Hunting gunpowder, smoky and smokeless, composition, properties, features of application, positive and negative qualities.

Gunpowder is a propellant used to impart movement to a projectile. Hunting gunpowder is divided into two groups: mechanical nitrate-carbon disulfide mixtures (smoky gunpowder) and colloidal systems (smokeless gunpowder). 

Hunting gunpowder, smoky and smokeless, composition, properties, features of application, positive and negative qualities.

Mechanical mixtures, smoky or black hunting gunpowder.

The most common mixture is nitrate-carbon disulfide (75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur), called smoky or black powder. In the past, other similar smoky gunpowder was produced (for example, Lesmok), consisting of the same components, but in addition to them containing additives that improve ballistic qualities.

Currently, smoke is produced in two varieties: the highest (selected) and the first (ordinary). Selected smoky gunpowder differs from ordinary powder by higher ballistic data, which is achieved by a more thorough conduct of all processes of their fabrication. And the selected and ordinary smoky gunpowder is now made in three numbers that differ in grain size.

Hunting gunpowder, smoky and smokeless, composition, properties, features of application, positive and negative qualities.

In the past, industry produced gunpowder No. 1 (large) with a grain size of 0.8-1.25 mm and a number of other gunpowders (“Deer”, “Bear”, etc.). Their composition does not differ from the current gunpowder. Now these powder are not made, but in some places they could be preserved. Since, when stored properly, smokey gunpowder remains usable for a very long time, all of them can still be successfully used with cartridge loading today..

Positive qualities of smoky hunting gunpowder.

1. The ability to maintain their qualities during long-term storage. During storage, excluding the penetration of moisture, the properties of smoke powder remain unchanged for tens or even hundreds of years. Manufacturer’s warranty with closed packaging – 20 years.
2. Flammable even with a weak capsule.
3. Weak reaction to changes in charge density and less sensitivity to the quality of powder wads and pads. Convenience with ammunition.
4. Slight effect of powder gases on the metal of the barrel.
5. Low susceptibility to temperature changes.
6. Safety for medium-duty rifles, even in the case of increased (up to double) charge.

Negative qualities of smoky hunting gunpowder.

1. When wet, permanently loses its properties.
2. Ballistic indicators of a shot are usually lower than when shooting smokeless gunpowder. Bad shoot long distances and a bullet.
3. Forms a large amount of solid precipitation, which pollutes the trunk channels with soot and gives a thick cloud of smoke, sometimes making it difficult to re-shoot. Particular inconvenience when shooting in quiet, damp weather in reeds or shrubs. Not suitable for booth shooting.
4. Gives a strong return.
5. Gives a loud shot sound.

When working with smoke powder, you should pay attention to the following features:

1. There should be no clumping powder and especially powder dust in the powder.
2. The color of the grains should be black or slightly brownish, and their surface should be shiny.

Lumps in smoked powder and the matte surface of the grains indicate that the powder was smudged in the past and most likely cannot be used. Powder dust burns very quickly, which leads to a sharp increase in pressure in the trunks and is often the cause of their rupture.

When handling smoke powder and its storage, special care should be taken, as this is one of the most sensitive explosive substances to fire. Do not store black powder next to capsules and smokeless powder.

Smoke powder deteriorates when wet, so you need to store them in a dry place, preferably in an airtight package. It is most convenient to use a glass jar or a bottle with a well-ground glass or rubber stopper for this purpose..

In the literature you can find different opinions about the possibility of using smoke powder with the Zhevelo capsule. Some authors strongly do not recommend this, others – quite allow such a combination and even recommend it when firing bullets with cartridges loaded with black powder.

Without our own experience in using such cartridges, we still would not recommend using them, since in this case too high pressure may occur in the central part of the barrel channels.

Colloidal systems, smokeless gunpowder.

The basis of smokeless powders is nitrocellulose (pyroxylin), treated with various solvents that turn it into a plastic mass. Solvents may be volatile (e.g., various acids) or hardly volatile (e.g., nitroglycerin). Smokeless gunpowder modern guns contain volatile solvents.

Currently, the most common smokeless powder is the Falcon, the prototype of which began to be produced in Russia at the end of the XIX century. In recent years, the smokeless gunpowder “Bars” and “Sunar” appeared on sale, and a number of gunpowder produced in the 50-70s (“Pheasant”, “Golden Eagle”, etc.) went out of use.

The pressure created in the chamber and channel bore when firing cartridges loaded with smokeless powder is higher than when shooting with smoke powder. In the production of rifles, their testing is carried out precisely with this powder, which is confirmed by the corresponding stigma on the trunks. All modern weapons are designed to fire smokeless powder, but hunters still have guns in their hands that do not have such hallmarks. Do not shoot smokeless powder from them..

Positive qualities of smokeless gunpowder.

1. When firing cartridges with smokeless powder, the ballistic performance of the shot (sharpness and stability of the battle, etc.) is usually higher than that of cartridges equipped with smoke powder.
2. Smokeless powder has a low hygroscopicity, when wet and subsequent drying, it is quite suitable for use.
3. When fired, few solid particles are formed, polluting the trunks and giving a cloud of smoke.
4. The recoil when firing is weaker, and the sound of the shot is not as loud as when firing black powder.

Negative qualities of smokeless powder.

1. The shelf life of smokeless gunpowder is much less than smoky. For example, the warranty period for keeping the Falcon is 6 years.
2. The equipment of cartridges with smokeless gunpowder requires much more thoroughness than smoke. In some cases, even small deviations in the magnitude of the powder charge can lead to negative consequences..
3. Substances contained in smokeless powder exert an oxidizing effect on the metal of the bore.
4. Smokeless powder responds to sudden changes in temperature. With its repeated increase and decrease, it often loses its properties.
5. Normally, without the use of additional devices, it is not suitable in combination with a weak capsule.

Using smokeless gunpowder, it should be remembered that during prolonged storage volatile substances erode from it. The remaining nitrocellulose burns in the shell with an explosion that can destroy the chamber. Spoiled gunpowder is recognized by sour odor.

Features of the use of smokeless gunpowder “Sunar” and “Bars”.

Gunpowder “Falcon” is well known to hunters, as for gunpowder “Sunar” and “Bars”, a few words should be said about them. Gunpowder “Sunar” when fired gives indicators close to those of the “Falcon”, but has several advantages. With almost the same ballistic characteristics of the shot, it allows you to use a few (10%) less mass in the charge, and also gives less impact.

Particular care should be taken when using the Bars spherical gunpowder, since its density is significantly (1.8-1.9 times) greater than that of the Sokol. This powder must be weighed with the equipment of each cartridge, since the slightest error in volumetric measurement can lead to an increase in pressure in the chamber and the bore when firing. In some cases, when firing with cartridges equipped with “Bars”, its incomplete burnout is observed. Inexperienced hunters are better off not using this gunpowder..

There is a fairly large number of gunpowders, designed for use in cartridges for rifled weapons. Outwardly, they may resemble smokeless hunting gunpowder, but when burned, they give pressure that the trunks of ordinary hunting rifles are not designed for. Therefore, in no case should you equip cartridges with unfamiliar smokeless powder.

Based on materials from the book Encyclopedia of the Hunter.
Rudenko F.A., Semashko V.Yu., Cherenkov S.E., Matyunin M.M..

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