ASTM E2998 - 16

    Standard Practice for Characterization and Classification of Smokeless Powder

    Active Standard ASTM E2998 | Developed by Subcommittee: E30.01

    Book of Standards Volume: 14.02


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 This practice establishes guidelines for the characterization of smokeless powder which can be used as an explosive for improvised explosive devices or as a propellant, such as for small arms ammunition and for military ordnance.

    5.2 This practice establishes the minimum criteria necessary to classify smokeless powders.

    5.3 The morphology of smokeless powder is a distinct characteristic used for classification and identification purposes.

    5.4 The identification of a questioned sample as smokeless powder (that is, it is a propellant or low explosive) does not require the identification of chemical components of a smokeless powder other than nitrocellulose.

    5.5 Identification of organic compounds associated with smokeless powders is a requirement to classify a smokeless powder sample as single-base, double-base, or triple-base.

    5.6 Additional analytical techniques may be available that are not mentioned within this document that are acceptable for the characterization and analysis of smokeless powders.

    5.7 The requirements to associate a questioned smokeless powder to a unique smokeless powder product by brand name or intercomparison of two or more questioned powders are beyond the scope of this document (13-15).

    5.8 The identification of smokeless powder residue in the absence of whole or partial grains is beyond the scope of this document.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This practice describes procedures for characterization and analysis of smokeless powders recovered from explosives incidents (1, 2),2 materials or objects containing gunshot residue (3) when visible grains are present, or bulk samples of powder.

    1.2 Smokeless powder is characterized by shape, color, texture, manufacturing toolmarks, markers, dimensional measurements, and chemical composition (4-6).

    1.3 Smokeless powder is an energetic material classified as a low explosive or propellant. Smokeless powder can be further classified as single-base, double-base, or triple-base.

    1.4 Analysis of post-blast debris and items containing gunshot residue when visible grains of smokeless powder are not present is beyond the scope of this practice.

    1.5 This practice will provide guidelines for the analysis of organic components of smokeless powders using various instrumental techniques, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

    1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

    1.7 This standard involves handling of low explosives and potentially other energetic materials. It is strongly suggested that an analyst be trained in the storage and safe handling of energetic materials and be familiar with the properties and hazards of explosives.

    1.8 This standard cannot replace knowledge, skill, or ability acquired through appropriate education, training, and experience and should be used in conjunction with sound professional judgment.

    1.9 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E620 Practice for Reporting Opinions of Scientific or Technical Experts

    E1492 Practice for Receiving, Documenting, Storing, and Retrieving Evidence in a Forensic Science Laboratory

    E1618 Test Method for Ignitable Liquid Residues in Extracts from Fire Debris Samples by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 71.100.30 (Explosives. Pyrotechnics. Fireworks)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 12131500(Explosives); 46101600(Ammunition)


    Referencing This Standard
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    DOI: 10.1520/E2998-16

    Citation Format

    ASTM E2998-16, Standard Practice for Characterization and Classification of Smokeless Powder , ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2016, www.astm.org

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