Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Smokeless (gun)powder without sophisticated industry? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 1:49 am    Post subject: Smokeless (gun)powder without sophisticated industry?         Reply with quote

Does anybody know if there's any formula for (relatively) smokeless firearm propellants that can be produced without the amenities of modern industry, especially without the widespread availability of pure chemicals? I'm thinking of a post-apocalyptic scenario here, where modern industry and international trade is basically gone, but a fair amount of our modern know-how is still preserved (if rather haphazardly). The propellant formula and its production process must have been developed before the crash, of course -- perhaps for the exact eventuality of such an industrial breakdown.

If there's no such thing, I suppose I can always fall back on black powder . . . .

(P.S. : if any of you is wondering, yes, it's for fiction. I'm not keen on going into that kind of extreme survivalist mode just yet.)
View user's profile Send private message
Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 2:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as my basic understanding of chemistry is concerned smoke is largely made up of parts of the original mixture carried away with the expanding gasses that make up the explosion which haven't reacted for some reason.

Thus minimizing the amount of smoke would need a near perfect reaction which needs a) very pure chemicals as any impurities will interfere with the reaction, b) very precise mixtures so the stoichiometric ratios are as perfect as they can be and c) very evenly mixed reactants.

While technically possible by hand - provided you have enough time, resources and high-tech equipment such as very fine balances for example - I doubt that this can be achieved for any practical purposes or at any efficient rate to be actually usable.

Europe - Where the History comes from. - Eddie Izzard
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website ICQ Number
Tom King




Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 429

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 2:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The funny thing, black powder made with just charcoal and saltpeter IS smokeless; it just has a higher ignition temperature that sulfur containing powders and a slightly lower amount of energy when compared to the "perfect" powder mix. a normal primer in a cartrige loaded with won't have a problem firing, but flintlocks and wheelocks did not handle it as well, due to the higher ignition temperature. matchlocks however can shoot it fine. Not technically needing sulphur to produce powder takes away one of the main stumbling blocks to firearm production- sulfur supply, which in the pre modern era needed to be mined,not synthesized.

and despite some misinformation out there on the internet, modern cartirges loaded with black powder shoot fine, just with the kind of smoke cloud you'd expect from blackpowder

http://www.musketeer.ch/blackpowder/recipe.html
View user's profile Send private message
Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 1,218

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 3:11 am    Post subject: Re: Smokeless (gun)powder without sophisticated industry?         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Does anybody know if there's any formula for (relatively) smokeless firearm propellants that can be produced without the amenities of modern industry, especially without the widespread availability of pure chemicals? I'm thinking of a post-apocalyptic scenario here, where modern industry and international trade is basically gone, but a fair amount of our modern know-how is still preserved (if rather haphazardly). The propellant formula and its production process must have been developed before the crash, of course -- perhaps for the exact eventuality of such an industrial breakdown.

If there's no such thing, I suppose I can always fall back on black powder . . . .

(P.S. : if any of you is wondering, yes, it's for fiction. I'm not keen on going into that kind of extreme survivalist mode just yet.)


Stick with black powder, a mixture which can be made, not necessarily easily, by anyone with the three ingredients, versus modern smokeless which is a compound and very difficult to make without the proper chemicals, technology and understanding of the process.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
View user's profile Send private message
Ron Reimer




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Aug 2010

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 3:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about guncotton? Basically nitrated cotton,also your forgetting the primers which are an important part of getting a safe reliable ignition with the smokeless type powders.So maybe you need to look at the old mercuric type primer mixtures.Chlorate based powders are also an option.
View user's profile Send private message
Mike Janis




Location: Atlanta GA
Joined: 26 Feb 2007

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Every formula for smokeless powder that I have ever heard of requires nitric acid. Nasty stuff and hard to obtain now. Some also require sulfuric acid which is easy to obtain and not nearly as nasty.

On the gripping hand, Black powder can be made from charcoal, sulfur and chicken manure. A much more likely product after TSHTF.

MikeJ
View user's profile Send private message
Ron Reimer




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Aug 2010

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given the original question , nitric acid is surprisingly easy to make , even with improvised methods.And its used in a large number of commercial and industrial uses so scavenging is a possibility.It can be made with potassium or sodium nitrate, and nitrate based propellants don't require a source of sulphur, which you'd need to either mine, or extract from scavenged materials.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Smokeless (gun)powder without sophisticated industry?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum