Almost any city or town of reasonable size has a gun store and one or

more pharmacies. These are two of the places that potential terrorists visit

in order to purchase explosive material. All that one has to do is know

something about the non- explosive uses of the materials. Black powder, for

example, is used in blackpowder firearms. It comes in varying "grades", with

each different grade being a slightly different size. The grade of black

powder depends on what the calibre of the gun that it is used in; a fine grade

of powder could burn too fast in the wrong caliber weapon. The rule is: the

smaller the grade, the faster the burn rate of the powder.





Black powder is generally available in three grades. As stated before, the

smaller the grade, the faster the powder burns. Burn rate is extremely

important in bombs. Since an explosion is a rapid increase of gas volume in a

confined environment, to make an explosion, a quick-burning powder is desirable.

The three common grades of black powder are listed below, along with the usual

bore width (calibre) of what they are used in. Generally, the fastest burning

powder, the FFF grade is desirable. However, the other grades and uses are

listed below:



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F .50 or greater model cannon; some rifles

FF .36 - .50 large pistols; small rifles

FFF .36 or smaller pistols; derringers


The FFF grade is the fastest burning, because the smaller grade has more

surface area or burning surface exposed to the flame front. The larger grades

also have uses which will be discussed later. The price range of black

powder, per pound, is about $8.50 - $9.00. The price is not affected by the

grade, and so one saves oneself time and work if one buys the finer grade of

powder. The major problems with black powder are that it can be ignited

accidentally by static electricity, and that it has a tendency to absorb

moisture from the air. To safely crush it, a one would use a plastic spoon and

a wooden salad bowl. Taking a small pile at a time, he or she would apply

pressure to the powder through the spoon and rub it in a series of strokes or

circles, but not too hard. It is fine enough to use when it is about as fine

as flour. The fineness, however, is dependant on what type of device one

wishes to make; obviously, it would be impracticle to crush enough powder to

fill a 1 foot by 4 inch radius pipe. Any adult can purchase black powder,

since anyone can own black powder firearms in the United States.





Pyrodex is a synthetic powder that is used like black powder. It comes

in the same grades, but it is more expensive per pound. However, a one pound

container of pyrodex contains more material by volume than a pound of black

powder. It is much easier to crush to a very fine powder than black powder,

and it is considerably safer and more reliable. This is because it will not

be set off by static electricity, as black can be, and it is less inclined to

absorb moisture. It costs about $10.00 per pound. It can be crushed in the

same manner as black powder, or it can be dissolved in boiling water and






One of the most exciting hobbies nowadays is model rocketry. Estes is

the largest producer of model rocket kits and engines. Rocket engines are

composed of a single large grain of propellant. This grain is surrounded by a

fairly heavy cardboard tubing. One gets the propellant by slitting the tube

length- wise, and unwrapping it like a paper towel roll. When this is done,

the gray fire clay at either end of the propellant grain must be removed.

This is usually done gently with a plastic or brass knife. The material is

exceptionally hard, and must be crushed to be used. By gripping the grain in

the widest setting on a set of pliers, and putting the grain and powder in a

plastic bag, the powder will not break apart and shatter all over. This

should be done to all the large chunks of powder, and then it should be

crushed like black powder. Rocket engines come in various sizes, ranging from

1/4 A - 2T to the incredibly powerful D engines. The larger the engine, the

more expensive. D engines come in packages of three, and cost about $5.00 per

package. Rocket engines are perhaps the single most useful item sold in

stores to a terrorist, since they can be used as is, or can be cannibalized

for their explosive powder.




Rifle powder and shotgun powder are really the same from a practicle

standpoint. They are both nitrocellulose based propellants. They will be

referred to as gunpowder in all future references. Smokeless gunpowder is made

by the action of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid upon cotton or some

other cellulose material. This material is then dissolved by solvents and then

reformed in the desired grain size. When dealing with smokeless gunpowder,

the grain size is not nearly as important as that of black powder. Both large

and small grained smokeless powder burn fairly slowly compared to black powder

when unconfined, but when it is confined, gunpowder burns both hotter and with

more gaseous expansion, producing more pressure. Therefore, the grinding

process that is often necessary for other propellants is not necessary for

smokeless powder. owder costs about $9.00 per pound. In most states any

citizen with a valid driver's license can buy it, since there are currently

few restrictions on rifles or shotguns in the U.S. There are now ID checks in

many states when purchasing powder at a retail outlet. Mail-orders aren't

subject to such checks. Rifle powder and pyrodex may be purchased by mail

order, but UPS charges will be high, due to DOT regulations on packaging.



-= Exodus =-