Black Powder

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black powder

[¦blak ′pau̇d·ər]
A low explosive consisting of an intimate mixture of potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Black Powder


an explosive propellant, which is obtained by carefully fragmenting and mixing potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in the proportions (by percentage weight) of 75:15:10.

Black powder is easily ignited and burns rapidly without air to form gases that are able to perform considerable mechanical work. It is one of the oldest explosives. No accurate date has been established for its invention; it was known in Europe by the 13th century and in China no later than the tenth to 11th centuries. For many centuries it was the only explosive used in military affairs. Because of the relatively small heat of explosion (approximately half that of trinitrotoluene), the poor detonation capability, and other drawbacks it was gradually replaced by other explosives. It is used in small quantities to make time fuses, in the extraction of block rubble, and in articles produced by pyrotechnics.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The original loads for both .45 Colt and .44-40 were 40 grains of black powder. Modern brass, with its solid head, will not hold this much powder, more like 35.0 to 37.0 grains is normal.
One end of a Pyrodex Pellet has a "secret formula" black ignition cap (actually black powder) that aids in lighting the pellet and should always face down, into the breech of the barrel.
One thing is for sure, however, once you get black powder in a pipeline, you will never get rid of it.
In one original loaner I shot, velocity hit 1,501 fps with 85 grains of black powder and a 314-gr.
If the loading table calls for 40 grains of black powder then you use a 40-gr.
With black powder, there was always a revealing puff of smoke after a shot.
First, the fuse ignites the black powder inside the shell.
"We believe that our technique makes the NRA's concerns regarding destabilization of black powder a moot point," says Isotag's chief financial officer, Desmonde Cowdery.
Because this handgun is made with a brass frame, we used a load of 25 grains of FFFg black powder (I generally prefer a 30-grain charge of FFFg black powder in a .44 caliber percussion revolver), .454-sized Speer swaged round balls, Ox-Yoke Originals Wonder Wads, and Remington No.
No smokeless need apply, but there is a long list of both black powder and black powder substitutes.
As Duke pointed out, in the black powder age the smoke itself was the prime deterrent to accurate, rapid shooting.