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18650 Lithium Cell Recommendations: The good, the bad, and the ugly

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I'm relatively new to this power source, with no personal experience with anything beyond the unprotected Sony VTCs I rescued from a Makita battery pack, and some protected 3400mah Nitecore cells for a multi-cell light I own.  I'd like some brand feedback from the rest of you on what's great, what's not so great, and what could wind up blowing up in my face.

So, to start off, the Nitcore cells seem great, I've measured almost twice the capacity of the salvaged Sonys, but they just barely squeeze into the magazine of my photon canon.

I know to avoid anything with "fire" in the name, but I don't know if that's an absolute rule, or what.

How about Orbtronic?  I keep hearing good things about them.

 :popcorn:  I want to keep up with this ....I stick to brand named cells , EFEST and PANASONIC are all I buy now..
Avoid "FIRE" in the name and anything labeled as or 3400 Mah( what I believe to be current top technology for 18650's.

I'm new to this tech also as in just this last week, I bought a light and batteries based on the info I got from this thread.

So far I'm real happy with my purchase.

Alrighty the absence of data, I'm making a list of cells to test, focused on the high capacity (3400mAh) protected stuff, which I'm guessing are based on Panasonic NCR cells (I'm going to test them, too), and are $13 to $20 per cell from Amazon.

Here's my list of the premium cells I've found, so far:

Nitecore (obviously)

For comparison, I'd like to test some 'Fire' cells and would like suggestions on which brands the rest of you are curious about, and I'll try and get them, too.  If I can't get it on Amazon, I'm probably not going to hunt for it anywhere else.

I've got the following 'fire' cells:


For testing, I've got a West Mountain Radio Computerized Battery Analyzer with the full software license, although I've never done more than constant power or constant current drain scenarios.  I'm in the middle of testing a huge lithium power pack for the next 36 hours, so I won't be able to mess with it until then, but if anyone has any suggestions on realistic test scenarios and how to do it with the CBA, I'm all ears.

There are considerable size differences and capacity capabilities in cells and often relabeled and recycled cells of varying life and capacity.


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