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Black powder substitute

A black powder substitute is a replacement for black powder used in muzzleloading and cartridge firearms. Black powder substitutes offer a number of advantages over black powder, primarily including reduced sensitivity, reduced fouling, and increased efficiency.

Types of substitutes

  Hodgdon's Pyrodex was the first widely available substitute on the market. Pyrodex is less sensitive than black powder, and uses the same shipping and storage guidelines as smokeless powder. Pyrodex is more powerful per unit of mass than black powder, but it is less dense, and can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio by volume for black powder in most applications. Pyrodex is similar in composition to black powder, consisting primarily of charcoal, sulphur, and potassium nitrate, but it also contains graphite and potassium perchlorate, plus additional ingredients protected by trade secret. Originally available as loose powder in two granularities, Pryrodex is now available in Select and solid pellet varieties. While Pyrodex offers improved safety and increased efficiency (in terms of shots per pound of powder) over black powder, the level of fouling is similar.

Hodgdon also makes Triple Seven, a reduced fouling substitute. Triple Seven also is based on charcoal, potassium nitrate, potassium perchlorate, and graphite, but does not contain sulphur. Additional ingredients are protected by trade secret.

Clean Shot and the short lived Black Canyon powders are reduced fouling, reduced smoke substitutes that rely on ascorbic acid as a fuel, while Goex's Clear Shot uses a complex sugar, possibly fructose, as a fuel. These all offer the benefit of more shots between cleaning than other charcoal-based powders.


With the increased safety of the black powder substitutes often comes a reduced sensitivity to ignition. Flintlocks in particular need very sensitive, finely granulated powder for use in the flash pan, and black powder tends to perform more reliably in these and traditional caplock guns than substitutes. Modern in-line muzzleloaders provide a stronger ignition than traditional designs, and this helps to increase reliability with the less sensitive substitutes.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Black_powder_substitute". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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