Fallout gunpowder: black powder or nitrocellulose?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by RealEagle, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. RealEagle

    RealEagle First time out of the vault

    Apr 18, 2005
    I don't have access to FO1 CD right now, but from what I remember, you had the option to ask Miles (Adytum chemist) where he gets saltpeter and (I think) sulfur. Now, I'm no expert, but it's well-known that black powder is a proportioned mix of charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter.

    The problem, as I see it, is that b.p. generates A LOT more smoke than nitrocellulose-based smokeless gunpowders modern guns use. Wouldn't that lead to rapid fouling up of the automatic guns, and making SMGs useless on the account of clouds of noxious smoke? Not to mention the fact that guns would probably be treasured more than ammo, and people would try to be very gentle with them since it'd be kinda hard to replace them. Also, black powder is about three times less powerful than nitrocellulose, which would cause auto and semi-auto guns to jam A LOT, since they weren't designed for b.p.

    There's an Internet recipee on making guncotton (nitrocellulose) from sulfuric acid and saltpeter. It's possible that Miles was burning sulfur and saltpeter in water vapors in some sort of condensation chamber to collect (relatively weak, 40-70%) sulfuric acid. But from what I know, you need concentrated sulfuric acid for nitrocellulose manufacture, and that would require very high pressure, temperature, and exotic catalyzers - almost impossible to do in post-nuclear world. Even sulfur/saltpeter burning would probably require large tanks of complicated construction.

    On the other hand, Brotherhood of Steel would certainly have the means to make concentrated sulfuric and nitric acid. The only thing that bothers me is why would Hub merchants buy ammo loaded with black powder from Miles if there's higher-quality ammo from BOS on the market.

    Miles could easily make potassium chlorate primers, however. They are corrosive, but some armies of the world (like the Russians) still use them, if I remember it right.

    Thoughts? Corrections?
  2. master_of_flamaster

    master_of_flamaster Mildly Dipped

    Jun 24, 2004
    Well, price would be an important factor. Hub merchants buy the weaker, lower quality ammo because it is cheap and easy to obtain.
  3. Morpoggel

    Morpoggel Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Feb 21, 2005
    Yeah, I mean, what do the Hubbies need them for? All that happens to the tons of ammo the police have, is being stolen by me...
  4. Dapper Dan Man

    Dapper Dan Man Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Oct 6, 2004
    I would say survivalist mentality. After all, guns equal tangible wealth and power in a post-apocalyptic world. The person who can afford to hose his ammo around probably is packing a pretty hefty firearm as well.
  5. Colt

    Colt Vault Dweller

    Sep 23, 2004
    Automatic weapons were operating on blackpowder before there was smokeless. You would just need to use more of it and, yes, there would be more fouling but it wouldn't make your firearm inoperable after the first shot. Corrosive primers are also not that big of a deal as long as you clean out the barrel and not let it sit for extended periods of time. Soap and water will work for that but it's easier to just use some ammonia mixed with water to neutralize the corrosive crap.

    As discussed to death before here, there SHOULD be muskets, bows, crossbows, bolt actions, lever actions, and slide action shotguns all over the place along with revolvers but, alas, this is a post-apocalyptic wetdream where we get to blow things away with man portable Gatling guns. :twisted: - Colt
  6. greatatlantic

    greatatlantic It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jan 29, 2005
    Hmmm... I always pictured the majority of ammunition floating around the Fallout world as being the stock piles from before the war. Yes, I know the towns making their own gun powder, but still makes a lot of sense to me.
  7. RealEagle

    RealEagle First time out of the vault

    Apr 18, 2005
    Colt, you're missing the point. Yes, auto/semiauto firearms that use b.p. are possible, but in the game, everyone uses pre-War models, and Miles refills standard, pre-war cartridges.