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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Shelf Life of Real Black Gun Powder 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Shelf Life of Real Black Gun Powder  (Read 434 times)
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« on: May 25, 2018, 06:21:59 pm »

I have been asked what is the life span of real Black Gun Powder?
Well essentially since it is made of three substances carbon and sulfur which are elements and cannot break down and potassium nitrate which is a very stable chemical my answer would be, as long as it is kept dry, I have no idea other than a very long time.

I have read reports of civil war ordinance exploding when accidentally ignited so that would give some sort of time line.

My experience is presently I am shooting my way through some Du Pont FFFg powder that, I believe, dates from the 1970’s and goes through my revolvers with no ignition problems. It is a little dirty when it comes to fouling, and I would not use it in a rifle unless it was swabbed out every two or three rounds, but in the revolvers, it works just fine.

It is slightly “clumpy” in the can but loosens up when stirred gently with a copper rod. It was found in Rail Way Express marked box so that should give some idea of the age of the powder. Nice little one-pound metal cans, clean and rust free.

So as best as I can tell the answer to the question is…
“I don’t know the answer to the question”.

But it will last longer than you will last so don’t be afraid to stock up.

Respectfully submitted
MA1 USN ret. GAF #19, Colonel, Chief of Staff. BC, CC, SoM. SASS 1248 Life
American Plainsmen Society
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2018, 07:49:54 pm »

As it is a mechanical mixture, not an organic compound, dang near infinite if not disturbed.  I remember once some Civil War shells being dug up on a beach in North Carolina.  Naval Ordnance was called in (they were 11" Dahlgren rounds) who carefully piled them in a pit, covered them with dirt, then set them off.  The bang was just as big and loud as it would have been in 1864.

Civilize them with a Krag . . .
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2018, 09:11:27 pm »

I remember a long while back, some treasure hunters recovered a really old Cannon that had been "spiked."  Measurement of the inside of the bore verses the outside of the gun indicated something inside.  Their idea was to drill out the spike and see what was in there.  Not the most brilliant thing to do.  Apparently, the gun had been loaded and the ball sealed the bore.  The gun was spiked at some point (Spiking plugs the touch hole)

These intrepid treasure finders had partially cleaned the barnacles and crusting off the gun then had it with a cordless 1/2 inch drill.  AS the drill penetrated the chamber, sparking all the way, the gun FIRED.  The ball went thru one side of the boat and the gun recoiled out the other side of the boat.  Other than some scrapes and slight powder burns our intrepid salvers were unhurt.  They elected not to bring up any more of the guns (about a dozen+).  I don't have any information as to whom went back (if ever) to recover the rest of the guns.

Real Gonna Powder properly cared for (dry) lasts and lasts and lasts and .................
Major 2
"Still running against the wind"
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 06:49:47 am »

I found this peaked interest ....went and looked at my modest collection of old BP tin cans....

I have an empty DuPont Superfine not sure how old , a couple of Gearhart-Owen & a couple of Goex tins  and  a 1/3 full tin of FFF Elephant Brand - lot 205  dates 2 /1997.

I did not set out to collect these just happened, all but the DuPont tin were purchased full for use at the time 1970-90 ...
The DuPont was empty when I found it in an antique mart... for $6  and thought it was vintage cool.

I recalled the Elephant had powder inside that is as it turns out 21 years old , I believe it may have been  some of the last imported from Brazil.

Today, I have KiK in plastic jars ,  it works but not as cool as the old cans....

Sorry for the drift, just waxing nostalgic     Smiley

* BP DUPONT.jpg (50.29 KB, 371x500 - viewed 15 times.)

* BP Gearhart-Owen .jpg (162.49 KB, 415x372 - viewed 19 times.)

* BP Goex.jpg (32.68 KB, 226x340 - viewed 16 times.)

* BP Elephant.jpg (150.42 KB, 265x418 - viewed 15 times.)
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 07:11:34 am »

I made two studies of Alliant BlackMZ vs. Grafs Reenactor and BlackMZ vs. Goex FFg.  I had picked up the can of Goex at a flea market and it had about a half pound of powder in it.  The Goex powder was old.  I just don't know how old.  I show the codes on the bottom of the can in the video.
Lumpy Grits
The Mojave Desert.......... Palmdale, Ca. U.S.A. Earth
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 06:54:03 pm »

Everything depends on just how it was stored.

'Hav'n you along-Is like loose'n 2 good men'
Gabriel Law
American Plainsmen Society
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2018, 11:44:24 am »

Kept dry, I submit black powder will last indefinitely.  Shooting it nullifies that claim.
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2018, 12:56:08 pm »

To add to what Gabriel Law said, "Shooting it nullifies that claim.",
Also washing its compound parts away with water before it is shoot will help nullify its long term explosive abilities.
My best,

A Time for Prayer.
"In times of war and not before,
God and the soldier we adore.
But in times of peace and all things right,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted"
by Rudyard Kipling.
Blair Taylor
Life-C 21
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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Shelf Life of Real Black Gun Powder « previous next »
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