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Finding the Right Black Powder For Fireworks

Confused or having a hard time making sense of all the black powder grades? Well, here's how to find the "right" type black powder to use in your fireworks.

The manufacturers classify Black Powder types and grain sizes by the numbers and letters shown below. Most black powder sold in the US is either "sporting grade" ("G" black powders), or "blasting grade" ("A" black powders).

Fireworks manufacturers prefer the "A" series black powder to be used in fireworks. But you are required to have an ATF license to buy that type black powder legally. However you don't need an ATF license to purchase up to 50 lbs. of sporting grade (G) black powders, which are chemically identical.

Since the composition of the two types of black powders is identical, you can, in fact, substitute G black powder for A black powder in your fireworks. But you need to understand that the black powder manufacturers created completely different grading/numbering schemes for each type of black powder (i.e. sporting vs. blasting powder). Hence, 2FG black powder is not the same size as 2FA.

By using the table below you can see how to substitute G Grade black powders for the harder-to-obtain A grade black powder. In the USA, gun stores will sell you Cannon Grade, 1FG, and 5FG black powders as suitable substitutes respectively for the most commonly used 2fa black powder (for lift and burst), 4fa black powder (for lift and burst), and Meal D (for quick match fuse, rice hulls and priming).

If you are making your own black powder, you can use this chart for approximate screen sizes for granulating powders to standard grain sizes.

Black Powder Grades & Equivalent Sizes (in mm)
Sporting Grades (G) Grain Size (in mm)       Blasting Grades (A) Grain Size (in mm)
      1FA 8.0-4.0
Cannon Grade 4.76-1.68       2FA 4.76-1.68
1FG 1.68-1.19       4FA 1.68-.84
2FG 1.19-.59      
3FG .84-.29       5FA .84-.297
4FG .42-.15       7FA .42-.149
      Meal D .42
5FG .149       Fine .149

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