Tannerite: Anatomy of a Binary Exploding Rifle Target

Anatomy of a Binary Exploding Rifle Target

Tannerite® paints picture of the category it created

Pleasant Hills, OR (August 9, 2013) – Long-range target shooters are perennially challenged. With a squinted eye, spendy spotting scope or long anxious walk down the firing range, they discover either punctured paper and a bull’s-eye or an unharmed target. An earthly poof of dust, of course, nulls the need to examine the target – um, that’d be called a swing and miss.

Dan Tanner wasn’t satisfied with the paper or the poof. With a clever mind and dogged persistence, the Oregonian and Arkansas native set off to create a target that would clearly (and audibly) reveal long distance rifle hits. Tanner sought out to produce something that triggered the senses of sight and sound but without any byproduct risk of it causing a fire.

So he developed the first binary rifle target. And with a background in mixing elements and catalyzing reactions, it was natural to stir-in a geological “ite” and concoct the name Tannerite®, the brand.

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life

It’s good to be first. But along with being an inventor, a pioneer, comes the eventual blow of being copied. Far less ingenious sorts bust out the smoke and mirrors in hopes of capitalizing on innovation with only profit margins in mind. Consumers, ultimately, become the casualty.

Because this dreaded down spiraling process is underway, it’s prudent to describe, in detail, the original exploding target, Tannerite®. We surely can’t guarantee what other ingredients the competition blends in, but we can say with certainty what goes into the first and safest binary exploding targets, Tannerite®.


Before discussing the anatomy of a binary exploding target, we should examine explosives and propellants in general.  Virtually all explosives and propellants such as black powder and smokeless powders are comprised of two components; an oxidizer and a fuel.

In many explosives such as nitroglycerin, TNT, RDX, and HMX, the oxidizer and fuel are part of the same molecule. These one-part systems are extensively used for civilian and military applications. The second class of explosives and propellants are those in which the oxidizer and fuel are different chemicals that must be mixed to form an explosive composition. Examples of these include black powder, binary exploding rifle targets, and variety of ammonium nitrate-containing formulations used in commercial blasting.

Binary exploding rifle targets intended for use with high powered center-fire rifles were invented and patented by Daniel J. Tanner of Pleasant Hill, Oregon. These targets employ ammonium nitrate for the oxidizer. Ammonium nitrate is a very interesting chemical as it contains both an oxidizer (the nitrate component) and a fuel (the ammonia component) in the same compound. Fortunately, it is extremely difficult to initiate the reaction (explosion) of these two components which gives ammonium nitrate the stability to be used in a variety of industrial applications.

Binary exploding rifle targets take advantage of the ability of aluminum to make ammonium nitrate more sensitive to detonation. In the case of these targets, the aluminum can be considered a catalyst which provides a lower-energy pathway to initiate a detonation. The energy required to detonate is low enough to be useful as a shot indicator, but high enough to safely handle the mixed composition. This is the basis for Tannerite® brand binary exploding rifle targets.

Detonation of the target is initiated by impact of a bullet fired from a center fire rifle. The bullet should be approximately 40 grains or larger travelling at 2000 ft/sec or higher. Note that a pointed bullet will be a better initiator than a blunt bullet since the energy provided is concentrated to a very small area. The bullet impact provides sufficient energy to initiate a reaction between aluminum and ammonium nitrate that results in detonation of the composition. This detonation is a very energetic process and binary targets should be treated with respect. Be sure that all observers are over 100 yards away from the target and that no foreign objects are in close proximity to the target that could serve as a source of shrapnel.

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life

Factors Affecting Target Performance

The major factors affecting binary exploding rifle target performance include the purity of the components, the particle size of the components, the ratio of oxidizer to catalyst, and the uniformity of the mixed composition – Tannerite® brand target formulation is precise in all instances. Changes in any of the aforementioned factors will affect the chemical pathway taken during detonation which can result in fires, increased energy required for detonation, and sound amplitude variations. In addition, the stability of the mixed composition could be compromised.  A properly formulated and mixed binary rifle target will provide a loud report; will consistently detonate on bullet impact; will not start fires; and will be safe to handle. The use of impure ammonium nitrate or aluminum, wide variability in ammonium nitrate and aluminum particle sizes, the wrong ratio of aluminum to ammonium nitrate, and poor mixing can lead to targets that may start fires, may be less safe to handle, and have erratic performance. Again, the Tannerite® brand target formulation is precise. 

Safety Essentials When Using Binary Targets

Given the above discussions, we recommend the following guidelines for a safe and fun experience with binary targets.

  1. Treat all binary targets with respect. Misuse of binary targets could result in serious injuries or death.
  2. To ensure a homogeneous composition, be sure to use a mixing container – Tannerite® comes complete with a mixing container.
  3. Place ½ and 1 lb targets down range at least 100 yards before shooting. Place 2 lb targets 200 yards down range before shooting.
  4. Do not shoot targets larger than 2 lbs.
  5. Remember that the legal use of these targets is as a shot indicator only.
  6. Mix the targets at the range and shoot them immediately. Do not transport, store, or sell the mixed composition unless you have the appropriate explosives endorsements. 
  7. Always wear shooting glasses and hearing protection when shooting.
  8. Be sure to use in a remote area only and respect the adjoining property owner’s right to tranquility.
  9. While Tannerite® brand binary rifle targets will not start fires; many knock-off brands of binary exploding rifle targets are poorly formulated and use lower quality materials that may start fires.
  10. Never place these targets on any surface that could produce shrapnel or within another object.

A Plea for Common Sense

Given the popularity of binary exploding targets, there are a huge number of shooters using these targets in a safe and fun manner. There are, however, users doing unwise things with these targets. Please be sure to use these targets as a shot indicator only and away from populated areas. Continued misuse of these targets may result in restrictions on their use. The future of these targets is in your hands, so please use them properly.

The Tannerite® Advantage

We would like to point out that Tannerite® brand binary exploding rifle targets are the original and the best available. They are properly formulated, use only the highest quality explosives grade ammonium nitrate and pyrotechnic grade aluminum powder, and will not start fires. The safety of the mixed composition has been demonstrated by Myth Busters, and is the best selling binary rifle target on the market today.  Remember that the easiest way to ensure safety is to use genuine Tannerite® brand targets. There is a misconception today that the chemical composition used in all exploding targets is a chemical called “Tannerite” and this is not the case. Tannerite® is the registered trademark for Tannerite® brand binary rifle targets. 

We wish you good, and safe, shooting.   

ABOUT Tannerite®

Tannerite® brand targets employ a binary explosive used as a shot indicator for long-range firearms practice and training. Tannerite® brand target detonations occur at a very high velocity, producing a large explosion and a cloud of water vapor. Small caliber rim-fire or slow moving pistol ammunition will not initiate a detonation.

In use, a long-range rifle shooter places Tannerite® targets downrange, retreats to his firing position, and fires. The shooter does not have to walk down range to see if the target has been hit, as the Tannerite® will detonate and serve as an indicator.

Since the two components that make up Tannerite® targets are not explosive until mixed, they can legally be purchased in the USA without a license. Tannerite® targets are exceptionally stable when subjected to less severe forces such as a hammer blow or being dropped and they cannot be initiated by any kind of flame or electricity.

Tannerite® is the registered trademark for Tannerite® brand targets and binary exploding rifle targets are a patented invention by Daniel J. Tanner.

A nice little reminder: Clip vs. Mag

A nice little reminder: Clip vs. Mag

Othais over at TheFirearmBlog.com helps those of us who sometimes forgets the proper definition of Magazine vs. Clip.

mag vs. clip

We have been enjoying a spirited debate over the use or misuse of the term “clip” for generations.  I firmly believe that we can blame this entire argument on the adoption of the M1 Garand rifle as it was the last of the clip loaders.  Former soldiers and Hollywood popularized the the expedient term.  Much like saying “Kleenex”, clip has gained widespread use.  But what should we say?

Magazines are storage systems for ammunition that feed the cartridges into the action systematically by means of a spring-driven follower.

To read the rest of this article head over to The Firearm Blog

Be Safe: Your Guide to Properly Storing Firearms

Be Safe: Your Guide to Properly Storing Firearms

Part of being a responsible gun owner is understanding how to properly store guns and ammunition. The top three reasons for safely storing firearms are: to prevent a gun from firing, protect a gun from physical damage, and to prevent theft. Failing to safely secure your guns can result in legal liability if an accident or theft were to occur as well as significant danger to yourself or others.

Leaving guns lying around or casually stowed away in drawers, even if the ammo is elsewhere, is both irresponsible and potentially deadly. Here are some of the most popular and responsible ways to store your guns. These methods range in effectiveness and cost, but should be evaluated on the basis of individual needs and home environment.

● Trigger and Cable Locks

These are the minimum in gun storage and are designed to merely keep the gun from firing or being loaded. Trigger locks clamp and lock around the housing of the trigger to prevent the trigger from being pressed. Most guns come with this kind of safety mechanism from the manufacturer. Cable locks can be run through the barrel to block the action of the gun from being closed, This, in turn, prevents the gun from being loaded or fired.

● Metal Gun Case

These combine the portability of plastic or fabric gun cases with the security of a gun cabinet, While not meant to be serious security containers to guard against theft, these containers do offer a decent amount of protection for your gun. Most boxes come with a variety of locks from key to combination to biometric, and they often come with mounting capabilities. The main benefit to these is that they are portable, secure, and inexpensive. Gun cases are often the only legal way to transport a firearm in a vehicle as well.

● Gun Cabinets

A step up above gun cases but not quite to the level of gun safes, gun cabinets are often lighter and more simplified than gun safes, but don’t offer the portability of cases. These are often used in apartments or in upper story rooms. Cabinets are typically made out of steel and feature basic locking mechanisms and a variety of configuration methods that allow for mounting to the wall or bolting to the floor. The higher end cabinets offer more features but their price tag may make you just want a less expensive safe.

● Gun Safes

Gun safes are the most secure of all the storage options, but are fixed in place. If your gun collection is worth more than the price of the cheapest safe, it’s probably time to think about keeping your guns here. Gun safes come in many models with many configurations and features, so knowing what level of safe you need will make the buying decision easier. Gun safes are big, heavy, expensive, and difficult to install, so weigh your storage options and needs carefully. The benefits of a gun safe, however, can outweigh the costs as a theft deterrent, safety protocol, and way to protect the finish of your guns.

Since safe gun storage depends so much on the environment in which you’re keeping guns, it is very important to make this your primary focus when deciding how to store guns. Basic storage in a gun case or cabinet may be perfectly fine for some while others may require the added security and space of a large gun safe. The answer to the question ‘where have all the guns gone?’ should inevitably be ‘in gun storage’.

Ben Vaughn writes regularly on home safes, safe gun storage, and the technology behind biometric safes. He believes that keeping your guns safe is extremely important and strongly recommends a safe for anyone with a gun.

Guest post over at Ammoland.com

I wrote a guest post on Ammoland.com as a guide to buying a modern sporting rifle case

GearsofGuns.com recently did a poll about different types of Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) cases to get a take on what the general population of shooters carry their MSRs in.

This article was written as a guideline to help anyone in the market for a new Modern Sporting Rifle Gun Case.

Here are the stats of the GEARS followers and how they carry their Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs):

  • Soft Case: 47.37%
  • Foam Fitted Hard case: 21.05%
  • Hard Case (Low price range – Thin plastic basic case): 18.42%
  • Hard Case (Higher price range): 7.89%
  • Other: 5.26%

Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2013/06/gun-cases-for-your-modern-sporting-rifle-or-ar15/#ixzz2WsFQQNmJ

Haus of Guns on the KelTec SU-16C Trigger


The trigger on the Kel-Tec SU-16C I am reviewing right now is an interesting animal. Well I mean the whole gun itself, it’s an interesting animal too. But honestly the trigger, I can’t get it out of my head.

First off I should say my initial impression (as in open box, assembled, less than 100 rounds fired) of the rifle is strong. The design seems to be pretty well done as is the overall rigid feel to a rifle that could easily be designed as a “truck gun” or a “TEOTWAWKI” bugout type rifle. The rear takedown pin can be removed and the overall length of the rifle will literally be cut in half. Keep it together and the forward under folding stock option still cuts off more than 1/3 the length.


[You can read the full comments HERE]

I am looking forward to seeing his full review on the rifle. Kel Tec sent us out a SU-16CA last year to review (you can read part one HERE). Personally I think this is a great middle of the road rifle. It isn’t a combat or match rifle by any means but is a nice rifle for the average shooter.

TTAG Review of the LE901

Even with a rifle as modular as an AR-15, there is still one big decision to be made. Namely, do you want to go the AR-15 route (with the smaller, intermediate 5.56 size magazine well) or the AR-10 route (with the full .308 size magazine well). That decision will dictate what uppers you can buy, what magazines you can use and a whole host of other things. But what if you didn’t have to make that decision? What if you could buy one rifle that used both AR-15 and AR-10 mags and upper receivers? That’s the whole idea behind the Colt LE901 16S . . .

[Read the full report at The Truth About Guns]


I am looking forward to getting my hands on this rifle here shortly to run my own review.

TFB: Swivl



It is a small base that you mount a camera to. The base then tracks a small infrared marker.  It’s purpose was for video conferencing and facetime. The device was developed around the iPhone and iPod. However you can mount small video cameras to it.

I realized immediately the potential of this device to give me a safe way to video the shooter downrange.

Here is a video i just edited with some samples from a few shooting matches these past few months I have had this thing.

A feature I do not use is the wireless mic feature. There is a cable that the base plugs into an iPhone or iPod. The IR marker is also a wireless mic. Sadly it only works with apple products. I decided I would sacrifice sounds of me breathing and talking to myself for wider angle video from my GoPro.

[From The Firearm Blog]

The package starts at $199 so the price is extremely affordable if you are looking to film everything from your training to matches to whatever else  you can think of.

The base tracks the marker using IR which has to be line of sight to track. In some obstacle course shooting matches this base wouldn’t work as well as you might like because the marker could get blocked when you are finding cover.

The base works with any tripod mountable pocket video camera or point and shoot cameras under six ounces.

Forbes.com: Meet The ‘Liberator’ (Full 3D printed gun)

Forbes.com: Meet The ‘Liberator’ (Full 3D printed gun)


“Alright. One…two…”

Before “three” arrives, a shot reverberates across the overcast central Texas landscape. A tall, sandy blond engineer named John has just pulled a twenty-foot length of yellow string tied to a trigger, which has successfully fired the world’s first entirely 3D-printed gun for the very first time, rocketing a .380 caliber bullet into a berm of dirt and prairie brush.

“Fuckin’ A!” yells John, who has asked me not to publish his full name. He hurries over to examine the firearm bolted to an aluminum frame. But the first to get there is Cody Wilson, a square-jawed and stubbled 25 year-old in a polo shirt and baseball cap. John may have pulled the trigger, but the gun is Wilson’s brainchild. He’s spent more than a year dreaming of its creation, and dubbed it “the Liberator” in an homage to the cheap, one-shot pistols designed to be air-dropped by the Allies over France during its Nazi occupation in World War II.

[Read the full article HERE]

Choosing the Best Firearm for Women’s Protection

Every day, there are more reports of violent crimes being committed against women and unfortunately it doesn’t only happen in big cities. Even in the suburbs there are instances of break-ins, rapes and domestic violence. Women know that when they are alone at home and unarmed, they are vulnerable to attacks and this is a scary proposition. The only way to have a fighting chance under these circumstances is to purchase a handgun. It is a women’s best choice for protection.

Some firearm dealers will attempt to sell a woman a smaller, stylish looking gun. For example, a tiny .22 caliber, with a pearl handle may look good but it won’t stop an intruder. In fact, it may just make the situation worse. It is true that a woman has smaller hands and may not be able to control a bigger gun, but there are many other choices when it comes to being comfortable with a firearm. There are two major kinds of guns and they are the semi-automatic and the revolver.

Semi-Automatic Handguns

A semi-automatic holds what is referred to as a magazine. It is a cartridge that houses the ammunition and gives the user the ability to fire the weapon a number of times, without having to reload. They eject the bullet automatically and a new round is loaded into the chamber. Typically, a magazine can hold anywhere from 10 to 30 rounds of ammunition.


The revolver has a cylinder that is located on the gun next to the trigger and it holds the ammunition. When a bullet is fired the cylinder rotates and another bullet becomes available. It typically only holds six rounds.

Caliber and Ammunition

The caliber is a measurement of the bullet or ammunition the particular gun holds. For example, a small .22 caliber gun holds a bullet that is 5.59 millimeters in diameter. In contrast, the 44 magnum holds a bullet that is 11.18 millimeters in diameter.

Which is the Best: A Semi-Automatic or a Revolver?

There are many variables when it comes to choosing the right gun for a woman. A semi-automatic might be a better choice because it holds more ammunition, while the revolver only holds 6 rounds. However, if the woman has had target training, she may not need more ammunition. The size of the gun may be a problem because the bigger gun’s recoil may be more difficult to handle. A revolver is less likely to miss fire because it is less complex but the semi-automatic is easier to reload.

9mm Semi-Automatic Handguns

The best decision for a semi-automatic gun for women is the 9 millimeter. It has a grip which fits in smaller hands and it is powerful but not powerful enough to lose control. It is easy to aim, lightweight and perfect for beginners. This gun typically holds 15 rounds of ammunition.

.327 Federal Magnum Revolvers

The .327 Federal Magnum may be the best revolver for women. This gun’s grip is made for people with small to medium hands and it also has finger grooves. It has sites for improved accuracy and it is also light weight. This gun holds 5 to 6 rounds.

This guest post was written by the Best Handgun for Women blog, which gives women all the needed information on how to defend themselves, including product reviews such as pepper sprays, tasers, handguns, holsters, and the latest trend of pink handguns.