Introducing Smokeless Powder

Introducing Smokeless Powder

Author: Shooting Times Magazine
Published: October 29, 2021

Learn about the transition from black powder to smokeless powder – a change that did not come easy. But, was well worth it!

“When I wrote about muzzle flash recently, I extensively referenced Tenney L. Davis’s classic textbook, The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives. It has been helpful in my understanding of propellant evolution and is a key source of historical information. Where Davis lacked information, I turned to Philip B. Sharpe’s Complete Guide to Handloading (Third Edition, 1953), which gives a superb and detailed account of propellant development and history, including actual component ratios taken from U.S. and foreign patents.

The development of nitroglycerine (NG) in Italy and nitrocellulose (NC) in Germany happened in 1846. We can trace our current propellant materials to those two breakthroughs. Treatment with nitric acid “supercharges” organic materials that contain stored energy; proper nitration enables the release of much more of that energy than normal burning.”


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