Taggents and powder


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IdahoSkies
April 24, 2013, 11:23 PM
I came into the shooting world well after the brouhaha of the 1990s. So when my neighbor brought up taggents I had not idea what he was talking about.

When I asked one of my shooting friends about what effect they would have on ammunition he told me that in the 90s the studies showed taggents caused all sorts of pressure problems and quality control problems.

Can anyone point me to any of those studies so I can rationally explain to my neighbor (who mentions something shooting related in a negative sense almost every time I see him its seems). Thanks.

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bds
April 25, 2013, 02:55 AM
Perhaps this study from 1980 may help. Excerpt from pages 22-23, 165-167 and 262 - http://ota.fas.org/reports/8017.pdf

Since then, NRA has worked to block legislations for adding taggants in smokeless powders.
Gunpowder - In this study, the term is used to refer to any of the propellants commonly used by those who engage in shooting for sport. These comprise black powder (which, strictly speaking, is what the term gunpowder means), smokeless powder, and Pyrodex (a black powder substitute). p262
Gun powders

The manufacture and distribution processes for gun powders are significantly different from those of explosives. Approximately 2 1/2 million lb of black powder and 20 million lb of smokeless powder are produced for commercial use each year. Most of the smokeless powder is used in fixed ammunition for rifles, pistols, and shotguns, would not be sold to users as an end product, and would not be tagged under S. 333.
...

The basic process for the manufacture of gunpowders involves the following steps:

- mixture of ingredients, which may include the raw ingredients as well as surplus and reworked powders;
- granulation, where the “dough” is extruded, chopped, or otherwise granulated to form the various grains;
- screening of grains into designated sizes; and
- blending of various batches to get the desired ballistic characteristics.

In the smokeless powder manufacturing process, nitroglycerine, nitrocellulose, and other additives are combined to make various grades before the blending process. Smokeless powder grades therefore differ due to size differences and composition differences (various amounts of nitroglycerine), while black powder and black powder substitutes such as Pyrodex vary only by grain size. In a given grade of powder, variations in density and other fluctuations during the manufacturing process can cause considerable variations in the ballistic properties of the final powder. As the handIoader generally has no means of controlling his ballistics other than the weight or volume of powder added, the ballistic properties of a particular grade of powder must be carefully controlled by blending. A given brand name product may therefore contain parts of several batches, blended like brandy to give the desired ballistic properties. Several sequential blending operations may be necessary before the product meets the required specifications. If the ballistic properties of a particular batch or blended lot are too far off, the material must be reprocessed or used for something other than hand loading

If taggants are added to gunpowders, they may have to be added at different stages in the manufacturing process for different manufacturers, due to the differences in blending and reworking processes. As an example, at one smokeless powder factory that makes powder for both handloading and fixed ammunition, taggants could be added during the blending stage; blended batches that were still not satisfactory could be used for fixed ammunition. At another factory, due to their large rework factor, an additional taggant mixing stage might be necessary. For some products, it may be possible to add taggants to the dough, although this may affect the granulation process and present blending problems. p22-23
Removing taggants from some gunpowders is considerably simpler than removal from explosives. Many gunpowder grains are considerably larger than the identification taggants, as shown in figure 26. Separation may therefore be accomplished simply by screening, although the manufacturing process may preclude that approach in some cases. Alternatively, it may be possible to agglomerate the taggants into clumps whose size roughly matches the specific grain size. However, the cost impact of such a solution was not addressed during this study.

... The only viable removal technique, therefore, appears to be removal of individual identification taggants from gunpowders. As was shown in table 70, the more sophisticated criminals and terrorists could accomplish the removal with moderate to high success, while the less sophisticated terrorists and experimenters would have a somewhat lower success rate. One result of the greater practicability of removing taggants from gun powders may be to produce a shift in explosive materials used in criminal bombs by sophisticated bombers from high explosives to gunpowders. As gunpowder are significantly less energetic than cap-sensitive high explosives, such a shift could result in a significant loss of efficiency for the bombers.

In summary, taggant removal would tend to somewhat decrease the effectiveness of a taggant program... p165-167

rodinal220
April 25, 2013, 11:40 AM
You can google your own research but this is an old issue.The biggest groups objecting to this approach is the US Military and commercial explosives mfg and end users like demolition and mining companies.
They do not want unproven additives in their products that have proven track records.Most taggents have proven ineffective as they can be easily removed from the product.

gamestalker
April 25, 2013, 02:51 PM
Please excuse my ignorance, but what are taggents? This is something I have never heard of before.
Thanks,
GS

bds
April 25, 2013, 03:27 PM
Taggants are microscopic markers with information such as manufacturer, manufacture date, manufacture location etc. to help law enforcement investigate/track down suspects in case of bombings/threats etc.

Of course, it didn't/would not have worked for cases such as Ted Kaczynski/Unabomber as he used match heads insteads of gunpowder that did not contain taggants.

gamestalker
April 25, 2013, 05:26 PM
Thanks for the education BDS.
GS

Scooter22
April 25, 2013, 05:44 PM
Or it wouldn't have worked with the Boston bombers. They disassembled fire works.

wv109323
April 25, 2013, 07:14 PM
To add another note, The taggants can be recovered after an explosion. With the taggants the powder can be traced to the supplier and on to the buyer.
Taggants in gun powder was proved to be undoable by the manufacturers in smokeless powders back in the 1990's.. Since the taggants are of a different weight and density from the gun powder there is no way to keep them homogeneous (equally stirred up) in the parent smokeless gun powder.
So if a pound of powder has ridden in a truck for several hours the taggants tend to settle or separate from the powder. When you go to reload you may get 50% taggants and 50% gun powder. Near the bottom of the can of powder you get 100% powder. There is no way to calculate load data since you never know the percentage of taggants in a particular amount of powder.
The liberals painted the NRA as villains when the NRA opposed the measure of requirements even though the powder manufacturers testified before Congress that taggants in gun powder could not be done safely.

bds
April 25, 2013, 09:52 PM
when my neighbor brought up taggents I had not idea what he was talking about.

When I asked one of my shooting friends about what effect they would have on ammunition he told me that in the 90s the studies showed taggents caused all sorts of pressure problems and quality control problems.

Can anyone point me to any of those studies so I can rationally explain to my neighbor
I would say you now have some good information to have that "chat" with your neighbor. :D

Since the taggants are of a different weight and density from the gun powder there is no way to keep them homogeneous (equally stirred up) in the parent smokeless gun powder.

So if a pound of powder has ridden in a truck for several hours the taggants tend to settle or separate from the powder. When you go to reload you may get 50% taggants and 50% gun powder. Near the bottom of the can of powder you get 100% powder. There is no way to calculate load data since you never know the percentage of taggants in a particular amount of powder.

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