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Thread: Black powder and impact

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Black powder and impact

    Im always being told that black powder is impact sensitive. That dropping it will make it go kaboom, or that shooting a can of bp will make it go kaboom, or just hitting a small pile of it on a cinder block with a hammer will make it go kaboom.

    But that fallacy makes me laugh and pause and raise a few good natured questions for black powder enthusiasts.

    If its a contact sensitive material like nitro glycerine,,,,,

    1. why doesn't a cowboy wearing a revolver and cartridge belt ever get blown in half when hes thrown off a horse and lands on those evil dangerous easily exploded by contact black powder cartridges?

    2. If its so sensitive, why doesn't firing the revolver make the other loaded blackpowder cartridges in the cylinder go off as well?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I've been loading black since 76 and have never heard that.
    The only amendment the Democrats support is the 5th.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub




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    Good question! Often wondered the same thing


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Come on we all seen the cowboy shoot the keg of powder and it explodes taking out the bad guys. ( Sons of Katie Elders ). I'm not saying it cant happen almost any volitale material can "Diesel" under the right conditions. But I put this in the same as static setting BP off. Its a rare occurance.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Minuteshaver View Post
    Im always being told that black powder is impact sensitive. That dropping it will make it go kaboom, or that shooting a can of bp will make it go kaboom, or just hitting a small pile of it on a cinder block with a hammer will make it go kaboom.
    Your source of info has watched to many old westerns. BP is not impact sensitive.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Your source of info has watched to many old westerns. BP is not impact sensitive.
    Absolutely BP being impact sensitive is an Urban Legend - Period ...
    I had a fella in my gun room one day and he said the same words ... "It's impact sensitive" I said, "OK, watch this"
    Put about 20 grains of FFFg on a piece of lead sheeting - took a steel hammer and beat the **** out of the pile until it was smashed the size of flour. He then said - "I guess your right, it is not impact sensitive"

    Black powder sprinkled in a line of powder, lite with a match just goes 'poof' and burns. Loaded in a cap and ball or a brass case, the primer ignites the powder column and it deflagurates (not an explosion) because black powder is classified as a low explosive because of its relatively slow decomposition rate and consequently low brisance.

    So tell your buddies who say it is impact sensitive that they are full of 'meadow muffins'
    Regards
    John

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



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    Some of the first multiple shot firearms/cannon were a single barrel with up to 10 charges loaded on top of each other with multiple flash holes. They did have issues with inadequate seals touching of the next charge but the impact was never an issue.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Does black powder under any condition actually detonate?

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I have a nephew in SE Oklahoma who years ago had a coffee can about half full of black powder that had caked. He placed the can at the base of a pine tree about a hundred yards out, and shot it with, I believe, a 22-250. Very nearly uprooted the tree, and he was deaf for several hours. So, that tells me it will detonate.

  10. #10
    I'm A Honcho!

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    I saw the top one-half of a wooden fence post disappear when a pound of black powder sitting on it was hit by a bullet from a .223. We were back about 100 yards. You would not want to be closer.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    i have shot a can of black powder with a 17 mach 4 to test this.
    it exploded.
    i have laid out a line of plack powder on the ground an lit one end.
    the whole lot went up at once.
    enough to convince me.
    keep safe,
    bruce.

    i feel obliged to edit this.

    anyone trying these things should take great care.
    if shooting a can of black powder you should do it at a safe distance and give consideration to what is near the powder, including people or animals that might wander in.

    if lighting a line of powder find a way to ignite it from a distance.
    a match or cigarette lighter is too close and you will get burned badly.
    it goes at the speed of detinator cord, used to set off multiple charges at once.

    what happens is so fast that there is no time to react.

    while many people report using auto powder measuring devices safely (up until the report), what could happen if it goes wrong is not worth the risk. it is like firearm safety, there is no such thing as too much.
    Last edited by BRUCE MOULDS; 09-14-2017 at 06:09 PM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master



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    In the 70's when I mistakenly stopped using real BP in favor of Prodex I made some cardboard tubed m80 type firecracker. Shot a couple with the 30/06. They did not detonate.

    Currently out of town but I will test again when I get back.

    Some interesting discussion here

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.ph...-of-bp.364447/
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 09-14-2017 at 06:20 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master



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    Never saw one of these in person

    https://www.google.com/amp/peashoote...multi-shot/amp

    but I have shot a 4 shot 62 cal pistol of similar design in a caplock.

    The unfired charges of bp would be compressed to the 10k to 18k range.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 09-14-2017 at 08:47 PM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Detonation is different than a deflagration. Both are commonly called explosions.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Shooting a metal can with metallic bullets generates impressive heat at the point of impact, along with possible sparks. That would be what set the above samples off, not impact/shock.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Drydock View Post
    Shooting a metal can with metallic bullets generates impressive heat at the point of impact, along with possible sparks. That would be what set the above samples off, not impact/shock.
    As a kid my dad, uncle a myself started my uncles pasture on fire when shooting an old plow shear with ap. We got it out before it became a prairie fire.

    My uncle just about rolled the tractor driving across the damn. Dad an I were losing the battle using shovels. The 7 bottom plow made short work of it.

    Since than I limit shooting metallic items until winter and full snow cover. Shot couple of dozen 1 pound rusty propane bottles. Never got one of those to ignite like the movies either. With a secondary flame source best I could get was a jet of fame.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 09-14-2017 at 10:27 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I have been shooting BP now for 55 years - rifle, pistol, smoothbore, carriage and even full size Civil War cannons and mortars. A lot of "old wives tales" have been heard during that time. It's like anything else - you common sense in handling it. I'm more afraid about some moron smoking around an open container or even an open container and a patch flying back to it than i am about any of the other nonsense that is often spread about it.

    As far as it deteriorating -in years past, I have pulled live charges out of old guns that people brought to me to work on and in may cases, i was a good thing tat someone didn't put a cap on the nipple and pull the trigger as the BP charge was still just fine. When my grandfather died in 1963, I foound his powder container that he carried his BP in of this half stock rifle. (He was born in 1867). It was half full of 3F). I pulled a charge from it a few years ago and it shot just fine. I'm guessing the powder is probably around 110 years old or so. I recently bought one of the old 1# Dupont cans from h3 1920'ss o it was about third full of 3F - i pulled a charge from it and it too went off just fine. In my wood powder magazine box that I keep my powder locked up in, I have some 1# cans that I bought back in the 1960s, so it disclose to 50 yeas old -for some reason I just didn't use them as thy were the old style/design cans and I was "saving" them -it works just fine. If kept dry and handled correctly, it will last well beyond your lifetime and mine as well.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Remark removed, as I was in error.
    LG
    Last edited by Lumpy grits; 09-15-2017 at 06:13 PM.
    Hav'n you along-Is like lose'n 2 good men

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    In 1961 the Civil War Centennial was in the news big time and several fellow employees had joined one of the Blue & Grey shooting & reenacting groups. I joined one of the Grey teams. At a meeting one Saturday a fellow club member showed up wit a bag of 58 caliber paper cartridges from the St Louis Arsenal in 1863. They were in packets of eight. He also had some loose rounds. He tore the paper off one of them and poured the powder on the sidewalk, he then proceeded to lite a match to see if it would ignite. The flash went off so fast it burned the hair off the hand that held the match. Like the old saying goes, you can't fix stupid. I have several 45-70 cartridges marked FA 4-92. I am confident that if I pulled one of the bullets, that the powder would ignite if I held a lit match to it. I have no intention of doing that.
    A GUN THAT'S COCKED AND UNLOADED AIN'T GOOD FOR NUTHIN'........... ROOSTER COGBURN

  20. #20
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpy grits View Post
    If one does not believe BP is impact sensitive.
    Do you remember what 'caps' were made with, for toy cap-guns?
    LG
    Not blackpowder. The Armstrong mix was the most common.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cap_gun

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armstrong%27s_mixture

    Potassium nitrate is not impact sensitive nor is sulfur or charcoal.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check