What Is Tannerite: Everything You Need to Know About Exploding Targets

hunting rifle at a shooting range

Shooting is fun. Explosions are fun. Combining the two? Well, that’s just awesome.

With exploding targets like Tannerite, you can do just that. You probably already have some idea of what Tannerite is, but if you don’t, the name exploding targets should be explanation enough.

However, before you just go out and get yourself some, make sure to read up on them. It’s extremely important that these are used in a safe manner and the more you know about tannerite and exploding targets in general, then the better off you’ll be.

Ready to find out more? Then, here we go.

What Is Tannerite?

a package of tannerite
Image from Gander

For starters, Tannerite is technically a brand name that’s begun being used for exploding targets of its kind in general, similar to how Band-Aid is used to describe any adhesive bandage and all colorful, plastic, flying discs are called Frisbees. So, there are other brands.

Tannerite, like the similar exploding targets out there, is a binary explosive.

This means that it comes as two separate components, an oxidizer and a fuel, which the user then mixes together when they’re ready to shoot. Think the two liquids from the Die Hard movie, the one with Samuel L Jackson.

Each individual component is not explosive on its own and even when mixed, Tannerite is still very stable.

It will only detonate when struck by something with a velocity of at least 2000 feet per second. It won’t detonate if dropped or struck by something going slower than 2000 feet per second, no matter how heavy. It also isn’t flammable, so it can’t be detonated with electricity or fire.

Most popular rifle rounds have a high enough velocity to detonate Tannerite, including 5.56 NATO, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 7.62 Soviet, and pretty much any other high-velocity rifle round.

For other gun types, your options are limited. Shotgun rounds won’t do the trick and only one handgun round, .22 TCM, has the ability to achieve the velocity necessary to detonate Tannerite.

Once detonated, Tannerite does what explosives do: it produces a big cloud, a lot of kinetic energy, and makes a loud noise.

Now Tannerite isn’t the only binary explosive. There are also rimfire binary explosives, like those sold under the brand name White Lightning. However, these explosives are less stable than Tannerite and therefore less safe and are often more expensive as well. Be careful with them.

Why Use Exploding Targets?

Closeup of a rifle scope in a shop

So what’s the point of using an exploding target like Tannerite?

For one, they’re great for long-distance shooting. The loud noise and visible explosion leave no question that the target has been hit, even without using an optic to check the target.

But also, they’re just fun to shoot, and they’re affordable and you can shoot them, so why not? If you’re going to do some shooting and you want to change things up or add another level of fun to the mix, tannerite can be a good option.

But fun and games aside, there are a few things to keep in mind whenever you deal with Tannerite.

Safety Considerations

Image from Gander

Remember, it’s explosive. It’s loud, it creates a lot of kinetic energy, and creates a cloud of dust and smoke. Always wear eye and ear protection when using Tannerite and make sure those around you do as well, but you should be doing that whenever you shoot anyway.

In addition, while Tannerite itself can’t be detonated with a fuse or spark, once detonated, Tannerite can ignite flammable things nearby and has been responsible for wildfires.

One such instance led to a wildfire that took a week to contain and spread over approximately 46,000 acres, including a national conservation area.

Don’t be that guy; make sure your Tannerite is well away from anything flammable and don’t use it anywhere that a fire watch has been issued.

You also don’t want to use it to blow up anything that can create shrapnel or, obviously, anything that you’d like to remain in one piece. You may have seen it used to blow up old cars and lawnmowers on YouTube, but you should stick to things like melons, chalk-filled easter eggs, and dirt piles.

As for how much to use and how far away you should be, any target that uses one-quarter of a pound of Tannerite or more should be at least 100 yards away from people and animals. Tannerite Sports, the company behind the explosive, recommends that non-professionals use no more than a pound of mixed Tannerite at once.

Finally, Tannerite is toxic if ingested, so when you’re not using it, store it where it can’t be accessed by kids or animals.

Legal Considerations

Gavel and Themis statue in the court library.
Image from Getty

Mixing Tannerite is considered manufacturing explosives since it’s not legally an explosive until the components are combined. It’s legal for individuals to manufacture explosives for their own personal use, but you need a license to do so for others or for a business, even if it’s your own.

Since it’s illegal to transport or ship explosives and Tannerite isn’t considered an explosive until it’s mixed, Tannerite can only be transported or shipped unmixed.

In addition, because of the risk of fire, Tannerite is banned in some places, including US Forest Service land in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions. Other individual properties may have bans as well, particularly in the western US, so always check what’s permitted before heading to public lands to shoot.

State and local laws may also have regulations about Tannerite, like who may use it, whether licensing is required, and how it may be stored and transported. Ignorance is not an excuse, so make sure you check your state and local laws.

Parting Shots

Tannerite, and other similar exploding target materials, can be an awful lot of fun if handled properly and can be a disaster in the making if you aren’t careful. Use it wisely, and in the right ways, and you should have a good time.

Hopefully now you know enough about these exploding targets to be able to buy them confidently and use them safely.

What do you think of exploding targets? Let us know in the comments below! Ready to buy some of your own? Check out the selection at Gander Outdoors!

Everything you need to know about exploding targets



  1. Will an explosion next to Tannerite set the Tannerite off. Example if Tannerite is set next to fireworks when the fireworks go off will the Tannerite go off also. I know a guy that shot at some Tannerite but didn’t hit the powder so he mixed another batch and set it next to the first container of Tannerite. He shot and hit the second container and when it blew up the other one went off.

  2. I’m all for adding a reactive component to shoot occasionally. I just don’t have a feel as to how loud it is. Louder than the rifle or as loud as the banned M-80

    1. Louder than your rifle, much louder!
      I use tannerite at home for stumps and S & G. Just so that my wife, or anyone else near enough to hear the explosion is curious as to whether I blew myself up or not…I fire off a few rifle rounds right after the big boom, and it is always a BIG BOOM!
      This method seems to work very well and I don’t have the deputies hurrying over to pick me up in a dozen quart size baggies.

  3. I wanted to go blow up an old dryer but yeah….that’s not a good idea. Razor sharp fragments of metal flying around at 10,000 feet per second…..I’ll pass, thanks.

  4. It’s best to leave it to the professionals. And not to the wrong hands.

  5. Does the bullet continue to travel on after the explosion ?

    1. Yes, the bullet continues to travel after hitting the tannerite, how far it travels depends on the bullet size and shape, the velocity and what was in front of the tannerite before it was shot.

      1. Tannerite and other binary explosives are fun and safe if used properly. I just received 24 lbs of Tannerite which will be used on my personal 150 yard Range so I have full control of how it will be used. Btw I was an explosive expert in the USAF.

  6. Why? Just why? There is no purpose to this stuff other than drawing attention to yourself and annoying anyone living within a mile of you. Just like loud pipes on cars and motorcycles… loud noises don’t make you cool, they make you a childish idiot. Find another way to tell if you hit the target. Take a walk.

    1. Gee terry i dont know whether you noticed or not but the high powered rifle used to shoot the tannerite is kinda loud too. So heres a suggestion for you. Dont go near the big boomie noises and let the folks have thier fun.

  7. READ THIS!!!!!
    There is no mention in this article of the hygroscopic properties of tannerite.
    YOU CANNOT PREMIX TANNERITE as it becomes INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE with time. This happens because the mixed chemicals absorb any available water which slowly begins a chemical and eventually can even self ignite.

    1. Thank you Scott, I did not know that, and this is very good to know.

  8. Unfortunately Tannerite is misused by so many that it will probably get banned or regulated. A shooter terrorizes my neighborhood with this stuff . We don’t know when the next blast will occur. He doesn’t have enough land to make its use practical. I have to sedate my pets when he starts up.

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