as the title, what materials or ingredients in modern gunpowder that if change to be expensive or rare to get, can ruin the evolution of advance gun or can turn modern gun obsolete or undesirable ?

i know generally gunpowder is made of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal (which i learn that it is abundant in earth some even from poop or guano so its unlikely happen unless earth get a massive catastrope/apocalypse). but modern gunpowder have some different chemical so far as i know (so i want to know the chance).

as i mention its about the materials or ingredients, so answer that say it prone to explode/kill the user or human never found the right measure or dosage because they are backward/brainwashed due to religion,tradition, pride,moralit,humanity, etc is out of this question.

but answer that include reason or some chain reaction like supply and demand or something that quickly depleting such ingredient for non gunpowder stuff that make the modern gunpowder ingredient expensive or rare is acceptable.

outright entire nation outlawing the ingredient just for the sake of banning modern gunpowder or gun like banning missile use because it kill to much people or too gruesome or can destroy the earth is out of this question.

natural massive catastrope to eradicate the chemical or modern gunpowder ingredients is out of this question.

gun was invented but not the type in ww1 to ww2 it stuck before this era, and they know gun was practical or massively advantageous in battle or to kill.

feel free to edit the tag to the apropriate one because i dont know which tag is apropriate for my question.


1 Answer 1


Modern "gunpowder" isn't really a powder, it's only people call it that because it replaced black powder. Honestly, as long as you can make black powder, you can also make it, all you need is know-how. All you have to do is convert sulfur into sulfuric acid, saltpeter into nitric acid, and instead of charcoal, get cellulose. Usually, cellulose used for this is cotton, thus the modern "gunpowder" is also known as gun cotton, but it's possible to use other sources as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrocellulose#Munitions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokeless_powder#Chemical_formulations

I should mention that nowadays, the mixtures used as "modern gunpowder" are more than just gun cotton, but even without advanced mixtures, gun cotton lets you do all you need to make modern repeating firearms(machine guns, bolt-action, semi auto and auto weapons, as well as long ranged howitzers/cannons/mortars).

Edit: Only feasible way to prevent modern type firearms from appearing while having black powder firearm is in my opinion to make it so that your society lacks advanced chemistry knowledge.

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    $\begingroup$ Just two comments - China had gunpowder for long time, but did not use it much for military weapons (so society could postpone developement of modern weapons a lot). Sulphur can be much more scare to find in alternate universe, so it would play the role of "rare" ingredience, especially, if most of it would be used to make "old proven" black powder and the rest is so expensive, that only few can be spend on some "impractical experiments". Anyway even modern weaponry could be based on blackpowder, with just much more need to cleaning. $\endgroup$
    – gilhad
    Nov 23, 2019 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you could restrict "primers" by having en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury(II)_fulminate unobtainable - so you would get stuck for long with flintlocks and similars $\endgroup$
    – gilhad
    Nov 23, 2019 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ @gilhad sulphur is the 10th most common element in the milky way. Handwaving it away seems dubious. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 10:12
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    $\begingroup$ And Aluminium is 7. element on Earth, still it took long time to isolate it en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium#History - so I can imagine, that there is a plenty sulphur IN alternative Earth, but just a small fraction is (relativly) simply obtainable in form, that could be used to make gunpowder (until advanced chemistry or advanced mining) $\endgroup$
    – gilhad
    Nov 23, 2019 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ @gilhad have you looked into the reasons why aluminium is hard to separate, but why you can find sulphur in lumps on the earth's surface? The comparison is not reasonable. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 11:33

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