Is it possible to make gunpowder for modern firearms post SHTF?

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Kenny Lee

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I think the gunpowder we have is no longer our historic mixture of charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter. However if supply chain goes down, and for years on end we have to fend for ourselves, can we reload using home-made formulas?

Do we need to go back to rifled muskets? How hard is it to make the modern powder for our ar-15s and 9mm?

This thought just struck me today thinking about ammo shortages.
 

jimLE

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good thought.it'd be great if we can mix our own..but who makes the 1st shot after it's loaded? lol
 

DannyboyDS

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I believe modern gun powder is actually "Smokeless powder" same concept but it has been enhanced for some time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokeless_powder

I wouldn't recommend mucking around with any mixtures of chemicals if you don't fully understand the chemistry behind it, this link explains what it is, not how to make it exactly.

If SHTF and you have to use homemade stuff, I would look at making it more stable and enhancing it's burn rate, what will you use for primers in your shells and cases?
 

Kenny Lee

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That is all the question that vexes me, what gun is most forgiving for using home made powder, how to make a primer, things like that. I wonder how they did it in the civil war right when self contain cartridges started coming onto the scene. Worse case scenario, go back to cap and ball revolvers.

Also if I absolutely had to fire it off, I would tie a string to the trigger and be far away for a test first :p
 

jimLE

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what danny and bubba suggested..stock up on ammo.go with more then what (you) think you need.then go out and practice.and if your fireing a rifle.then make sure the scope is sited in right for you...and all the while,if your still thinking about mixing your own powder.then look into it.and learn what you can.and of course,the primer as well..
 

Kenny Lee

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I am just preparing for the long long term, and I am also of the firm belief that all battle plans fail survival with first contact. There are just too many unknowns, especially with stockpiling ammo or supplies. Here are things that can go wrong.

1. Constant marauders draining your supplies.
2. Ammo depot getting hit. (I was at FOB Falcon in 2006 when it got hit with a mortar round, mainstream media said it looked like a mushroom cloud over the base, that day I figured I knew what a Viet Cong felt like in a tunnel with constant 155mm rounds booming all around me.)
3. After too long you just run out. Years maybe.
4. Scenario forces you to bug out, flood, radiation, disease, local confiscatory authorities.
5. Say you stock pile 20,000 rounds of 5.56 and then in a fire fight your ar-15 gets hit making in non-functional.
 

DannyboyDS

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Do you have spare parts, or a spare identical weapon? You make really good points, but making gunpowder isn't like baking a cake, impurties or static could ruin your day, it wont be like a massive bang if it happens during manufacturing, more like a hot bright sustained flash, after which your hands and face might end up pretty messed up.

In this post SHTF situation, where will you find the raw materials to make it? I just don't like the idea of anyone making this sort of stuff, make a spud gun out of PVC pipe, it will launch a potato at your enemies, and will give you that old fashioned muzzle loading action fun. (Sorry that last part was a joke)
 

Kenny Lee

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hah, I don't ever plan on doing any of that stuff while the government is still standing, no reason to blow my face off. This is best left for desperate times! Just want to know in case, no internet after the collapse and all you know?
 

kcdevildog

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I would get a bow or crossbow for a back up after the cache is depleted. Mixing your own just sounds like a unnecessary risk.
 

doc pops

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One is none, two is one! Any kind of powder that I know of that could be made in a grid down scenario would foul up your 15 or any gas gun, BUT that Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, single or side by side would function just fine. Also a 45/70, was the cal/powder. Look on YouTube bet some one has done it, I know it was on there a few yrs back.
Good luck, be safe and God bless.
 

Gazrok

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good thought.it'd be great if we can mix our own..but who makes the 1st shot after it's loaded? lol
At a distance....with a string.

Buying any components would put you on lists, with all that is going on over in the U.S at the moment. I still want to know what you intend to use for primers?
Very true, unless you can pay cash. ;)
 

doc pops

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Actually, now would be the time to practice. The weapon could be put in a device like the led led and remotely fired from cover. I would keep very good notes as well as weights of each content used. When SHTF is not the time to try to figure out how this is done. You have net connection do your research now.
 

Gazrok

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I'd do that research from a computer that isn't traceable to you. That kind of searching is bound to put you on a list.
 

DrHenley

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In the Khyber Pass, they used old celluloid film for gunpowder. Chemically it is the same as smokeless powder (nitrocellulose) but with camphor added to plasticize it.

The basic process of making smokeless powder to soak cotton in nitric acid for two minutes, then rinse it, and let it dry (creating guncotton).
Then dissolve the guncotton in a solvent like acetone, ether or alcohol, extrude it into a string, chop it up into short pieces, and let it dry

Without some sort of stabilizer, nitrocellulose breaks down and become dangerous so it will not have an indefinite shelf life. -You'll have to have some safe way of working up a load. The old hide behind a tree and pull the trigger with a string method may be necessary for the initial work up.

BTW, many of the early smokeless powder factories exploded...so you might want to think twice about trying it at home.
 

Evolon73

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Just set up a section of my garage for science fun. Home-made gun powders is on my list. Safety and lots of research are of course priority. I google crap like pipe bombs all the time. I research so much stuff I am certainly on plenty of lists. But when I start purchasing things "that's" when the red flags will pop lol...
 

DrHenley

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If you can find some Trail Boss, I would suggest stocking up. It can be used in nearly every cartridge, and you don't need loading data. It is formulated to be used like black powder (just fill up the case with powder) You can use powder dippers instead of needing scales and powder measures. For pistols like 45 ACP, Trail Boss loads are near full loads. In bottleneck rifle cartridges, loads are about 1/2 the velocity of full loads. It is especially good for cast bullet loads, but can be used with jacketed bullets too.

Here is IMR's loading guide for Trail Boss:

http://www.imrpowder.com/PDF/Trail-Boss-data.pdf

Here is IMR's loading guide for Trail Boss:
 

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