By Lars Dalseide | March 1 2012 10:51

Senior Curator Schreier ignites black and smokeless gun powder for History Channel show

JWM Productions setting up to film a gun powder demonstrationMark and his crew setting up the shot outside NRA Headquarters.

The crew from JWM Productions returned to the National Rifle Association in February to shoot a few followups for a special set to run on History Channel. One of those pieces involved our very own Phil Schreier, Senior Curator at the National Firearms Museum.

Phil's task was the explain the significance of smokeless powder. How moving from black powder not only provided a cleaner shot for the shooter, but also a more efficient one. What better way to do it then with a little demonstration.

Senior Curator Phil Schreier about to lite black and smokeless powder National Firearms Museum Senior Curator ready to lite the lines of smokeless and black powder.

Using his trusty powder horn, Phil poured out a single line of black powder followed by a single line of smokeless powder. He then produced a pair of matches and a smile.

"Now you're really going to see the difference," he grinned.

Picking up a match in either hand, he swiped them against the ground, produced matching flames, and ever so carefully applied each to their respective lines of powder.

Black powder burns instantly while smokeless gun powder burns slow The black powder flames while the smokeless enjoys a slow burn.

The black powder line instantly erupted in smoke a flame. The fire applied to the smokeless line, on the other hand, slowly made it's way down the line. Still grinning, he went on to explain how the black powder was stuffed full of sulfur and potassium nitrate and a few other items that caused it to burn bright and fast. While it still made the gun go bang, it created an ungodly amount of residue, provided a visual clue as to your location and made it difficult at best to aim.

Smokeless powder, on the other hand, provided a clean, steady burn that produces a greater rise in pressure. That, along with the lack gummy residue, was a huge step forward in the evolution of firearms.

Gun powder demonstration results in a black powder smoke cloud and a steady burn from the smokeless powder All that's left of the black powder is a cloud of smoke and gummy residue – smokeless still burns.

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