J&B Firearm Sales
Oregon Rifleworks
Buster Beaver Cerakote
Gun Deals
Sporting Systems
HighLine Firearms
Defensive Arts
Low Price Guns
Simply Triggers
Southwest Firearms
Advertise on Northwest Firearms
Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels, and the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms and as a pyrotechnic composition in fireworks. Formulations used in blasting rock (such as in quarrying) are called blasting powder. Gunpowder is mainly used in older guns now because the propellants used today are too powerful and could break the already fragile barrels.
Gunpowder is assigned the UN number UN0027 and has a hazard class of 1.1D. It has a flash point of approximately 427–464 °C (801–867 °F). The specific flash point may vary based on the specific composition of the gunpowder. Gunpowder's specific gravity is 1.70–1.82 (mercury method) or 1.92–2.08 (pycnometer), and it has a pH of 6.0–8.0. It is also considered to be an insoluble material.
Gunpowder was, according to prevailing academic consensus, invented in the 9th century in China, and the earliest record of a written formula for gunpowder appears in the 11th century Song dynasty text, Wujing Zongyao. This discovery led to the invention of fireworks and the earliest gunpowder weapons in China. In the centuries following the Chinese discovery, gunpowder weapons began appearing in the Muslim world, Europe, and India. The technology spread from China through the Middle East or Central Asia, and then into Europe. The earliest Western accounts of gunpowder appear in texts written by English philosopher Roger Bacon in the 13th century.
Gunpowder is classified as a low explosive because of its relatively slow decomposition rate and consequently low brisance. Low explosives deflagrate (i.e., burn) at subsonic speeds, whereas high explosives detonate, producing a supersonic wave. Gunpowder's burning rate increases with pressure, so it will burst containers but just burns in the open. Ignition of the powder packed behind a bullet must generate enough pressure to force it from the muzzle at high speed, but not enough to rupture the gun barrel. Gunpowder thus makes a good propellant, but is less suitable for shattering rock or fortifications. Gunpowder was widely used to fill artillery shells and in mining and civil engineering to blast rock roughly until the second half of the 19th century, when the first high explosives (nitro-explosives) were devised and formulated. Gunpowder is no longer used in modern explosive military warheads, nor is it used as main explosive in mining operations due to its cost relative to that of newer alternatives such as ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO). Black powder is still used as a delay element in various munitions where its slow-burning properties are valuable.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. D

    Fly in Gunpowder

    I thought my fellow reloaders might be amused by this. I had just poured some HP-38 gunpowder into my powder measure in preparation for loading up some 357 Mag cartridges when I noticed some odd pieces of gunpowder sticking up inside the dispenser. On closer inspection, I found this was not...
  2. CountryGent

    Gunpowder Powered Spearguns?

    I've been doing some reading on spearguns lately. Most of them out there now appear to be powered by rubberband or pneumatic system. I did, however, find that there were some produced in decades past that were powered by what appears to be a blank cartridge. Out of curiosity: How common was...
  3. The Heretic

    Grow your own gunpowder!

    Grow your own Gunpowder™ - might be Illegalized even before it's introduced in the US - The Firearm Blog During a raid in a warehouse in the small town of Strauch in The Netherlands, the Police found evidence of what they considered being the illegal manufacturing of ammunition. Further...
  4. CLT65

    Gunpowder on sale

    It looks like the floodgates are breaking loose on gunpowder availability. Wideners has a sale, haven't seen some of these prices in a while: Alliant Powder for Sale at Widener's I don't use enough to justify making a powder order. I'd need to order more than I'd use to justify shipping and...
Southwest Firearms
Let Freedom Ring
Sporting Systems
Cerberus Training Group
Copeland Custom Gunworks
Advertise on Northwest Firearms