applied to the same device in the same conditions, of course).

The CR123’s we sell here have a capacity of between 900 and 1400 mAh. Meaning they have a higher capacity than the typical RCR123 battery, which is usually around 750 mAh. So CR123’s will last longer than their rechargeable counterparts, but will lack the ability to be used repeatedly. Once a CR123 Is fully drained, it can no longer used. RCR123’s can be recharged thousands of times.

Shelf Life

One of the greatest strengths of a CR123 battery is its long shelf life. The ability to be stored in a variety of environments (Hot, cold, or anywhere in between) for up to 10 years makes them idea; batteries for emergency preparation. Store them in a closet, glove compartment, or bug-out-bag and  rest assured you’ll have reliable and  well-charged batteries.

Always Buy Protected Batteries

Regardless of whether you buy primary batteries or rechargeable batteries, you should buy protected cells. Every battery we sell is a protected unit, meaning it has a simple circuit that keeps it from being overcharged or over discharged. Protected batteries can keep you from inadvertently putting yourself in a dangerous situation.


At the end of the day, both CR123’s and RCR123’s are solid choices for powering your device. Their light weight and compact size is able to hold an impressive amount of power, meaning you can get incredible outputs from very small flashlights.  In the long run, a rechargeable cell with a reliable charger will be more economically friendly. The drawbacks of run time and output are negligible, especially when compared to the convenience of recharging cells you already own.

On the other hand, CR123’s and their 10 year shelf life make for excellent additions to a bug-out-bag, disaster shelter, or emergency kit.

Still have questions? Consult our glossary to learn more terms. We’ll be doing our best to provide more guides through popular questions to help you through the process.