Gunpowder is the earliest known chemical explosive. It is commonly called black powder to distinguish it from the modern smokeless powder. It is a mixture of sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate - also known as saltpeter. The sulfur and carbon act as a fuel, and the saltpeter is an oxidizer. 

I think every hunter should own at least one good old-fashioned muzzleloading firearm. Nothing will make you more appreciative of the technical advances in gunpowder and firearm technology than wondering if your muzzleloader is going to fire or not when you pull the trigger. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress that the old timers must have had using those old flintlocks in battle, not to mention gathering food to feed your family. As my dad used to say, “Lard is as good as butter, if you’ve never had butter.” I suppose that old saying would definitely apply here.

Think about the impact gunpowder has had on the history of mankind. Before gunpowder, you basically had to fight hand-to-hand and physically overcome your opponent to kill them. Bows and arrows and throwing spears would be the small exceptions to the rule. After gunpowder, anyone with the strength to pull a trigger could basically take out anyone.  

The earliest chemical formula for gunpowder appeared between 1040 and 1044 A.D. The people of the Chinese Song dynasty were the first to use gunpowder. It would be many years before bombs, fire lances and eventually the gun appeared in China. In 1281, explosive bombs were used in a shipwreck off the shore of Japan. This is one of the earliest known uses for gunpowder in war. My oh my, how things have changed since then. 


God bless you all, RHM.