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Gunpowder , also known as explosive , is a collective term for propellants for firearms , which, when modified, can also be used as propellants for rockets .

Gunpowder (pyrodex)
NC powder of different types


Black powder was the first known propellant for firearms and solid rocket rockets and is still used today. Wet-fire powder was a further development for use in muzzle-loading weapons. Nitrocellulose powder , which, in contrast to the previously used black powder, consists of so-called low-smoke cellulose nitrate powders , is widespread today. Instead of the term “gunpowder”, which was historically derived from black powder, the term propellant powder is also used today. These include, along with the initiating explosives , explosives , gunpowder detonators and pyrotechnics to explosives .


Black powder is the oldest known gunpowder and propellant.

Low smoke powder / nitrocellulose powder

In modern weapons, mostly low-smoke nitrocellulose powder (NC powder) is used as a propellant charge.

See also


  • Julius Upmann : The gunpowder - history, manufacture, properties and samples . 1874. Unique 2013, ISBN 978-3845726014 .
  • Rainer Leng (Ed.): Instructions for preparing gunpowder, loading and shooting rifles - a war-technical illuminated manuscript (= Imagines medii aevi, Volume 5). Reichert, Wiesbaden 2000, ISBN 3-89500-161-9 .
  • Brenda J. Buchanan (Ed.): Gunpowder. The History of an International Technology. Bath University Press, 1996.

Web links

Wiktionary: Gunpowder  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Gunpowder  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Entry on ammunition. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on 2020-03-05.