Hunting and Outdoors

Tannerite—Little Bottle of Boom

Tannerite Exploding

If you are looking to add some serious smoke and noise to your next range trip, look at Tannerite. Tannerite comes as two inert powders: a white oxidizer and a black catalyst. When mixed together correctly they form a binary explosive similar to black powder, but extremely stable. Tannerite simply melts when exposed to flame, unlike other explosives. It does nothing when smacked with a hammer and electrical currents will not set it off. However, when the Tannerite powder mix is in a container, then shot with a high-velocity centerfire rifle bullet, the supersonic shockwave of the bullet hitting the container causes a chemical chain-reaction to occur. Ka-boom! The explosion detonates by the velocity of the bullet, not its weight or caliber. Once initiated, the amount of Tannerite dictates the size of the explosion. Only a high-powered rifle round will set off the Tannerite, and cartridges featuring pointed bullets seem to work best. Nothing says “instant gratification” like a brown mushroom cloud and loud thump letting you know your round hit its mark.

Tannerite Setup
Tannerite Setup

The standard mixture amount of Tannerite is a half pound, with a full pound considered a double charge. You can tape containers of Tannerite together, or stack them one of top of another. One round will usually detonate the entire assembly, with the only limit being common sense and local noise ordinances. This stuff is definitely loud—at 100-yard distances, you can hear as well as feel the shockwave from a one-pound, double-charge.

The explosion made by Tannerite does not contain a flash or fire, like explosions in movies, because it is an “oxygen robber,” actually extinguishing any flames in the explosion vicinity. It will not set the dry grass at your shooting range on fire. However, the explosion is quite powerful and can make a good crater in the ground; so if the property you are shooting on does not belong to you, it is better to ask permission than beg forgiveness. It is a good idea to stand at least 100 yards away from a standard half-pound detonation, and not place the bottle on gravel or loose rock—which can be flung even farther by the explosion.

Tannerite Exploding
Tannerite Exploding on Impact

One of the best uses for Tannerite is to aid in long-range shooting. Long-range shooters often struggle to hear the ring of steel gongs impacted by their rounds, or have a friend peer through a spotting scope, trying to call out a hit. When a cardboard target has a bottle of Tannerite taped behind the X-ring, you can hear and observe a center hit from hundreds of yards away with no doubts! Of course, the target will be obliterated as well. Keeping a safe distance is one reason why Tannerite goes hand-in-hand with long-range shooting.

Because the oxidizer and catalyst powders that form Tannerite are inert when separate, there is are no legal shipping or storage limitations within the U.S.A. Once it is mixed, it is subject to the same possession, storage, and transport rules as black powder. Make sure you are aware of your state and local laws. The most prudent thing to do is transport the inert powders to the range, mix them up right there at the shooting area site, and detonate all the Tannerite you mixed before leaving.

Tannerite Explosion
Tannerite Explosion

Tannerite is legal, safe, and stable; and hitting a Tannerite target is always a highlight of any range trip. When your target disappears in a blast of smoke and noise, you cannot help but grin.

Editor’s Note: Although we shouldn’t have to say this, it’s a really bad idea to take ANY item that has the word “Explode” written on it onto a plane. Just don’t do it.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (3)

  1. We set off some tannerite this past weekend. The first
    load did explode very nice. Our second load however burned.
    Why? They say it will not flame, but this load did. and we have
    not been able to figuer out what the cause of this was. it almost look like gun
    powder burning.
    Can some one tell me why this happend.

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