Powder Identification

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One of the challenges of buying at a garage sale or flea market, was something nasty put in that old jug. As far as powder, I think if anyone puts smokeless power in a black powder can is just being malicious. Test it and be careful
 
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Smokeless powder will have a strong acrid odor. If it does toss the lot but keep the cans. If it doesn't, dump some out and compare to known real bp you may have already. Finally, as others have suggested, test fire some. Once you are convinced it is real bp, go ahead and use. But figuring out if it is genuine antique DuPont may be impossible.
 

JCKelly

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Was looking to buy a used T/C caplock on the web. Decade or so back. Seller kindly(?) informed me he had been using just small loads of smokeless in it, had no problems.
Taught me two things.
The first is never ever buy a used caplock. You have no idea what was shot in it.
A lawyer once sent me pieces of a rifle that had blown & damaged parts of his client. Said it had been used with 110 - 115 gr GOEX w patched ball some 40 - 50 times. Indeed, there were some grains of black remaining. Funny thing. The way it was blown looked just like the same make of rifle which had used smokeless. Then I learned that "Oh yeah, shooter had used "light" loads, his measure set for 50gr black, of Unique smokeless pistol powder a few times, then went back to black. The shot with black blinded him in his right eye and caused his left arm to be amputated below the elbow. Not the gun's fault

Yes, I am that P.I.T.A. metallurgist who really does not like to hear such things. Decades ago when a couple of now deceased writers were concerned about safety I was expert witness in a few muzzle loader cases.

Oh, and the second thing I learned is dumb as some gun store guys were back in mid-fifties (smoking around black) today people just don't know much at all about black powder. Even your Grampa didn't use it. Mine did.

Jlutz, throw that questionable stuff down the toilet. Not worth your body parts.

Wanna shoot something now when ammo hard to get? Buy a nice Daisy Red Ryder. My newish Chinese is easier to shoot than my Michigan gun from the '50's.
Shoot outdoors back yard or in the basement. Until believable GOEX is available once more.
 

Sam squanch

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Some early semi smokeless powder can look like black powder . Do you know someone who can analyze it ,like in a lab, for you?
 

Sam squanch

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Black powder is a crumbly grey. Smokeless is very distinctive as formed flakes, or sticks, or even little donuts. Just use google images and you'll see. And I strongly doubt that someone would put smokeless powder into a bp can.
I’ve seen it done by accident. Not worth taking the risk
 

troy2000

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There's no dumb stunt so stupid that someone somewhere hasn't pulled it. But I'd say the odds are very good there's no smokeless in those cans... as others have said, just test a small sample out of each one.
 

gustrolland

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Black powder is a crumbly grey. Smokeless is very distinctive as formed flakes, or sticks, or even little donuts. Just use google images and you'll see. And I strongly doubt that someone would put smokeless powder into a bp can.
I have seen German military powder in VERY hot machine gun in 9mm that is to hot for handguns that looked like the old black diamond powder that was on display at the old Lewis and Clark fort on the Oregon coast before that replica fort burnt
 

Erwan

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Long time ago we had black powder (doesn't exist anymore), really black and looking perfectly like the Black powder, it was the Vectan BA5 and just with a look you can easily confuse this with real black powder but in fact it was a black nitro-cellulosic powder in small grains...

Black powder could be hazardous to your health....... 😨
 
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I frequent yard sales, flea markets never buy any type of gun powder at them, same for primers, caps. You just never know. My advise is throw it away or burn it really is not worth the risk.
 

shorthair

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You could pour each can in a glass bowl and look at it, if there is any spherical, stick, flake mixed in then make fertilizer out of it.
 
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Thanks all for the input. Interesting side note is the price of BP on the cans, one is $2.10, the others look like $2.65. Also a couple of interesting caps of “Alcan” primers.
 

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Dashing Leper

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Another thing to worry about is if someone got the bright idea of mixing substitutes together or, worse still, substitutes with black powder.
 

Eterry

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Thanks all for the input. Interesting side note is the price of BP on the cans, one is $2.10, the others look like $2.65. Also a couple of interesting caps of “Alcan” primers.

Been reloading 40 years, shotgun, pistol, rifle. There is plenty of smokeless powder that could be confused with Black Powder. So there's that.

But, there's NO powder that will burn like Black powder. It flashes, as described above. Smokeless powder will burn at varying rates, but there's no mistaking black powder.

That must be early 70s, maybe earlier, based on the cost.
 

hanshi

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Rifleman1776 is correct about the smell of smokeless. Black smells like, well, basically charcoal. Smokeless powders have a very different odor in a fresh can. If smokeless gets stored badly and deteriorates there will be a fairly strong "paint thinner" type odor.

Things you can do: Pour some in a bowl, examine it closely while stirring through it to make sure the grains are uniform. Then do the "burn test". Do carefully compare it with different smokeless powders you may have on hand. If it passes all these tests it will likely be okay. You can also get someone else (who is familiar with smokeless and black) to examine it and proffer an opinion.
 
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