What in the world kind of powder is this


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ready4shtf
July 24, 2007, 12:06 PM
I just pulled a few bullets from some old .303 british (50s and 60s manufacture), and instead of having gunpowder, they had what appeared to be a yellow waxy solid where the powder charge should be. I scraped it all out and had a small pile of what looked like waxy wood shavings. I lit one of the shavings and it did burn. Is that some old kind of propellant?

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cdrt
July 24, 2007, 12:14 PM
According to my old copy of Cartridges of the World, .303s from that timeframe were probably loaded with cordite powder, which is different from the nitrocellulose powder used by American cartridge manufacturers. Looks like that's what you may be looking at.

fatelk
July 24, 2007, 12:15 PM
Yellow, waxy solid? Could it have been deteriorated cordite?

Cordite was a nitroglycerine based propellant used commonly in old .303 ammo, but it looks more like uncooked spaggetti; thin yellow rods the length of the case.

ready4shtf
July 24, 2007, 12:19 PM
Exactally what it is. Little stringey yellow things. It took about an hour to get it all out, as it had some sort of wax filler.

Bad Flynch
July 24, 2007, 12:25 PM
Your cartridges were, as previously noted, loaded with Cordite. Cordite was an early development in smokeless powder and went through several iterations.

For the most part, Cordite was nitrocellulose based with a relatively high percentage of nitroglycerin added to increase energy. The high nitroglycerin content made it very erosive on the bore at first, so eventually they lowered the percentage somewhat in certain uses.

It derives its waxy appearance from the inclusion of petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline). Cordite was extruded in long, spagetti-like rods and loaded into straight cases. Then, after the powder was in, the bottleneck of the case was formed around the powder and eventually the bullet was seated. The petroleum jelly was added to make it less fragile during loading. This is one of the best arguments, of which I am aware, that grease will not kill smokeless powder, although it might change the burning rate some.

RexDart
July 24, 2007, 12:27 PM
Box'o'Truth (http://www.theboxotruth.com/index.htm) has an article (http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/edu30.htm) about cordite and .303 Brit. Worth a read.

ready4shtf
July 24, 2007, 12:28 PM
Well, I can definately attest to the varying burn times. when I was shooting last weekend I had a few that were flintlock style delay when shooting. I could hear the firing pin strike and then a hesitation, and then finally the bang. I actually thought I had a misfire for about 1/4 of a sec.

Carl N. Brown
July 24, 2007, 01:32 PM
I had an unusual number of duds in a batch of .303 Brit
of WWII vintage, and disassembled them for the bullets.

The Cordite was in the shape and appearance of yellow uncooked
spaghetti strands as long as the distance from the head of the
case to the neck.

It perked my interest so I looked it up.

The manufacturer inserted the cordite in the cases before the
cases were necked down to take the bullet, and a cardboard wad
was seated between the cordite and the bullet (apparently to
prevent an air space in the case).

I don't think Cordite has been available as a reloader option,
just in arsenal manufacture, so it is strange to the hobbyist.

It is like, who loaded these cartridges with spaghetti?

ready4shtf
July 24, 2007, 01:35 PM
I had alot of misfires too. Turned out to be the firing pin, but I too pulled some bullets and thought somebody had played a prank on me by loading earwax rods instead of powder. Thanks to this thread, I now know better.

Oh, and thanks for the box of truth article. That described it perfectly.

DMZ
July 24, 2007, 01:43 PM
That was a very informative and interesting article you post the link to RexD.

Thanks. :D

RecoilRob
July 24, 2007, 08:02 PM
A note on Cordite.....the more you put together, the faster it burns. Light a single strand...it takes a while for the flame to travel its' length. Put several together and the flame travels their lenght much quicker.

Put a full 3lb coffee can full of Cordite on the ground, light a cigarette and drop it on top.

Run.

Made QUITE the fireball with loud 'WHOOMP' sound. Didn't burn much at all before it exploded.

Looking back, not the smartest thing I have ever done. And, this was before YouTube....I could'a been a star!

redneck2
July 25, 2007, 05:21 AM
Put a full 3lb coffee can full of Cordite on the ground, light a cigarette and drop it on top.

Run.

Made QUITE the fireball with loud 'WHOOMP' sound. Didn't burn much at all before it exploded.

Before you did it, did you say "Hold my beer and watch this"?

RecoilRob
July 25, 2007, 11:24 PM
Yes, something like that! Actually, we ALL put down our beers and had the cameras going for the demonstration.

And, many of us had read about the 'smell of Cordite in the air' and rushed out after the fireball went up to sniff the air. It does have a unique smell.

We are a bunch of weirdos, I guess.....

Carl N. Brown
July 26, 2007, 04:40 PM
In the novel the Day of the Jackal the assassin completes his
disguise as a sick old war vet by eating a piece of cordite.
In the novel it made him ill and turned his skin grey temprarily.
I will leave my sample of cordite in a zip bag in my loading box.

wcwhitey
July 26, 2007, 07:11 PM
It does have a distinct smell. From what I have read there were several artillery rounds loaded with Cordite as well, not just .303. They were apparently as thick as a pencil. Make sure you clean your barrel well after shooting the old .303 surplus rounds with Cordite. They are corrosive! Bill

Sistema1927
July 26, 2007, 08:05 PM
Are your hangfire rounds marked POF?

That Pakistani crap is the poorest .303 I have ever seen.

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