Gun powder or Black Powder as it is often called, is the oldest propellant known for use in fire arms. As made for small arms, it is usually a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal. Sodium nitrate is used in place of potassium nitrate in blasting powders which, by the way, should not be used in small arms ammunition as the sodium nitrate makes the powder more violent in its action. It also increases the tendency of the powder to gather dampness and is more difficult to ignite.

Originally, gun powder was in fact a "powder", the ingredients being simply ground up together, but for many years it has been made in a granular form. While none of our propellants are in reality "powders*', that name has been attached to propellants for fire arms for so long that it

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