Black Powder Guns

Black powder, which is another name for gunpowder, has traditionally been used in guns and firearms for centuries. The Chinese are often cited as the first to use black powder guns, though the formula for black powder, which is sometimes also known as charcoal, did not come about until 1252.

Black Powder’s Composition

Black powder is made by mixing:

  • carbon
  • potassium nitrate
  • sulfur.

Water and alcohol are also mixed into black powder.

While black powder is not easy to come by today, many sources and stores still stock it, along with the firearms that use it. Additionally, there are a number of black powder substitutes now available. These include:

  • Clean Shot©
  • Pyrodex©.

Pyrodex© is the most common of the three substitutes. Substitute black powders are often more widely sold and easier to find than black powwder.

Black powder is a more dangerous substance than most modern powders, which are smokeless and virtually odor-free. Black powder smokes, produces a smell of sulfur and leaves a corrosive residue inside the firearms in which it is used. Black powder is now highly regulated by the government, as it easily sparks and must be carefully stored away from sparks, flames and even static electricity.

Black Powder Types

Black powder differs based on the firearm in which it will be used. Large-grain powder all the way down to fine-grain powder are produced for different guns and types of firearms:

  • 1fg (fg): largest grain
  • 2fg (ffg): fine grain
  • 3fg (fffg): finer grain
  • 4fg (ffffg): finest grain.

In this section, we’ll cover all types and aspects of black powder guns, including black powder cannons, Civil War muskets and antique muskets, black powder pistols, flintlock guns and cap and ball revolvers. We’ll also tell you where to find guns for sale that use black powder and black powder substitutes.


Antique muskets and Civil War muskets are among the types of guns that use black powder. Many gun collectors seek out muskets from past eras for their collections. However, many gun enthusiasts are still passionate about shooting with muskets.


Black powder granules come in different sizes that are used for different firearms. The largest grains, called 1fg, are not used in many firearms. However, they are the perfect size for use in cannons.


Pistols are also among the common types of firearms that use black powder. Finer grain powder, called 3fg, must be used in pistols.

Flintlock Guns

There are a number of different types of guns that use black powder, the most common of which include flintlock guns. Flintlock guns have a different type of shooting mechanism than firearms that came before them, though they are now obsolete in terms of technological advancement. They use the finest black powder, called 4fg. Despite the fact that they are outdated, many black powder enthusiasts still enjoy shooting with flintlock guns.