The Smoking Gun Fallacy

Discussion in 'Guns & Weapons' started by Hal Pollner, May 10, 2018.

  1. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    The "Smoking Gun" reference is a fallacy, because since the turn of the 20th Century, Black Powder has no longer been used as a propellant, exept during Civil War re-enactments.

    The TV series "Gunsmoke" is OK, because those stories took place in the late 19th Century when Black Powder was universally used in all firearms and artillery pieces.

    During the Spanish-American War of 1898, Cuban and Philippine forces could easily detect American gun emplacements and infantry positions by the clouds of white smoke from our black powder ammunition, even though the positions were well camouflaged.

    This led us immediately to the development of Smokeless Powder.

    So when you hear about a "still-smoking" gun in a detective or crime story, you'll know that the writers have no knowledge of the history and development of firearms and ammunition.

    Hal
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  2. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Very Well-Known Member
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    Think the smoking gun referance was first discribed to and English story published in 1883.
     
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  3. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    In that case it's valid, Tom.

    Now THIS gun is a real smoker!

    It's my .54 caliber Musket replica which uses Black Powder.

    When I take it to the Range and fire at a target, I have no idea what I hit, so I go and have a cup of coffee, and when I return, the white smoke has cleared to the point where I can see the target.

    Hal
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  4. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Very Well-Known Member
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    The smoking gun reference has nothing to do about guns.
     
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  5. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    Yes, I know...it refers to Weaving Looms.

    Hal
     
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  6. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Hal Pollner
    Do you use real black powder, or that artificial "black powder" I forget the name of. Don't believe it's Goex, could be wrong.

    Anyhow, black powder is safer to use as a propellant than smokeless powder because it will not detonate, whereas smokeless can. OTOH, a fire involving smokeless burns quietly and comparatively slowly, whereas black powder out in the open goes "POOF"!
    Frank

    EDIT: My poor memory, substitute black powder is called "Pyrodex", made by Hodgdon.
     
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  7. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    I use commercially available Black Powder, the same as our local Civil War re-enactment skirmish group uses.

    My wife and I have also pulled the lanyard on their 6-pounder replica Field Cannon.

    We yell "Fire in the Hole", and then turn to the side and jerk the lanyard!

    Even with half the standard artillery charge of B.P., the concussion nearly knocks us off our feet!

    Hal
     
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    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
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  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Hal Pollner
    Years back, BATFE ruled that an individual could buy no more than a couple of one pound cans of Black Powder. What sort of restriction exists now, are you aware of any? Living in rural Missouri, I bought 20 pounds from a little gun shop in a small town I no longer recall the name of, no questions asked.

    I've used more BP propelling fireworks displays than in firearms!
    Frank
     
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  9. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    Well, Sir, the smoking gun is not in my line of expertise. Don't guess I've ev er used the phrase but surely have read it some where, as it seems quite common place, in fact only this morning where a certain bit of evidence in a local crime was clearly noted not to be a smoking gun.
     
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  10. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Bill Boggs
    I believe @Hal Pollner is concerned with the fact that of the two main gunpowder types, Black Powder and Smokeless Powder, Black emits copious amounts of white smoke when it burns, while Smokeless emits almost none.

    Black Powder is made from Potassium nitrate (Saltpeter), Sulfur, and Charcoal. Smokeless is made from any number of cellulose-based plant products, like cotton. Originally, it was called "Guncotton", and indeed, it may be made from cotton, paper, or wood (sawdust). As it's popularity grew, especially the military sought to use smokeless because it gave no "location give-away" via smoke. A number of High-Explosives are compounded in with the cellulose, notably Nitroglycerin or Nitroglycol, which gives smokeless a disadvantage when compared to Black: it can detonate just like nitroglycerin, and no gun barrel can contain the pressure developed, should that occur.

    Smokeless is made by treating the cellulose with Nitric and Sulfuric Acids. If any remember seeing Magicians ignite a piece of paper which "whooshes" away when lit, they were seeing "touchpaper" treated with the acids. Here are a few images of firearms destroyed by detonation:

    Revolver
    • [​IMG]

    AR-15 "Assault style" rifle
    • [​IMG]

    The wonderful Glock pistol, heart-throb of Law Enforcement!
    • [​IMG]
     
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