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Gunpowder smell

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by BHPshooter, Jan 23, 2007.

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  1. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Member

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    A general question for those in the know.

    I just finished reading this article at The Box O' Truth: http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/edu30.htm , which mentions "the smell of cordite." This is demonstrated by disassembling a cartridge of .303 British that is loaded with cordite.

    Now, lemme ask a dumb question. Does cordite smell any different than powder in the form of ball, flake, or rod?

    Wes
     
  2. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Member

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    Cordite was loaded in artillery shells also.

    But yes, all the different powders smell a little different just like different kinds of food smells different.

    Rumor has it that burned cordite has more of a nose burning/stinging, 'acid-ee' sort of aroma to it than other powders.

    .
     
  3. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN Marines raising the left-leaning Pisa tower.

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    I can't believe he didn't have a bullet puller.

    I'd be interested in a definitive answer, too. I've kinda wondered about that for years. According to Hatcher, "Cordite Mark I is composed of 37 parts of guncotton, 58 parts of nitroglycerine, and 5 parts of Vaseline."

    I suspect the Vaseline, which I don't recall being in any other powder, might make it smell different.

    I fired .303 British in a Smelly Elly (SMLE) many years ago, but the ammo was of late US manufacture, and therefore did not smell any different from any other rounds.

    Too bad the Box 'o Truth didn't really answer that aspect of it.

    Even today, the smell of a .22LR automatically brings me back to my first shooting experience, in about 1946, when the exhaust gases wafted back to me on that summer afternoon. Closely supervised, of course, but that first shot is what hooked me on firearms. And here it is sixty years later, and it still triggers that memory.
     
  4. Warren

    Warren Member

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    Not only have I noticed that powders smell different some types make me sneeze.

    The stuff in the Mag Tech .45C cowboy loads is really irritating to me nostrils. [/hijack]
     
  5. Vairochana

    Vairochana Member

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    modern gunsmoke is good- but blackpowder smoke is addictive :)
     
  6. Medusa

    Medusa Member

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    Aphrodisiac. I've always liked the smell of gunpowder in the morning, especially after burning through a lot of ammo...
     
  7. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN Marines raising the left-leaning Pisa tower.

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    SPECULATION

    Winger Ed.remarked,
    I wonder if it's a little like diesel engine exhaust.

    Nitroglycerine has an excess of oxygen, and there seems to be a lot of it in Cordite. I can just see the long-chain petrolatum (Vaseline) breaking up on ignition and burning like diesel fuel from the excess oxygen in the nitroglycerine.

    As Ben Stein would say, "...Anyone?"

    (Not such a dumb question, fumegator.)
     
  8. Hemicuda

    Hemicuda member

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    Madusa - add in the smell of Hoppes #9 to that gunpowder smell, and you have the ULTIMATE afrodesiac...

    smell some rimfire, then some Wolf steelcased ammo, then something modern american, and then some surplus .303 Brit, after firing, all different... (and some STINKY!) so, yesm=, Cordite will smell different...
     
  9. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    I've always though that adding a distinctive smell (like cherry or lemon or such) to powder would be an excellent non-traditional trademark.

    :uhoh: Me too.
     
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Mystery story writers often refer to the "smell of cordite" even though cordite has not been used as a propellant for some 60 years. Like many other gun-ignorant writers, they use a phrase that sounds as if they know what they are talking about and that lends an air (pun intended) of expertise. Sort of like those automatic 38mm revolvers and Smith & Western pistols.

    But yes, burning cordite does in fact have a distinctive odor, though there is no way I can describe it. Cordite is a double based powder, having both nitro-cellulose and nitro-glycerine bases. It is very erosive, due to the nitro-glycerine content. It was an English development, and was called that because it was extruded in long (roughly 1.5") pieces (cords) for loading the .303 British. Those who have broken down a .303 cartridge find a cardboard wad below the bullet, then packed strings of cordite below that. Many wonder how they got that cordite and the wad into the case through the neck. The answer is simple - they inserted the cordite and the wad before they necked down the case.

    Chopped cordite was used for pistol cartridges, and thick cordite for artillery ammunition, so it was pretty much an all-purpose powder type.

    Jim
     
  11. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    I have about 18 old cordite loaded ronds, I might try a few to see what the smell issue is. Gonna look wierd at the range, fire one and *SNIFF*...
     
  12. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Member

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    Yeah!! Love that smell of black powder....... But the wife don't.

    Awhile back I came in after shooting some .45-70s that I'd loaded with some black powder a buddy had given me for my cannon.

    I had a dozen or so of the spent cases in my pocket......
    And it'd been a wet rainy day..
    After I walked in, the wife sort of nutted out.:cuss:

    I gave her my classic, "Huh"?

    Quick as a cat, she said,
    "Why couldn't you do that outside?
    Oh,,,,, no,,, you gotta get inside,,,,, come right up to me,,, thennn!! fart"!!

    ..
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
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