BUYING EXPLOSIVES AND PROPELLANTS Almost any city or town of reasonable size has a gun sto

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

BUYING EXPLOSIVES AND PROPELLANTS Almost any city or town of reasonable size has a gun store and one or more pharmacies. These are two of the places that potential terrorists visit in order to purchase explosive material. All that one has to do is know something about the non- explosive uses of the materials. Black powder, for example, is used in blackpowder firearms. It comes in varying "grades", with each different grade being a slightly different size. The grade of black powder depends on what the calibre of the gun that it is used in; a fine grade of powder could burn too fast in the wrong caliber weapon. The rule is: the smaller the grade, the faster the burn rate of the powder. BLACK POWDER Black powder is generally available in three grades. As stated before, the smaller the grade, the faster the powder burns. Burn rate is extremely important in bombs. Since an explosion is a rapid increase of gas volume in a confined environment, to make an explosion, a quick-burning powder is desirable. The three common grades of black powder are listed below, along with the usual bore width (calibre) of what they are used in. Generally, the fastest burning powder, the FFF grade is desirable. However, the other grades and uses are listed below: GRADE BORE WIDTH EXAMPLE OF GUN ÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ F .50 or greater model cannon; some rifles FF .36 - .50 large pistols; small rifles FFF .36 or smaller pistols; derringers The FFF grade is the fastest burning, because the smaller grade has more surface area or burning surface exposed to the flame front. The larger grades also have uses which will be discussed later. The price range of black powder, per pound, is about $8.50 - $9.00. The price is not affected by the grade, and so one saves oneself time and work if one buys the finer grade of powder. The major problems with black powder are that it can be ignited accidentally by static electricity, and that it has a tendency to absorb moisture from the air. To safely crush it, a one would use a plastic spoon and a wooden salad bowl. Taking a small pile at a time, he or she would apply pressure to the powder through the spoon and rub it in a series of strokes or circles, but not too hard. It is fine enough to use when it is about as fine as flour. The fineness, however, is dependant on what type of device one wishes to make; obviously, it would be impracticle to crush enough powder to fill a 1 foot by 4 inch radius pipe. Any adult can purchase black powder, since anyone can own black powder firearms in the United States. PYRODEX Pyrodex is a synthetic powder that is used like black powder. It comes in the same grades, but it is more expensive per pound. However, a one pound container of pyrodex contains more material by volume than a pound of black powder. It is much easier to crush to a very fine powder than black powder, and it is considerably safer and more reliable. This is because it will not be set off by static electricity, as black can be, and it is less inclined to absorb moisture. It costs about $10.00 per pound. It can be crushed in the same manner as black powder, or it can be dissolved in boiling water and dried. ROCKET ENGINE POWDER One of the most exciting hobbies nowadays is model rocketry. Estes is the largest producer of model rocket kits and engines. Rocket engines are composed of a single large grain of propellant. This grain is surrounded by a fairly heavy cardboard tubing. One gets the propellant by slitting the tube length- wise, and unwrapping it like a paper towel roll. When this is done, the gray fire clay at either end of the propellant grain must be removed. This is usually done gently with a plastic or brass knife. The material is exceptionally hard, and must be crushed to be used. By gripping the grain in the widest setting on a set of pliers, and putting the grain and powder in a plastic bag, the powder will not break apart and shatter all over. This should be done to all the large chunks of powder, and then it should be crushed like black powder. Rocket engines come in various sizes, ranging from 1/4 A - 2T to the incredibly powerful D engines. The larger the engine, the more expensive. D engines come in packages of three, and cost about $5.00 per package. Rocket engines are perhaps the single most useful item sold in stores to a terrorist, since they can be used as is, or can be cannibalized for their explosive powder. RIFLE/SHOTGUN POWDER Rifle powder and shotgun powder are really the same from a practicle standpoint. They are both nitrocellulose based propellants. They will be referred to as gunpowder in all future references. Smokeless gunpowder is made by the action of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid upon cotton or some other cellulose material. This material is then dissolved by solvents and then reformed in the desired grain size. When dealing with smokeless gunpowder, the grain size is not nearly as important as that of black powder. Both large and small grained smokeless powder burn fairly slowly compared to black powder when unconfined, but when it is confined, gunpowder burns both hotter and with more gaseous expansion, producing more pressure. Therefore, the grinding process that is often necessary for other propellants is not necessary for smokeless powder. owder costs about $9.00 per pound. In most states any citizen with a valid driver's license can buy it, since there are currently few restrictions on rifles or shotguns in the U.S. There are now ID checks in many states when purchasing powder at a retail outlet. Mail-orders aren't subject to such checks. Rifle powder and pyrodex may be purchased by mail order, but UPS charges will be high, due to DOT regulations on packaging. -= Exodus =-


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank