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Old May 12, 2001, 06:43 PM   #1
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I keep hearing how military powders have "flash retardant" added.

I've also heard the stuff blamed for a lot of (early) M16 jamming - and that this stuff was chalk.

If it's truly something added to a conventional powder, what is it? Is it chalk? Something else?


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Old May 12, 2001, 07:31 PM   #2
Art Eatman
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I don't claim to heard of everything ever tried about gunpowders, but I'd not heard of such a thing as a flash retardant until it was mentioned here at TFL.

I have followed discussions about M-16 jamming since back in the actual days of Vietnam, and retardant was never mentioned as a contributory cause. Many other factors were mentioned, but I ain't gonna get into that again.

Chalk? Haven't a clue.

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Old May 12, 2001, 08:02 PM   #3
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You could be right.

I HAVE heard of military powders having less flash (it's looked that way in my limited experience) but they may have just chosen loads (powder and quantity) with the least flash, (as opposed than other manufacturers who don't use this as a criteria).

Still, if anyone knows I'd like to hear it.

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Old May 13, 2001, 01:39 AM   #4
Mike Irwin
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I'm not certain what chemicals are used for flash retardants, but the problems with the powder in the early M-16s WAS related to "chalk" (calcium carbonate), but it wasn't in there to reduce flash. It was put into the powder near the final stages of manufacture to neutralize any remaining acid that had escaped neutralization in previous steps.

By neutralizing the acid the powder became much more stable, and had a much longer shelf life.

Early batches of ball powder (ball powder was still a fairly new technolgy at the time) were treated with upwards of 1.5 percent of calcium carbonate by weight.

This neutralized any left over acid, but it also contributed to clogging of the gas port and tube, and was pretty difficult to remove because it left a hard scale and early guns were issued without proper cleaning kits.

Further experimentation proved that as little as .5 percent by weight of calcium carbonate was enough to neutralize any free acid, and that the fouling problem was virtually eliminated.
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